Tuesday, November 14, 2006


The new issue of Beltway is on the theme of Profiles. There is an article about Reetika Vazirani and her poetry by Jane Alberdeston Coralin that is well worth reading.

Cloaked Silences 

In 1968, Reetika and the Vaziranis, her four brothers and sisters and her parents, migrated from Punjab to Silver Spring, MD. At the age of twelve, her father, a Professor of Dentistry at Howard University, committed suicide (Shea, 40).
“…it was a disappearance…because I was never told that he died. I read two obituaries sitting at the kitchen table, and at that time, I didn’t know what suicide was – I thought it was a disease. We never saw the body, there was never a funeral” (40).
Though the strain of his passing ate at the family's hopes, they did not speak about his death, the mother's silence a contagion amongst the children. In the 2003 Poets and Writers interview, Vazirani continues to explain that until she was 26, she was emotionally numb, having “…no sense that there was a place for me in the world except in books" (40). Though her father’s suicide was, in Reetika’s terms, a “complete rejection,” his act begins Vazirani's journey toward definition, not a place for her in the world, but a way to live in the world that doesn’t want you. Watching her mother bleach her skin, Vazirani encountered the migrant’s hunger for acceptance via an attempt at self-erasure. She named this “…proof that we [people of color] needed to get rid of our surface in order to be presentable” (40). In contrast, were Vazirani’s poems attempts to reassemble herself?
Read more here.

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