Rasa theory, part of Indian genre theory and Sanskritic poetics, describes an elaborate typology of nine essences or emotions, ranging from adbhuta (wonder) to raudra (fury) to karuna (sorrow) to santa (serentity). This first collection of poetry by Kuldip Gill is rich with these emotions.
Gill, a Sikh woman who immigrated to Canada in 1939, creates poems that open different worlds as they inform and fascinate. This is a poetics that intertwines English and Punjabi, life in Canada and life in India, past and present, myth and imagination. The reader is invited to accompany Gill as she reads the love letters her father wrote to her mother; travels to British Columbia on the CPR Steamship Empress of Japan; visits the streets of New Dehli and Benares; and relives her family's struggles and challenges as they try to make a home in a new land.
Lush and lyrical, powerful and evocative, Gill's words will sing to you long after you've finished her last poem.close this panel
Can I live this love, matching you to poetry
in Urdu, Gurmukhi and Hindi,
and have as reply only your few unlettered
lines telling me that our children are well,
relating my mother's love and brother's wife's whine?
I wait. No letters. Not even paper-love rewards.
Chained to pulling green lumber all night, dragged
through black sleepless nights, thoughts of
your long green eyes, your face, blaze my mind.
My children's voices cry/laugh through my dreams.
Enfeebled by endless greenchain shifts, I fear
a war, the years.
No passports yet? Fathom my heart's great dukh. I watch.
Droves of birds fly away together, another winter.
Come before the war, come through Hong Kong and Yokohama.
Please let me know as soon as you can.
And I will send money to Moga
to bring you, the children, across
the kala pani to Victoria.
Come soon. Before the war.
I'll tell you what you will need to bring:
sweaters for the children, books,
seeds, are hard to get. Bring yourself. Yourself,
and surma for your beautiful green eyes.
I am your beloved Inderpal Singh,
who would spread flower petals for you,
and fly to you on feathers, if I