Forest with Castanets

Diane Mehta. Four Way, $15.95 (110p) ISBN 978-1-945588-25-9
In her innovative debut, Mehta explores the connection between place, memory, and sound, offering a vision of “ex-colonial hills,” their “songs lilting,” their “repetitions hell.” Discrete poems and hybrid texts are unified by their vibrant sonic textures. For Mehta, a legacy of imperialism lies hidden behind a sublime exterior, giving rise to a “chain-light tango of intimate deceptions.” Subtly and skillfully, Mehta confronts all that beauty and artifice conceal beneath placid surfaces, making a compelling argument about the politics of beauty. “Underneath, there was ancient music,” she insists. Eschewing narrative, the soundscapes Mehta creates begin to mirror the history portrayed, while offering new meanings through provocative fragmentation of syntax. Lyrical phrasing fills the collection with “a rapture ruptured” as Mehta explores her own cultural background, Indian Jainism and American Judaism. Mehta creates a vision of history that is elliptical and recursive, allowing us to see the continuities and confluences within its “feisty, restless, see-saw spirit.” This alternative model of time also opens up the possibility of revisionism, challenging the master narratives that circulate within the larger cultural imagination. As Mehta herself writes of history, “We master it but find little.” (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 02/19/2019
Release date: 03/01/2019
Genre: Poetry
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