Monday, July 9, 2018

Blog of the Week ~ Listening to Birds With Sumana Roy

Today, my friends, we are listening to the birds again. Our very own Sumana Roy, who blogs at Sumanar/Lekha, recently wrote a series of poems about birds that captivated me. I thought you would enjoy the beautiful message in Sumana's poems. She is one who sees and hears the small blessings in life, and puts them into words so sweetly. Let's enjoy.

The Asian Koel

My inner voice is a male Asian Koel,
always unseen, always hidden
in heaps of leafy, nonsense thoughts—
I don’t often get to hear its mellifluous note,
as those gibberish leaves rustle and nod
making me caw, rattle and click—
 I cannot be happy with the subsong I make,
with words of hoarse alphabets and voice
while all the while there’s a Koel within me—
I have seen those moonlit moments too,
when within a span of darkness and light
all leaves are still, all alphabets sleep— 
peeps the blackish Koel holding in its beak
a rapturous joy I often dream to speak.

Sherry:  I have been enjoying how birds have been appearing in your poems recently, Sumana. I love “my inner voice is a male Asian Koel”, and resonate with our hoarse voices “while all the while there’s a Koel within”. Oh, yes, I know that feeling well. Tell us about this, won’t you?

Sumana: I feel greatly honored that you have selected these ‘bird’ poems to be featured at Poets United, Sherry. Thank you so much.
An Asian Male Koel’s voice, especially in springtime is extremely mellifluous and enchanting, almost like Wordsworth’s Solitary Reaper’s voice having infinite depth and vastness; just as we dream our inner voice to be. Boundless. And singing. Yet we don’t often get to hear it for our own follies and bubbles of desire. We make it limited, with our attachments to this materialistic worldly life, while in our core we are spirit, not flesh. Thus this comparison, a dulcet voice and a subsong.
Sherry: We often forget that we are spiritual beings having a bodily experience, not the other way around. So true.

I really felt the following poem.

The Blue-Throated Barbet

My words of silence
are in monochrome-
they forever sit
on their haunches
in this dark space
of grief-
I watch them closely-
I let them be-
it is possible,
one day they will rise
from this noiselessness
to be a blue-throated-barbet

Sherry: So moving and beautiful, my friend. I really felt the words of grief that sit within, and the possibility that “one day they will rise… be a blue-throated barbet”. Will you tell us about this poem?
Sumana:  I try to write happy words yet they always become mournful, maybe for the searing grief that’s dwelling within me. It’s my own struggle to make me free from being pulled along in the slipstream of fire. It’s a thorny path I am walking on barefoot. When I look forward to a happy image, I always see the birds of Bengal around me. So maybe unintentionally and unconsciously they make a little place in my lines. Blue-throated-barbet too is a springtime bird.
Sherry: I know that carrying of grief, at our time of life. There is such romance in the vision of the birds of Bengal. I am glad they bring you comfort, my friend. 

In the following poem, your words did rise, magnificently, as they so often do. Let’s read:

The Doyel is the black bird
up in the left top corner 
Sumana Roy photo

My skin almost melted
my nostrils burnt
my soul was a withered flower
lying about the dusty, parched
and gasping earth-
for a cool breath of miracle-
that comes down
from the sky-
it came yesterday-
along with it
came Happiness
in the form of a Doyel*–
sitting on the grill
it whistled-
filling me with blessings-
I became the rolling clouds
I became the falling rain
I became a thousand leaves
and let drip these drops of grace
like Kisame**

*A Bengali word for Oriental Magpie Robin

**‘Kisame’ refers to rain that drips from leaves. I learned this Japanese word from fellow poet Toni Spencer and used it.

Sherry: Oh my goodness, this poem brims with blessings that spill over onto the reader; the bird’s song, filling you with blessings, your words taking flight and soaring right off the page and into our hearts. The transformation from a “heart like a withered flower” to such joy, thanks to the song of a bird. We who understand such gifts are blessed. How did this poem find its way, my friend?

Sumana:  This poem was a response to one of Susan’s recent Midweek Motifs about ‘Happiness’. As we are in the middle of an Indian summer you can guess how miserable we are at present. 

At first I thought I would beat the heat with my words of happiness. Ha, not a line would come! Yet it was Wednesday morning. Then like a blessing comes this Doyel, bringing along black clouds and strong wind with it, weaving a little rainbow in my heart with its sweet whistle. It’s a black and white bird. Soon ‘Kisame’ was happening all around me. I took an unsuccessful photo (that looks like a black spot with a white tail) of this angel hiding behind the door before it flew away. Words also dropped like ‘Kisame’ then J
I have always been a bird watcher from my childhood. The same common birds like sparrows, doves, pigeons, barbets, koels, mynas etc. give me immense pleasure. It’s sad that these beautiful children of our Mother Earth are struggling to survive, owing to human selfishness and greed. Very sad.

Sherry: It is sad that every other species is struggling because of humans. It is hard to bear. But thank you, Sumana, for these beautiful poems, which lift us up on the wings of our feathered friends, and your  appreciation of the gifts they bring.

I hope you enjoyed these poems, poet friends. I can never resist poems with birds in them! Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Thank you so much dear Sherry for featuring the poems. Ha, I can see three of my neighbors' houses here too and the song bird. What a wonderful job you've done Sherry!
    It's bed time here. See you all in the morning :)

  2. Thank you for sharing these beautiful poems, Sherry and Sumana! I love all three but I think my favourite has to be 'Voices' with all the bird sounds. I particularly enjoyed the lines:
    '...those gibberish leaves rustle and nod
    making me caw, rattle and click'
    'all leaves are still, all alphabets sleep—
    peeps the blackish Koel holding in its beak
    a rapturous joy I often dream to speak'.

  3. Great interview Sherry... I do enjoy Sumana's work.

  4. Sumana, thank you for these beautiful poems, and for starting our week with uplifted hearts from having read them. Thank heaven for birds. I have hummingbirds chittering on my deck at all hours these days. It is so lovely to hear them and watch them drinking greedily at the feeders. i have never had so many as this year. WQord must have gotten out. Smiles.

  5. Thank you both for this very lovely feature. These poems, and Sumana's words about them, are a treat to read.

  6. Sumana is always one of my favorites, always an inspiration. Great writing Sumana and wonderful interview Sherry!


  7. It is truly my pleasure, my friends. I am so happy you are enjoying it.

  8. How I loved these bird poems Sumana, My wife was a birdwatcher and natually I got dragged into bird watching with her. We can learn so much from them when they finally accept you will do no harm and are almost as curious about us as we them. Glad the Doyel bird came to visit. Thank you too Sherry for letting us enjoy knowing more about our fellow poets.

  9. What beautiful poems these are, Sumana. So much depth in the words of the poems and in the feelings portrayed behind the words. I was especially struck by the poem "My Words of Silence." I think inside many of us there are these words of silence waiting to rise....and hopefully, through poetry at least, some day they will. It is interesting that you have always been a seems you have some very interesting birds to watch, and so glad they inspire you.

    Thank you, Sherry, for this wonderful feature!

  10. The best poets long to hear the 'hum' of the birds... and writing is just an exercise of the heart.Beautiful writing, Sumana and great interview, Sherry.

  11. The best poets long to hear the 'hum' of the birds... and writing is just an exercise of the heart.Beautiful writing, Sumana and great interview, Sherry.

  12. I can never resist poems with birds in them. These days i have at least thirty hummingbirds clamouring at the feeders, am kept busy making sugar water. I so love watching them.

  13. Wow! Thank you, Sherry for putting these bird poems together. Maybe Sumana can make a book of birds she knows.
    Gosh. Sumana, these three illustrate why you are one of my most favorite poets! And in your explanations lie other poems. Here's one: "It’s my own struggle to make me free from being pulled along in the slipstream of fire. It’s a thorny path I am walking on barefoot." And the last poem included is one of my all time favorites. To become the blessings! Oh!
    "I became the rolling clouds
    I became the falling rain
    I became a thousand leaves
    and let drip these drops of grace
    like Kisame**"
    I am grateful that bird song stops you in your tracks and turns you into poetry. Thank you.

  14. Thank you dear friends for your kind comments. You words do spur me to carry on with words. Poets United feels like a true home to me. Thank you everyone.

  15. Thank you for this wonderful interview Sherry and thank you Sumana for your wonderful words - you are a true poet.
    Anna :o]

  16. I have admired Sumana's poetry. This interview was a chance to get a closer glimpse.

    Thank you both!

  17. I remember all those poems... the ease with which they flow, the local vibe and all that emotion. You have the gift, Sumana and I enjoy reading your work. Thank you Sherry for this compilation.

  18. Well done, Sumana :) It's great coming closer this way to see the woman behind such inspiring words. Good job Sherry!

  19. Loved the interview, Sherry!💞 You're an inspiration for us all Sumana!☺

  20. I loved this post, Sumana's poems are so lovely and so deep, she knows the dept of being, yet she decorates her words with images of birds, such gifts,the birds and her words! Thank you both.

  21. Sumana, you are the voice. Of birds. Loved finding out about the birds, and the wonderful photos you presented. "Happiness" gave me such a sense of peace. Thanks Sherry for this presentation.

  22. Bird song has a healing effect. We are in winter drought at the moment...sunny almost every day.All the dams are drying up so if no rain, summer will be bad for us too.


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