Sunday, April 17, 2011

National Poetry Month: Karma

KarmaKarma Cathy Ostlere

Dear Diary

Nah. That's lame.
(Be creative, you idiot!)

Who are you?
Whence have you come?
Will you tell me your secrets o voiceless one?
O yuck.

If illusion be your given name
and mystery wears your opaque veil
then I, Sandeep, with pen as sword
will scribe your silence
till you are cured.
(or till I'm bored)
(till I'm adored?)
(till I am gored)
(or deplored)
(or suitably and deservedly well ignored)

Rhyming diphthongs. How pathetic.

In 1984, Maya's Hindu mother commits suicide. Her Sikh father takes Maya and her mother's ashes from their Canadian home to India. Shortly after they arrive, Indira Ghandi is gunned down by her Sikh body guards. The country erupts into Hindu/Sikh violence. Maya is separated from her father and has to depend on the kindness of strangers to survive.

I love the language of this one. Many poems are told in two columns, to simulate dialogue or inner commentary on events. I also really like dual narrators. The poetry works in this one. I couldn't guarantee the formatting would work right in a blog post for some of my favorite poems, so I went with a funny poem instead.

But, I'm not sure on some of the plot details. People keep trying to give Maya away in marriage to strangers, even people who don't know her. Ostlere was traveling in India when Ghandi was assassinated, but I'm not sure on the authenticity of parts of the plot, especially when strangers promise a girl into marriage. Parts of it seem to be playing up the "exoticism" and "backwardness" of the location. But I don't know that much about modern India, so I don't know.

Has anyone with more background info than me read this? What did you think?

I loved the language and the poetry. I loved the sweep of the story and the voices. But, some of the plot details niggled a bit.

ARC Provided by... the publisher at ALA midwinter.

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Tori/Cathy said...

Thanks for the review!

- Cathy

SharePoint Intranet said...

That's a wonderful review!