Maureen Jivani’s Insensible Heart

Maureen Jivani

Maureen Jivani’s poems have appeared in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, New Zealand and Australia both online and in magazines including Frogmore Papers, The Glasgow Review, Magma, nthposition, Orbis, The Rialto, Seam, Smiths Knoll, and The Wolf. Her first full collection of poems, Insensible Heart (Mulfran Press, 2009), has been shortlisted for the London Festival Fringe New Poetry Award 2010.

Maureen Jivani’s poems explore the roles of art, faith, sexuality, aging, and politics in history and in contemporary society. She draws on her experiences as a nurse to reflect on the distortions which she has observed: loss of control, faith, body-parts, all feature heavily in her work. There is a celebration and dry wit in her poems too and a delight in the absurd. Ultimately it is the world of the troubled and the estranged where she most makes her poetry felt in concise, stark or surreal images; where nature is most revealed; where the undercurrent of love and fragility most pervade.
“Its taut poems, delicate in both their lyricism and rhythms, risk wider territory than most first collections, drawing on imagination as well as experience.”
– Carrie Etter
“From its opening poem in which a nurse holds a beating heart in her hand to the last where a young woman dances into the sea, Maureen Jivani’s first collection takes us from the personal and individual to the mythic and back again. Her poems often open with tremendous in-your-face directness and move towards a point where they leave you with a disconcerting sense of deepening possibility. This is work of great compassion worked out with clarity and wonderfully cool language.”
– Christopher Meredith
“With surgical delicacy, precision and skill, Maureen Jivani’s poems take us deep within the body; she offers us a heart which ‘shivered like an injured bird’ in the narrator’s hands, and her poems effortlessly blend surreal possibilities with the visceral physicality of the human form. Her work shows what it means to be flesh-and-blood human – and, in the deliciously subversive ‘Lessons for Cubs’ (Remember a skinned bear may look like man) how closely human and animal species are connected. A compassionate chronicler of the ‘hopeless ghosts’ who occupy the uneasy territories between life and death, this is a stunning first collection which explores, and delights in, the poetics of medicine.” 
– Catherine Smith
Portrait with Bandages
The face, evident from those peep-hole eyes
of charcoal grey, those pin-point pupils
staring back. Look closer, lips
are parted as if about to tongue a kiss.
The wrap of neck, perfectly executed,
each two-inch overlap beautifully wound
by the hands of another who loved such
willingness to please – the childlike quality.
Plump breasts compressed beneath crepe
just enough to let imagination loosen
in those who come to view her framed
like this, silent and correctly bound.
The Touring Museum of Broken Relationships
did not contain the ear of Van Gogh
but possessed a false leg, lily white,
feminine, such a pleasing thigh,
donated by a lady of the Dutch Aristocracy
together with words embroidered on silk
which when translated read,
My prosthesis has endured longer
than my love.

But of course, some words lack truth.
The leg was male, donated by a veteran
of the Bosnian war
who had one time been smitten
by a slim-hipped social-worker
who’d helped him procure it.
This is true, though not embroidered on silk.
Woman in a Bath
     I cry out for order and find it only in art.
                                        Helen Hayes
A watchman patrolling the gallery
at night, bored with his lot,
shrugging off an exhibition
of The Forties’ Siren, might
loosen his tie, set down
his mug, and arriving
at you, note how your right
arm shields your breasts,
permits no liberties,
might focus instead on the ash
blonde hair, the revelation
of facial bones
or how your clear eyes fix
on something unimaginable
out of shot –
the breathtaking
complexity of a room
so bluntly tiled, though vogue
for its time, the shower
taps, the three soap
dishes, a portrait of Hitler
on the edge,
the way a grey jacket
embraces a chair
or the wrist-watch drapes
like a badge of honour;
perhaps those Para boots
standing undone
on the bathroom floor
finish him off
as a stony Aphrodite
looks blankly on.
from Insensible Heart (Mulfran Press, 2009)
Order Insensible Heart and visit Maureen’s Mulfran Press
author page.

1 thought on “Maureen Jivani’s Insensible Heart

  1. Pingback: In the Lab « qarrtsiluni

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