Sunday, August 23, 2020

WITMonth Day 23 | Night by Sulochana Manandhar | Minireview

When Tilted Axis Press announced their first Translating Feminisms series during WITMonth back in 2018, it was obvious that I needed to back it, for all the reasons. This set of four poetry chapbooks is no longer fully available, with two out of print, and it has had a curiously quiet impact on the literary community despite its successful campaign. Interestingly, the two chapbooks that are out of print were also the two that I preferred less; as a whole, I found the collections to be somewhat uneven. But let's focus on my favorite of the four, a book I genuinely fell in love with: Sulochana Manandhar's Night, translated from Nepali by Muna Gurung.

I can't claim to have read much Nepali literature. Or, frankly, any, prior to Night. This tiny, 38-page chapbook sums up the whole of my literary travels to Nepal, and a decent chunk of the book is the introduction and translator notes (which were very insightful!). And though I didn't review it at the time, Night was actually one of the more memorable books I read in 2019 and it's one that continued to hum in my mind in the past year since I read it.

All of the ways I have to describe Night revolve around music, somehow. It sings, it hums, its tone is resonant. Lyricism is a word that is overused in literary review and oddly doesn't apply here - Night isn't especially lyrical because it isn't especially verbose. Every poem feels gorgeously clear and calm and just the length it needs to be. The theme of night - sleep and dreams and darkness - is woven throughout each of the poems, threading each individual piece together into this (still-tiny) whole. Everything about the collection feels... just right. Rereading individual poems from it again stirs that feeling that Night is a perfect piece of music.

I don't know if Tilted Axis Press intend to reprint the whole of the first Translating Feminisms series, especially now that they are crowdfunding Translating Feminisms 2 (which will feature women and nonbinary writers from Indonesia, the Philippines, and hopefully Tibet; the campaign is currently ongoing), but I at least hope that Night will remain in print for a long time. That it will sell out soon and lead to a full-length translation of the original book (since the current chapbook is only a selection of the original "Night" poems, a little less than half). I would really, really love to be able to read much more of Sulochana Manandhar's poetry and writing. I hope I get the chance soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments have been disabled due to an increase in spam. Sorry!