The Memory of the Tongue: Sujata Bhatt’s Diasporic Verse, by Paul Sharrad

by Associate Professor Paul Sharrad
University Of Wollongong

Paul Sharrad is Associate Professor in English Literatures at the University of Wollongong where he teaches postcolonial writing and theory. He has published on people such as Salman Rushdie, Peter Carey, Christopher Koch, Anita Desai, Wilson Harris,Raja Rao and Albert Wendt. His book on Indian fiction in English and literary history will be appearing in 2008.



Sujata Bhatt was born in Ahmedabad, raised in Poona and New Orleans, university educated in Baltimore and Iowa, spent time writing in British Columbia, married and settled in Bremen, Germany and publishes her poetry in England. She has travelled as well to Poland, Israel, Latvia, Ireland and won prizes in Holland and Italy. All this moving across cultures makes her a more than fit subject for analysis within the contemporary discussions of globalisation and diasporic identity. Bhatt’s first collection, Brunizem, came out in 1988. Monkey Shadows appeared in 1991, The Stinking Rose (a study in the many meanings of garlic across history and geography) in 1995 and a selected poems, Point No Point in 1997. Augatora (2000) continues the interest in languages, and the latest collection, A Colour for Solitude (2002) is a sequence of “readings” of paintings and imagined conversations between the German painter, Paula Modersohn-Becker and her sculptor friend, Clara Westhoff, both of them linked to the poet Rilke. Her attempt to give voice to two women silenced in history by the more famous male artist, reflects a quiet but consistent interest in what might loosely be called “feminist” issues. Primarily, Bhatt is a lyricist with leanings towards the surreal (dreams appear repeatedly in her work), but she also has a strong sense at times of history and the postcolonial politics of culture. Addressing in turn the reader and the Hindu goddess of Siva’s Himalayas, she writes:
Do you know what it feels like
to pick green tea-leaves that grow 
on the other side of the path from the guava trees – Parvati 
why did you let Twinings take everything?
I must confess 
I like Twinings the best.

What does it mean, what is a pagan? 
Someone who worships fire? 
Someone who asks Parvati to account for 
the Industrial Revolution. (“Parvati” Brunizem 43)

Similar themes are explored in the sequence “History is a Broken Narrative” (Augatora 40). As part of this general historical interest, but also as a result of her own diasporic movements, Bhatt has a continuing interest in etymology and problems of shifting across languages and scripts. The title of her first collection, Brunizem, takes the word for a soil type that runs across the northern hemisphere, linking many of her countries of residence. Her title, Augatora is an old High German word for ‘window’ and the history and different associations of terms for the same object are traced:
Today, unravelling the word
Augatora – and thinking of the loss
of that word – imagining the days
of a thousand years ago when these languages collided
bitterly, bloodily –  
Old English, Old Norse, Latin,
            Old German – I turn
to your Danish grammar book – (“Augatora” 17-18)
Here languages are figured as a house, with the window being simultaneously a hole opening to the world and a barrier protecting one from the outside. At the end, children playing indoors urge each other to “Look outside” (Augatora 16-17). “Language” (Augatora 55) is a meditation on translation and the pleasure of closer contact with the text and writer through access to the original, while “A Detail from the Chandogya Upanishad” (Augatora 97) speaks of the ability of Sanskrit to encapsulate several differing meanings – the redness of sun, lotus and monkey’s bottom –  within one line or sentence, suggesting that true wisdom and worship will hold all three disparities in unison in the mind. This is not to suggest that Bhatt favours a simple ideal of harmony or uniformity based in fixed rules or phenomena. At times, she does seem to suggest some essential fit between language and experience that anchors identity: a memory of a child selling water by the railway line can only occur in Gujarati (“Search for my Tongue” Brunizem 65); a moment from childhood in Poona is recalled in Marathi (Augatora 19).
But equally, many poems point to meaning consisting in cadence (Augatora 106) or silence or the gap between words, “the time between the shadows,/in the sounds between/ the crows fighting in the guava trees” (Augatora 103). In her most famous piece, there is a physical contest enacted in the poet’s body as well as a textual competition between print types that admits of no easy resolution:
I can’t hold onto my tongue.
It’s slippery like the lizard’s tail
I try to grasp
But the lizard darts away.
You ask me what I mean
by saying I have lost my tongue.
I ask you, what would you do
if you had two tongues in your mouth.
and lost the first one, the mother tongue,
and could not really know the other,
the foreign tongue.
You could not use them both together
even if you thought that way.
And if you lived in a place you had to
speak a foreign tongue,
your mother tongue would rot,
rot and die in your mouth
until you had to spit it out (“Search for my Tongue” Brunizem 63-66)
But the poet still dreams in Gujarati and knows that “sun” does not signify the same things as aakash because of personal memories and different climatic zones where the words are most used.
Bhatt has been accused of milking clichés of political correctness or programmatic discussions of multiculturalism by at least one Indian critic seemingly more interested in national identity (Mehrotra), but from the perspective of global movements of peoples her work constitutes an interesting take on how to find one’s place in the world. It is clear that Bhatt is interested in difference, but most often this finds expression not in public polemic, but rather in personal, solitary experience, registered at a fundamentally physical level. Bhatt’s verse is full of reference to body parts and the feelings that go with them. A lot of eating goes on: “a man like Orpheus/ scrapes artichoke leaves/ very slowly/ between his teeth,” dancing is felt as pain in stretched thighs (“The Multicultural Poem” Augatora 102-3) and a polio victim is always struggling with her withered leg (“A Swimmer in New England Speaks” Augatora 26); “the wired energy” of squirrels distracts the poet and is recorded as a frenzy of lust and rage that scrapes everything down to bones (“Squirrels” Augatora 12-13); the scripts of different languages are felt “clotting together in my mind,/raw, itchy – the way skin begins to heal” (“History is a Broken narrative” Augatora 41). Jane speaks of her language and body being changed by her relationship with Tarzan:
At first
I thought I should teach you
English – return to you
what you have lost.
But you have changed the sounds
I listen for,
Already you have changed my eyelids,
my ears, the nape of my neck –  
The way I lift my head to listen. (Augatora 57)

Such a deep-level registering of cultural and linguistic shifts as corporeal transformation indicates not just a personalised, atomistic sense of travelling experience. There is also an appeal here to fundamental levels of apprehending the world that can allow communication across differences. Bhatt seems to be interested in the mystery of how some things affect us subconsciously and looks to a place at the edge of or beyond language that is common to us all (as in “The Undertow” Brunizem 89.) There is a kind of residual Romanticism in this, perhaps, but Bhatt’s word is determinedly a-romantic, refusing the sublime in a set of surface images and flat documentary. The personal lyric remains, however, open to the possibility of community, and the basic vehicle for this is expression of corporeal, affective experience.

We can understand affect in this context as a pre-cognitive, pre-cultural registering of sensory impressions that is simultaneously an interface with cultural and linguistic systems codifying feeling into emotions and shaping behaviour (Tomkins, Massumi). Affective experience is both radically subjective and a way of connecting to others despite difference. Memory is shaped by time, place and culture, so that we will not all respond to Bhatt’s recall via thoughts in Marathi of Poona’s sounds and heat and encountering snakes in the house, but the affective response to thirst and a child’s seeking a drink at night can be a point of contact with any reader (“A Memory from Marathi” Augatora 19). If the diasporic person becomes separated from her mother tongue, she may also be disconnected from memory and from continuity of identity.

Sneja Gunew sees “Food and Language as Corporeal Home for the Unhoused Diasporic Body”, citing Bhatt’s fusion of language and tongue. Gunew asserts that, “language shapes us and that language is fundamentally grounded in the body itself” (94). Writing in the voice of German artist Paula Modersohn-Becker, about to break free of her marriage to paint in Paris, Bhatt echoes this:

The mouth is preparing itself
To speak French again
See how my lips have changed
Their shape: fuller, softer –  
                Even my words
Are more resilient.  (“Self-Portrait with a Necklace of White Beads” A Colour for Solitude 51)
We have seen how in the earlier “Search for my Tongue” she records the corporeal struggle of acquiring a second or third language, rendering psychic torment as physical pain.
If identity rests in affect and the body, Bhatt does not, however, essentialise the migrant body as a solid site of identity grounded in authentic personal experience, particular memory and specific cultural practice. Diaspora opens up a doubling of meanings. To some extent, the food/language/identity relationship is characterised by traditional ethnically marked cuisine – Gazpacho for Spain (Augatora 23); Wurst for Germany (SR 83); turmeric for India (Augatora/ Point No Point 133). Bhatt notes how Indian women in the US try to retain identity in continuing to produce an authentic chutney (“Chutney” The Stinking Rose 29). However, the travelling poet does not concern herself with such fixity. Something as simple as garlic undergoes linguistic and cultural transformation in The Stinking Rose, a global ethnography of different words and meanings and practices that make of a universal singularity a global plurality. Bhatt also sees writing as a continuous process of exploration (validated by Swami Anand’s advice to the young poet in India: “Swami Anand” Brunizem 18) and memory and the body as a series of rooms that undergo regular refits:
But I am the one
who always goes away.
Maybe the joy lies
in always being able to leave –
But I never left home.
I carried it away
with me – here in my darkness
In myself….

We weren’t allowed
            to take much
but I managed to hide
my home behind my heart.

with my home intact
            but always changing
so the windows don’t match
the doors anymore – the colours
clash in the garden –
And the ocean lives in the bedroom.
I am the one,
who always goes
away with my home
which can only stay inside
in my blood –  my home which does not fit
with any geography
….. (“The one who goes away” The Stinking Rose 3-4, Point No Point 105-6)
To quote Gunew again, “The touch of language may certainly be described as a kind of skin” (100), and language and body both operate as “skins” between the poet and her world/s. Like the windows of “Augatora,” skins are both protective and permeable membranes (Augatora 16). Physical sensations of love-making can send the lover into a memory of smell and colour to suggest a mood that in turn influences behaviour in the present of the poem’s situation (“Sherdi” Brunizem 17; “Lizards” Brunizem 29. The colours and textures in the “skin” of Paula Modersohn-Becker’s paintings supply the contact that allows intuitions of sounds and emotions in the figures and the artist’s life (A Colour for Solitude 12). The multi-lingual Indian and diasporic Western poet is hyper-conscious of the vagaries of language and difficulties of translation. One word, like shantih can alter its meaning according to the context of its utterance: a command to children to “be quiet” or a religiose invocation of peace, and the prayer for peace will have different resonance in a war-torn town where a child has lost a limb (“Shantih” The Stinking Rose 78). One language can have different words (jal, pani) with different associations for the same phenomenon in its several aspects (“Water” The Stinking Rose 111). Subtle shifts of meaning or mood are consistently represented via sensory images.
Narayana Chandra praises Bhatt’s “sharply visual and tactile imagery” (1994). It is this that gives her work its immediacy for the reader, but while affective, body-located discourse has its essentialising, universalising aspect, it is also an unstable mode of experience and expression. Affective experience may be carried over from one mental compartment to another via the memory of the body. Sounds carry with them memories of smells (“A Gujarati Patient Speaks” [Monkey Shadows] Point No Point 143); smells convey the tastes of food and situations surrounding its preparation and consumption (“Wanting Agni” Brunizem 79-81). Synaesthesia is claimed as a characteristic of affect (Massumi) and is very much a part of Bhatt’s style and thematics.
Her objectivity of narrating voice and material manifestation of feeling relates to her imagist forebears and can lend an air of fixity and banality to a poem when it fails to rise beyond private significance or find some appropriate formal closure. (Chandra and Mehrotra both fault her for this, respectively charging her with selecting “batches of the irrelevant” or formulaic repetitions of postcolonial topics.) So much of Bhatt’s work is stripped of technical and structural decoration that its content seems to determine a poem’s impact. However, this prosaic lack of artifice must be set against the shifting qualities of synaesthetic reference and is itself something of a textual strategy related to the persona of a constant traveller, dis-placed from her own past and from the present she inhabits with others.
In “Skinnydipping in History” (The Stinking Rose 25) Bhatt rings the changes on a poem by John Ashbery to suggest that the surface (skin) is in fact the crucial site of meaning, the “visible core.” As such, it is a space of emergence and constant alteration, not the basis of some kind of identity politics, although in her memories of New Orleans and other poems such as her meditation on the swastika – as in “Deviben Pathak” (Monkey Shadows 46-7) – Bhatt shows she is perfectly aware of the politics of race. The skin is a place of constant alteration, of things surfacing and things being absorbed. Many poems enact a voyage into memory, dream, another person’s world, followed by some return to the surface of the recording persona or the writing of the poem itself, usually with some hint of transformation of that surface. Cecile Sandten notes how in Bhatt there is an awareness of “interhistorical process” that disrupts stable identities and that “the mythic is generated from within the poet and the poem” (1998, 57-8). In “Self-Portrait as Aubade”, for example, the first poem of A Colour for Solitude, the poet confronts the painter’s portrait of herself “open to the bone” before a mirror. The painter’s “quest” for self-knowledge is also the quest for understanding between poet and subject, mediated by surfaces that begin to bleed into each other, leading to identification of painted image with artist with examining poet and a sense of the potential in this forerunner of German modernism:
Your green broken with black branches
enters the mirror –  your green
invites the aubade –  gives fragrance to your waiting –
… however dark this green,
still, there is the fragrance
of a cold spring morning.

The gaze in the mirror is steady
and the part in your hair is so straight –

the green surrounds your moonstone skin –
            your memories of blanched almonds –

untouched and aching
                    to be touched

But you are the aubade
                 and do not know it – (A Colour for Solitude 17-18)

The body is in movement, sense impressions come and go, movement itself becomes a defining feature. Language is realised in change and that change is associated with picking up languages wherever you are (“History is a Broken Narrative” Augatora 40). A recurrent motif in all her books is metamorphosis (a ceiling fan “dreams/ of becoming a spider lily” in response to someone’s intrusion into a room, a woman turns into a mermaid in “At the Marketplace”, “Metamorphoses II: A Dream”, Brunizem 87, 91, 92-3), though it is set against the tendency to seek a dry witticism or ironic question that will sum up things. (Emily Dickinson has been identified by Mehrotra as the source of her dashes, and the poet does get one mention from Bhatt in “A Poem Consisting Entirely of Introductions” [Augatora 93], so perhaps there is a touch of écriture feminine in the fluidity of her lines and the sardonic notes here and there.) Art and the self appear not as a stable core or a fixed end product but as an affective “intensity” with which data are grasped (epigraph to A Colour for Solitude). One means of conveying such an intensity of perception is through synaesthetic imagery. This is part of the technique of the symbolist aspect of early modernism and consistent with the transformations effected in surrealism, both expressive modes informing Bhatt’s work. (She alludes to Yeats, Lorca, Gertrude Stein, and Rilke, for example). Poems speak of painting the sound of bells (“A Red Rose in November” A Colour for Solitude 48), the smell of light (“For Paula Modersohn-Becker” Brunizem 76), sound, colour and smell combine to be felt in the soles of the feet (“Living with Trains” Brunizem 55), sound suggests colour (“Poem for a Reader who was Born Blind” Augatora 98). But it is also more than mere symbolism.
Symbolism attempted to capture the elusive quality of intangible mood via synaesthesia, and there is something of this in Bhatt’s poetry. She offers a poem to Plato at one point (Brunizem 32) and there is often a Platonic sense of what Sandten describes as “a form beyond forms of which all phenomena are allegories” (Sandten 1998, 51). However, Bhatt’s verse extends beyond an aesthetic program into consideration of differences in modes of communication and the difficulties of capturing truth in words (Augatora 50). In “Poem for a reader who was born blind” Bhatt learns that there are other ways of apprehending colour, and intuits ” a vast blueness”, horses, a fox’s movements, straining throat muscles and snow from listening to a Mongolian shepherd’s song (Augatora 98).
Synaesthesia, then, becomes a device to suggest not organic harmonies but differences and shifting multiplicity. As Gunew points out, synaesthesia “is a way of undoing the naturalized meanings and functions associated with both food and language.” (99), and by extension, of the ethnically marked body too. So it is possible that this open-ended sense of things celebrated in “The multicultural poem” and enacted in synaesthetic images, the dashes at the end of lines, and the unanswered questions of many poems is the direct result of an awareness in the diasporic subject of the unfixity of even something like the body, despite and because of the many fixings that nations and cultures try to impose on it. Home becomes a site of continual change and self is defined by restless travels in dream and across time and space (“The Circle” Augatora 99). As “The Multicultural Poem” says: “It has to do/ with movement” (Augatora 100).
Sara Ahmed talks about how different groups of people are labelled as ’emotional’: within narratives of the nation as strong and rational and patriarchal, women and migrants are seen as weak, emotional, feminine, less developed, undermining of the social fabric (3). What stands out in any reading of Bhatt’s work, as noted already, is its consistently dispassionate voice. Despite her recourse to affective language, the overall impression from Bhatt’s work is of a distanced affect-less observer adopting what Sundeep Sen calls “a quietude of stance”.
Critics working with notions of originary national identity might find evidence that despite the losses of diasporic exile, Bhatt has preserved her South Asian cultural origins and writes meditative verse that works towards the thought-free mind: “Montauk Garden with Stones and Water”, “Equilibrium” (Augatora 95, 96). She does make reference, it is true, to the Ramayana, the Bhagavad Gita, the Buddha and the Upanishads, but she also shows how tradition of the religious mythic kind is not adequate to sustain one against the ravages of colonial economics or anti-female violence, or globalising warfare. The poet also has recourse to Western existentialism, citing Kierkegaard (“Baltimore” Brunizem 57) and Samuel Beckett (epigraph to The Stinking Rose). Moreover, she locates her persona in the role of perpetual traveller, the one who goes away, who stands ironically commenting on the good luck rituals of her mother culture as she leaves India’s shores. As “the one who goes away” she is displaced, detached (not pushed away, not actively rejecting home, just one involved in a defining but neutral process of continual change). She becomes the automatic “tape-recorder” dictated to by the chant of “the pure voice” (“Water” The Stinking Rose 111). Is this a result of geographical and linguistic uprooting and nomadism? Or is it (or is it also) a resistance, following Ahmed’s theory, to being positioned as a ‘shrill’ postcolonial diasporic racial minority female?
And yet, Bhatt’s poetry is essentially a lyric oeuvre. Her encounters with other objects and bodies locate her but seem to confirm her persona as a private being, an empty presence whose feelings emerge from the intensification of a mood in interaction with an object or situation and in the act of giving voice to that encounter from a private, reflective position. An art of deflection and indirectness: encounter leads to movement away into dream or memory or dispassionate commentary, followed by reflection on this, attachment to an echoing image that suggests a mood, a stance in relation to something – a hesitant engagement that is in the moment of the poem/of the encounter and will not admit to more significance than that. How emotions operate is of relevance to considering diasporic writing, since the idea of movement is inherent in the meaning of the word ’emotion’:
What moves us, what makes us feel is also that which holds us in place, or gives us a dwelling place. Hence movement does not cut the body off from the ‘where’ of its inhabitance, but connects bodies to other bodies: attachment takes place through movement, through being moved by the proximity of others. (Ahmed 11)
Ahmed inspects how, once affect becomes externalised, emotions circulate and ‘stick’ to objects; how objects are produced through the contact between somatic sensation, experience, bodily response, social codes. In the case of Bhatt’s poetry, if we accept that there is a refusal of the affect-laden object self of diasporic/migrant, then two things seem to follow: one, that the subject self is an observing presence (“I am the one who watches” (Augatora 18), distanced and dispassionate, that holds affect very much to heart – locates feelings “behind the heart” as a strictly personal thing; two, that affective encounters with others are mediated by objects onto which emotions are ‘stuck’.
Bhatt registers affect through mediated screens, sticking emotions to objects: food (garlic), art (paintings by Emily Carr, Edvard Munch, Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo and Modesohn-Becker); photographs (Brunizem 45); love-making (bodily surfaces); news reports (Afghanistan, the anti-Sikh riots of 1984). One might simply say that this is the detached uprooted uncommitted nature of the cosmopolitan globetrotter. But again, Ahmed’s discussion of the ethics of responding / the ethical demand to respond to what we cannot experience ourselves (31) raises the possibility of a more complex reading of Bhatt’s position. In this light, we can see in her writing a quiet engagement that refuses to possess the other’s suffering as sentimentality or egocentric assimilation/universalism.
“Go to Ahmedabad” at once describes the heat, tropical disease and hunger of a ‘Third World’ setting and refuses to tell the reader about it. The poem shows the humanity and community of local life surviving despite adversity, and uses the personal memory and experience of the now unhoused poet to challenge the Anglophone reader (privileged either by class or foreignness) to go there and experience the suffering directly (Brunizem 100-2). A similarly ironic play of reticence and representation is found in “Frauenjournal” (The Stinking Rose 113-14). Here the poet records watching a graphic documentary on female circumcision and notes the twin dangers of averting one’s gaze and voyeurism. In a working example of postcolonial theory crossing with feminism, she wonders how she can speak for a woman who is proud of having killed her daughter in the process of enacting a different cultural tradition, and what one can do by recording the fact in words:
Is this being judgmental?
Or is this how one bears witness
                      With words? (The Stinking Rose 113)
Such a resistance to easy reprocessing of the pain of others comes from an awareness of her own distance from those around her and the impossibility of an harmonious ‘third space’ of translation/organic synthesis. In “The Stare”, for example ([Monkey Shadows] Point No Point62), a young monkey and a small child make eye-contact with each other, but their mutual curiosity does not permit any shared understanding. In “Search for my Tongue”, the three-level rendering of language estranges things for both English and Gujarati speakers, and for bilingual speakers – who do not need the Romanised transliteration, which is no help to the Anglophone reader either. The text remains a zone of unresolved struggle/ dissonance that nonetheless points to the necessary ongoing process of translation. Cecile Sandten has noted Bhatt’s “intense awareness of antagonistic forces: (2000, 115); and in this rejection of organic unity the muse itself becomes problematic:

I used to think there was
only one voice.
I used to wait patiently for that one voice to return
to begin its dictation.

I was wrong

I can never finish counting them now. (“The Voices” The Stinking Rose 103)

But this pluralising of voices does not absolve the writer of responsibility to “bear witness” and she does, quietly, non-committally but tellingly in relation to girl abortions in India (“Voice of the Unwanted Girl” Augatora 38), to the long history of deaths at sea in the Baltic (‘The Hole in the Wind” Augatora 63-74), to the almost casual domestic and public violence of North America (“Walking Across Brooklyn Bridge, July 1990” [Monkey Shadows] Point No Point 91).
M.S. Pandey reads Bhatt’s work in the old mode of diaspora’s exile and loss, but I do not find the kind of nostalgia for lost origins in the memories of India that this approach suggests. Indeed, Cecile Sandten quotes the poet as herself rejecting definitions in terms of postcolonial resistance or diasporic suffering. She sees herself as “Indian in the world” (2000, 102). However, Pandey makes the useful observation that “While the loss is real, in terms of spatial and temporal distance from the motherland, the recovery can only be imaginary – or at best aesthetic.” (233). This picks up on the modernist impulse behind much of Bhatt’s work, but it also calls attention to her particular position in global diasporas. Bhatt is the child of a university professional, herself raised through the global network of university fellowships and writers’ conferences. In her early collections especially, we can sense the pressure and contrivance of the creative writing class. It is this world that she inhabits; it is words that provide her with a home or at least a role that can be transported from one place to another. In Sandten’s words, “Home is … the inner self of the lyrical persona.” (2000, 105); home is in the poem, in the writing, and the writing, as Swami Anand pointed out early in her development, is an endless process (Brunizem 18-19).
It is hard to make definitive pronouncements on a poet’s development from looking through her published books, since most poets keep aside material for further work and later publication, hence simple chronological sequences are blurred. Some of the work in the 2002 collection A Colour for Solitude, for example, dates back to 1979 and appeared in both Brunizem (1993) and The Stinking Rose (1995). Nonetheless, in terms of self-presentation through published collections, we can generalise to note a progressive shift from memories of India, family and childhood through dream-like displacements of erotic moments with a lover and later personal mentions of miscarriages and childbirth. Such autobiographical material begins to be taken over by poetic responses to art and verse by others, with occasions of historical reflection and social critique of either a feminist or postcolonial nature. Cecile Sandten has categorised Bhatt’s work as “organic poetry” along the lines of Denise Levertov and densely intertextual verse (Sandten 1998). In the end, engagement with other artwork and artists forms the whole of the latest book and spans Bhatt’s entire writing career. Bhatt comments in her introduction to The Colour of Solitude that her imagined relationship to Becker, Westhoff and Rilke via readings of their work may have been a way “for [her] mind to enter and try to understand a totally alien culture and country” (13). Where she is now at home in Bremen, she still presents herself as “the ultimate foreigner,” but as with much of her other work, she claims belonging in her role as artist, and performs her diasporic identity as a negotiator of gaps and dissonant edges across several languages. There is a hint always of some place beyond language where some ideal home or community may be found, and this is registered in her work via bodily-based affect and surrealist technique, but in this world Bhatt clearly finds her being as part of a literary and artistic community (and perhaps part of an artistic sisterhood as well) that seems to carry her across limitations of language and nation and time, and which provides a subtly changing “home behind the heart” and adequate identity for the unsettled traveller.
Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.
Sujata Bhatt, Brunizem, [Manchester: Carcanet: 1988]; New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 1993.
— Monkey Shadows, Manchester: Carcanet: 1991.
— The Stinking Rose, Manchester: Carcanet: 1995.
     Point No Point, Manchester: Carcanet: 1997.
     Augatora, Manchester: Carcanet: 2000.
— A Colour for Solitude, Manchester: Carcanet: 2002.
Teresa Brennan, The Transmission of Affect, Ithaca &London: Cornell, 2004.
Roger Bromley, “A Concluding Essay: Narratives for a New Belonging – Writing in the Borderlands” in John C. Hawley (ed) Cross-Addressing: Resistance Literature at Cultural Borders New York: SUNY Press, 1996: 275-299.
K. Narayana Chandra, review of Brunizem, World Literature Today, 68.4 (1994).
—— review of Monkey Shadows, World Literature Today, 69.1 (1995): 223.
Sneja Gunew, “’Mouthwork’: Food and Language as Corporeal Home for the Unhoused Diasporic Body in South Asian Women’s Writing”, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 40.2 (2005): 93-103.
Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Durham, SC: Duke , 2002.
Arvind K. Mehrotra, “The Anxiety of Being Sujata”, The Hindu, March 18, 2001 (
M.S. Pandey, “The Trishanku Morif in the Poetry of Sujata Bhatt and Uma Parameswaran”, in The Literature of the Indian Diaspora, Ed. A.L. McLeod, New Delhi: Sterling, 2000: 225-38.
Cecile Sandten, “India, America, and Germany: Interhistorical and intertextual process in the poetry of Sujata Bhatt” in W. Kloos (ed) Across the Lines (ASNEL Papers 3) Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998: 51-63.
—— “In Her Own Voice: Sujata Bhatt and the Aesthetic Articulation of the Diasporic Condition”, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 35.1 (2000): 99-120.
Sundeep Sen, “Recent Indian English Poetry”, World Literature Today, 74.4 (2000): 783.
Nigel Thrift, “ Intensities of Feeling: Towards a Spatial Politics of Affect,” Geografiska Annaler, 86 (B). 1 (2004): 57-78.
Sylvan S. Tomkins, Affect Imagery Consciousness 4 volumes, New York: Springer, 1963.