An independent small press poetry review

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Shearsman Books 58 Velwell Road
ISBN 978 1 905700 60 8
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A series of poems set at different stages of the poet's life, whether her privileged early life in India or later sojourns in England and the US, but always harking back, or returning to India. Here is a sample from a prose poem, HOVER, evocatively and lovingly detailing her Indian childhood:

Rain turns the lawns to pools of mud. We watch the river rise, the paper folding sound not registered till my sister says look, oh look; then it is the rustle of silk saris at a wedding. The sky turns green as the parrots fly by, so close we can see claws tucked up against white-feathered bellies.
In MY FATHER'S CROWN there are lyrical memories of her childhood and her uneasy relationship with her father:
	And you found me hovering
	on your shoulder
	when I was three, blue sleeves
	of my best party dress wings
	in the breeze.
Tupa Snyder's poetry is quite stylized, stabbing out images and memories of the past; this plethora of details creates an imagistic mosaic that also fashions a plaintive mood, a sadness at the recollection of lost things, as in BEHIND THIS EYE:
	I too have dwelled
	in sad places. The old banyan tree
	at school that made the dark
	look brown. I could hardly bear
	to look at it, the fingers
	rooted everywhere, the holes
	in its trunk where things lived.
	Its immense shade.
This is the type of poetry that piles image upon image, metaphor upon metaphor, amidst the narrative or observational content of the poem, imbuing the work with a deliberately insistent personal and emotional intensity. LITTLE DEATH describes an arrival in New York:
	When he arrives it is 5.20 p.m.:
	Manhattan's skyline stacked in shades of sunset.
	His suitcase circles a whining carousel.
Through marriage Tupa Snyder moves to the New World, acquiring a new family and new perspectives, as in SPLIT:
	Even my parents forgot I hadn't always been
	a part of the other family.
Yet there is no real break with her past, and its pull is as strong as ever:
	She sets each night
	on your pillow, Mom 
	the girl who wants to run away
	while you fidget
	with toothbrush and soap
	in the new bathroom.
Another group of poems describes a return to India, and the memories (often from photos) it reawakens, the windows through which she can savour or just rediscover the past, as in ECHOES in the sequence THROUGH WINDOWS:
	Dust here is
	a disease   It returns
	like a cloud through windows
	coats the bed posts   a feathered thing
	on the back of chairs
Another group of poems is centred in England, and again toys with layer upon layer of images, sparking memories and associations; once more, photos and windows are constant points of reference and allusion in the poems in suggesting insights, views out of the present into another sphere and the recollections that accompany that present and what it sees. Here are a few lines from SHADOWS:
	a boy             hill smoke
	or a wisp of grey from ashtray to mirror
	you say I leave
	things behind            your eyes by the window
	nickel coins on a child's loin
	strung on a thin black thread
The final group of poems returns to India, with its memories and associations, and its windows again. Here are lines this time from RETURN from the sequence WALKING IN A LOST STANZA:
	Laughing, trying to find breath again,
	we meander through groups of pedestrians,
	cyclists, rickshaw-pullers, taxis,
	blind with memory.
This is the type of poetry whose practitioners and adherents (as seen in this collection and in the adulatory blurb on the back cover) use words like palimpsest and metonym rather frequently, and feel the need to refer to frangipani, but Tupa Snyder is, nonetheless, a poet who can create work swirling with impressive profundity and technical skill.

reviewer: Alan Hardy.