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That's the secret - Jayaprabha

Jayaprabha is one of the most prominent women poets writing in Telugu. A controversial figure, she is seen as one of the early vanguards of feminist thought in telugu literary circles. Her poetry takes an uncompromising look into feminine desire, voyeurism, the straitjacket of traditional patriarchy, and the travails of women in middle class families. At the same time she writes poetry that mirrors the vulnerability and struggle of love. Marked by an effervescence of metaphor, her words boldly carve out a path of modernity and resistance that is still fighting to find space in popular culture and art today.

What I love about many of the telugu poets I have been reading from the last century is a simplicity and clarity of thought, and generous use of metaphors often sliding seamlessly into one another. This short poem that I’m sharing today is once again not representative of the poet’s ouvre. The poem uses a simple metaphor, and is aphoristic.

It has stuck in my mind because it is a comment on the nature of power and the politics of representation and mediated realities. There is so much in these three lines, that along with the title, they will continue to be a chillingly honest critique of oppressors everywhere - the kind that will be used in placards in protests, and quoted in panel discussions and commentaries on the bigotry of fascist governments. If you’d like to read more of her poems, do write back, I could share a couple more with you - only English translations though!


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