January danced to the poem I wrote her
"Her every step on the ground is not / always a step forward, but rather / a kiss from ancient Odisha"
Her every step on the ground is not
always a step forward, but rather
a kiss from ancient Odisha,
a whisper, or a stamp of the foot
again and again, a seal
on the 21st century
leaving marks from a past
submerged by sea and cement
The pale blue veins under her skin
a reminder of the electricity
practice, strength, to split
This mortal vessel three-ways
so that the past shines through
same Odissi, different Devadasi
By Liy Yusof, 28. This is poem no.105 from GeraiPuisiSegera, Liy's travelling instant poem series / performance with their late grandfather's typewriter. Written 24 October 2015.
I wrote this ‘instant noodle’ poem upon request by January Low, (a magnificient Malaysian in Indian classical dance) as part of my interactive solo offstage poetry performance project, Gerai Puisi Segera. She gave three words, and I wrote a poem with them in five minutes. A few years later contacted to say that after seven years of quiet reinvention following 17 years with Sutra Dance Theatre, her first solo performance dedicated to Odissi dance, Dedicated, was finally ready. In December 2017, she danced to the following poem (recited by Ghafir Akbar) on every night of Dedicated.