Friday, March 8, 2013

For International Women's Day: No Ocean Here

As I read these poems, I became upset and angry, and I asked myself a single question.  Why?

March is National Women's History Month, and March 8 is International Women's Day, a day to honor the achievements of women globally.  I thought it would be a fitting time to feature No Ocean Here by Sweta Srivastava Vikram, published in 2013, part of the World Voices series.  These powerful poems are stories in verse, heartbreaking, haunting, and often horrific accounts of women and girls in various parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Like a gypsy with no shoes,
I walk humbly through cultures,
documenting stories

for women without a voice.
~Sweta Srivastava Vikram, No Ocean Here

Most of the poems have a short preface, which sets up the particular situation featured in the poem. I've listed a couple of examples below.

It's been estimated that over 20,000 women in the Middle East and Asia, where Islam is practiced, are killed by their family members if the latter thinks the victim has brought disgrace to the family or community. ~Honor Killing  

In some parts of Gaza, mayit nar (acid) is thrown on women who don't cover their faces. ~Mayit Nar 

Every year, thousands of girls are trafficked from Nepal into India for commercial sex work.  Most of these girls come from poor families, so they are lured by the promise of employment or marriage. ~Brothel

There are numerous references to the ocean in this book, starting with the first poem, which has the same title as the book, and is an introductory poem about the general plight of women in these countries. 

I awaken in a cruel world--  

no ocean here 

Inspired by true stories and interviews, Sweta Srivastava Vikram's new work is a courageous, compelling, and compassionate collection, which gives these women a much needed voice against violence and oppression.  Over 40 poems depict the plights of women and girls in these developing countries, who've suffered too long in silence--and who desperately deserve to be heard. 


  1. Lovely selections from the book. I'd love to read it.

  2. I am one of those people that when I read something sad/painful, it affects me for days. Don't think I could read this one.

    1. Diane, these poems are about pain and suffering, but there's no chance for change without an awareness of how these women are treated.

  3. Sounds like a powerful and important collection of poems. And the cover is so striking.

  4. This sounds like a powerful and moving collection and like something that will open the eyes of those who read it. Those few introductions you quoted are just unreal and infuriating. How horrific that this goes on in the world we live in.
    Great post Suko. I am a fan of this poets since you introduced me to her with Beyond The Scent of Sorrow. I like that she uses poetry to get her message across.

  5. I definitely understand why this should make you angry. Though we do not always hear about it, women suffer disproportionally worldwide from violence and oppression while at the same time perpetuating these evils so much less then men.

    This was a great choice of books for this month.

  6. Sounds like a collection that is both harrowing and yet inspiring, thanks for recommending it.

  7. It sounds like a sad situation these poor women find themselves in. It is hard to believe in this day and age that such barbaric things are still happening.

  8. You always have the best books to promo. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Sounds like a worthy collection highlighting the plight of these individuals. Another couple of good anthologies, from a womens point of view are
    Fire On Her Tongue: an eBook Anthology of Contemporary
    Women's Poetry & Not a Muse: The Inner Lives of Women, a World Poetry Anthology

  10. Thank you so much to all of you for your powerful words and generous support. I hold them dear.


    1. Sweta, I appreciate your comment! Thank you for sharing your very worthy work with me.

  11. There are some awful things that go on. Thought provoking poems.


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