Poet, novelist, short story writer and translator Lakshmi Kannan is bilingual, writing fiction in Tamil in the name of ‘Kaaveri’. Sipping the Jasmine Moon is her fifth book of poetry. Rivers, river myths, family relationships, friendship and spirituality are important topics, but the over-arching concern is with woman’s fate in India. Of the sixty-six poems here, thirty-eight are new.
The poems are in five thematic sections. The first section, ‘Braided Lives’, with twenty poems, is centred on women. ‘Don’t Wash’ is a tribute to Rassasundari Debi (1809-1899) who taught herself writing by scribbling secretly on the mud walls of her kitchen. The poem ‘Family Tree’ reveals how a woman’s work is never recognized. Many poems are about the iniquitous property laws. ‘Red Ants, Then As Now’ is a beautiful recreation of the poet’s happy childhood in her grandfather’s house in Mysore, ‘A luminous beauty in cream colour/ with walls warmed by love.’