Poems and Illustrations
by Rod Hemsell (2011) 111 pages
New Poems and Recapitulations
by Rod Hemsell (2013)
Devotion and Stillness contains two previously published collections of poems. The first collection is from the period 1968-1978, and the second is from 1994-2010. Lotus Mountain contains poems and illustrations from the period 2010-2014. Both books contain numerous illustrations by the author, including paintings and photographs, many of which capture nature in the mountains of Colorado.
Rod Hemsell is an American writer, educator, and lecturer in philosophy who has lived in Auroville from 1968 to 1983 and from 2005 to the present, 2014. Between 1983 and 2005 he worked in education in America. He is married to Kirti Hemsell and they have three children, Aurorishi, Aurotejas, and Ambalila.
"Between seasons" - Lloyd's poetry
Lloyd, Creativity, who has lived in Auroville for twenty years,
has presented his book of poetry on Auroville's birthday
with a reading at Solitude Farm.
Anthology - Poems from Auroville
There is no arguing about anthologies. In the end you choose. I keep going back to the poem 'To Mick', by Kevan Myers.
Still, "Poems of Auroville" makes good reading. The theme of inner seeking, and finding, runs through most of the poems, but neither in the vein of hymn or prayer. Actually, 'To Mick' reads as a prose poem, amongst what is mostly modern poetry. Published in 1977, when Aurovilians were yet few, the anthology shows that there were many talented writers among those few.
Gorden Korstange - The road behind whitens in the sun
Writers Workshop 1984
Korstange is clear in his first poem. This is a volume of poetry dedicated to scholarship. Not the poetry of 'digging tools', but a 'digging in the real stuff'. At that it is a collection of prose poems, many describing India and its people, and what cultural research has taught the poet about these people. Sometimes the insight into the culture enhances what is written, but at other times it seems that research has created a gap between the writer and his subject. Then the language becomes too careful in describing such simple things as digging tools, or unsure in the face of India's vast culture. Still, there are enough spontaneous lines in the book rendering a good idea of pioneering in Auroville, India.
Anthology - Dust and Dreams
This anthology is a corsage of poems in five languages. They are not many, with as a result that - unless you master all the languages - the anthology falls short. There is not enough to carry the reader off, what with styles changing.
One thing, this book could only have been published in Auroville, combining cultures in their own languages. As a brochure it points out, in a well-designed way, that there is serious writing going on in Auroville.
Auroluigi - Sun-fire kisses
Amity House 1988
"The dynamic drive of sun-fire burning to make real what we dream of, is the spirit and stuff my poems are made of".
And like fire, the poems reveal, are revelations, often in a classical epic tone. Is it the German background of the writer that lends the poems some of the loftiness that goes with this stately genre? The book contains various odes to The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, in a choice of words that echoes the master in both his poetry and teachings of the integral yoga.
Marti - My mother is the wind
Shanta 1989 (oop-ca)
This is the first of Mart's volumes of poems that have living in India as a background, for a writer who delights in dreaming. In many ways it reads as the forerunner of 'We are one body' (1996). There is as yet a distance between the poet and the culture, as if the modern flow of the words struggles with the rhythm that is India.
Some of the poems are given conclusive lines - as might be written by teachers - and would have come out better without this added touch of scholarship. As a collection of dreams it holds well.
Marti runs Shanta Publications, publishing Auroville poets and series of environmental booklets for children, for which she does the illustrations.
Marti - Black pines, white waves
Shanta 1992 (oop-ca)
As a collection of meditations on Japan, the poems in this book are preceded by a haiku by Basho. The sparse writing relates about observations during a retreat, in the Japanese setting of monasteries, pagodas and hills drenched in dew and rain. Rather that haikus, and other forms of Japanese poetry that these poems have been modeled upon, some of the poems read like modern camera snap-shots of both live flowers and dreams.
Anu Majumdar - Mobile Hour
Auroville Press 1993 (oop-ca)
'Mobile Hour' breathes the atmosphere of an Odyssey, the travelogue of a vigorous new nomadic tribe. Anu uses what themes old mythology has left us, in an assured, contemporary way. The result is a book that is well conceived as a whole, as well as in the details of the writing. It is a sure book about aspirations, in that Anu left out the question marks that tend to go with expressions of hope.
Apart from writing poetry, Anu does dance and choreography, having staged various performances in and outside of Auroville.
Pavitra - A Fire (Un Feu)
Private 1993 (oop-ca)
The birth and the waning and waxing of fire, around us, within us. The still flame, and the flame in the wind; the flame behind the flame.
Keeping the metaphor of fire in mind, Pavitra often returns to the image of the child. The adult child caught in the glow of a candle, roaming in thought from one subject to the next. The volume reads as an inner dialogue that does not hesitate to draw in seemingly insignificant outside facts, which are often presented in cinematic views, rather than dream-like visions.
L. Kenneth Fator - Selected Poems 1989-1993 & Trek
Jyotishika Press 1993 (oop-ca)
The world of 'Trek' is a man's world, and at that not always a nice one. The theme of the trek often lends the poetry an aura of survival; the author witnessing survival, as a traveling onlooker who would leave dry interpretations of events to scholars. The result is bold contemporary poetry, in a large variety of styles. Sometimes it seems as if two voices battle within the poet, that of the modern observer and that of the classical mode, the voice that ponders. Still, in both styles there are enough highlights to make the whole of the book memorable reading.
Bindu & Mirek: The singing, the loving & the growing
Writers Workshop Calcutta - 1994. (oop)
It is a bit difficult to sort out the poems by Bindu in this book, since they have been freely mixed with those of Mirek, whose relations to Auroville remain unknown. Bindu’s modern and realistic poems are mostly divided between the themes of love and the significance of being born in India. In both categories she proves herself to be a sharp observer of her own feelings towards men, as well as the culture to which she is born. A simple but effective use of metaphor gives the poems a very convincing ring.
During the last years, Bindu has contributed many articles to Auroville Today.
Vitthal - A tail of tales
Shanta 1994 (oop-ca)
The word play in the title of this collection of modern fables aptly covers what the reader may find within. The stories veer from the realm of fable to that of Eastern parable and back. The result is a witty book for children of all ages, filled with the deeper reflections of many specimens who are I the possession of tails, with the addition of a funny variety of humans and a frog.
On its appearance the book instantly became a favorite among Auroville children.
Lloyd Hofman - But for the Breeze
Shanta 1996 (oop-ca)
Not my turf as a reviewer, since I wrote this booklet. Suffice to say that it is a mixture of poems on nature and love. I have often heard it say that they have a Japanese or Zen ring to them, but short as the poems are, their briefness is more due to my liking of Spanish poetry.
All in all, the book contains vital modern verse and true to life reflections.
Marti - We are one body
Shanta 1996 (oop-ca)
These poems about the inner and outer cosmos to our being have been grafted on Indian culture. There are songs of praise, interspersed by mantras and dedications to goddesses from Hindu mythology. And among the dreams that are described, there is Auroville, Matrimandir.
Still, in the treatment of these themes the poetry is brief in a contemporary way.
Auro Satprem - Quest for the Divine
The Divine, the Dawn and Peace are among the inspirations for this collection of poems that breathes an urging, the telling of a simple truth. "Easy to be picked up by the reader", is what the writer seems to say, though he is well aware that often the easiest things give humanity the most of troubles. There are also poems in which the writer uses the above terms of truth for introspection, trying to answer questions about living in The Dream of The Mother. Many of the poems are celebrations or dedications.
Anu Majumdar - Light Matter
Auroville Press 1998
"Light Matter" is a collection of 'word palaces for he Kingdom of the Soul'. The texts were written as part of an Auroville installation by Pierre LeGrand, and as such partake in one event consisting of visual art, music and poetry.
The book contains three selections: "Ultra Light", "Architectures of Light" and "Light Matter". It is a powerful tribute to the light of the soul, the light in a smile and light as substance. The last may sound strange, but on finishing the collection it is as if you can actually conceive of light as a substance.
L. Kenneth Fator - Ark II poems 1994-1998 & Grand Cru in Plastic Cups
Brandy-Wine Press Ltd. 1998
Fator's second book of poems shows us his capacity for ribaldry, in poems that are more akin to prose than those in his first volume. He is again not intent on showing us the world as one would like to see it, and lets his humor match the less attractive side of mankind. Which is not to say that there is not a subtler Fator to be found in this book, but the majority of the poems give us a widening in scope of the humoristic tone with which we became accustomed in his Collected Poems.
Meenakshi - Another Journey
Shanta Books - 1998
This is a bi-lingual edition of poems in English and Tamil. Adapted by Marti and professor M.L. Thangappa it has illustrations by the Auroville artist Vahula.
Meenakshi's poems never stray far from her house and her garden, but somehow show how vast a small garden can be. Nor is the garden devoid of people. The combination of poems on both nature and people give onto a very nice insight in the Tamil culture. At that the illustrations of Vahula are simple but clarifying for those who do not live in Auroville.
Poetry in French
Poetry in Spanish
Rumor de Silencio (and others) - Anandi
Born Argentina, Anandi wrote her first book "Cantos con piel" during 1973-80. Some poems were written when she was student in the "Instituto del Profesorado" in Buenos Aires, others in France and India.
"Rumor de Silencio", a bilingual Spanish-English volume of poetry (1982-85), was written in Auroville, where she stayed during eight years. It is dedicated to Mother.
"Cantos con Presencia" is dedicated to Sri Aurobindo, of whom Anandi writes: "Who has awakened the Presence in me". These are mystic poems with brief sound-images that give a sacred sense to daily life and transmit a profound gratitude to that embracing Divinity in everything.
"Monoso" is a small collection of children's poems with pronounced rhyme and rhythm, playfully illustrated by Aurovilian children. It is also bilingual English-Spanish.