"Siesta" is one of the best known poems of Shampa Sinha, the Indian born Australian poet. The poem won First Prize in the Fifth All India Poetry Competition conducted by The Poetry Society (India) in 1993. The poem was the second major award winning work of Shampa Sinha after she won the Best Young Poet award at the Third National Poetry Competition in 1991.
Excerpts from the poem
- After lunch
- when the files had ceased buzzing
- over the food-littered floor
- and the air was still and heavy
- when only the soft plop
- of drops from a leaky tap
- broke the quiet
- my wrinkled grandmother
- would ask me to comb
- her long wet hair
- and as the comb furrowed
- through the dark shining mass
- and the smell of her coconut hair oil
- her lips would tell me
- of how an illiterate peasant
- had obtained the gift of rhymes
- from the Goddess Saraswati
- of how the new-born Krishna
- escaped the wrath of a jealous king
- I would look on
- with sleep-drunk eyes
- as she recited Sanskrit verse
- in a grating sandpapery voice
- and when her eyes closed in comfort
- and her breathing became as rhythmic
- as the poetry she had chanted
- through the long lazy afternoon,
- I would tiptoe
- Up to the old wall clock
- to see
- if time had stopped.
Comments and criticism
Shampa Sinha wrote the poem when she was a 22 year old student. The poem has received rave reviews since its first publication in 1994 in the book Voices of the Future. The poem has been frequently quoted in scholarly analysis of contemporary Indian English Poetry. The poem is regarded by critics as a jewel in contemporary Indian poetry.
- | First National Poetry Competition 1988 - Award Winners
- | Liberation Magazine - L'Art de la Sieste
- | India Writes - Contemporary Indian Poetry
- "Award Winning Poems - AIPC 1993".
- Voices of the Future by H K Kaul, Virgo Publications, 1993.
- "Fourteen Contemporary Indian Poets – Rana Nayar in The Tribune".
- ""India Star Literary Review - Shampa Sinha's Siesta".