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.

Mindful Musings

ACG Newsletter #1

Photo by Jon Tyson via Unsplash 

Hello, beautiful people! It is a new month and a lovely new day and we are moving right along here in ACG. There have been a few changes and will be a few more throughout the year. I will share a couple of those changes with you at the end of this letter. Thus far, the year has been great here for our small community. We are nearing the 1200th mark for followers and we are also making our way extremely close to the 200th mark for contributors. A Cornered Gurl is growing and this pleases me greatly. I wish I could express how happy it makes me to be able to work with an amazing group of people, grow with them, and be able to encourage one another regarding our craft.

We kicked off 2020 the right way with an awesome challenge focused on an invigorating and solid poetic form: the nonet with a theme of “Nonet the Night.” The challenge took off swimmingly and I was happy to see so many people try their hand at it. Here are a few of those entries:

Mary Keating

Rachel B. Baxter

Marta Mozolewska

You can view the rest of those responses by checking out our “Community” tab.

We just ended the first Young Minds of Medium challenge for this year and as always, the young ones brought that fire, people. This past month’s theme was What Is Your Favorite Song & How Does It Inspire You? Music is an instant connector — it pulls us together more than it tears us apart. Every submission met the requirements and they were a joy to review and publish so as to share with all of you. Here are a few of those responses:

Niharika Gursahani

Nour

Ameaka

Anto Rin

You can read the rest of those responses by clicking on our “Young Minds” tab.

Due to ACG’s steady growth, I find it important to work on ways to be able to get our contributors’ voices out to the masses. Yes, Medium is one avenue and I also mention and feature writers via the ACG website, however, social media is a demanding force and many people flock to one of the big three in order to get their gossip, good reads, and fellowship fix. I have selected Twitter for A Cornered Gurl and we are now heading out of the dark ages and into a source of ever-evolving light. You can connect with and follow us at A Cornered Gurl. We hope to see you there.

ACG has been up and running as an all-inclusive writer publication for one year and almost two months and nearly up for three years prior to making that change on January 5, 2019. With this in mind, I have decided to make it a point to publish a literary magazine each Spring which will be comprised of ten-fourteen selected writers’ work, included a few of my own as well. This Spring’s issue is nearly done and is entitled: QUINTESSENCE: A Literary Magazine of Featured Medium Writers. I look forward to sharing its essence with each of you when it is complete.

A Cornered Gurl has welcomed a few new contributors this past month and at the beginning of this year. Please help me give them a proper welcome: Simran Sawant, Abdullah I. Shawaf, Sylph Hemery, and nan fischer.

And now, a little music, yes? Cameo: Back and Forth

As always, thank you for your mind, time, and eyes. We appreciate your presence here.

Peace and blessings.

A Cornered Gurl Guidelines.

Strutting In The Sun

Vol. 8: End of the Year Good Things

Kelis Photo by Michael Mora

Hello, lovelies! We made it through another year here on Medium and most of us still have so many stories to tell. To those of you still following us, still reading what we have to share and still enthralled by every click of each post, we appreciate you. Surely, we would not be who we are here at A Cornered Gurl if it were not for each of you. A heartfelt THANK YOU does not seem like enough, but it is what we are gifting as well as our words.

This year, in January, we launched the opening of ACG up to every writer on Medium and since then, milestones upon milestones have greeted us. Currently, we have 1,131 followers and we are comprised of 159 writers with 75 of them in an active status here on Medium. Our theme–our dedication within this publication is to give you writing that is brutally honest, vulnerable, and relative & relatable. We are writers who, “Break out of the Box” and this is shown with every piece published in A Cornered Gurl.

The last few months leading up to the end of this year gave us the last Young Minds of Medium challenge with a theme of “How Do You Sing The Blues?” We also introduced our youngest contributor, Niharika Gursahani who is currently flourishing here on Medium as well as maintaining her readership on WordPress.

Two pieces I’d like to shine a little light on as contributions to this challenge are:

Anto Rin, Women are from Venus

Braden Turner, Southern Fried Circuits

The last challenge for all writers was this month with the following theme: “How Do You Like Your Love?” We had nineteen entries and I was more than pleased with each submission. Everyone was not only creative in using three words or multiple sets of three words to share how they like their love, but I also felt a sense of togetherness monitoring this challenge. I want to highlight three of those entries:

Willow T. Lovelace, Endless Endearment

Subo, Love

Rachel B. Baxter, How Do You Like Your Love?

I want to take this moment to recognize some of our newest contributors as they have shared poignant work with us toward the end of this year and I am certain next year will welcome the same: Roxana Ștefan, Esther Spurrill-Jones, Christie Alex Costello, MBA, Stephen M. Tomic, Sarah E Sturgis, and Bella Linda.

In A Cornered Gurl, we are built on community. It is important for us to not only encourage one another but to help each other grow and we are doing that by exploring many of the facets of writing available to us. The goal I envisioned, as we neared the end of this year, was to be able to present one of the local homeless shelters here in my area of North Carolina with a check or an electronic payment that would not only go toward providing meals but also a place to sleep or rest for a few nights too for those desperately in need. We did that. The amount donated to Samaritan’s Ministries was $75.00.

Not only did we raise enough funds to contribute in the fight to rally against homelessness in this area, but we were also able to gift St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital $90.00. Their remarkable care, professionalism, and willingness to help children diagnosed with cancer for absolutely no cost to their parents, blows my mind.

I have friends and family members who still want to donate and will do so and have been informed that their funds have been and will be placed in the ACG account to go toward next year’s charity donations.

Here in ACG, small monetary rewards distributed throughout the year to twenty-four writers for meeting various milestones in or outside of the publication added up to $262.00. I am overjoyed that we have been able to meet most of our goals and exceed in others.

Next year’s challenges will be totally different from this year’s and they will force us to use our thinking abilities as creatives and truly break out of the box. Stay tuned.

To anyone who has given their time, money, efforts, and support to this publication, I am honored. I cannot thank you enough and words do not seem to be justifiable given the accolades placed upon us. I look forward to what 2020 has in store and I hope you do too.

And now, a little Kelis: Get Along With You

Peace and blessings and a very Happy New Year to you!


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

 

Peace & Blessings, Beautiful People

May This Holiday Season Bring You Endless Joy

time for embracing
this — a beautiful season
of love and laughter

and of endless cheer
be present and honor life’s
neverending gifts

pull in and push out
boundless love to everyone
including yourself

*Hello, beautiful people. I will be taking a short break. I intend to drink in the welcoming arms of relaxation, reflection, peace, and stillness. Here’s hoping each of you will enjoy the upcoming holidays to the fullest. ACG will resume its normal publishing schedule on Friday, December 27, 2019.

Peace and blessings.