South African novelist and essayist Pauline Jansen van Rensburg reviews Rita Banerjee’s debut poetry collection Echo in Four Beats for current issue of The Quarterly Conversation. In her review, she writes:
“Rita Banerjee´s debut poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats, published by Finishing Line Press, is a modern feminist re-interpretation of the myth of Echo and Narcissus from Ovid´s Metamorphoses. Echo in Four Beats performs at the intersection between classical Greek and Indic myth, gender politics, political oppression, Vedic and Buddhist philosophy, and deeply personal narratives through verse redolent with tonal originality. The collection is not exclusively centered on the rampant narcissism of our times, nor is it just an appeal to reclaim an authentic female narrative free of patriarchal heteronormative echoes—its contemporary topical significance also lies in its rally against the discourse of capitalistic ideologies and the damaging heritage of colonisation. The collection encourages the reader to ponder the transformative and transcendental power of art and spiritual consciousness.
The title Echo in Four Beats alludes to the Greek myth and references the four distinct waves of feminism that have culminated into a global crescendo today. Hence, the fourth beat may be perceived as analogous with the fourth wave of feminism, which promises to become more intersectional, more open to debate, and more transformative than precedent waves. The cover is suggestive of The Women´s March in Washington, DC. It depicts a crowd of women cupping their hands to their mouths to enunciate and receive wisdom back. The women move and surround a reclining Satyr, the infamous Barberini Faun, from the entourage of the God of Ecstasy, Dionysus, who is narcissistically confident in his lascivious abandon and powerful aesthetic beauty. He is seemingly oblivious to the throngs of what could be revolutionary women around him, uniting to take back the mic and reclaim their own voices.
The fundamental Vedic and Buddhist religious concept of Saṃsāra, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘wandering,’ and denoting a spiritual journey towards enlightenment through the cycle of life-death-rebirth, acts as a blueprint for the structure of the collection. It transposes onto the first three beats, which correspond with: Brahma and creation, Vishnu as the preserver or sustenance in the second beat, and Shiva, the destroyer and destructive transformation in the third beat. The fourth beat explores what liberation from this cycle of creation, sustenance and destruction might look like and the poem ‘Beyond Saṃsāra’ ironically suggests the possibility of women regaining their freedom from past destructive cycles.”
Read the full review of Echo in Four Beats on The Quarterly Conversation here.
Emily Shearer, Poetry Editor for Minerva Rising Press, reviews Rita Banerjee’s debut poetry collection Echo in Four Beats on Minerva Rising. In her review, entitled “Tongue Circling Stories: A Book Review of Echo in Four Beats by Rita Banerjee,” Shearer writes:
If you have been waiting for sounds to fall from Echo’s lips and stir you to wakefulness, do not wait until after tomorrow. Banerjee is here with a rallying cry to carpe the f*ck out of this diem. “There were no tomorrows left anymore,” she warns in “Après-demain,” and “. . . there isn’t a story i haven’t believed in,” from “Paper Men.”
Jaswinder Bolina, author of The 44th of July, Phantom Camera, and CarrierWave, has called this book “the first truly post-national book of poems [he’s] ever read.”
Banerjee’s scope is wide, and her reach does not exceed her grasp. While she looks for home, characterized as nothing more than a “constant state of momentary arrivals*,” she dwells in ocean, in moonlight, in making love to Thanatos as a lover worships the body next to her in bed. She explores the realms of water, whether shipwrecked Atlantis or sound inside a leaf-grown well. She revels in the oop! and wop of a didgeridoo and regales in the language of Hindu gods, Japanese frogs, and those the world over whose tongues circle the stories of these poems, “ready for what / it will allow: / to wait for sounds.”
Read the full review of Echo in Four Beats here.
Poet and writer Melissa Grunow reviews Rita Banerjee’s debut poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats for The Coil Journal. In her review, entitled “On Rita Banerjee’s ‘Echo in Four Beats,'” Grunow writes:
In her debut poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats, Rita Banerjee demonstrates mastery of controlled language and shrewd observation. From depictions of the world’s smallest fragments of wonder to an investigation of its vast expansiveness, Banerjee’s breadth of intrinsic compassion reverberates in each poem.
A finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, Three Mile Harbor Poetry Prize, and Aquarius Press / Willow Books Literature Award, Echo in Four Beats conveys an understanding of nature, human connection, literary and historical novelties, and intercontinental divides unlike any other.
Each poem is unique and compelling in its voice and persona, identities that shapeshift and morph across state lines, borderlands, and oceans. There is agility to the lyricism, images taking shape among lines that swing like pendulums and pivot like spinning tops. Stanzas are built with intentional precision that will drop you into the moments of experience, scrutiny, and enchantment that shudder and reverberate.
Read Grunow’s full review of Echo in Four Beats here, and order Echo in Four Beats (March 9, 2018) from Finishing Line Press here.
Saturday February 7, 2015 * 19:00-20:30
The Munich Readery * Augustenstraße 104 München, Germany
Join the Munich Readery for an evening of original poetry and fiction by writer and creative writing instructor, Rita Banerjee. Rita Banerjee will be reading from her poetry collection, Cracklers at Night, and her new poetry manuscript, Echo in Four Beats. She will also read excerpts from her novel manuscript, Mélusine, as well as her selections of her short fiction.
Rita Banerjee is a writer and creative writing instructor at the Munich Readery. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University and her writing has been published in Poets for Living Waters, The New Renaissance, The Fiction Project, Jaggery: A DesiLit Arts and Literature Journal, Catamaran, Amethyst Arsenic, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, and Chrysanthemum. Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night, received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book at the Los Angeles Book Festival. Her novella, A Night with Kali, was digitized by the Brooklyn Art-house Co-op. She is Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and her writing has also been recently featured in VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, Quail Bell Magazine, Speaking of Marvels, and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.