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Monday, 19 December 2016

L’ecriture Feminine in poems of Kamala Das

L’ecriture Feminine in poems of Kamala Das

- Santanu Saha

Writing the Body: Toward an Understanding of L'ecriture
Feminine in Select Poems of Kamala Das

I

Kamala Das's (1934-2009) poems tend to challenge the patriarchal domination forced upon the docile female bodies. It is evident that the androcentric power inherently controls female bodies turning them into a submissive one. Das in her poems tries to combat this gender inequality by constructing a contrasting idea of polyandry. In doing this she takes recourse to the idea of 'desire'. 'Desire' is perhaps the most significant element in her poems. Literally or symbolically it controls her urge for living. In the case of Das, 'desire' remains in the libidinal level, where sexual instinct pushes her toward life-instinct. Her poems, under the wrapper of love poems, express her deep desire for life. This may be the reason which clarifies the excessive reference of 'body' in poems. Very beautifully Anvar Sadhath says in "The Poetics and Politics of Desire: A Study of Kamala Das's Poetry", "Her poetry therefore is a poetry of body desire and beyond. Her soul (and poetry) cannot exist without her body and vice versa" (Sadhath 2003: 91). In her poems body stands for sexuality which in its turn is synonymous with the textuality of her poems. This mode of writing was afterward theorized by French feminist Helene Cixous in "The Laugh of the Medusa" (1976) where she offers her theory of 'Écriture feminine' (feminine writing). In the outset of this essay she makes it clear that whatever she is going to write, she must speak about the second sex, the weaker sex, the women:

I shall speak about women's writing: about what it will do. Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies-for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. Woman must put her self into the text-as into the world and into history-by her own movement. (Cixous 1976: 875)

While delivering this revolutionary concept , she doesn't hesitate to accept the 'past', the traditional social system, but she is more eager not to repeat this ' sense of past' to 'strengthen' them, to give them more impetus. Rather she is concerned about this new 'break', the new feminine approach which she has acquired from her ancestors like Simone de Beauvoir, or contemporaries like Elaine Showalter, Juliet Mitchell and Luce Irigary who, irrespective of their nationality, are unified for a common cause that is to give space, give freedom to the women. As in "Sorties" Cixous raises questions regarding the women who are not allowed to satisfy their own desire in traditional social system:

How do I experience sexual pleasure? What is feminine sexual pleasure, where does it take place, how is it inscribed at the levels of her body, or her unconscious? And then how is it put into writing? (Lodge 1988: 268)

"The Laugh of Medusa" can be cited as an answer to these questions. The single most important cause behind the Feminist Movement is evident in these words, "It is time to liberate the New Woman from the Old by coming to know her" (Cixous 1976: 878). She is well aware about the traditional, male-centric approach of literature where it is very rare to find any writing which inscribes femininity. Typical "male writing" maintains the hierarchy of male/female; it is the site where the women are dominated or devoid of any dignity:

I maintain unequivocally that there is such a thing as marked writing; that, until now, far more extensively and repressively than is ever suspected or admitted, writing has been run by a libidinal and cultural–-hence political, typically masculine–-economy; that this is a locus where the repression of women has been perpetuated, over and over, more or less consciously, and in a manner that's frightening since it's often hidden or adorned with the mystifying charms of fiction; that this locus has grossly exaggerated all the signs of sexual opposition (and not sexual difference), where woman has never her turn to speak–this being all the more serious and unpardonable in that writing is precisely the very possibility of change, the space that can serve as a springboard for subversive thought, the precursory movement of a transformation of social and cultural structures. (Cixous 1976: 879)

So the entire history of writing is run by phallocentric tradition mirroring the social system that has undermined the women. Cixous finds "writing her self" as apt medium to go beyond this "discrimination" of sex. 'Writing' or, more particularly 'writing with female body' appears as the exclusive tool to fight a war for women's liberation, "Write your self. Your body must be heard. Only then will the immense resources of the unconscious spring forth" (880). She finds writing a significant act:

An act which will not only "realize" the decensored relation of woman to her sexuality, to her womanly being, giving her access to her native strength; it will give her back her goods, her pleasures, her organs, her immense bodily territories which have been kept under seal; it will tear her away from the superegoized structure in which she has always occupied the place reserved for the guilty (guilty of everything, guilty at every turn: for having desires, for not having any; for being frigid, for being "too hot"; for not being both at once; for being too motherly and not enough; for having children and for not having any; for nursing and for not nursing…) —tear her away by means of this research, this job of analysis and illumination, this emancipation of the marvelous text of her self that she must urgently learn to speak. (Cixous 1976: 880)

Cixous very pertinently points out the vulnerable condition of women in this patriarchal system which is poignantly equal to each and every woman irrespective of any spatial barrier. As, in the case of Kamala Das we can see the same oppression forced upon by the patriarchal society. In "An Introduction" she poignantly declares her marginal condition as a woman. Cixous, in her writing, instructs woman to protest against that system and to treat their own 'body' as an extremely powerful device in this regard, because, "A woman without a body, dumb, blind can't possibly be a good fighter. She is reduced to being the servant of the militant male, his shadow" (Cixous 1976: 880).She welcomes a new history. Feminist movement tends to focus on the new type of thinking which denounces the traditional history which is unmistakably phallocentric and:

As subject for history, woman always occurs simultaneously in several places. Woman un-thinks the unifying, regulating history that homogenizes and channels forces, herding contradictions into a single battlefield. (Cixous 1976: 882)

Women writers, though writing individually, are united for the single cause. Their main target is to uproot the long-nourished and long-cherished prejudices of male dominated system by challenging them in their writing. So whatever Kamala Das writes, may seem as intimately personal but they are, in wider perspective, the lived experiences of womanhood. Writing by a woman cannot remain detached from her sect: "In woman, personal history blends together with the history of all women, as well as national and world history" (Cixous 1976: 882). So our discussions about Das's adventures into her paramour's room or her extra-marital affairs expressed in her poems get validity from Cixous's clarifications concerning "writing with the body". These are the experiences that do not limit themselves just to the physical satisfaction of eroticism, but more than that it is the celebration of liberation from the cocooned claustrophobic condition of women in patriarchal society:

Almost everything is yet to be written by women about femininity: about their sexuality, that is, its infinite and mobile complexity, about their eroticization, sudden turn-ons of a certain miniscule-immense area of their bodies; not about destiny, but about the adventure of such and such a drive, about trips, crossings, trudges, abrupt and gradual awakenings, discoveries of a zone at one time timorous and soon to be forthright. (Cixous 1976: 885)

A 'female body' has for a long time been the property of males. It is the medium which has kept a woman under control of a man. The sense of so called modesty, the shame attached with it has turned the 'body' as a taboo to explore. The modern women's writing has subverted that thought and in a deliberate way personal details are revealed and exhibited. Cixous's ultimate dictum is:

Women must write through their bodies, they must invent the impregnable language that will wreck partitions, classes, and rhetorics, regulations and codes, they must submerge, cut through, get beyond the ultimate reserve-discourse … (Cixous 1976: 886 )

While discussing about the 'female body' as being an integral issue for the liberation of women from the clutches of phallocentric society, Simone de Beauvoir's observation about the 'body', which she made much before Cixous, appears relevant in this regard, "… if the body is not a thing, it is a situation, … it is the instrument of our grasp upon the world …" (Beauvoir 1997:66). Toril Moi in her book Sex, Gender and the Body discusses this idea:

To claim that the body is a situation is to acknowledge that the meaning of a woman's body is bound up with the way she uses her freedom. For Beauvoir, our freedom is not absolute, but situated. Other situations as well as our particular lived experience will influence our projects, which in turn will shape our experiences of the body. In this way, each woman's experience of her body is bound up with her projects in the world. There are innumerable different ways of living with one's specific bodily potential as a woman. (Moi 2005: 65-66)

We can locate Kamala Das's poetry with its insistent focus on female body in this context. It is true that a woman, more than a man, is situated in her body. Our society behaves differently in the observation of a 'female body'. It becomes an object of gaze, particularly male gaze. The woman becomes the body. But Beauvoir observes that it is the same body which situates the 'woman' within the world and helps her to 'grasp' everything. Toril Moi has also pointed out that there are innumerable ways of living within this bodily potential into which a woman is born. Judged from this perspective it becomes easier to comprehend Das's attitude in her poems, specially her poems related to female body. Being an individual she has got a unique way to live and enjoy a privileged condition to use her 'bodily potential' to be a representative voice for women suffering the same plight. She tries to give other women an identity in the male dominated society and to transform the traditional image of a woman as something secondary. Women become the speaking–subject in the poems of Das.

II

Kamala Das's preoccupation with body is functional in the sense that through it she registers her protest and makes a sustained endeavour to transcend the barriers of flesh to reach the soul. A perceptive eye can easily trace out the hidden link between the body and the soul in the poems of Das. We may take note of the words of Irshad Gulan Ahmed in this context. He writes:

… there is a great deal more in Das's work than just sex and physical love—an aspect overemphasized by some of her critics. Overexposure of sex is only a literary strategy with her. It is for generating in the reader the desired sense of disgust for the reprehensible aspects of human behavior that she uses overemphasis. (Ahmed 2005: 133)

However, the frequent use of 'female body' appears as a motif in the works of Das. As it has been mentioned earlier in the case of Kamala Das her accumulated experiences take the shape of 'collective consciousnesses' of general womanhood. In her poems she shares the predicament of being a woman. In the traditional patriarchal society her poems appear as a vehement protest against this tradition. As Nair says, "She makes a desperate attempt to overcome the near extinction of femininity in the male-machinations and exploitations" (Nair 2009: 229). In the matrilineal system of the Nayar family the great grandmother played an influential role in Das's life. But her father held a different outlook. It was her father for whom she had to leave school without finishing her education and was forced to get married at a tender age. Even in his last days he was displeased with her as he thought that Das' writing had brought 'shame' to his family. Her husband, Mr Madhab Das, was another male in her life. Unfortunately this relationship did not prove fruitful. Das found her husband another authoritative figure continuously shattering her dreams. In My Story there are references which show us that in their married life, Das suffered both physically and mentally. Her fragile figure was treated as a machine for the production of sexual pleasure. By torturing her body as well as by neglecting her body, Mr. Das pushed her womanliness on the verge of nonexistence. Repeatedly she expresses her condition of lovelessness, her loneliness and her identity crisis. And this is the reason that when she turned to poetry writing as through the writing of poems she found out an escape route to freedom.

The representation of female body became an obvious necessity in her poems. As the patriarchal system tries to suppress a female voice, the woman is left only with her body to make the protest. Body becomes the war–front as well as the tool of protest for Kamala Das. She often talks about failed love. And this 'failing' is due to the unsympathetic and uncooperative attitude of her husband. Disclosure of frank sexuality is a direct attack to this 'lustful' male ego. Most of her poems having the exposure of female body deal with this protest seeking balance in the biased social order. Das, in her poems, has been able to identify and expose the prison in which a woman finds her self trapped. Body symbolizes this prison. Only frequent references of it can bring Das's original identity out of its snare. In "Captive" she laments "… for years I have run from one/ gossamer lane to another, I am / now my own captive" (Das 2007: 16-18). She deconstructs her body, exhibits different parts like a cubist painter and enlivens each and every organ to shout in their own voice.

In "Larger than Life was He" Kamala Das reminisces her husband after his death. This poem displays mixed feelings for her husband. Often we have come across such type of recollections with reference to Mr. Das. While she complains that her husband always believed in the carnal pleasure, she also gives credit to him that he is the source of freedom in her life. In interviews she has said that without his permission she could not have written a single line. But ultimately that option went too far and sometimes at the cost of their married life. While she was given her space to express her feelings through writing poems, the husband also took the advantage and chose to enjoy his time at the expense of household responsibilities. Das writes in no uncertain manner:

It was never a husband and wife bond.
We were such a mismatched pair,
…………………………………..
We were quits at every game we played
I could have been Sita to his Rama
had I been given half a chance. (Das 2007:15-16 & 20-22)
The poem speaks of a strained relationship where both of them live like strangers. While she gave birth to three sons at a very tender age, her husband was indifferent to his fatherly duties and responsibilities:

I reared three sons,
he was too busy to watch them grow
but he it was who wore the faded face
that they recognized as their father's.
His was the heavy tread
heard on the gravel at dusk
He peered into his office files
till the supper turned cold
and the children got up to sleep. (Das 2007:23-31)
Their relationship was formal to breed intimacy. Being a very young bride Das expected her husband to be more caring and affectionate. But in reality her husband played altogether a different role:

I cannot recollect a film
a play or a concert he took us to
or a joke which together we shared
He was like a bank locker
steely cold and shut
or a filing cabinet that
only its owner could unlock
Not for a moment did I own him. (Das 2007:32-39)

Das never found her husband possessing tender emotions that could have tied them up into a happy pair. Mentally they were poles apart. The difference between their age as well as outlook produced nothing but disharmony and disorder which ultimately proved very disheartening for Das. Her husband really performed well when it came to enjoyment of carnal pleasures, "Only a few bedbound chores / executed well, tethered him to me" (Das 2007:40-41). Only the act of physical union provided, though very temporarily, attachment helping Das to continue their married life. As the title suggests this poem epitomizes Mr. Das as a 'larger than life' figure in the life of the speaker but the reader would hardly miss the ironic portrayal of her husband. As she could not evade their marital life till the death of Mr. Madhab Das, she tried to absorb the indifferences, the mental and physical tortures and the boredoms. With the help of her creative self she managed to bear with her husband. This is the reason that in spite of his irresponsibility, his negligence to his wife, he is being missed by the poet after his death:

I miss the brusque voice
sending out the strays
hugging their manuscripts
meekly a unwed mothers did
their illegitimate offspring
I miss his censoring my daily mail
his screening each phone call
and the insulation of his care. (Das 2007:48-55)
Even in her reminiscences she cannot forget the husband-dictator. But at the same time the long nourished Indian socio-cultural tradition forced her to submerge her feminine ego and accept the subordinate position of a wife. She makes it clear to Weisbord:

I liked working for him because he would praise me. I come from a matriarchal society. Matriarchs are expected to look after husbands. And there was some feeling that I was protected. He was giving me some kind of emotional shelter. (Weisbord 2001:15)
The last line of the quotation may sound paradoxical but she explains it afterwards:

Forty-three years of married life with a man I married at fifteen. So you see, it grows on you. I don't resent, I don't regret. All the grief inflicted upon me by my husband paid dividends. All the struggles proved useful later. Poetry came oozing out like blood out of injuries. How could I have written so much of poetry if he hadn't made me cry? All the anguish, you weed something out of it. (Weisbord 2011:16)

This observation helps the readers to understand that the woman in this poem has achieved the "body's wisdom" by submerging her 'ego'. In married life Das always tried to keep her own 'self' suppressed for the sake of love. Sometime she pretended that she was getting interest in the sexual union which was in actuality a "one way" act. In "In Love" she lays down her mask and declares her "unending lust" a "sad lie" which she weaves to give her husband a sense of satisfaction and authority.

But from Das's point of view her 'realization' of the futility of love makes her depict her husband in a negative way: "… his limbs like pale and / Carnivorous plants reaching / Out for me" (Das 2007:4-6). And this is why she can turn away her mind from physical to metaphysical, from the act of love making to "the corpse-bearer's cry 'Bol / Hari Bol'" (Das 2007:20-2). She tries to achieve a 'marriage of true minds' through bodily love but fails. As P. K. J. Kurup says:

What her feminine self sought was the sexual congress by arousing and surrendering the senses fully in order to forge "the union of true minds" as well as a sense of personal integration. (Kurup 1991:121)
As we have already seen that her 'unending lust' is just a strategy to cover up the mindless physical activity; in such a situation asking for love would have been an impossible demand. Das says in " In Love":

… this
Skin-communicated thing
That I dare not yet in his
Presence call our love. (Das 2007:25-28)

Though she didn't gather enough courage to denounce him at that time, this poem confesses all. The traditional Indian woman must have felt the same experience, but the protest remains a rare thing. Kamala Das has achieved this frankness which allows her to 'unburden' her self in her poems. The woman, who feels insecure in conjugal life, finds her self establishing her lost identity.

Man has planned this society in such a way that it has become impossible for a woman to achieve equality in this social structure. We live in a 'civilized' society where equilibrium is a lost word in 'man–woman' relationship. In Indian scriptures women are the goddess of supreme power, but in actual social practice they are not. Virginia Woolf in her influential book A Room of One's Own rightly observes:

Imaginatively she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant. She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history. She dominates the lives of kings and conquerors in fiction; in fact she was the slave of any boy whose parents forced a ring upon her finger. Some of the most inspired words, some of the most profound thoughts in literature fall from her lips; in real life she could hardly read, could scarcely spell, and was the property of husband. (Woolf web : 590)

Woolf is straight forward in pointing out the discrimination. Man's superiority has denigrated woman to a marginalized entity. He has domesticated her by his self-proclaimed morals, attitude and dogmas which are nothing but the traps to keep them under the illusory praise of being 'a good-natured woman'. It is not only that by neglecting 'female', the patriarchal society violets the rules laid down by nature, but at the same time it keeps the man in privileged position by denouncing the place given to a woman by civilization's natural law of equality. A patriarchal power structure predominates in our society. Das's poems, while seeking equality for women are also an effort to create a woman's space to be recognized by the society:

From this angle, she does not bargain for a mere equality of sexes; she wants that there should be a wide and proper recognition of the superiority of woman in the state of nature. (Nair 2009: 81)
In her own married life, Das suffered from a crisis of identity which otherwise would have given her a chance to claim proper respect from her husband. In her poems, there are the frequent references to female body. And it ceases to be just an object of carnal pleasure; she uses the body as a strategy to unravel the female psyche. As K. Sachidanandan says:

Reference to swelling limbs, growing hairs, the pitiful weight of breasts and womb and the sad woman body emphasize the corporeal ground of woman's experience, female physicality often identified with female textuality. (emphasis added, Sachidanandan 2007: 13)
And Das says in "Loud Posters",

I've stretched my two-dimensional
Nudity on sheets of weeklies, monthlies
Quarterlies … (Das 2007:9-11)

Throughout her whole life she is always inquisitive about her own self. That is why she continuously unmasks her self in poems in a bid to reach the innermost core of her being.

'The Old Playhouse' is an example of positioning 'female body' as a revolt against the male hegemony. This poem describes in detail the naked reality of a traditional conjugal life where the wife pricks the balloon of an apparently happy life. She goes to the bottom of the relationship and in a woman's voice, challenges the social structure. This poem has a direct reference to her married life. She narrates her gruesome experience to Weisbord, "He would leave at seven in the morning, come home at eleven when I was asleep, and call me up for my duty" (Weisbord 2011: 84). Das continues:

Every night this digging went on and on, and I almost thought he was burying a body every night. No tenderness there was. No preliminaries, nothing. Probably he couldn't love me. At the moment of sexual intercourse with him, I wished he would gather me in his arms after the act. Had he caressed my face or touched my belly, I would not have felt the intense rejection I felt after each union. Then again he would want. After about fifteen minutes the man gets up again. Bury. Shovel. I felt rotten, like a corpse was within. When I felt his semen in me, I just wanted to wash it out. (Weisbord 2011:84)

And the consequence of these attacks led to physical injuries, "My cervix was so broken down, they had to operate. I had to have the mouth of the cervix cut and I bled. My God, what a way to bleed" (Weisbord 2011:83). Das's lady doctor told her the cause of the problem, "The surgery is caused by the husband's penis…It will hurt this girl all her life" (Weisbord 2011:83).

Several times in her memoir she mentions about the 'brutality of sex', which fell on her unexpectedly. Conjugal life depressed her and in her writings she often uses the 'female body' to protest against such institutions which encourage brutal subjugation of the female body at the cost of her psychic needs. 'Marital' rape is not uncommon in Indian society. But in most of the cases, it is the insecurity which prevents woman from making it public. At the same time other social institutions like police station, court, media etc are generally male-dominated, the victim is not confident enough to report against a man in these male-occupied domains. There are ample numbers of cases where the raped women are harassed and humiliated when they try to voice their plight out of their private sphere. They remain the 'weaker section of society'. And when they are helpless, hopeless and betrayed by social justice, they use their own body as the vital weapon to protest.

Das in her poems exhibits female body to generate a violent shock to our age-old social system. In "The Old Playhouse" she talks about domestication of a woman in the mask of a wife: "You planned to tame a swallow, to hold her / In the long summer of your love… " (Das 2007:1-2). The poet-persona directly accuses her husband (You), the representative of patriarchal society, for turning a woman into the property of a man. The man 'tames' the woman under the disguise of 'love'. The irony in the use of the word 'planned' is humiliating to a 'woman'. The poet, courageously, brings forward those issues which average Indian women are not allowed to question and disrobes the hypocrisy of a man's love underneath which runs the conspiracy of granting his woman only a submissive role:

… so that she would forget
Not the raw seasons alone and the homes left behind, but
Also her nature, the urge to fly, and the endless
Pathways of the sky … (Das 2007:2-5)

At first her freedom is brutally taken away. Her home and the world cease to exit. Her 'endless pathways of the sky' is brought down within the limit of perpetual confinement. This poem is based on personal experiences. She walks bare in the poem. She is vituperative in presenting her naked body and its parts. It is as if she has put life into each and every organ of her female body to organize a powerful protest against her husband. The stark honesty with which she describes her conjugal life where physicality was always prioritized by her consort is a conscious strategic manoeuvre to voice her strong disapproval.

In "The Bison at the Water's Edge", Das repeats the same chain of events of marital life. She describes a couple like:

Two dissimilar co-tenants
In one cramped room
One the kind side of blade
The other the cutting edge
Yes, the other was indeed hard. (Das 2007:3-7)

She doesn't lament now rather she finds out a strategic escape route by using her body in the name of making love, "Each day his lust renewed me / Each day he rent my virgin loins… (Das 2007:29-30)". She did not submit to the brutal demands on her body made by her husband. By choosing someone as her lover, she 'physically' challenges her husband whose 'lust' used to dampen her spirit. The reader feels that the speaker has been able to take a sweet revenge on her male partner. The politics of 'female body' becomes a strategy here with which she challenges the role of a woman as a dutiful, traditional Indian 'wife'. In a very small poem "A Losing Battle", Das differentiates between 'lust' and 'love':


How can my love hold him when the other
Flaunts a gaudy lust and is lioness
To his Beast? Men are worthless, to trap them
Use the cheapest bait of all, but never
Love, which in a woman must mean tears
And a silence in the blood. (Das 2007:1-6)

As the title suggests, she knows that in actuality the woman has already lost the uneven duel with her man. The man's physical strength and social position keep him far away from the woman's reach. Her 'meek' love cannot touch the periphery of his 'gaudy' lust. But Das reminds women that it is the 'female body' which is the ultimate 'ammunition' left in their hand and women should use them to 'trap' them. So in these poems Das very ironically establishes the 'role' of a 'female body'. While it is tortured it can also be a means to stop that torture. It is the victim but on the other hand, it is also a means to punish the victimizer. In "A Phone Call in the Morning", Das describes "this body" as "the player and the toy" (Das 2007:5-7)". In "The Old Playhouse" Das narrates how her husband was happy with only her body:

You were pleased
With my body's response, its weather, its usual shallow
Convulsions. (Das 2007:8-10)
In these poems 'female body' stands for resistance, that power which the women ultimately master following a life of prolonged domination and suppression. As K. V. Surendran says in "Suffering and Humiliation in Kamala Das' Poetry": "She moves from a world of innocence to a narrow, conservative way of life which prefers to suppress what is unpleasant and 'unexposable'" (Surendran 2007:131-132). However, Kamala Das's poems can be read as a practice of 'feminine writing' (écriture feminine) in Indian socio-cultural context.

Works Cited
Ahmed, Irshad Gulam. 2005, Kamala Das: The Poetic Pilgrimage, New Delhi, Creative Books.
Beauvoir, Simone de. 1997, The Second Sex, Ed and trans. H.M.Parshley. London, Vintage.
Cixous, Helene. 1988, "Sorties". Modern Criticism and Theory, Ed. David Lodge, 2nd Indian Rpt, New Delhi, Pearson Education,. 263-270.
---. "The Laugh of the Medusa". Trans. Keith Cohen & Paula Cohen. Signs 1.4(1976): 875-893. JSTOR. Web. 11 June 2013. < http://www.jstor.org/stable/3173239 >
Das, Kamala. 2009, My Story. 1988. Kottayam: D C Books.
---. 2007, Only the Soul Knows How to Sing: Selections from Kamala Das. 1996. Kottayam, DC Books.
Kurup, P.K.J. 1991, Contemporary Indian Poetry in English. New Delhi, Atlantic Publishers and Distributors.
Moi, Toril. 2005, Sex, Gender, and the Body: The Student Edition of What is a Woman? Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Nair, Jayakrishnan. 2009, Cutting Edges- Biology of Experience in the poetry of Kamala Das. New Delhi: Adhayan Publishers & Distributers.
Sachidanandan, K. 2007, "Preface." Only the Soul Knows How to Sing: Selections from Kamala Das, 1996. Kottayam, DC Books, pp-11-23.
Sadhath, Anvar. 2003, "The Poetics and Politics of Desire: A Study of Kamala Das's Poetry". Indian Writing in English. Ed. Rama Kundu. New Delhi, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, pp-90-96.
Surendran, K.V. 2007, "Suffering and Humiliation in Kamala Das's Poetry", Kamala Das: A Critical Spectru, Ed. Rajeshwar Mittapalli and Pier Paolo Piciucco. New Delhi, Atlantic Publishers & Distributers, pp-130-139.
Weisbord, Merrily. 2011, The Love Queen of Malabar: Memoir of a Friendship with Kamala Das. 2010. Gurgaon, Research Press.
Woolf, Virginia. Selected Works of Virginia Woolf. London, 2007. Google Book Search. Web. 30 Mar 2013.

(Source: Muse India)

ps: Santanu Saha is working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English of Saltora Netaji Centenary College, Saltora, Bankura in West Bengal. His doctoral thesis was on "Confession as a Strategy in the Poetry of Kamala Das". His fields of interest include Contemporary Indian Literature, Feminist Studies, and Women's Poetry across cultures. Apart from these areas he is also engaged in the research of 'The Therapeutic Aspect of Poetry'. He has published articles in various scholarly journals. 

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