The Mind has Mountains by Elizabeth Jennings

The Mind has Mountains by Elizabeth Jennings

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Poetry

The Mind has Mountains has many poems by Elizabeth Jennings about mental illness and mental health. In A Mental Hospital Sitting-Room is about how it feels to wait there and what goes on in a patient’s mind. Diagnosis and Protest gives a glimpse of the poetess’ mind. Madness is little confusing because it leaves the reader wondering who is actually mentally ill. Reflections on A Mental Hospital tells about how a patient who is getting better feels and what it feels like for a third person to watch them. The Interrogator gives the reader an idea of what a psychiatrist does. The poetess has a thing for paintings. The stanzas of poems are abruptly broken and started anew. In Van Gogh, the poetess muses over the perks of being mad. The Jump shows how people with mental illness die. Attempted Suicide tells about how mentally ill people feel after their failed suicide attempts. Lisa is truly enlightening. Questions gives a glimpse into what goes on inside the head of a mentally ill person. Night Sister is about what hardships do to us. The Illusion talks about horrors of how and why people cope with fear. Hysteria is about hysteria in a mental hospital. There are many more poems in this collection and all are about mental health. Read this book only if you really like poems of all kinds.

Nine Lives by William Dalrymple

Nine Lives by William Dalrymple

Review by Venkatesha M

This is a collection of nine different stories, an honest attempt to throw light on various customs which are still in practice in Modern India.

Author Dalrymple travelled across India and Sindh region in Pakistan and tried to cover Nine different lives in this book. Stories include customs from Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism and also forms of Tantric practices. Each story in the book starts with introduction to a specific custom and runs into the biography of an individual.

Entire book is on the theme ‘Faith’ and ‘Principles’. I liked all the stories in the book. In a few stories, Dalrymple tried to show difficulties faced by some of the backward communities in India. I couldn’t agree with this part as many things about caste system are changed in Modern India. You can see that Author has done lot of research and travelled to different places for this book.

My personal favourites from the book are ‘The Nun’s Tale’, ‘The Monk’s Tale’ and ‘The Maker of Idols’. Author also explains how the Modern India is a threat to the continuation of these traditions. Most of the customs are hereditary in nature and the new generation is not interested as they are more intended towards alluring professions. Personally I have seen similar cases of Gen-Y not willing to continue the family business which is also affecting few traditions mentioned in the book.

There are few poems/songs translated to English. I will definitely suggest this book.

One of the poems:

“My soul cries out,
Caught in the snare of beauty,
Of the formless one.

As I cry by myself,
Night and day,
Beauty amassed before my eyes,
Surpasses moons and suns.

If I look at the clouds in the sky,
I see his beauty afloat.
And I see him walk on the stars,
Blazing within my heart”

Poet Robot: An Introduction to E I Wong by E I Wong

Poet Robot: An Introduction to E I Wong by E I Wong

Review by Shwetha H S

I must say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Not even a few pages into this and I was like this is good! Poet Robot is set in three segments: A Narcissist Writes Letters to Himself, The Second Person and Tin Lion.

A Narcissist Writes Letters to Himself is less of poems and more of ranting to himself. In this segment, Woodsman, A Shrill Shriek Follows Me and Inner Peace will definitely make you laugh. Blackbeard, Seeking Insurance, Uncovers the Pirate Paradox will seem to be vague until you reach the end of it where you will understand the whole poem, or not. The language in this segment of the book might be offensive to many people, but let’s just assume that it is not for everybody.

The Second Person has one long poem called Episode 1: Hello, Apprentice. Well, it is more of a short story than a poem. The author/poet has tried to make it reek of sarcasm, but it isn’t.

Tin Lion is actually funny and has enough sarcasm to make it funny. Orthodox Christians, please stay away from this segment. It is for your own good. At the end of this segment as well as the book, the author mentions in the footnote “When reviewing this book, please make sure you mention that these are the literal views and opinions of every single godforsaken San Franciscan and anyone affiliated with said San Franciscan. I speak for them now.” This is very much questionable.

This book is good for one-time read.

Don’t Hit Me by Vanessa de Largie

Review by Shwetha H S

To put in simple words, Don’t Hit Me by Vanessa de Largie makes you ask so many questions to yourself about domestic violence. Why did that woman get into such relationship? Why isn’t she getting out of such relationship? What is stopping her to leave that abusive man? Questions like that will flood your mind while you are reading this book. You will also wonder if this is limited to abusive marriages or applies to any abusive relationship. I am proud of Vanessa and also thankful to her for bringing out this book which might encourage other helpless woman to get out of their abusive relationships.

This book is not in any conventional form of narration. Do not expect detailed description of what happened and what Vanessa went through. This book has her journal entries which are in the form of poems, quotes and paragraphs; one in each page. These are enough to give an idea of how Vanessa’s life was.

I recommend every woman to read Don’t Hit Me by Vanessa de Largie.