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A Song for the Twisted Feet of a Russian Ballerina - Saima Afreen

Today’s post is another in the series of poets sharing their own work, with a commentary that gives a glimpse into the birth of the poem and its journey: ‘A Song for the Twisted Feet of a Russian Ballerina’ by Saima Afreen

Saima’s writing sparkles with diverse, yet distinctive imagery that takes the reader right into the thick of her vortex of experience and feeling. At the same time, a practised ease with mythical and cultural allusions untethers her words from the overpowering nowness of the description, to a universal fleeting window of the collective unconscious. I’m thrilled to be sharing her work today, along with a few words about the poem by the poet herself.

Poet's commentary: I wrote this poem in 2016 and it was published a few days later in the McNeese Review, a beautiful literary magazine published from the McNeese State University, Louisiana. It so happened that one afternoon while writing an article for the newspaper I work for, I received a press invite for a ballerina dance performance which was to be held in the city. The mail glowed on my phone. It contained a photograph of a ballerina while she was swirling. The frame looked surreal with a creative interplay of light and shadows. A temporary respite from the cold newsprint whose black ink was reminiscent of the movie 'Black Swan' and the protagonist's psychotic behaviour and her wounded dance on the stage. At the same time, pages of Russian literature read during my childhood days in Calcutta opened up. I abandoned my chair, sat in the balcony and penned the lines. The poem is a harvest of fragility, the artistic neurosis, and the deep, deep indescribable melancholia that seeps through a creative phase. To condense it all, my words just offered their various seasons. Saima Afreen is a poet-journalist. Her debut poetry Collection 'Sin of Semantics' was published in 2019. She's been widely published across different countries. She was awarded Charles Wallace India Trust Fellowship in Creative Writing at the University of Kent, the UK the last year. Prior to that she was writer-in-residence at Villa Sarkia Writers Residency, Finland.

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