This unpublished collection of poems (the third by this poet) provides a new dimension to the development paradigm by exploring the suffering that individual women undergo in life. The poet, who has held positions in a number of social development organisations, reflects here on the real-life stories of women who suffer from multiple sources of marginalisation and vulnerability - women who have been deprived of their rights, impoverished, abandoned, starved, infected by HIV, victimised by rape and conflict, malnourished, etc.
Specifically, the book is based upon the lives of more than 60 economically poor women in rural India, many from villages whose people are facing extinction. Each poem is essentially a vignette drawn from the story of an actual woman's life, to which the author has added his own didactic voice. The poem is followed by a short note about the subject of the poem - e.g., "This is the story of Mrs. Rama, 40 years, a Satnami Scheduled Caste (SC) woman who remarried after a 10 years of abandonment. She is [the m]other of a malnourished girl child of nine months and hails from Bawali village of Patharia block, Bilaspur district, Chhattisgarh India..."
Here the poet describes the process of connecting with each of the women whose stories are depicted: "I am working in the social sector and hence find the opportunity of interacting with one of the most deprived section of the populace in many states in the country during my field trips. I usually find my subjects during these occasions. What mesmerizes me is the inner strength of women to hold on to life in spite of the scathing pain that has seared their lives. In my zest to understand their lives and feelings, I hear them speak their hearts out. It is not very easy to break the ice. I build a close rapport with them and never forget to take their permission to write with due consideration and respect for them integrity and their feelings as individuals. It is only when they have complete trust on me that they share all that is buried deep down in their hearts. Usually, the feelings break out from captivity in a torrent as if they have never spoken out for fear of not being understood or taken advantage of. It takes hours and hours to cull out the story, to discover the chain of events leading to the predicament. It requires active listening; listening with understanding and empathizing. At times non-verbal communication also carries a lot of meaning during these sittings."
The Unfold Pinnacle is written as much for educational as it is for literary purposes, and has been used by creative teams who are developing storylines on issues relating to poverty, marginalisation, malnutrition, deprivation, and so on. According to the poet, the circulation of Unfold Pinnacle poems in various networks, organisations, and e-groups indicates that development professionals are increasing seeking such poetry in their project formulation, capacity building, and problem-solving approaches. He contends that academicians and activists can use the poems as case study/training material to explore the realities of the rural environment, underlying/structural causes of human suffering, the nature of rights deprivation, and the realities on the ground as opposed to popular assumptions about poverty. By providing insight into what it is like to live in poverty and to suffer multiple deprivation of rights, creative writing that gives voice to living individuals whose experiences are often ignored; this can be a programming tool to spark understanding and empathy, Basanta Kar says. He also envisions his poetry on the lips and in the ears of people attending social forums and social development fairs in India and abroad. The poet claims that, in the context of an obsession within the development community on analytical and empirical research, The Untold Pinnacle helps meet the demand for creative literature that explores human issues - in India and abroad.
For information about how to obtain the collection of poems, please contact the poet at the address listed below.
Emails from Basanta Kumar Kar to The Communication Initiative on July 14 and July 15 2008; and Wordgathering website.