To see a woman’s body only as body
is like seeing a tree only as tree.
Ask a traveller,
he will tell you that a tree is shade.
Ask the boy swinging on its roots, he will tell you
it is happiness.
Don’t you hear the songs of birds who consider it their home?
These teaching trees
unravel the puzzle of gravity fashion a Buddha
out of a Siddhartha
the science of matter
the government machine records everything
as mere numbers,
who see women as mere bodies.
— Translated by Swarnalatha Rangarajan and K Srilata from the collection, “Paravaikal Purakkanitha Nagaram” (Chennai: Iruvatchi Publications, 2007)
This poem is by Sakthi Arulandandam whose pen name is Arulmozhi and has three collections of poetry to her credit. Lifescapes: Interviews with Contemporary Women Writers from Tamil Nadu is an anthology of amusing excerpts from lesser known collections and the views of seventeen contemporary Tamil women writers.
The concept of tinai from the Sangam poetics is explored in this through a challenging narrative. The writers in this volume draw attention to the inseparability of issues like gender, body politics, caste hegemony, mythopoesis, and environmental justice, in their writing. The candid interviews narrate the diverse contexts that frame their literary works. They reveal how they find their own voices amidst economic necessity, familial politics or the pressures of domesticity. The book follows the lives of both established and those which have recently created a niche in this largely male-defined literary landscape.
Edited by K.Srilata & Swarnalatha Rangarajan, Lifescapes: Interviews with Contemporary Women Writers from Tamil Nadu is a journey with the passion and the mindscape of these women writers.