Member Reviews

A collection of poems with their translations, notes by the author and an interview with the author.
The themes of being a woman, vulnerability, politics, and rage appealed to me.
As for the writing style of the poems, I enjoyed some a bit more than others.
The length was ideal, though I am eager to read more by Devi on the same topics in other books.

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2.5⭐ Thank you NetGalley for this arc. I enjoyed the smaller poems, but the longer ones felt too wordy, and they were a bit of a bother to read.

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I didn’t enjoy the poetry in this collection. The pieces felt rigid and didn’t seem to have an easy flow to them. I understand that with translations, things get tricky to get every word over with the same meaning and feel, but if you read the two side by side, surely you’d notice the flow isn’t the same. I was looking forward to reading this collection but I couldn’t get myself to even like it.

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it’s been a while since this was on my shelf and i finally got to read it. thank you so much for giving me this arc!

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Gorgeous poetry! I've been trying to branch out with more poetry from other countries and this is brilliant. I have limited knowledge of French so I couldn't comment on the translation.

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I would love to thank HarperCollins Publishers India, Ananda Devi and NetGalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

I read this one last year in November and I appreciated that at the end we get to see a conversation with Kazim Ali, who translated this book in english for more people to read it. This collection had a big impact on him and he wanted the world to know about it.

The poems were strong and powerful, but something felt like missing for me. However, I recommend this one to readers that enjoy raw and honest poetry.

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Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for providing me with an E-Arc in exchange for an honest review!


4/5 Stars


I loved how we got the original poem next to the translated one, I really do, but some of the longer poems and texts have therefore some rather questionable formating choices. Not the books fault, but figured you might want to be aware of that.

Besides that, the book is really great. A lot of metaphors and symbolism and beautiful language to talk about sometimes not so beautiful things. There’s also a very long afterword that one shouldn't miss out on.

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Good poems but they did not follow any theme that I could discern. The ebook was hard to follow in some places. I love that the French and English versions were included, but the longer poems switched back and forth from English to French mid-line/mid-paragraph, which really impacted the readability and flow.

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This is a book of gorgeous poetry addressing politics and colonialism and misogyny using revelatory language. The translation is solid, and I appreciated the side-by-side format. Devi is an author new to me, but I will be reading more of her work--these texts spoke to me deeply and allowed my outsider status to understand--if only a tiny bit--Devi's experiences.

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::| Frémis ta chair à la recherche d’un nom
Fouille dans tes interstices
La tempête douce à tes yeux
A un vieux goût de refrain oublié.

Thrill your flesh searching for a name
Frisk all your crevices
The storm, sweet to your eyes,
Has lingering notes of some forgotten tune. |::

The poetry in this book was amazing; it spoke to a higher level than my expert level could ever rise too. There was a fascinating interview with Amanda Devi by Kaxin Ali and it really made it seem personal, like she was speaking to the reader and giving the reader a intense look at the poetry master and how her words are created and in turn affect her.

Her words took on a different meaning for me which fascinated me because not everyone will react the same. We are all individually made with thoughts and our own feelings and experiences to work from. But I'm so glad I got to read this.

Poetry is not something I'm comfortable with. I feel it's personal to the writer and so I stay far away from it as I usually can.

Thank you to Amanda Devi, Kazim Ali, HarperCollins publishers and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this. ❤️

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this book was tough in both content and style. i liked that the original poems were printed right beside the translated english versions. kazim ali's translations offer clean, plain language, but ananda devi's poems are anything but surface level. there's a lot of subtlety to be had — so much so that it could be easy for readers to miss if they're not already acquainted with difficult poetry.

this collection skews more lyrical than imagistic, and the associative leaps required from one line to the next can be tough to connect together since there's not a lot of context to work with. overall, i did like many of these blurry sketches of pain, despair, and vulnerability—i just wanted more to work with so i could see the picture more clearly.

many thanks to the publishers for giving me a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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May 2, 2024
I want to thank NetGalley for the advanced Arc of this poetry book.

Review

I have always appreciated and liked poetry and this collection was a nice read, giving insight as well as being simplistically and raw in places but I appreciated that the French versions were still there in this translated book.

Was an interesting read

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lovely collection of poems, with a translation in french and english. I think this would be a great book of poetry for someone who is fluent in both languages.

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A beautiful book of poetry. I love that you get the original and the translation. This book is raw and beautifully written.

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A book full of beautiful raw poem that go deep in and shines what's inside. A bit of madness. I love that it translates from French and keeps the original right by the English.

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This slim book of poetry was my introduction to Ananda Devi, an introduction that is apparently long overdue given that it turns out she is "considered one of the major French language writers of Mauritius and the Indian Ocean" and "one of the most important Francophone writers in the world." I've added some of her other books to my TBR list.

Let's talk first about how beautifully this book is laid out. On the left page is Devi's original poem (in French), and on the right page is Kazim Ali's English translation. I wish more translated-poetry books were laid out like this, so that you can appreciate the poem in its original language, whether or not you speak that language. There's still something powerful about seeing the author's original words, and how she laid them out on the page.
The poems themselves are delicate, often dark, multilayered constructions that promise more meaning with each successive reading. The book's afterword is a treat in and of itself. There's a note from the translator, an interview with Ananda Devi, and an essay titled "Reading Devi's Poetry" by assistant professor Mohit Chandna. Lots of meaty stuff here to dig into; I wish all poetry books contained such additional materials. They connected me more deeply to Devi's poetry, and helped me understand some of the more complex elements.

In her interview, she says "When you are young, you think that everything can change. When you grow older, you realize that you yourself have to change, to understand that all of it is part of life's experience, that life is not about pursuing happiness but about coming to terms: with who you are, with what's you've done, with what was not possible, with what is still possible." A good quote to remember.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this eARC for unbiased review.

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a lyrically enticing set of poems. the author touches on subjects of womanhood, the way politicians are able to say things others would not get away with, young boys being lost to political wars and sexuality.

i've never read anything by a mauritiuan author before so this was really cool to read. the themes of the poems were similar to themes you can find in other parts of the world.

initially, i don't think i fully understood what all the poems were about until i read the 'interview with the author' at the end so this made the reading journey a little confusing at some points for me.

i think the author has created some great imagery with her descriptions.

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Stunning poetry collection here - it flows in a dreamy way, and nothing was lost in the translation process. Some of the poems are emotionally deep and raw while others are light as clouds. If you enjoy heartfelt poetry, then you'll love this book.
Thank you to both Netgalley and the author for this arc!

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What a mesmerizing book of poetry “When The Night Agrees To Speak To Me” by Ananda Devi is. I opened it with no expectation or knowledge of what it would be, and found a book of beauty, deep pain and superb use of language. Maybe I should have intuited it from the title which grasped my imagination immediately. The sole idea of the night “agreeing” to speak contains such aliveness, personifying the time of darkness and introducing the idea of consent in the relationship to the poet - maybe a hint to the feminist themes that are to emerge from the book.

The very first poem, structured cleanly in five stanzas of four lines each, guides the reader into a space of absences, where “nothing’s left” of people, “just the low sky, the river grasses, / wild water / abandoned beehives”. There, “your ears strain to hear / the voices of those absent / until the night at last / agrees to speak to you.” (/3). For if nothing is left of what was of a country colonized, at least the night, in its vastness, will stay with you. In a poem later in the collection, the night speaks “with a blade / that slices / into the places of certainty / that carves / love into loneliness” (/51) - the night becomes a sort of companion, “neither lover nor enemy”, but a mirror into life itself.

Not only the night is personified - later we find “brambles” waiting “to be fed by wounds” (/11). Absences keep re-emerging, “of the island there only remains / footsteps echoing of those long gone since” (/15, in French, “Que les pas des absents”). Pain sweeps slowly in, until the brink of suicide (“There came to me the desire / for pills delicate and white” /25) that is only kept at bay by love and the closeness of others (“You will feed me, you / My sometimes spouses, / When I no longer have the strength / To feed myself.” /25). And yet staying afloat isn’t easy (“The sum of moments comes to nothing / Survival feels useless: death is so overrated / There was nothing before and will be nothing after” /27).

The book continues with these rhythms until its second part, so to say, which consists of prose poems more overtly political, grounded in a post-colonial context. For example “Words Die a Slow Death” explores the ways in which words lose meaning in certain political discourses, while “Poetics of Islands” is a meditation on colonized islands, refusing the romanticization of the homeland and exploring the losses of resistance (“How can you not enter a state of rage like entering a state of grace” /72).

Devi is a Mauritian author of Telugu ancestry, something I found out only later and which helps get a better understanding of her texts. Reading the French original next to the English translation by Kazim Ali gave it even more depth, and I am glad to have been able to practice some of my French, remembering how words are pronounced and noticing the assonances and rhymes, some of which are reflected in the translation. The end note by the translator, the interview with the author and the critical text by Mohit Chandna add another layer to a book already filled with emotion and meaning.

“The bolts are broken / The door swings open / Forever impossible / The first step outside of myself.” /45

Thanks to Netgalley for the e-ARC.

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What a beautiful collection of poetry. When The Night Agrees To Speak To Me was my first exposure to Ananda Devi's work and what an amazing collection it was. It had me feeling SO many emotions as Devi's poetry dives into the colonial past of her home, Mauritius. The fact that Kazim Ali's translation of Devi's collection starts each poem with the original French version makes it feel so unique as you can see the differences and even feel different emotions between them as well as be beautifully sensitive to the meaning beneath the words.

Overall, When The Night Agrees To Speak To Me is an amazing collection of heartfelt poems that hold boundless emotions like the waters surrounding Mauritius. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves poetry.

Thank you, NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers India for sending me an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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