Crimson Skins (Poetry & Prose) by Devika Mathur: A Review

Crimson Skins by Devika Mathur, Kindle Version available via Amazon

Firstly, I would be amiss if I did not state how honored I was to be asked to review this wondrous work by Devika Mathur. From what I have come to know of the writer, she is steadfast in her talent, dives into the raw and gritty surfaces of her feelings, and has no trouble sharing them with the world. With a style not akin to many writers I have read, Devika expresses herself with poetically sound language and a definite strength in her prose.

The aptly titled debut book, Crimson Skins, begins with “Olive Skin” which is a surefire opener, with power-packed phrases such as “My mother has a concave slippery mouth, untouchable with the slick tunes of time” and “She stitches her concrete bun as a belt of Ganges.”

The first section of poetry gets even better as the writer continues to deeply express herself using a style I like to call “raw surrealism.” “A fixation” is a good example of this. Two lines I found myself reading multiple times because I loved them that much are: “I have seen the postcards of vintage ink our lotus bodies sinking like air” and “You step on to my body, peeling layers of SCARS.” She is no stranger to poignant line breaks and metaphorical stanzas. Many of her poems, from what I have learned, are meant to be absorbed slowly–savored. It would not be wise to rush through them. And really, why would you want to?

“A swan of longing” is another favorite poem of mine. Devika uses a few nature images in this piece, however, the raw and gritty feel is still alive. “Climb up my knuckles, rest on the mount of flaky skin” says so much while not using many words. It’s succinct and compact yet still sends a punch straight to the gut. Another line that held my attention is, “Sew and move up. Climb to my cheekbones, now”–the imagery is intense and active. Reading it took me to another place, one where I would not mind venturing to more often.

Crimson Skins has a variety of work any reader will enjoy. The book isn’t basic and will be able to go the extra mile for years to come. I will be so bold as to say many of the pieces featured in it has the staying power of words by a few greats such as Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, and Virginia Woolf. It ends just as it began, with an intense piece of writing showcasing the writer’s talent.

“The art of silence” is placed exactly where it needs to be–the best for last. “Quietness, comes to me like sex, wild hum in the lost arid air” caught me off guard and I doubled-back to make sure I read the opening line correctly. I did and it is perfect in every way. The ending lines are as follows: “Cities often collapse while searching another one, and here is my tombstone, polished gold grave, beneath twigs of moth.” I read those lines and I know what poetry is. I feel what poetry is. I will remember what poetry is.

Crimson Skins comes as no shocker to me with its high caliber of writing and a plethora of poems and prose to choose from on which to connect. Devika Mathur shows that she is no novice to the world of writing. I look forward to its debut in June of 2020 and will be one of the first to purchase my copy. If you are a lover of poetry and writing that seeps into your skin and rattles your bones, then you should too.

I will be purchasing the Kindle version before the weekend is out, however, I also am going to purchase the paperback version when it is available too. I had the grand opportunity of diving into this work of art prior to its publication and I assure you, it’s worth every accolade it will amass within the first few weeks. Let’s support a fellow WordPress writer, shall we?

Featured Audio Poem of the Week

Wild Flower, or The Wild One as I like to call her, has been on Medium for four years and ever since she appeared, she has been making waves. A familiar face from my days as Editor of This Glorious Mess, I was incredibly happy to have her contribute to A Cornered Gurl as well. She answered the call to “Sound Off” with an audio poem and it is truly incredible. I have been amazed by her growth and transformation into this beast of a writer and I hope I am around long enough to see her continue to evolve.

I won’t dote on her any longer . . . Here’s the piece in question, They Call Me Chaos.


Photo by Miguel Salgado on Unsplash

They Call Me Chaos

An audio poem

They call me chaos,
a complete contradiction
to myself.
Pages of disarray, defined as
a little too abstruse
obscured views, built on foundations
not quite ready to hold
my heavy.

Yes, I feel the weight
of the world beneath me.
I carry your loss
as much as my own.
My throne has not yet
come to me.

I am queen somewhere,
but this life and I
are not yet aligned
to build the bridges required
to save us all
from the inevitable
f a l l
we are facing.

Still, I will hold my arms wide,
tie myself to the core of the problem.
I will stretch each limb to the rim
of your hurt, and hold it
for as long as required.
I will not let go
until I am wise enough
to find the solution.

Yes, they call me chaos,
they say my dreams are
unattainable.

I am a box of worms because the
can they locked me in
could not contain me.

Pandora showed me the way
and in my world,
we speak what we feel,
we use art and poetry
to shield the bigots away.
We hold hands and
embrace each other
through languages
that don’t divide us.

Come and find us,
everyone eats at this table
and not a single shot is fired.

I can’t breathe through your knee
is echoed into a verse that initiates
actual change, that stays,
long enough for the world
to see the wounds it has created.
Providing a bandage
big enough to wrap our hearts
around the start of
something different.

There you have it,
come along for the ride
or turn your stride
away from me.
I will be somewhere else,
writing it out
and taking on the world
as I see it.

They call me chaos
and for as long as I can remember
I have been searching for a way to say
this is me and I am proud of it.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Featured Audio Poem of the Week

Jennifer Patino is not only a most recent contributor to A Cornered Gurl via Medium, but she is also someone I have been reading on WordPress for years. Her most recent blog/website is Thistle Thoughts and the world of poetry, spoken word, essays, and her thoughts and reflections come to life there.

Recently, I put out a call for audio poems to be submitted to A Cornered Gurl for our Feature of the Week and approached Jennifer to take on the challenge. She did so. Not only did she hit us with her words, she gut-punched us with the reading of them.

A Native American, “enrolled Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe,” Jennifer speaks about her people, their fight to survive, what has and continues to be taken away from them, and the move toward the betterment of our nation and our hearts.

I give you, You Wanna Talk, and I hope you feel it as much as we do.


You Wanna Talk?

Photo by Dulcey Lima via Unsplash

Audio Poem

I’m petrified into silence,
mute disbelief, my grief
holds my tongue, my words
buried inside me

You wanna talk oppression? It’s
almost an obsession, how you
feel you have to prove you suffer
more than the weak

You wanna talk fear? When I
wake, feeling like I was born
for the slab and may arrive early
because you “can’t breathe” through a mask?

I can list many, my dear, who literally
could not breathe, while being murdered by
police brutality, who
could not breathe in gas chambers,
who are no longer breathing,
brothers, mothers, significant others

You wanna talk sin, or attacks on religion?
My people could practice again in 1978, remember
it was taken away? No, you don’t
You can’t

I can’t speak for all, only me,
a voice from your sacrificial altar,
a daughter being led to slaughter
for your economy

for your frogskins, your chameleon colored money
You wanna talk hardship?
You can’t work on a ventilator
Your bank doesn’t matter
when you’re deceased

I watch infections increase, and
I cry for every family I watch
injustice happening in the streets,
and I contemplate destiny

I think of all these martyrs, I try
and remember, their names, their faces
I want them to be
more than just a hashtagged tragedy
I want, no, I need
to remember

You wanna talk flags?
I wave a white one too
It says “I surrender”


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

A Cornered Gurl has a new look . . .

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ACG Screenshot #1

A Cornered Gurl via Medium has a new look & we are happy to share it with you. Many of our writers felt compelled to write about their thoughts on racism, thus “Raising Our Voices #BLM a promotional feature is now on our homepage.

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ACG Screenshot #2

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ACG Screenshot #3



We invite you and hope you see & hear us.

Quintessence

via Quintessence

“Quintessence” is a literary magazine to be published yearly in the Spring. The writers you see featured in this literary magazine are contributors to A Cornered Gurl and have been faithful in their support, encouragement of others, and submitting strong and poignant work to be read freely on the platform. This is the first issue.

For those of you who have been supportive of this magazine whether by purchasing a copy or sharing your well-wishes and positive thoughts, we are grateful. As of today, the magazine has sold thirty copies and we are anxious to see how well we will do in the next week. On Saturday, May 02, 2020, the discounted rate of $17.00, USD, will be removed and the paperback version of the magazine will be at its standard rate of $20.00 per copy. The e-book version will remain $6.50, USD.

We have one review listed thus far and I am interested in what others think about our first issue. If you have purchased a copy or you intend to, please leave a review for it whenever you can via the Lulu site linked to whichever version you purchased.

Again, thank you so much for your support!