'Defiance Came Naturally to Me' is a collection of short and lucid verses by Sheena Lakshmi, who is a technical writer by profession based in Bengaluru. Impregnated with ideas, the poems in capsule format are meant to bombard the senses of the readers. The collection can be defined in many ways and a few of them could be - a clarion call to the subdued and suppressed female (not feminine) consciousness, reflections of an aching heart, desperate longing for love, manifestation of the stark realities of life and so on.
The language pursued to express the ideas is fierce and intense and the diction gives almost all the poems a lyrical beauty that sets the reader to sail through the whole collection of verses at one go. While the choice of words lends the poem a literary flair, what makes it so powerful is their conciseness contrasted with their lofty messages.
The verses really depict defiance of a weathered human soul disillusioned with conventional notions, however, along with the bold posturing, there is a poetic sheen to the layout of the logical reasoning.
The book is segmented in three parts. The first one under the rubric, 'Deception ' is subjective and hints at more personal pangs of the poet. It won't be an exaggeration to say that most of the poems have a storyline with a plot and a final twist. And more than emotion, what they generate is a sort of wonderment. That Sheena crafts it in a few lines is all the more noteworthy.
For instance, one poem, titled 'Scars' reads thus:
"The scars aren't faint
but only overshadowed
by senseless blind love"
or another poem, titled 'Call' reads:
"Don't bury your pain
I'm just a call away, he said,
and strode away forever.”
An undercurrent of restlessness and despair of deception runs through almost all the poems in this first section. While most of the poems wind up with a climax that is epic, there are rare verses too which Sheena punctuates with a listless conclusion. The second part under ‘Longing’ is more romantic and carries a philosophical undertone. The lines are grave and intense here.
It gets more sublime as we reach the third section of the book. The poems under ‘Redemption’ cover a wide range of genres. While some are a little metaphysical, some of them are motivational, realistic and even mystical. Poems like 'Stitches', 'Beautiful', 'Pace', 'Fire' are some remarkable literary slices. There are verses laced with a tinge of practical humour too. The poems 'Stillness', 'Innocence' and 'Take' can be swallowed easily like candies, but poems like 'Days' may require a second or third read to comprehend fully.
Brevity in profundity is the essence of the verses lending them a maxim-like perfection. Sheena drives the point home in three or four lines in most of the poems and the longest one is just sixteen lines.
The verses are mostly soaked in remorse but the magic lies in their uncanny radiance that calls for resurrection and rise in full vigour by the time the last page is flipped. The magnificent illustrations by Jaya Srinivasan add to the beauty of the compilation. The book would be a fabulous collection on one's shelf to return to time and again.