Books and poetry

No Ocean Here: Stories in Verse about Women from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East by Sweta Srivastava Vikram, (2013-02-08), (World Voices), Modern History Press, Kindle Edition

No Ocean Here

 Like a gypsy with no shoes

I walk humbly through cultures,

Documenting stories for women without a voice

No Ocean Here presents portraits of girls and women of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, where women are often stripped of basic human rights and lack basic means of education and protection. It’s a beautiful collection of poignant poems that covers difficult subjects such as domestic violence, honor killing, dowry deaths, female infanticide, arranged marriage, female excision, prostitution of widowhood, rape, trafficking, misuse of religion and child abuse. The author of the book is Sweta Srivastava Vikram, an award-winning writer, two times Pushcart Prize nominated-poet, novelist, author, essayist, columnist, and educator. Vikram decided to write this book ‘because listening, telling, and writing the stories of those who can’t write them will create awareness’. She writes that ‘over a period of time, every story I heard, every interview I conducted led me to believe that women and girls in many parts of the world, even today, deal with gender inequality and violence. Numerous issues still exist in all areas of life, ranging from the cultural, political to economic’.

Extracts from this collection of poems

She Is Story 

The tides in the ocean urge her to tell her story

 Her wounds are mysterious

Her wounds are mysterious like the Congo;

The depth unseen to the world but home to insects

Rarely heard,

She is just an asterisk on an endless list*

 Ocean of Knowledge

Fins don’t let you walk,

She forgot.

She swam like a lost mermaid,

In circles,

Unable to swim away

 Mayit Nar

(In some parts of Gaza, mayit nar (acid) is thrown on women who don’t cover their faces)

Her palms, reaching out to God

Hold onto the hem of ambiguity

Wishing the silence of the ocean would explain

The mirage of her freedom


All cavities of the women’s trust were emptied out

When each man selected a victim

 Breast Ironing

The petals of red bougainvillea

Will fill

The current of the winds

Seated in a rocking chair,

Her braid will sway back and forth

Her shadow will finally not stare

At the blades of the ceiling fan,

Waiting for the torture to end

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