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Banira Giri (b. 1946) Born in the town of Kurseong, near Darjeeling in the Himalayan foothills of West Bengal, Banlra Giri is one of the very few Nepali women writers to have established any reputation outside the kingdom. She moved to Kathmandu with her parents when still a young girl, and most of her writing therefore refers to the environment and society of her adopted home, rather than to her birthplace. The poem "Kathmandu" (Kathmandu),for instance,expresses a mixture of affection and contempt for the city: Kathmandu makes my poor, dear son cry out in his dreams every night. . . . I have come to live in Kathmandu, but Kathmandu does not live in me. Banlra was educated at Tribhuvan University during the 1960s, and her philosophical arid intellectual stance is typical of the generation that grew up in Nepal while its age-old cultural isolation was rapidly coming to an end. The same generation has produced several other notable women poets, such as Prema Shah, Toya Gurung, and Kundana Sharma.1 Having completed an M.A. and an M.Kd., Banira became the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D. by Tribhuvan University, for her thesis on the poetry of Gopalprasad Rimal. She is an ambitious and energetic writer with several literary awards to her credit and a teaching post at Padma Kanya Campus, a women's college in Kathmandu. She participates regularly in literary conferences at home and abroad, having traveled to Tashkent for the Young Afro-Asian Writers' Conference and to New 1. Nepali preserves a distinction between a male poet (kavi) and a female poet (havayitri). 132 Delhi for the International Writers' Seminar in 1976 and to Bhopal for the Kavita Asia Festival in 1988. Banlra's voice emanates from the new urban professional classes of Kathmandu. Her poems first appeared in Ruprekhd and are now published regularly in variousjournals arid newspapers. Their tone is generally cerebral, and many adopt a feminist viewpoint,employing metaphors drawn from the experiences of Nepaliwomen. Banlra's best poems are her earlier compositions; these are articulate, terse, and beautifully constructed. Some of her more recent poems have been criticized as contrived or pretentious, and Banlra has begun to diversify by writing novels and publishing acutely observed essays on contemporary social issues in Madhupark. In "Time, You Are Always the Winner" (Samay Timl Sadhaimko Vijetd), one of Banlra's finest poems, references to Pauranic mythology mingle with symbols that are unmistakably modern in their description of the transience of human life. The nature of time and history are common themes in Banlra's poems, and her symbolic representations of time are often extremely well conceived. Like the dimensionalist poets, she makes frequent reference to mythologicalfiguresbut restricts herself to the Hindu myths of her own tradition. Although these require explanatory footnotes when presented to a Western audience, most would be readily comprehensible to Banlra's own readership. Her femininism is expressed more overtly in a simple poem such as "Woman" (Aimai), based on the story of the blind men and the elephant. This was published to mark International Women's Day in 1986 and caused both controversy and delight. Barilra Giri has published three volumes of poems and two novels, The Prison (Kdrdgdr, 1985) and Unbound (Nirbandh, 1986). Her works are now included in the postgraduate curriculum of Tribhuvan University. Her latest poetic work, My Discovery (Mero Avishkdr, 1985) is a series of fragments based on subjective experience. Many poems have been translated into Hindi for publication in India, and a slim volume of poems "adapted" by the Indian poet Yuyutsu R. D. into English with a most laudatory introduction was published in Jaipur, India, in 1987. Most of Banlra Giri's earlier poems are collected in Eutd Eutd Jiundo Jang Bahadur (Each One a Living Jang Bahadur, 1974), Jivan Thdyamaru (Life: No Place, 1978), and Mero Avishkdr (My Discovery, 1984). TIME, YOU ARK ALWAYS THE W I N N E R (SAMAY TIML SADHAIMKO VIJETA) Snatch me up like an eagle swooping down on a chicken, BANlRA GIRI 133 wash me away like a flood destroying the fields, fling me from the door like my daughter carelessly sweeping out dirt. In infinite wilds I lead a solitary life, just a naming ceremony, set aside, forgotten; even in the Ramayana, Lakshman's line had first to be drawn before Slta could cross it.2 rime, yon are always the winner, [ bent my knee before you like Barbarik laced by compulsion,3 like...


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