Thursday, April 16, 2009

Poetry Week Day Four: Taslima Nasrin

For our fourth day of poetry, we have a poem from acclaimed Bangladeshi poet Taslima Nasrin, whose book, The Game in Reverse, was the first volume of her poetry available in English translation. Her work speaks out against the persecution of women in Bangladeshi Muslim society, and she was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1994.


My sister used to sing wonderful Tagore songs.
She used to love reading Simone de Beauvoir.
Forgetting her midday bath, she immersed herself in Karl Marx,
Gorky, Tolstoy, and Manik's novels.

When she wanted to feel nostalgic, Laura Ingalls Wilder was her favorite.
When she saw a play about war, I remember her crying half the night.

My sister used to read wonderful poetry;
her favorites were Shanka, Niren, Neruda, and Yevtushenko.
My sister loved the forest, not the garden;
she liked sculpture so much she once bought a ticket for Paris.

Now in my sister's poetry notebook
she keeps meticulous accounts of green vegetables,
now she walks around very proudly, loaded with metal ornaments.
She says with pride she no longer thinks about politics.
Let culture go to hell, she couldn't care less.
Dust collects on her sitar, mice nest in her tanpura.
Now she's a smart shopper, bringing home

porcelain dinnerware, fresh carp, and expensive-looking bed sheets.

(Translated by Carolyne Wright)

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