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Woman and Her Muse is all about feminine self

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Noted expatriate poet, memoirist and translator Lopamudra Banerjee’s latest volume of poetry and memoir Woman and Her Muse was launched by Intercultural Poetry and Performance Library (IPPL) on August 25, 2018 at a memorable programme marked by academic discussions and spontaneous poetry-reading at ICCR. Gautam De, ICCR Regional Director, addressed the audience on how ICCR encourages academic and cultural activities, performed throughout the year by IPPL. The poet was introduced to the august audience by eminent academician and President, IPPL, Professor Sanjukta Dasgupta. 

Woman and her Muse has a unique title. As Dasgupta mentioned: “The title of the volume was unique because usually one hears of male writers having female muses, but here the poet speaks of a close relationship between her feminine self and her inspiring muse.” USA based author and poet Lopamudra Banerjee explained how her mother taught her about Bengali literature and survival skills. She was married into an aristocratic family, whose mansion was once shortlisted for shooting by the film maestro Satyajit Ray.  

As such, her current volume of poetry is a kaleidoscope of a training in Western literature along with Bangla literature, her experiences of Kolkata and her opinion about the 100 years of Indian cinema, all of which she wanted to bequeath as a legacy to her daughters born in USA. Dr Pulugurtha was reminded of Meena Alexander’s ‘Fault Lines,’ and commented on how tectonic emotional upheavals mark the journey of the expatriate poet. In reply to her query about how cinema, both art-house and Bollywood, play a cathartic role in the poet’s poetry, Lopamudra explained her poetic journey for the present volume begins with Smita Patil, continues with the female muses like Durga and Aparna in Ray’s Bangla cinema and Gulzar’s ‘Ijaazat’ and ends on the day Sridevi dies - a reflection of the personal journey of heroines who devote their life and soul to cinema. 

The event ended on a happy note with Julie Andrews acting on a suggestion from her editor, which imparts both a pastoral and surreal conclusion. Lopamudra ascribed her personal curve of inspiration to a whole spectrum of female performers from Maya Angelou to Julie Andrews. Dr Sharmila Ray spoke about the evolution of Durga as a warrior aptly described by Lopamudra by citing from various Puranic sources, and her message of hope in Durga’s homecoming. Her Durga series of poems was inspired by artist Monica Talukdar’s paintings of Naba Durga. Once Dr. Pulugurtha had finished reading the poem ‘The Goddess and the Warrior,’ Lopamudra reminisced how her muses came to her at night and punned on how they could be called Night Musings.

True to its poetic tradition, IPPL hosted an evening of amalgamation of myriad art-forms like painting, cinema, poetry and archival skills to encourage the preservation of the memories of Kolkata and Bengali roots among a diasporic population, cordially remembered by those back home.