A poem for Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Lowland

Context for this Book Jacket Letter: I just finished The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (which made the short-listed for this year’s Man Booker Prize). It’s a beautifully written novel that follows the life of Subhash Mitra, before and after the death of his younger brother Udayan. In an act of studied generosity Subhash marries his brother’s widow and moves her to Rhode Island, hoping that in time they will create a happy ending. Worthy of the review praise it has received, this is my second favourite book of 2013. The slow and steady rhythm of the prose moved me to write my letter for the book in a new form for me: a poem. I hope you enjoy it!

ode to jhumpa lahiri

Text version:

An Ode to Jhumpa Lahiri

Below the earth an open dictionary is
layers of

A pool of meaning, ancient and still.

From this deep well, you draw your words
Straining and shifting as the heavy consonants fall away
and the punctuation exclaims as it tumbles back to darkness

Until what remains when drawn to the surface is
light, elastic and smooth.

When you lift the bucket and slowly pour
those words over your page

they become actual waves on the page

a repeated pattern in paragraphs

the ebb and flow as regular

as breath

or life




Filed under Book Picks!, Books, Poetry

5 responses to “A poem for Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Lowland

  1. Dear Libby,

    What a surprise to find your poem tucked inside the book jacket of “The Lowland.” You have captured Lahiri’s language in your own with deftness and love. I hope you sent her a copy.

    I shared your poem yesterday when I moderated at my book club. Now you have a few more fans!


    • Noelle, I am so happy to hear from you! Every few months, someone seems to stumble upon one of my letters and takes the time to respond. I am so glad that you did!!!! I hope your book club had a great night!


  2. Wow! This is perfectly worded. She is my favorite author. I dream to become an author of her calibre.
    And thank you for mentioning my post on your blog.

    P.S.: Following you. 😛


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