Saris and a Single Malt is a moving collection of poems written by a daughter for and about her mother. The book spans the time from when the poet receives a phone call in New York City that her mother is in a hospital in New Delhi, to the time she carries out her mother’s last rites. The poems chronicle the author’s physical and emotional journey as she flies to India, tries to fight the inevitable, and succumbs to the grief of living in a motherless world. Divided into three sections, (Flight, Fire, and Grief), this collection will move you, astound you, and make you hug your loved ones.
There are so many poignant lines throughout Saris and a Single Malt, and Vikram does a fantastic job of portraying the depth of her grief and her love for her mother in just a few short lines, emphasizing the value of writing as a coping strategy.
This is my mom’s favorite travel breakfast.
If I can’t fight for her life,
I am going to fight for her memory.
(from “Fifty Minutes from New Delhi”)
It’s in our tears
that you see the marks your absence left behind.
(from “It’s Not Easy”)
These poems churned up so many memories for me, as I lost my father nearly 17 years ago. In a handful of words, Vikram brought me back to the phone call I received from my mother telling me my father had died, and as with Vikram’s mother, his death was sudden and completely unexpected. Her poems brought me back to those early days of learning how to move on without my father, how the hardest thing was having news and not being able to pick up the phone and talk to him. And in the very short poem “Crashing,” Vikram sums up how I still feel about my father’s death more than a decade later:
I can’t be a Zen wave in the ocean–
crashing into the shore,
you never returning is okay.
I appreciated the afterword in which Vikram shares what she learned about the process of grieving her mother, and her advice was something I could have used when I lost my father.
Saris and a Single Malt is a touching tribute to Vikram’s mother, a love song from a grieving daughter. The rawness and the truth in these poems really touched me, and the collection ends with Vikram’s return to New York, but it’s obvious that the story doesn’t end there. Saris and a Single Malt emphasizes the hole left behind after the loss of a parent, how the pain never goes away but just dulls over time. It’s not often that I find a collection of poems that truly speaks to me, but Saris and a Single Malt did, putting Vikram on my short list of favorite contemporary poets.
About the poet
Sweta Srivastava Vikram, featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” is an award-winning writer, five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Amazon bestselling author of 11 books, writing coach, columnist, marketing consultant, and wellness practitioner who currently lives in New York City. A graduate of Columbia University, she also teaches the power of yoga, Ayurveda, & mindful living to female trauma survivors, creative types, entrepreneurs, and business professionals. Sweta is also the CEO-Founder of NimmiLife, which helps you attain your goals by elevating your creativity & productivity while paying attention to your wellness.
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Disclosure: I received Saris and a Single Malt via Poetic Book Tours for review.
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