Eunice de Souza
Biography of Eunice de Souza
Eunice de Souza is a contemporary Indian English language poet, literary critic and novelist. Among her notable books of poetry is Women in Dutch painting (1988).
Early Life and Education
Eunice de Souza was born and grew up in Pune, in a Goan Catholic family. She studied English literature with an MA from the Marquette University in Wisconsin, and a PhD from the University of Mumbai. She taught English at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, and was Head of the Department until her recent retirement. She was involved in the well known literary festival Ithaka organized at the college.
She has also been involved in theater, both as actress and director. She began writing novels with Dangerlok in 2001. She has also written four children's books.
She hints at an ancestral Portuguese conversion in the poem de Souza Prabhu:
No, I'm not going to
delve deep down and discover
I'm really de Souza Prabhu
even if Prabhu was no fool
and got the best of both worlds.
I can hear his fat chuckle still.)
Aside from poetry and fiction, de Souza has edited numerous anthologies and collections and writes a weekly column for the Mumbai Mirror. She currently lives in Mumbai.
Eunice de Souza's Works:
Women in Dutch Painting. (1988)
Ways of Belonging. (1990)
Selected and New Poems. (1994)
Dangerlok. (Penugin, 2001)
Dev & Simran: A Novel. (Penguin, 2003)
Conversations with Indian Poets. (OUP, 2001)
Nine Indian Women Poets: An Anthology. (OUP, 2001)
Purdah: An Anthology. (OUP, 2004)
Women's Voices: Selections from Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Indian Writing in English. (OUP, 2004)
Early Indian Poetry in English: An Anthology 1829-1947. (OUP, 2005)
The Satthianadhan Family Album. (Sahitya Akademi, 2005)
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Eunice de Souza Poems
Advice To Women
Keep cats if you want to learn to cope with the otherness of lovers.
In every Catholic home there's a picture of Christ holding his bleeding heart in his hand. I used to think, ugh.
Don'T Look For My Life In These Poems
Poems have order, sanity aesthetic distance from debris.
Marriages Are Made
My cousin Elena is to be married The formalities have been completed: her family history examined for T.B. and madness her father declared solvent her eyes examined for squints her teeth for cavities her stools for the possible non-Brahmin worm. She's not quite tall enough and not quite full enough (children will take care of that) Her complexion it was decided would compensate, being just about the right shade of rightness to do justice to Francisco X. Noronha Prabhu good son of Mother Church.
Meeting poets I am disconcerted sometimes by the colour of their socks the suspicion of a wig the wasp in the voice and an air, sometimes, of dankness. Best to meet in poems: cool speckled shells in which one hears a sad but distant sea.
She dreamt of descending curving staircases ivory fan aflutter of children in sailor suits and organza dresses till the dream rotted her innards but no one knew: innards weren't permitted in her time. Shaking her graying ringlets: "My girl, I can't even go to Church you know I unsettle the priests so completely. Only yesterday that handsome Fr Hans was saying, ‘Miss Louise, I feel an arrow through my heart.' But no one will believe me if I tell them. It's always Been the same. They'll say, ‘Yes Louisa, we know, professors loved you in your youth, judges in your prime.'"
This poem is for you. It's a reprieve. It says nothing in your little black heart can frighten me, I've looked too long into my own. Thank you for the gift of your uncertainties.
Well, you can't say they didn't try. Mamas never mentioned menses. A nun screamed: You vulgar girl don't say brassieres say bracelets. She pinned paper sleeves onto our sleeveless dresses. The preacher thundered: Never go with a man alone Never alone and even if you're engaged only passionless kisses. At sixteen, Phoebe asked me: Can't it happen when you're in a dance hall I mean, you know what, getting preggers and all that, when you're dancing? I, sixteen, assured her you could.
FOR S WHO WONDERS IF I GET MUCH JOY OUT ...
As a matter of fact I do. I contemplate, with a certain grim satisfaction, dynamic men who sell better butter. Sometimes I down a Coke implacably at the Taj. This morning I terrorized (successfully) the bank manager. I look striking in red and black and a necklace of skulls.
My love says for god's sake don't write poems which heave and pant and resound to the music of our thighs etc. Just keep at what you are: a sour old puss in verse and leave the rest to me.
In every Catholic home there's a picture of Christ holding his bleeding heart in his hand. I used to think, ugh. the only person with whom I have not exchanged confidences is my hairdresser. Some recommend stern standards, others say float along. He says, take it as it comes, meaning, of course, as he hands it out. I wish I could be a Wise Woman smiling endlessly, vacuously like a plastic flower, saying Child, learn from me. It's time to perform an act of charity to myself, bequeath the heart, like a spare kidney - preferably to an enemy.
For Rita's Daughter, Just Born
Luminous new leaf May the sun rise gently on your unfurling in the courtyard always linger the smell of earth after rain the stone of these steps stay cool and old gods in the niches old brass on the wall never the shrill cry of kites
Don't Look For My Life In These Poems
Poems have order, sanity aesthetic distance from debris. All I've learnt from pain I always knew, but could not do.
Advice To Women
Keep cats if you want to learn to cope with the otherness of lovers. Otherness is not always neglect - Cats return to their litter trays when they need to. Don't cuss out of the window at their enemies. That stare of perpetual surprise in those great green eyes will teach you to die alone.
Advice To Women
if you want to learn to cope with
the otherness of lovers.
Otherness is not always neglect -
Cats return to their litter trays
when they need to.
Don't cuss out of the window
at their enemies.
That stare of perpetual surprise
in those great green eyes
will teach you
to die alone.