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Author: Divya Joshi

Publisher: Clever Fox, Chennai


For The Apostles of Muse

Shiv Sethi reviews Divya Joshi's poetry collection Matryoshka

Divya Joshi's poetry collection, Matryoshka, offers a poignant exploration of emotions through around a hundred poems, each intricately woven into a common yet offbeat style and structure. From the moment one delves into this collection, it becomes evident that Joshi has a unique ability to capture attention and hold it throughout. Much like the nested Russian dolls, each poem reveals deeper insights into the human experience, inviting readers to peel back the layers and explore the intricate emotions within. In ‘The Pretense of False Intimacy’, Joshi delves into the complex intersection of modern technology, virtual reality, and human connection. Through vivid imagery and incisive language, she critiques the superficiality of our digital interactions and the illusion of intimacy they often create.


The pretense of false intimacy

the simulations and dissimulations

a world of virtual reality……

connect and share,

our multiphrenic identities


The poem opens with a stark portrayal of the contemporary landscape, where individuals navigate a world of ‘simulations and dissimulations’, suggesting a pervasive culture of artifice and deception. The language employed by Joshi is striking in its critique of this digital culture. Terms like ‘hokum’ and ‘humdrum’ convey a sense of disdain for the superficiality and monotony of online interactions. The use of ‘glamorous world’ further emphasizes the artificiality of this digital landscape, where appearances often take precedence over authenticity.


The second section ‘Silences’ has another very beautiful poem:


The ocean silently sipped

the saline water,

……silently listening to the stories of Makara,

sharks, turtles, cephalopods

all different yet same in their silences,


The poet crafts a mesmerizing portrayal of the ocean as a silent yet profound entity, teeming with life and secrets waiting to be discovered. Through rich imagery and lyrical language, she invites the readers to contemplate the depths of the ocean and the mysteries it holds. This image of the ocean dis-enthralling itself from the grip of Vritra evokes a sense of liberation and freedom, as it swells, rises, and falls in rhythmic harmony. The poem celebrates the diversity of life within the ocean, from ‘Makara, sharks, turtles, cephalopods,’ each with their own unique stories and silences. This ceaseless silence becomes a backdrop for the creatures of the ocean to gather and commune, engaging in a ‘silent adda’ that transcends words.


The next section is titled ‘Romance’ which begins with: 


My romance with life

began when I was eight……

My romance with life continued

…..the fun and pranks in the classrooms

the jottings on

the last page of notebooks

and in drawing temporary tattoos.

The poem offers a nostalgic reflection on the author's adolescent years, capturing the essence of youthful exuberance and innocent infatuation with life's simple pleasures. Through vivid imagery and evocative language, she paints a portrait of adolescence as a time of discovery, adventure, and boundless possibility. The poem then transitions to a series of sensory experiences that define the narrator's adolescence, from the tantalizing taste of ‘hot spicy samosa with imli chutney’ in the school canteen to the camaraderie and mischief of classroom antics. These vignettes evoke a sense of nostalgia for the carefree days of youth, where every moment was infused with a sense of possibility and adventure. The use of imagery ‘jottings on the last page of notebooks’ and ‘drawing temporary tattoos’ serve as tangible reminders of the narrator's creative expression and desire for self-expression.


The last section titled ‘Siblings’ has another beautiful poem:

Those long off –the cup conversations

on the stairs… discussing period flows

sister siblings…


This is the last poem of the section and offers a tender exploration of the intimate bonds shared between siblings, particularly sisters, as they navigate the complexities of growing up together. Through a series of vignettes, the poet paints a vivid portrait of the everyday moments that define these relationships, celebrating the beauty and significance of shared experiences. Joshi’s use of repetition, particularly in the phrase ‘almost every day,’ emphasizes the consistency and constancy of these shared moments, underscoring their significance in the lives of the siblings. 


The offbeat style and structure add a refreshing layer of complexity to the collection. Rather than adhering to traditional poetic forms, she experiments with structure, rhythm, and language, creating a dynamic and engaging reading experience. This willingness to push the boundaries of poetic expression sets Matryoshka apart. Matryoshka is a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant collection that showcases Divya Joshi's talent for capturing the complexities of the human experience. Through its offbeat style and structure, she invites readers on a journey of self-discovery, encouraging them to explore the depths of their own emotions. It is ultimately a rewarding and enriching read that leaves a lasting impression on its audience.

About the Author

Dr Divya Joshi

Poet, Translator, social activist Dr. Divya Joshi is presently working as Professor Department of English, Govt. Dungar College. She has written two poetry collections Dance of Life (2020), shortlisted for Poetry Excellence Award 2022 and Matryoshka (2021). She has been to Turkey, Dubai, Malaysia, Singapore, China and Vietnam to deliver invited talks and read her poems .She is also the founder Director of Lopamudra Foundation .

Image by Arash
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