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MULIEBRITY by Sujata Bhatt. The Poet Sujata Bhatt: Sujata Bhatt (b. 1956) grew up in Pune but emigrated with her family to the United States in 1968.

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Presentation on theme: "MULIEBRITY by Sujata Bhatt. The Poet Sujata Bhatt: Sujata Bhatt (b. 1956) grew up in Pune but emigrated with her family to the United States in 1968."— Presentation transcript:

1 MULIEBRITY by Sujata Bhatt

2 The Poet Sujata Bhatt: Sujata Bhatt (b. 1956) grew up in Pune but emigrated with her family to the United States in 1968. She studied in the States receiving an MFA from the University of Iowa and went on to be writer-in-residence at the University of Victoria, Canada. More recently she was visiting fellow at Dickinson College, Pennsylvania. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in Bremen, Germany. Her first collection, Brunizem, won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia) and the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award. Subsequent collections have been awarded a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and in 1991 she received a Cholmondeley Award.

3 Muliebrity I have thought so much about the girl who gathered cow-dung in a wide, round basket along the main road passing by our house and the Radhavallabh temple in Maninagar. I have thought so much about the way she moved her hands and her waist and the smell of cow-dung and road-dust and wet canna lilies, the smell of monkey breath and freshly washed clothes and the dust from crows’ wings which smells different – and again the smell of cow-dung as the girl scoops it up, all these smells surrounding me separately and simultaneously – I have thought so much but have been unwilling to use her for a metaphor, for a nice image – but most of all unwilling to forget her or to explain to anyone the greatness and the power glistening through her cheekbones each time she found a particularly promising mound of dung –

4 I have thought so much about the girl who gathered cow-dung in a wide, round basket along the main road passing by our house and the Radhavallabh temple in Maninagar. This is the first sentence of the poem. In this the poet sets the scene by telling the reader where this memory takes place. Maninagar: is now a suburb in Ahmadabad, Gujarat, India where Bhatt was born. The girl is picking up cow-dung because in the olden days and still today cow-dung is used as fuel for burning things and other stuff. The reader can see that picking up cow dung is not something that you would want or have to do. Many would generally be kind of disgusted of picking up cow dung and embarrassed being seen picking up cow-dung. This is important later on in the poem. ‘I have thought so much...’ shows the reader that the poet has been thinking about the girl for some time.

5 I have thought so much about the way she moved her hands and her waist and the smell of cow-dung and road-dust and wet canna lilies, the smell of monkey breath and freshly washed clothes and the dust from crows’ wings which smells different – and again the smell of cow-dung as the girl scoops it up, all these smells surrounding me separately and simultaneously – In this the words, ‘I have thought’ are repeated again. Now the reader can see that the girl has had kind of a lasting impact on the poet. In real life Bhatt used to see a girl picking up cow dung when Bhatt was still living in India. The reader can see that the girl is pictured as a graceful figure even though she is picking up cow-dung. This can be seen from the words, ‘..,about the way she moved her hands and her waist’. The smells surrounding the girl are described very well and creates an atmosphere for the reader to imagine. Canna lilies: are plants, native to India, growing well in moist, tropical climates. They are related to banana and ginger plants and their flowers are highly prized.

6 – I have thought so much but have been unwilling to use her for a metaphor, for a nice image – but most of all unwilling to forget her or to explain to anyone the greatness and the power glistening through her cheekbones each time she found a particularly promising mound of dung – “And again” shows how repetitive the job of the woman can get, and appeals to the readers sense of smell, as the cow-dung overpowers all the other sensations. “Scoops” also suggests urgency and speed, which shows how she is not relaxed and her life is full of hardship. “I have thought so much” is repeated again, to show how even though she didn’t know the woman, she has made a lasting impact on the author, just by the way she moves and acts confidently. “A nice image” tells the reader why she was “unable to use her for a metaphor”, because Bhatt doesn’t see anything remotely nice about what the woman does. But in a way, the woman is still a metaphor for muliebrity, meaning womanhood. “Most of all, unwilling to forget her or to explain to anyone…” again reiterates how the woman is unforgettable, but mostly shows how Bhatt is unable to tell others about what she saw in the woman, because she is so unfamiliar with someone displaying such confidence and grace, while doing something like picking up cow-dung. “Each time she found a particularly promising mound of dung-” ends in a hyphen, not a full stop. This suggests that there is more to come, due to the repetitive nature of her job. It is an odd sentence as there is nothing “promising” about a mound of cow-dung to others, but to the woman it is all she has, and can provide her and her family fuel to cook with and survive.

7 The title: The word muliebrity means womanhood, the status of being a woman and possessing full, womanly powers. Situation: In this poem, the poet describes the actions of the girl picking up cow dung in front of this temple. The poet also describes all the senses such as smells and sounds surrounding the poet. In this poem there are only two people-the poet and the girl. Throughout the poem is only describing the girl and her actions. The poem is in the perspective of the poet and this is effective because as this perspective shows the reader what the poet herself is feeling.

8 The speaker: The speaker of the poem is the poet not a specific persona. The speaker is stating a memory about a girl and the speaker is stating what she had observed. The speaker refers to herself in the first person pronoun which makes it kind of personal. Intention and Purpose: The poet is sharing a memory about a girl who is picking up cow dung. From the poem the reader can see that the poet is kind obsessed with the girl. Bhatt has seen this girl many times as she was growing up in India before moving. The purpose of this poem might be to show the pride of being a woman and express those feelings to the reader. Setting: This poem is set in Maninagar which is now a suburb in Ahmadabad, Gujarat, India. This is the place where Bhatt was born. The girl is picking up cow dung in front of Bhatt’s house and a temple.

9 Diction: Diction refers to the word choice of the poet in the poem. ‘Muliebrity’ refers to womanhood and the status of being a woman. This word’s positive connotations are reflected by the words, ‘greatness’ and ‘power’ in lines 15 and 16. While the word ‘cow- dung’ has negative connotations. The word choice of the poet is kind of casual. The poem is in the past tense as this is a memory about the girl. Form and Structure: In the poem there are 18 lines consisting of two sentences. The general appearance of the poem is that it is kind of like a block as in a block of the poet’s memory. The sentences of the poem are mainly fragments. There is only one complete sentence. This suggests to the reader that the poem is like a very quick recount of the girl. The dashes are maybe the place where the poet or the reader waited to catch his breath. The word order in the sentences are natural not grammatically irregular.

10 Senses: Bhatt is referred to as a sensual writer because she refers to the human senses quite a lot in her poems. For example in this poem the sense of smell is evoked like in the lines, The highlighted parts show how Bhatt describes the smells surrounding the girl and this description is very intense when you think about all those smells surrounding you. ‘I have thought so much about the way she moved her hands and her waist and the smell of cow-dung and road-dust and wet canna lilies, the smell of monkey breath and freshly washed clothes and the dust from crows’ wings which smells different – and again the smell of cow-dung as the girl scoops it up, all these smells surrounding me separately and simultaneously –’

11 Imagery: The main imagery is the girl being a metaphor for a woman who is proud, confident and strong. Even though the girl is picking up cow-dung, the girl takes pride in what she is doing and does not care what others think of her. The reader can see this in the lines, ‘...to explain to anyone the greatness and the power glistening through her cheekbones each time she found a particularly promising mound of dung –’ The poet also describes the girl as kind of graceful as she is picking up the cow dung in the lines, ‘I have thought so much about the way she moved her hands and her waist...’ The poet describes the smells surrounding the girl in one part of her poem as shown before.

12 Effects: The repetition of ‘I have thought’ has a good effect on the reader as it shows them that the poet is kind of obsessed with the girl. The description of the smells surrounding the girl and the girl herself has a good effect also because the reader can create an image of the place. Feelings: From the description of the girl the reader can see that the poet is proud of the girl as she is confident and proud of herself. This is shown by the words, ‘greatness’ and ‘power glistening’.

13 Themes:  Woman. This theme is also shown in the poems: Plenty; She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways; Storyteller.  Social injustice/Poverty. This theme is also shown in the poems: Carpet-weavers; Morocco; Song to the Men of England; Spectator ab Extra; Monologue; Caged Bird.  Character. This theme is also shown in the poems: Monologue; Farmhand.

14 Possible exam questions:  How does Bhatt portray the girl in her poem?

15 THE END


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