Four Degrees of Separation:
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A first book of 60 poems.
Potkar speaks with the cutting clarity of a woman wholly engaged with the world. She writes from the gilded moment vulnerability becomes knowledge, and then when knowledge becomes wisdom. The result, in all cases, is the poem: clever and crafted to a kind of broken perfection—the cracks show, but the shattered places are dusted with powdered gold. “If a day is a life, a word is a story,” Potkar writes. Her poetry condenses life into a gilded day, a story into a single word, as only a masterful poet can do it, or a woman can feel it.
Four degrees of separation is a book to be opened like pulling down the covers of a lovers’ bed, pages of poems like sheets to be inhaled, scents that will invade dreams. Jaguars stalk through these poems; mangoes, the sweet, salty vinegar of bodies in love, bodies falling out of love–and the city of Bombay too is omnipresent, ripe with cats and blossoms, heaps of saris, “anklets clinking to camel bells.” This book is a conversation, an invitation to heed the advice of a wise grandmother, who says, “Don’t love a man more than he knows what to do with it/like chocolate over a child’s face/or a small body in a large shirt….love him a little less/So he comes, wagging his desires.” This book is also a cry of lament to a grandmother who “cherished sons over daughters.” The tangles of lovers, of love lost, and of family relationships, all fuel these poems. We are all connected, for better and for worse, these poems insist, as an aunt “searched for zeros in every person/like ingredients in a soup.” “A grudge is a wound that never seeks healing,” writes Potkar in one of the many wise observations guiding this collection, where even amidst the chaos of life and love, “every tree holds the silence of the earth/under its armpits.”
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