Book Review: Pearls of Strawberry Moon by Monalisa Dash Dwibedy (2020)

Review by Leonard Dabydeen

Pearls of Strawberry Moon 
Monalisa Dash Dwibedy
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 275 KB
Print Length: 140 pages
Sold by: Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited 
Language: English
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Monalisa Dash Dwibedy
Pearls Of Strawberry Moon: Poetry that touches your inner being . Kindle Edition.
When the strawberry moon glows it unfolds curiosity and enthusiasm …
Strawberry Moon is the full moon in June. It is called "the moon that grants love come true”. The pearls are the moments of life. You are holding a few pink pearls in your hand. Smile. Celebrate. Cherish. ~ Monalisa Dash Dwibedy

This book, Pearls Of Strawberry Moon, is a relishing debut potpourri of English poems, set in an illuminating cornucopia gemstone by bilingual poet, Monalisa Dash Dwibedy. She also writes in Odia. The author’s 55 poems are bundles wrapped in symbiosis with fragrances of the strawberry moon, sacrosanct in granting love, and beautiful pearls that enhance exciting moments of life. In 140 pages the poems are composted to speak of multifaceted aspects of life – Hippocrene of love, nature, loss, depression, travel, environment, and more. These poems arrive from varied anthologies, including The Year of the Poet VI, Inner Child Press; International (USA); ATUNIS (Albania); Different Truths (India); Sillwords Press (USA); SIPAY (Seychelles); Poetry Leaves (UK) Muse India (India), and many more. Some poems not previously published. The book is independently Published by the Author.
In the PROLOGUE, author Monalisa invites readers to immerse themselves in her “forest of words”, imploring that they will see some of themselves in her poems. In the PREFACE, Muhammad Shanazar, Poet, Critic and Translator, exudes on rich plethora of exploding emotions and thoughts in author Monalisa’s poems. And in the FOREWORD, Dr. Vishnu Pandya – Padma Shree and Chairman, Gujarat Sahitya Academy (India), extends warm congratulations to Author Monalisa for unfolding her debut book: Pearls of Strawberry Moon. And in the last few pages of the book, Mr. Cijo Joseph Chennelil, Poet, Critic, HOD (English), Kristu Jyoti College (India), expressed KIND WORDS through a serenade of sweet atonement to embellish the author’s delightful creativity in her poetry.

In this book, Pearls of Strawberry Moon, author Monalisa takes intricate, creative embrace of pearls reflecting“moments of life” and parceled them into three sections: Life, Lament, and Miracle. And in that marinated cordiality, each partition is espoused to the other in a trickling, lingering connectivity to express her inner consciousness in a yogic, philosophical attribute of knowing the world is ONE. There are no CONTENTS pages; and her unorthodox, crafty, artistic poetic style reflects on such authors as Rupi Kaur – author of milk and honey (2015), and the sun and her flowers (2017); and Professor Indira Babbellapati – author of From the Biography of an Unknown Woman (2015), Nomadic Nights (2016), and Just for once (2019).
Let’s take a perusal in the book, Pearls of Strawberry Moon, to see how the Moon speaks to Monalisa among the pearls of her life. Section: Life (16 poems):
The Moon said [prying at her curiosity]
Remember where you came from
You are the purpose of this universe
 You suffer most when
You slip away from your intention
Stray from your core being or
Tell yourself untruths about who you are

And in her vintage poetic style, Monalisa responds with (first poem):
When the distant tracks call me
 Opening their arms
I walk out of my comfort zone
To embrace re-dusted earth and blue skies
Time waits around the corner
 For me to return
As I bid goodbye to my hurried pace of life

Staring far along the open roads,
As long as the sun looks upon me
 I try not to look back
 So many lives
 So many places
 Life does not pause
When I meet new faces
 Exchange glances
Wonder in the midst of
 Choices made
 Chances missed
And challenges met

Travelling a full circle
Un-awakened and unconscious life times
 I wait infinitely long
The moment consciousness dawns
The forever being, the maker of the universe
 Comes in search of me

Painted and blank canvases I visit,
I am not bound to any one place.

Travelling free as a bird,
I measure my life in two blue suitcases.

This first poem brings to the core, shimmering enthusiasm and delight of life as Monalisa listens to the “Strawberry Moon”. That she would “ …walk out of my comfort zone” gives readers food for thought, to learn that the author has a career as an IT Consultant, with poetic creativity brush strokes on …
Painted and blank canvases I visit / I am not bound to any one place.” In this contextual aplomb, she decides to …
“…measure my life in two blue suitcases.” Monalisa comes from the city of Puri, in the state of Odisha, India. She now lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada .
And in the flamboyance of her arrival with “two blue suitcases” in Canada, the strawberry Moon echoes to Monalisa thus …
The Moon said
Scream at me
Let go of all your tears
Gather your original self
Feed your soul with a song
Breeze through life…

And in unstoppable vehemence, with throb of life, Monalisa entertains us with such poems as LOST AND FOUND, SOUL OF A FOREST, IN LOVE WITH LIFE, A BUTTERFLY, IN PRESENCE OF THE MASTER, TO THE ATLANTIC, and more.
In this poem …
(see stanza 2, lines 1-4)
He chants a prayer
Invokes the unseen
Invites to transform
And transcend the physical/…

the author emboldens holistic and religious affirmation, as she strokes the poetic canvas of life. The poem is dedicated to Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudevji, a yogi of highest order. Monalisa is inclined to follow practice of yoga.

In the second section titled: LAMENT is a bundle of 22 poems.
[to quilt the author’s equanimity]
The Moon said
There will be some nights when all you have is yourself and me.
I can’t explain what you mean to me or where I’d be without you.
 You and me can fall in love or
 You and I can become one.
 The choice is yours.

It’s as if Monalisa was atuned to the voice of Rabindranath Tagore:
Come with quick steps over the grass.
If your feet are pale with the dew,
If your anklets slacken,
If pearls drop out of your chain,
Do not mind.
Come with quick steps over the grass.

Reading her first Lament poem …

(first stanza)
Where are you from? You ask
 I am from the land of
 Wealth and misery
 The mystic range of
 Himalayan mountains
Land of bomb blasts, surgical strikes and sufferings
Land of love, yoga, sun and devotion
I am from border village of India and Pakistan/

Being new immigrant herself, from Puri, Odisha, India to Toronto, Canada, Monalisa asks the question that strikes at the core of every immigrant leaving home. And her answer in this vibrant, evocative first stanza of THE NEW IMMIGRANT, leaves you spellbound. More so if you are an immigrant yourself (or like myself). The depth of sensitivity is an indelible lament, rich with imagery of home thoughts.; serenading the ambivalence of Life.
In the third stanza, Monalisa speaks of her arrival in Canada, engaging readers to feel and share her sensibility…
This is a very new city, do you feel home?
You ask.
On the hillside in the bright daylight
I see the birds fly with same zeal in their flight
The garden near that lawn
I watch the new plants being born
The same way they are born on my land
When it rains here
Leaves shine.

In the last stanza (last two lines), Monalisa’s lament bursts with a sigh…
Tulips in the spring and Camellia in winter
Suddenly felt like home.
As if this section – Lament – brings readers to pause and prune trailing poems with deep emotions, here is a caviar that will thrust readers into the refreshing last section: Miracle of which the MOON speaks to Monalisa for comfort:
THE NEW IMMIGRANT in section Lament was selected as the winning poem in the International Rabindranath Tagore Award 2020, making Monalisa a crown jewel of poetry on the international platform.
In the eyes of Jury Panel member for this award competition, Avik Gangopadhyay, Kolkata, West Bengal, India …
Congratulations Monalisa Dash Dwibedy. Your approach is different from others, your achievement is truly commendable. Many dream, some try and only a few achieve. You are an achiever today.
Other poems that ripple with emotive depth and sensuality in the founding pearls of Monalisa’s Lament section include, TWO LITTLE WORDS, BETTER FAR, SLAVE, TEARS, WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME, YOU ARE NOT ALONE, SHELTER, A LITTLE GIRL I DO NOT WANT TO BE BORN, LOST FRIENDS, and more. Sometimes you can feel the emotions within your heart as in reading this poem (speaking of the environment):
(second stanza – lines 1-3)
Do we truly realize what trees do for us?
What the trees exhale, we inhale
Do we know, they are the basis of our breath…

And in a spate of mind-set probity to wave a bruised stroke on her Temper canvas, the author writes …
(third stanza)
We write poems on love, gender-equality
Forgiveness and hope
Do we ever listen truly?
The painful story of a shattered human being
People do not like, when truth hurts…

In SILENT DEATH, the author brings marginalization of women in India to a new awareness (first stanza)
We were silent seven years ago
We were silent yesterday
We are silent, even today

Reeling emotions on atrocities of women like Nirbhaya and Priyanka Reddy in the past decade.
In the last Temper poem, author Monalisa speaks to readers of our present pandemic, as she writes…
Remain still, let silence be your voice
Pray, be grateful for being alive.

In the final section, Miracles – 18 poems - author Monalisa wipes the Temper tear drops, only to return as a sparkler. It’s as if, in wiping the somber, Temper moments of Life…
The Moon said
With me, hearts do not shatter
They blossom…
And Kahlil Gibran stokes the author’s Kindle fire, saying …
Humanity is a river of light from the ex-eternity to eternity.
In the first poem titled:
(stanza 4)
I love you if you’re toothless
I love you if you’re blind
anything that’s wrong with you
to me you’ll be fine/

This must be “miracle” from the Eternal, but there seems to be a smile on the readers’ faces to speak of trust and faith. But the author gets her way, as it were.
In the second poem:
(last stanza, lines 1-3)
How it feels
When the Universe sends signals to you
When the ether answers your prayers

Here is, indeed, the topping of the author’s Miracle, as the Moon speaks:
The Moon said
Love your solitude
I’m always alone but not lonely for a moment…

And again..,
I know life isn’t always sunny and colorful, sometimes days get rainy and so hard that they hurt. Sometimes you feel life is falling apart. Brave the day. Settle down with me in the evening, let me kiss you. All I want is to be with you.

Amidst the starlight strawberry Moon, a sparkling glow of Miracle poems by Monalisa leaves you with impeccable bliss, to wit :
(last two lines)
Infuse a little grease of divinity and bliss
To rusty hearts of human beings.

(Stanza 3, lines 1-4 )
Life seeks us out
Alone and naked
Uninformed, unlearned
Yet others understand

The urge to leaf through the poems in this book, rich in soft, melodramatic tone, with metaphors layered in silver and gold, primed with elegance of human metamorphoses in life, will unequivocally satiate your love for enjoyable English literature. This book is a must read.

Leonard Dabydeen (Ontario, Canada)
Published author, Member of the Law Society of Ontario (Retired). Poet, English Literature critic, Book Reviewer.

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