Acrobat

by

Translated from by

Published: 4/27/21

ISBN: 9781939810816 eISBN: 9781939810816

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Book Description

A radiant collection of poetry about womanhood, intimacy, and the body politic that together evokes the arc of an ordinary life. Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s rhythmic lines explore the joys and agonies of first love, childbirth, and decay with a restless, tactile imagination, both picking apart and celebrating the rituals that make us human. When she warns, “know that blood can be easily drawn by lips,” her words tune to the fierce and biting depths of language, to the “treachery that lingers on tongue tips.” At once compassionate and unsparing, conversational and symphonic, these poems tell of a rope shivering beneath an acrobat’s nimble feet or of a twisted, blood-soaked umbilical cord – they pluck the invisible threads that bind us together.

One simultaneously hears the voices of mother and daughter in a duet of perfect harmony. The translations don’t read as translations; they read as poems, a new voice perfect in its own right, transcending the barrier of death.”
Wendy Doniger


In Nabaneeta Dev Sen's poems, she walks a tightrope between a black cloud and a cloud that is blood-red. When the rope shivers, you, the reader, can feel it in the lines and hold your breath. Good translations of modern Indian poetry are hard to come by. This one by Nandana Dev Sen has to be one of the best.
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra


Nabaneeta Dev Sen's Acrobat is that rare, majestic creature: a book that, through every page, underscores the quiet high-wire act required from the poet. It is a feat whose complexity is only matched by its mastery in inhabiting the multiple selves of artist, daughter, lover, mother, translator, scholar and more. Here are poems that capture the pleasures and trials of the human experience - desire, decay, mortality, childbirth, bereavement, wonder - with unsparing detail and sensitivity, and celebrate the gift of language which helps us transcend them.
Karthika Naïr


Nabaneeta Dev Sen's voice soars above the chorus of its own language with power and clarity. Alternately fierce and tender, it reveals the hidden places of the human heart.
Arshia Sattar


A prolific, peerless writer who made worlds and words come alive.
Raja Sen


Her pen unfolds a rare fluidity, an insight into human nature, a gift for satire capped with feather-light touches of humour.
Times of India


In everything Nabaneeta Dev Sen was, writer-teacher-feminist, etc, her luminous poetic legacy is this: she (and her words) embraced life with critical exhilaration, anticipated and experienced its short-changes, and came back to life again with one more pirouette after the lights dimmed.
Brinda Bose, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University


It was through her creative writing that Dev Sen gave herself a sovereign presence in the Bengali literary sphere . . . She was not afraid of baring her pain in the early poetry she wrote, nor did she ever compromise on questions of freedom.
Dipesh Chakrabarty


[In her poetry], words are not symbols, not individualised characters, but sentinels that represent hopes, dreams, fears, and inner instincts.
Uma Nair, Times of India


An extraordinary talent, author, poet, and novelist.
Trisha De Niyogi, Bengaluru Review


Her spontaneity, unique style of expression, vast and varied experience of life are evident in her poems, short stories, novels, features, and essays. Her wit and humor, sense of detachment together with heart-to-heart sensibility give her writings a personal touch that is hard to ignore.
Indian Library of Congress


In prose, Dev Sen radiated warmth and joy, enlivened by her trademark self-deprecating humour and a robust sense of hope and compassion even in the direst of circumstances.
Somak Ghoshal, Livemint


One of the doyens of Bengali Literature . . . I got to read whatever little I could of what was translated in English. But I hope more is translated. I hope more people read her. Quite a prolific writer.
Vivek Tejuja


Nandana Dev Sen pens a heartfelt letter to her beloved Ma in Times of India