A book review by Chintan, disciple, author, literary lover, of the latest offering from Madhuri Z.K. Akin, writer extraordinaire!
The Teenage Poems
and what I have learned since
by Madhuri Z.K. Akin
available from Lulu: lulu.com
and directly from the author: madhurijewel.com – email@example.com
Vol 1, ISBN 9781739639501, pages 274
Vol 2, ISBN 9781739639525, pages 324
Soon available also as an ebook.
Faced with the daunting task of evaluating the work of a writer of whom I am in AWE has been a challenge. I read constantly. I read everything, always hoping for a gem, something challenging, something inspiring, something different. This book is all that, and more.
Dear Sister Carol,
You and I have engaged for countless hours in mostly agreeable dialogue about the nature of woman, and of the perversion of that nature, by the patriarchal society in which we exist. Let’s continue our dialogue. It is always challenging, always entertaining, but before we continue, please consider reading this new 2-volume set by Madhuri Z.K. Akin. It is in my opinion a terrific read, and will provide many challenges as we go forward in our sharing.
You and I are at that chronological plateau where we are mostly looking back on the dramas of sex, relationship, ego, and all the other bits of nonsense that keep us rooted in society; you, from the perspective of woman, me, from the perspective of man. Madhuri is also at that age of looking back, and what an amazing look back it is.
This book is a collection of the poetry she produced in her teenage years when she was a child of the 60s, living the California hippie lifestyle to the extreme. If this was only a collection of those poems, it would be a great read, for her writing is of the highest order. Back then, she was seeking, and actually acquired a measure of fame as a poet. She was published. She read her poems in coffee houses and other venues. She travelled the world and chronicled her wanderings, and her growth of consciousness.
You will love her poetry. Her poems are gutsy, real, shocking, revealing, SEXY. You will encounter a young woman throwing herself into this mad world, and suffering the consequences of being open, being real, being woman.
So, that alone makes this a valuable read, but what brought it to a higher level for me was the mature woman looking back fifty years, and giving context to those poems, and a loving counsel to that young woman. Each and every poem and diary entry is commented upon. The comments are not critical or finger-wagging, but simply a revelation of the truths that she has learned since.
I’m writing a review for Osho News. Did I mention that Madhuri is a sannyasin? For me, it was another tribute to what can happen to a person when he or she surrenders to a Master. Would she have survived her early life and attained such wisdom without a Master? Who can say! I have a tendency to look at human growth through that lens. You do not! That divides us, always has, probably always will, for I know your reluctance to embrace anything that smacks of organized religion. That should not be a concern in this case, for we sannyasins are anything but organized.
Back to the book: It is beautifully constructed, beautifully written, and profusely illustrated with the author’s drawings and photos. I enjoyed it, didn’t want it to end, a page-turner as we reviewers are wont to say. But that is all relatively unimportant compared to the impact I feel this will have on certain categories of readers. For us old folk, it will be a delightful read; a challenge, an intellectual debate, a reminiscence of our own journeys through the nightmares of relationships.
While reading it, I kept thinking that a book like this should be required reading for every young person as he or she descends into the grip of sex, that delightfully exciting period of forty or so years of thrashing about as we bob about in the sea of consciousness, mostly sinking below the surface.
Yeah, required reading. A primer. Maybe even a test. You have to take a test before you do other dangerous things like drive a car, so why not a test to see if you are responsible enough to do this other very dangerous activity?
I particularly thought of young men, having been one myself at one point in my life. Madhuri points out somewhere in the book that one of the main differences between male and female is that men take much longer to mature. They enter into sex and relationships long before they are even emotionally ready to drive a car or own a gun. That is simply fact, measurable, and generally accepted in most schools of thought. The woman matures early on. She sees things more clearly, and is much more ready to enter the world of sex, relationship, even – God forbid! – marriage. BUT, in our culture, even in our post-feminist culture, the men are in power, in control. We dominate.
So, I imagined a young man coming across this book, and encountering the inner world of a woman. He would be able to see the damage that his ego causes as he thumps his chest and moves in for seduction.
So, I also imagined a young woman coming across this book, and seeing herself putting her love and trust and open heart into the hands of a man who, by all accounts, is her emotional inferior.
Anyway, read it, and let us debate. In the meantime, here is one of the poems and one of the commentaries, just to whet your appetite:
Look at her
composed as a hand.
Who would guess
what lovemaking she has inside?
Look at the ripples of her hair.
It’s all there.
In the blink of a night she twined
polar bear sinews, thighs
around her lover;
battleships in her eyes.
he had the hands of a gentle naturalist
overturning a log.
A mosquito died, the blinds turned once.
his hips quickened.
he had python arms,
of a gargoyle in love […]
[…] I have a taste for a sort of intimacy I wonder if any man will ever be able to meet in me. It is made of insubstantial murmurings, grapes hanging sun-warmed from arbors, truths emerging from cleaned canvases. Confidences and fine and subtle magics without time.
Final thought: Both in her teenage poems and in her mature musings, Madhuri’s words cut like knives, don’t you think? She doesn’t flit about the surface: she dives DEEP!