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Reviewed by John Evans
(Team East, 81 pages)
POETRY is a will-o'-the-wisp subject at the best of times. Could it be viewed as something akin to seeing ghosts, or falling in love? As something about which many people make full-blown claims and protestations, but genuine examples of which are extremely rare in the cold light of day? Or is wanting-to-be-a-poet a rite of passage which affects nearly everybody at some stage or other, just as everybody considers himself to be in the throes of love somewhere along the way, or to have witnessed something supernatural?
I couldn't help but ask myself such inherently cynical questions while I was reading Charlene Rajendran's debut book of poems, Mangosteen Crumble.
Attractively presented and packaged as a slim hardback by Team East, I still found myself wondering whether some of her pieces deserved the dignity of print and perhaps should have been kept for "nine years" - or even longer.
The book purports to explore identity (both personal and national) in a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious society. Drawing on sights, sounds, tastes and smells that reflect the Malaysian context, Charlene voices a concern with issues that arise in the multiplicity that characterises the uniqueness of Malaysia. So far, so good. …