Anju Prasad’s Love Anthems is a collection of poems that are romantic, dreamy, and mystical in tone and atmosphere. They are often marked by hope and a focus on the delicacy and strength of womanhood. Some contain cultural imagery from India, the author’s homeland.
Many of the poems are indeed “love anthems,” and Prasad uses figurative language to express the exquisite and sensual nature of romantic intimacy. “Me, Your Eternal Love” is a good example: “I rain, drizzle, and like a peacock feather stroke you gently./ I just sit, never letting my eyes quiver as the lanterns of your hopes burn in them.”
Such metaphors give the poems vitality, but sometimes they are overfamiliar and florid, as in “Give Me Thy Love,” which begins: “Though it poisons me right at the heart,/ infecting me cell by cell,/ in it lies my salvation,/ churning my bitter soul…” . Words such as “poison,” “heart,” “bitter,” “soul” are overused in love poems and sometimes lend a generic, adolescent flavor to this volume.
Some of the pieces are more prose/lecture-like, doing more telling than showing. The most original generally aren’t love poems, such as “Snake and Ladder,” which conveys religious ideas, making use of musical techniques, such as repetition and alliteration. In the middle of this one-page poem without stanza breaks —an appropriate shape for a poem about snakes and ladders—Prasad uses sound and simple declarative statements to her advantage: “The karma defines the births and rebirths./ Between right and wrong,/ the midway of sin and sanctity,/ there is a snake and ladder, like/ a way – breakthrough.”
Love Anthems is an enjoyable book, in that there is a real sense of the person behind the poems, a woman who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable and share the “wildfire” and “wilderness” in her soul. While these poems don’t achieve great literary sophistication, readers looking for enthusiastic love poems and a feminine Indian perspective may find some delights here.
Also available as an ebook.