Monday, June 01, 2009

R.I.P. Kamala Das

Just heard the news.

I must admit I've never much cared for Ms. Das - I've only read her poems, and they've always struck me as being predictable, turgid and overripe. The sort of poems you'd expect from Edna St. Vincent Millay [1].

Still, I did read them, and while I may not be particularly fond of Ms. Das's efforts, I cannot question the sincerity of those efforts, or the immeasurable importance of her having made them.

One mourns for her the way one mourns for an elderly relative: however out of date her conversation, however embarrassing her presence, her death is still a loss.

[1] I realize some people might consider this a compliment. It's not meant to be.


Anonymous said...

About [1], there is nothing like a Falstaffism to start the day!


Equivocal said...

Not to chime in too predictably, but I'm just curious to know how many of the poems of Kamala Das and Edna St. Vincent Millay that you have read, and how closely. Do entries in anthologies count?

Falstaff said...

M: you're welcome

equivocal: Edna: I own, and have read most of, the collected poems; Das: I've read (or tried to read - I gave up half way) a couple of collections, if memory serves (it's been a while) Sirens and something about a singing soul.

Have I read them closely? Probably not. At least not as closely as I've read, say, Bishop. Life is too short (and good poetry too long) to do close readings of poems that seem unpromising to start with.

I have to say that with Edna at least the cumulative effect for me is entirely negative. If I read three or four of her poems in an anthology I vaguely like them; if I try reading a whole collection it starts to get a little cloying.

km said...


I remember finding her autobiography in my mom's book collection. It wasn't much of a read, but now when I look back, I can't help but think of her as a pioneer of sorts.