Radha Says: Last Poems

Today, Leslie McGrath handed me a copy of Radha Says, the final volume of poems written by Reetika Vazarani. Leslie and I spoke yesterday about the volume and she offered a copy, so receiving the book wasn’t a surprise. What did surprise me was the chill that crept over my body as handled it. Toward the end of the book are poems written in the poet’s own hand, dated just days before she took her own life and that of her child.
The editors of this collection toiled for countless hours over these poems which were discovered in a sealed envelope addressed to Copper Canyon Press– who declined to publish them. I cannot imagine the emotional weight of sifting through half-finished and marked-on drafts written by a woman in the throes of a psychic break. Ravi Shankar and Leslie McGrath traced Vazarani’s imaginative footsteps, knowing the brutality to come, but unable to change history. I cannot imagine that they would put themselves through this if they did not believe that Vazarani’s voice is a vital part of the American literary tradition.
I have held the book here in my hand for over an hour now, but I have not begun to read the poems inside. Partly is because I feel revulsion for her final acts and because there are people who matter to me that were terribly wounded by these acts. But, if I am to be honest, I must also confess that I am fighting an almost supersitious dread of what her verses might contain.

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