Event review – Chiaroscuro by chetana. July 2 2017

Chiaroscuro by chetana. Published by Critical Documents. http://plantarchy.us
ISBN 978-0-9791412-3-2

For an author, publishing your first book is like having your first baby. You’ve made it, it’s of you in the most intimate way. It marks a step in your life, so when they ask you, “Are you published?” you can answer, “Yes, I am!”


Che describes the publication of her first book of poems “Chiaroscuro” as a coming-of-age ritual – a phrase that an anthropologist would use to describe how, in a tribe, a young person becomes an adult, able to participate fully in the affairs of the tribe. For an author, it is the same. With your first book, you become an author, an authority. You have entered the magic world of print, you are part of a community of authors across the centuries. And a copy of your book is deposited in the British Library Legal Deposit Office in Wetherby for posterity.

On Sunday 2nd July 2017 we celebrated the launch of che’s book at the Bookshop on Willesden Lane, where she has been a regular contributor to the monthly poetry group: “Poetry of Many Worlds”. Che spoke about her background and how it informs one of the principal themes of her work: the sense of exile. How poetry is part of the process of defining oneself in an alien and not always welcoming land. She references Ursula Le Guin’s novel, “The Dispossessed” as a major influence on her thinking. She read us poems from her collection including “Executive Order 9066” about persons of Japanese ancestry who were interned in the US during World War 2. She read us “Ghosts of Nauru” which gives voice to the refugees on an island waiting to enter the promised land of Australia. She read us other more personal pieces about identity, about home, about friendship, about love.

With this publication, che shows us that she has found her voice as a poet and she uses that to give voice to those who have none. We look forward to hearing and seeing how her writing develops in future projects, and to holding other books of hers in our hands. May her book reach those who have need of the truth of her words.

Brian Lee
July 2017

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