Book of the Month: The Earthen Bowl by Bhuvaneshwari Shivkumar Shankar
Note: Learning & Creativity celebrates authors in the ever expansive realm of traditional and indie publishing by featuring a new book every month and sharing a few words about its author.
This February, our book in focus is The Earthen Bowl by the prolific writer/poet Bhuvaneshwari Shivkumar Shankar.
About The Earthen Bowl
The poems in this volume were all written between 2012-2017 that reflect some of my core beliefs. Written in a variety of lyrical forms (Including cinquains, quatrains, haikus, sonnets and ghazals), they have been organized into six themed chapters –
* For Women
* A Bit of Fun and
In homage to those who came before me, each chapter begins with a quote from my favorite authors that reflects the mood of the chapter.
Beginnings contains poems about children. It delves into children’s perception of the world around them focusing on their innocence as well as their dependence. Some of the poems here talk about parenting and bring out the contrast in parenting in nature and in human parenting. I am an ardent admirer of the patriotic and saintly Tamizh poet Mahakavi Bharathy. I begin this chapter with a few lines from my translation of his poem Chinanchiru Kiliye that speaks of parental love with an unmatched tenderness.
Creation, has poems about nature and the world. There is so much beauty in the world around us and life on this planet is the greatest gift. I recall Wordsworth’s philosophy of pantheism whenever I see the mountains, the flowers and experience the seasons. Even the different times of the day, the changing light is suffused with indescribable beauty. We cannot but detect the presence of divinity all around us and marvel as William Blake does – ‘What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry.’
Love is perhaps the strongest emotion we all experience and it is central to almost all forms of literary expression. This chapter talks of love in all its forms: Childhood love, unrequited love, mature love and love for the divine. The first poem in this chapter is a personification of love. I begin this chapter with a quote by the metaphysical poet John Donne.
For Women is about women and their struggles, and is particularly close to my heart, as a scholar of feminism. As I see it, any woman who ponders about her condition, strives for equality or seeks to elevate herself is a feminist, even though she might not know it or acknowledge it. Any man that feels the same is a feminist too. Maya Angelou’s powerful words begin this chapter.
A Bit of Fun takes a lighthearted view of conjugal relationships. It also focuses on certain modern day obsessions such as the mobile phone and fitness. Life is not to be taken seriously at all times and sometimes, serious issues when discussed with a lightness of tone have better reach.
Introspection, the final chapter, contains poems that observe the human condition with the ‘inward eye’ as it were. The poems here are philosophical musings that attempt to understand and unravel the mystery called life. Some of the poems here elaborate on moments of epiphany that I have experienced in my own life.
I invite you travel with me on this journey of the soul. In the words of Yeats, I beseech you to “Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” Perhaps you too will find, as I did while writing them, that these words hold a mirror to your feelings.
Sample poem/An excerpt from the poetry collection:
If Feathers Grew on Trees
If peacock’s feathers grew on tress
Each thread a shimmering fibre–
The colours perfect
The green, blue and the almost black
With flecks of sprayed gold.
What if the feathers were all leaves?
Soft and supple to touch and feel against the cheek,
Would children still lock them inside books?
And free brittle memories in later years?
Would fallen feathers feel trampling feet?
And would tuned ears miss the rustle of crunching leaves?
Would they line our walls?
Or fill our downy beds…
About the author:
Bhuvaneshwari Shankar is an award-winning poet, playwright, short story writer and translator. She writes in both English and Tamil. Her poems and short stories have been published in anthologies published by Readomania, Notion Press and Global Fraternity of Poets and in online forums including Destiny Poets, UK, Learning and Creativity and langlit.org. She blogs at https://ilakea.blogspot.com. She has also written and directed several childrens’ plays for philanthropic organizations.
Defiant Dreams, an anthology that features her work, made it to Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club list in 2015. Crossed and Knotted, another anthology, is mentioned in the Limca Book of Records as India’s first composite novel.
Her lifelong passion for the English language has led to her obtaining a PhD in English literature (with an emphasis on feminist studies) and becoming a certified English Language instructor. In a teaching career spanning more than 15 years, she has taught English to over 5,000 students and the undergraduate and postgraduate level and has trained international students and professionals such as engineers and lawyers in soft skills and communication skills.
Outside of literature, she has an abiding interest in music and has given several stage performances featuring Indian Classical, Indian film and Western music.
She lives with her husband in Saudi Arabia, and travels frequently to India and the United States.
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