Book Review: Elephant Woman Song

--Reviewed by Jaydeep Sarangi
Elephant Woman Song
Natalia Molebatsi and Tiziana Pers
FORUM, In collaboration with the University of Udine, Udine, Italy
ISBN 978-88-3283-008-8, 2017
Price of the book €12.

Art is the physical self of the artist, and it is impossible to separate the artist from her art. As  all forms of Art appeal to our senses, we unwittingly follow a pull from within. We become part of an active process, and together  we move on—the art and the artist. Elephant Woman Song is thinking  aloud the subtle process of togetherness between  nature and being. In the real plane, it’s an artistic encounter between two women, a visual artist and a poet. The artist goes wild for environmental justice. She paints elephants, African elephants relating them with nature. Nature has moods. Elephants are like human being here.

 The poet finds ‘language of the stars’. An amazing synthesis of human feelings and the experience of nature prevails in the poems.:
“in another dream
 we are one world(.)” (‘elephant song’, i )
Design of a beautiful product  is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. The book serves the aesthetic function. Both the poems and the paintings keep our sense organs busy. We  notice a magical bell somewhere. Dr. Antonella Riem’s ‘Introduction’ to the book virtually opens the door of glowing pages of  a Pandora’s box. We follow small steps guided by the emotional power of the artists.

The beauty of a poem is born out of a rich sensibility of the mind—a fine poem is a red rose that gives a feeling that it holds something more to open, even as it blooms petal by petal before the reader. A powerful  artistic sensibility enlivens even rusty metals and bricks; such imagination is like an intoxicating drop of wine that fuels the flame of artistic  fusion. A lyrical moment of ecstasy follows an involved discourse. It transmits energy to the observer , and brings  latent qualities to the surface. The stationed aspirations of are pushed forward, and the poet makes best use of them with her available armoury. All this is true of this collection.

As we gallop from one poem to another in Elephant Woman Song, we enjoy a feast of ideas; ‘Tiziana Pers and Natalia Molebatsi’s  creative idiom turns into a multilayered discourse:
 “sing your song
   my song
   sing it to my memory bag(.)”
                                      (‘elephant song’,v )
In the Acknowledgement Natalia writes,  “Each poem gave birth to the next, until I thought they could be compiled into a book alongside the paintings.” The poetess honour the elephant as her totem and spirit being. Tiziana’s paintings are mostly ‘oil and graphic canvas’. Life pulsates in these paintings. This collection of poems go beyond a definite  boundary, more than functioning as social responsibility or cultural memory. It’s a collection of partnership in this global village where human and non human should live hand in hand. Paintings and poems by two amazing artists correlate diverse facets of life and responsibilities. There is the ethical part in this living togetherness. On the other side, there is genetic impulse. A collaborative narrative, an interface between poetry and painting is born. The baby is the elephant woman; the spirit of the mother earth.It’s a metaphor of conquest:
 “our song
   liberation(.)”             (‘elephant song’,v )

Jaydeep Sarangi
There is not a single punctuation used in the entire collection. On the whole, it’s one fabric; rare and strange. This shows us things from new perspectives. We are reminded of Salvatore Quasimodo, the great Italian poet, “ Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own.” Art is the mother of living. It guides mankind to proper living. Elephant Woman Song is therapeutic. It unlocks many hearts. It takes man to his home. It tells man,
“ the ocean knows
The taste of your tears(.)” (‘time travel’)

It’s about the land; history of the land and the saviours of the Mother Earth.
Natalia Molebatsi is an internationally known South African poet and singer.
Tiziana Pers is a visual artist and activist anchored in Udine,  Italy.