when the flowers begin to speak
by Sonali Pattnaik
Published by Writers Workshop, 2021
Symbolically and literally flowers are often seen as objects of beauty, often merely decorative things that may be plucked, kept and pressed or crushed. The philosophical thrust of the poems in this volume is to question that objectification and to locate subversion by asserting that flowers (and by that symbolic token women) too are subjects who can speak and write their own truths. The poems are for my daughter, for all our daughters, and sons, as they sing and articulate a journey of surviving violence, of resistance and triumph and testify to the old, abiding feminist credo that the ‘personal is indeed the political’.
The poems in the collection are broken into four sections, ‘ripped’, ‘sowing’, ‘rising’ and ‘in bloom’, in keeping with the metaphor of flowers in the title and delineate the narrative and themes that the work carries. They are writings from the last five-six years that may be described as poetry of resistance to abuse, freedom from it, learning to heal and reclaim identity and finding self-love and love at large.. The poems navigate emotions of breakdown, fear, numbness, and the loss of language that trauma that domestic violence brings on. They go on to describe the journey of finding a language to fight back with and reclaim dignity and ultimately find a way to rise again with greater truth and courage.