To begin with, Rochelle Potkar, in this scene of Indian Literature, is a different writer — an experimental yet confident one. Her prose poem collection, or Haibun collection (in a more literary sense), is a result of keen observation of, and reflection upon, all the matters that have been discussed in this beautiful 100-page collection — on paper, — and, so, as the name goes, it is certainly an ‘asylum’ properly built on ‘paper’.
the sun shaping trees
on her dungeon pane
— Palimpsest (page 9)
What’s also beautiful is that she speaks enough without actually speaking enough. In ‘Thumbprints,’ three boys had each ‘scored 3 out of 20 marks and were horse-whipped 17 times’ — a whip earnt for each mark un-earnt. How clear an expression of brutality!
sudden thaw . . .
the melting wings
of snow angels
— Gravity (page 63)
Haibun, Rochelle tells me, is another Japanese poetic form that is more so a combination of the better known Japanese Haiku and prose — which somewhere does for both a short story and a poem (at times); and which make up all of her second poetry collection, Paper Asylum, except for a few that are ‘Routine’ (43) and some mostly in the second half of the book. — These are verses which are mostly only prose poems, but Rochelle does not disappoint us even when she works on line-breaks.
Talking of the haibuns, however, that the book is (almost) wholly based on, here, speak of cycles, the cycles we make of time, every time: “unclaimed fruits fall to mud to become new trees.” (Plantation, page 26)
small star —
the galaxy’s infinity
— Mars (page 61)
Then, on page 86, there is a story of faith, loss and gain. Rochelle is a wonderful weaver of stories that speak, that do it the most expressively. ‘Garble,’ here, is a beautiful piece on such note.
In a way, it’s an anthology, a vibrant one — aptly variegated; — containing on its pages tales that make much of our lives.
“I would like to think of God without prompters.”
— Scabbard (page 50)
So, Potkar’s writing is not just fictional, or only woven words; when I read these lines, I know it is also very reasonably resonant. These are good prose poems — political, insightful and provoking thoughts through the words they are made up of.
summer boredom —
the bee invents
a new path to the hive
— Retake 2 (page 91)
Which is why, on a rather conclusive note, Rochelle Potkar is a modern writer and not one who’s writing for the bends of a vile reading culture, but one who could prove herself quite on the contrary, if need be.
Her collection, Paper Asylum (978-93-84109-26-4), is available on Amazon, here!