At a recent book launch of Mona Dash’s A Certain Way, a poetry collection, it was rare to see the Indian audience animated in the questions and answers session. The book launch was interesting and unique in the sense that it was, in fact, a dual book launch combined with a literary agent, Aanchal Malhotra, and a publisher-poet, Yogesh Patel, present as an attraction. It worked because discussions in reference to Mona’s work revealed the insights into publishing and agency process in detail. Mona Dash’s novel, Untamed Heart, was published last year, but the poetry collection came hot from the press. The novel focuses on Mohini, a young, married woman, trapped in the boundaries of duty and routine. The story follows Mohini as she is losing her passion for life, and starts to dare to step out of the confines of her claustrophobic joint family home. On a journey, she makes a self-discovery as she releases her new sense of being. Mona read some excerpts from the book and said that the writing process had begun somewhere in chapter five. It intrigued the audience, prompting a question from the author C.G. Menon about the writing process. Mona highlighted one of the reasons as the developing plot necessitating the restructuring of the flow of reading, not forgetting the editors’ requiring changes in general.
Mona’s son was intrigued by the choice of the picture on the book cover for Mona’s poetry collection, A Certain Way. Yogesh Patel, the poet and publisher, who runs Skylark Publications UK, explained that the lion roaring represents a poet’s question as to why she has to behave in certain ways! While the locked door highlights the rejections. Yogesh then quoted Mona’s poem ‘Rejection’. He added, ‘A certain way also is about how a woman is expected to behave. If how you are expected to behave in Britain is one aspect, how you are expected to behave in India when you go back to visit folks with the suitcase of expectations is also a discovery of ‘a certain way’. As Saleem Peeradina writes on the blurb the domestic voice ‘explores the inner and outer landscapes. This collection is a magical journey into various landscapes.’
Mona’s poems are gentle in tone and instead of adversities getting to her, she observes with the eyes of a novelist and extracts a beauty out of them in poetry. As she notes in her poem, ‘Home and Beyond’, she is upon Westminster Bridge and examines the hearts that crave for the home they left and moan about the place that is their new home:
There are many in this city
upon Westminster Bridge
who think if still
in the country they came from,
the one with the narrow roads,
smaller communities, they would be happier
The beauty there, the beauty here
Both unnoticed by unseeing eyes
Both ignored by accusing hearts
These sentiments can translate into becoming universal and homely. As it is evident in the poem, The Immigrant’s Song, chosen by Yogesh Patel and Reginald Massey for the current issue of eSkylark, downloadable free from https://tinyurl.com/lmzjwyu. When one can grumble about the rain, a poet grabs the opportunity to swap the lands and turn nostalgia into the warmth of a new home! It is the same rain, but a different land.
Suddenly, this country with its different skies
roses in the summer, lights in the winter,
becomes home, as well.
Someone in the audience drew attention to the poem, Konarak Express. It was for him the smell of the seats that was still immediate in London!
Here is the dilemma: In your own home, you question why you are required to behave in a certain way. The book launch enticed everyone to find out making the book a required reading.
Publisher’s website: www.skylarkpublications.co.uk
Mona Dash can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org