Being Born Poems by Shivani Sivagurunathan
Publisher: Maya Press
Editor: Malachi Edwin Vethamani
Year of Issue: 2022
Being Born by Shivani Sivagurunathan brings to the fore a poet of the Indian diaspora, one who sketches out the contour and its special confluence of Tamil and Malaysian cultures. As expected, her language is tropical and redolent, like the lines in "Day at the Mosque" — "the vellum goes the great way, / across fish ranging the hot soups of these / waters and the quiet lulls of those nearer / to the way my nipple cracks when it faces / the blue of twilight" The poet invokes the local landscape and culture with passion and urgency. Being Born is about birth and rebirth, about hybridity and multiculturalism, about "a tug between what is" and "a moment of ellipsis' and being simultaneously and comfortably at home in all these.
— Sudeep Sen, author of Anthropocene (Pippa Rann), EroText (Vintage: Penguin Random House), and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (editor)
Being Born sweeps the reader headlong into the paradoxes of existence, finding wisdom in the eye of a grasshopper and peace curled in the belly of a hedgehog. The poems illuminate a vast landscape at our feet, making us see the familiar askance: in the "violent light", "voyaging milk" and "deciduous freshlings" our language is reborn in new configurations and takes flight in the wings of "sunbird aunties". These poems snake down the page in free verse that is by turns taut and expansive, rooted in the vegetal flesh of life and meditating on "molecular godworlds". Internal rhymes swoop with exquisite grace from "dark meanderings" to "dangling things" until "All you need to do is swing" with the rhythms of biology and prayer. This collection is an impressive achievement, a joy and an inspiration.
— Carina Hart, Poet and author of Your Brain Cells Sing When They Die (The Black Spring Press Group)