‘You Have One Book With You’
Ankita Anand
ESCAPE ARTIST by Sridala Swami Aleph Book Company, 2017, 88 pp., 194
April 2017, volume 41, No 4

Sridala Swami’s collection Escape Artist is not a sea of several-legged creatures and tangled weeds that confuse an entrant. It has the quiet and spaciousness of an art gallery where each poem focuses on a specific thing, like A sacred text on a grain of rice in her poem ‘Not Loss but Residue’, neatly framed by a larger context, or layers of it. The reader gets time to take in one feeling, one image at a time before they are invited to join the larger connectedness of things. Visually, the lines are placed with care one after the other on a memory game tray, making it easy to remember the various objects displayed.

Before the poet was a poet
everything had a place:

six years were six years
parallel lines followed rules
— ‘Revisions’

The poet is a product of her past and memories of ancient texts come by in fragments as she tries to make sense of her present.
Mrtyu is a becoming and this shell-
enclosed existence is merely a bardo.
Prepare for life, Garuda.
— ‘Rescue Artist’

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