Prem Geet reviews Madhuri’s book of Poetry: Make a Mad Hurry for Madhuri’s Moonlicious Medicine!
For poet Madhuri, the blank page is a rectangular moon on which she inscribes a lifetime of experiencing. Her poetry is a remembrance of a million moons stored up from past lives. A favoured creature of God, this poet sits at the hem of the Divine Moon’s illumined gown and takes notes.
Osho speaks about the wholeness of higher mathematics versus ordinary mathematics and says, “The same is true about all the higher values. A beautiful poem is not just the words that compose it; it is something more. Otherwise anybody who can put words together in a rhythmical form will become a Shakespeare, a Kalidas, a Milton, a Shelley. Then any linguist, grammarian will become a great poet. That does not happen. You may know the whole grammar of language, you may be acquainted with all the words of the language, still to be a poet is a totally different phenomenon. Poetry comes first, then come the words, not vice versa – it is not that you arrange the words and the poetry arises.
I Am That, Ch 9
Madhuri’s primal poetry is one beautiful, individualistic example of how poetry comes first, across a lifetime, as a way of relating to life, mining a relationship to Self. We are fortunate indeed that she translated her poetry to words, and shares her relationship to the glowing ever-present third party. This is a moon-mad mystical trek over more than four decades.
Pulled into a luscious river of words,
I kept reading and found many,
many new faces of the moon,
never before seen.
Throughout recorded history, it seems that poets would have depleted the Moon’s imagery by now, but Madhuri’s latest moonlicious book proves that the Cool She is inexhaustible, rich beyond imagining, as many-faced as we are. Her amazing book is a rare moon-guided journey from a woman’s waxing pubescence to the fullness of her own oceanic presence. The Night Pearl continues to reveal Herself in altogether new ways as long as there is a witnessing, pulsating mystic looking up to Her glorious reflection. Madhuri reveals a rare gift, as if following the best poetic advice from the all-modern American ex-patriate Ezra Pound who said simply, “Make it new.”
But I digress. I have to make this side note: It’s a miracle to find this book as I have never met Madhuri. How in the world did this book find me in particular? It had to be a divine appointment because I am mad about the moon and poetry. Oddly enough, I am also one of few people in the world who survived three years of bloody poetry writing workshops with some of the world’s best poets including Howard Nemerov, the former Poet Laureate of the United States, Seamus Heaney Nobel Prize winning poet of Ireland, and the nasty zen-tastic Gary Snyder (it might have been a man-o-pause day?), all of whom told me my poetry sucked Big Time – 30 years ago in college. They shattered all of us pot-smoking party animals wearing berets. These great, great poets were paid to stoop to read our poetry. Some claimed that our whining and whimpering creations were so un-readable that the white page of clunkiness was, at times, crunched in a ball by the hands of a famous poet delighting in evil and tossed in the nearby garbage can overflowing with other crumpled paper moon poems. And their parting, mortal cliché, offered tenderly, was often, “Don’t quit your day job,” the ultimate death knell to the aspiring artistic ego.
But they also taught us the highest road, that poetry reveals the elevation of the soul. They taught us that poetry was “to teach and delight,” and they taught us to revere language and conventions and root words, and they taught us to hear the sounds of words clicking together and dancing in rhythm. They taught us to sniff out fakery and sentimentality like a blind dog in a meat market and destroy them because, after all, a poem had to ring TRUE, that indefinable gong in the soul that could not be taught or tricked out of words but was finally offered by the Soul itself for mysterious reasons. But it’s interesting in retrospect, that they inadvertently taught us wanna-be writers to value an ornate ego, a snobbish aesthetic, an altogether unique persona, in compensation for the huge howling inner emptiness and insecurity that drove us in the first place. So for years, I’ve dissected poetry – the academic word is “Explication,” but it was ultimately a form of greed and a kind of sickness.
Magically enough, three decades later, Madhuri’s book lands in my mail box. Seeing the cover’s tender art, my heart sighed, ahhhhhhhhhh! This is a woman committed to her vision, one who would go to all lengths to include sacred bits of real leaves and flowers in the cover art. Wow! The into-me-see was already flowing between us.
I cracked the pages open randomly to these poignant lines that invoke the Divine Feminine and her creative, ordering power to consciously birth us all in her lifelong gaze:
We are never anywhere without the moon.
She did not let us come here
She called our names – each;
There were so many of us.
And later, I found a womb-lifting love for these lines about a singular woman sensing the vastness of the Full Moon of Guru Purnima swelling in Missouri, a local place, while the non-local Tibetan Masters gather, also in her reach, but just beyond the frequency of sound:
I could feel the moon
Even in daytime.
She poured down like water.
Trees reached up to her
As to a cool
And Brilliant sun.
It was Guru Purnima –
Pure magic. Tears ripped through my soul in recognition of the indefinable. I said to myself, I know her. Her poetry sends colour waves, vibrations from places hidden between the words. Her effect is both grounded and ephemeral. The poet surrounds us with an elegiac tone, describing the sweltering summer day, as if it wants to hide the coming blessing of night, the roar of silence, the longing of trees. Aghast at the mad intuition, the matter-of-fact beauty – a rare quality in poetry – my Explicator flipped through her mental rolodex and found names like Pablo Neruda, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, some of the finest poets in the world, all friendly reflections of Madhuri’s singular voice in Nature. She shows us that poetry can’t be taught. It can only surface once in a Blue Moon, on the strength of a Soul, through the clarity of a Witness.
Pulled into a luscious river of words, I kept reading and found many, many new faces of the moon, never before seen. Again, a deceptively simple style that produces galvanic current:
There was just this white.
I was there.
It came from my middle
And got much bigger.
Through Madhuri, we participate more intimately in creation.
The great poets back in my college days taught us that when a poem “works,” you forget the mechanics and you drop your mind and go into the feeling experience of the poem that is beyond all reason. I had no idea that Osho might say something similar years later.
Madhuri’s seamless poetry is rare because it is un-dissectible. It is rendered whole as Osho describes, “Poetry comes first…” Her poetry won’t let you in to its secrets; it only shines forth like the moon she explores from every angle, every mood, every floor of her Being. When read together as the work of a life, these poems create a universe of intimacy with Madhuri and the unknowable companion of Moon. Her approach to every relationship and place is one of sacred reality. Free of seduction and convention, her magic rises from stark imagery deeply felt, flawless poetic economy, and that bone-honesty of self, Voice, what writers long to achieve and almost never do. Her poetry says it best: “I have known the surface deeply.”
The Explicator would never say this non-intellectual thing but I felt completely nourished by her art. I gobbled these poems like dripping mangoes. I silently thanked Madhuri for doing all the hard work, making a feast just for me, the grateful reader, because I cried – a lot. Her ability to dish reality is vast and small at the same time. Her well-placed detail captures eternity, intersecting the “timeless with time.”
Of the moon race, Osho says, “Going to the moon is useless, far more significant is the process of bringing the moon in.” (The Shadow of the Bamboo, Ch 5) Like the esoteric siddhi of touching the moon, Madhuri has the exuberance of spirit to bring the moon closer and in surprise moments, to let us touch the Divine She. Madhuri mirrors the Orb of Immortals with primal innocence, in awe, in relationship, in continuous exploration of the moon as a fact by which we live and feel and find ourselves. She has led a moon-linked life; her gravity is up in the night sky; the Moon is her constant, highly paid consultant.
More About the Moon is poetry that makes you want to linger. It is poetry to return to over and over again, poems wondrous, sensual, comical, still, rooted, present, and real, the best compliment of all. As Denise Levertov told Madhuri in a letter in 1969, “You’re real. Your poems are real.” Osho himself says, “Madhuri is a very good poet.” Need I say more?
Thank you Madhuri for being true to your Self through words. It takes so much soul and work. I am so grateful for you and hope I get to meet you one day for a moondrink. And thank you for the unintended gift to discover my hyper-active “Explicator” had relaxed. She was in the background, humming, alert, but then again, there was nothing to pounce on, nothing to vet.
Prem Geet, Osho News
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