Dr. Srividya Sivakumar, Coimbatore-based poet & teacher

This is a story about Dr. Srividya Sivakumar, Coimbatore-based poet & teacher, who has two collections of poetry to her name, The Heart is an Attic (2018, Hawakal Publishers) & The Blue Note (2012, Writers Workshop). This is also the story of my oldest and dearest friend of 30+ years. Our friendship began in words and letters: as penpals in the 1980s. She has never stopped writing. I have never stopped reading.

This is a story about a fiercely beautiful woman who writes poetry… and not of the comfortable variety. Hers are songs of the professional, urban Everywoman, who juggles the competing demands of love, work, home and of society. She is the poet of Everywoman’s inner romantic life and of unabashed female sexuality. Hers is an unflinching dissection of the many moods of love: mundane, just-a-little-careless, wishing-for-more, pungent. In her hands, the topic of ‘love’ turns matryoshka doll, keeps unravelling. She is one who confidently, unashamedly owns “the room between my legs” (Wormhole). But what I admire most about her work is that she writes so honestly of women with both creative jobs AND homes to run. This Everywoman is – as she writes in her poem, Stonewall “holding a pen/is frantically cleaning the house”. It is in this role – as the unparalleled rapporteur of the nature of creative life – that I love her most. Here is the artist as lover, partner, wife, homemaker & daughter-in-law:

and there are things to be done

as far as the eye can see

even poets lead mundane lives

they are hosts, they are wives

there are demands made on their time

and there are people waiting

but not in line.

Even on the day she is feted for professional success, the poet-wife must put away her heart and carry on. It is business-as-usual: “two loads of laundry await” and “vessels that need putting away” (Aftermath 1). How often do we hear such an unsettling, provocative voice from the antechamber of a woman’s heart? I salute the courage of her writing.

Story contributed by Anupama Sekhar

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