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This poetry that explores the questions of race and identity and what it means to be in exile in your own country. The author writes of the politics of race and gender and not belonging in both the Deep South of the United States where she was born and raised, and in India, where she spent many summers as a child and adolescent visiting her extended family.
About the Author
Devi S. Laskar holds an MFA from Columbia University in New York, and an MA in South Asian Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
She is a former journalist, covering crime and government for daily newspapers. These days, she’s a photographer, a writer of fiction and a poet. She now lives in California.
Here are poems burnished by unquiet rage, fragments of subtle humor drenched in irony and sorrow. Here are lyrical forms gleaming with wry intelligence and a fierce originality.
Here is a collection poised to snap you out of your daydreams and into an alert wonder about this strange, familiar world.
—Elizabeth Rosner, author of Electric City and Gravity
There are women and girls out there who are lost on a highway, who resort to the wiles of fairies and wicked stepmothers; to vengeful exes and adoring aunts. The road trip of Gas & Food, No Lodging travels the interstate of precise form, indelible language, and a music that rivals the wind. Devi Laskar has created a tryptic of dreams that is interpreted through mythologies as beloved as Persephone and Scheherazade and as twisted and as misfit as rubberneckers on a highway and dieters in a support group. Beneath the hardened images lay a loneliness underscored by a foreignness—not just to the country, the state, the road in-between, but also to the family and to the self. Devi Laskar says in Unanswered/Untranslatable/ “Memory is praise and plundered...” and in this solid and indelible collection, memory is also vexing and determined. Every word, every stanza, every verse holds strong.
—Elmaz Abinader, Author, This House, My Bones
Devi S. Laskar is a poet who deserves wider readership. She’s been toiling in the fields of poetry for many years now yielding poems that explore American culture in conflict with her Indian cultural identity; her woman self; and her need to write. Writing transforms her complicated modern life allowing in the mythic from Persephone to Ra. In her witty and masterful poem, “The All-Saints, GA, Overeaters Support Group/meeting #18” food connects to a variety of myths regarding the body, community and memory—from watermelons to pomegranates. The title poem, “Gas & Food, No Lodging” shows the poet in full American trope: “No one comes in to loiter. One buys beer, no candy./ The traffic light never turns yellow or red. Just Get-n-Go.”—What is left as we leave one part of our lives for the promise of something new, different, that possible success. Laskar understands how mortality is differently perceived, and she often looks back to a culture that is thousands of years older than ours and what that offers—the tension from this knowledge lends her poems a kind poignant humor and bitter wisdom. Gas & Food, No Lodging will serve the poet well as she gains her much deserved wider readership.
—Patricia Spears Jones, author of A Lucent Fire: New & Selected Poems and Painkiller