Atmospheric Embroidery: Poems
Meena Alexander Northwestern University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PR9499.3.A46A86 2018 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
In this haunting collection of poems we travel through zones of violence to reach the crystalline depths of words: Meena Alexander writes, "So landscape becomes us, / Also an interior space bristling with light." At the heart of this book is the poem cycle "Indian Ocean Blues," a sustained meditation on the journey of the poet as a young child from India to Sudan. There are poems inspired by the drawings of children from war-torn Darfur and others set in present-day New York City. These sensual lyrics of body, memory, and place evoke the fragile, shifting nature of dwelling in our times.
With their intense lyricism, Meena Alexander’s poems convey the fragmented experience of the traveler, for whom home is both nowhere and everywhere. The landscapes she evokes, whether reading Bashō in the Himalayas, or walking a city street, hold echoes of otherness. Place becomes a palimpsest, composed of layer upon layer of memory, dream, and desire. There are poems of love and poems of war—we see the rippling effects of violence and dislocation, of love and its aftermath. The poems in Birthplace with Buried Stones range widely over time and place, from Alexander’s native India to New York City. We see traces of mythology, ritual, and other languages. Uniquely attuned to life in a globalized world, Alexander’s poetry is an apt guide, bringing us face to face with the power of a single moment and its capacity to evoke the unseen and unheard.
Illiterate Heart: Poems
Meena Alexander Northwestern University Press, 2002 Library of Congress PR9499.3.A46I45 2002 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Winner, 2002 PEN Open Book Award
Recipient, 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship
Meena Alexander's poetry emerges as a consciousness moving between the worlds of memory and the present, enhanced by multiple languages. Her experience of exile is translated into the intimate exploration of her connections to both India and America. In one poem the thirteenth-century Persian poet Rumi visits with her while she speaks on the phone in her New York apartment, and in another she evokes fellow-poet Allen Ginsberg in the India she herself has left behind. Drawing on the fascinating images and languages of her dual life, Alexander deftly weaves together contradictory geographies, thoughts, and feelings.
Quickly Changing River: Poems
Meena Alexander Northwestern University Press, 2008 Library of Congress PR9499.3.A46Q53 2008 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Recipient, 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship
With her strong voice and precise language, Meena Alexander has crafted this visceral, worldly collection of poems. The experience she brings to the reader is sensual in many senses of the word, as she invokes bright colors, sounds, smells, and feelings. Her use of vivid imagery from the natural world—birds, lilies, horses—up against that from the world of humans—oppression, slavery, and violence—ties her work to the earth even as she works a few mystical poetic transformations.
In Alexander’s world, the songs of a bird can become the voice of a girl in a café and the red juice of mulberries can be as shocking as blood. When she focuses her attention on the cloth of a girl’s sari, the material of a woman’s life, or the blood in her veins, she speaks to the particular experience of women in the world. The women are vividly present—sometimes they are hidden or veiled, juxtaposed with open gardens in full bloom. It is difficult not to come away from QuicklyChanging River without a new sense of the power and frailty of being alive.
Raw Silk: Poems
Meena Alexander Northwestern University Press, 2004 Library of Congress PR9499.3.A46R39 2004 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
A deeply moving collection from a poet who crosses borders
New York City poet Meena Alexander was born in Allahabad, India and divided her childhood between India and the Sudan. From her cross-cultural perspective, Alexander writes with moving intensity of post-September 11 events as she evokes violence and civil strife, love, despair, and a hard-won hope. This autobiographical cycle of poems reflects the surrealism of such a life, and is shot through with the frissons of pleasure and pain, of beauty and tension, that mark a truly global identity.