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Susanne Chowdhury

Susanne Chowdhury was born and brought up in Germany. She studied Chinese at the University of London and medicine at Cambridge. Thereafter she lived in Bangladesh for six years. Chor Chandia is a small place in the cyclone-prone coastal belt of Bangladesh.

Poem: ‘Disaster Area’

Susanne Chowdhury, 15 October 1987

1. Flying in

Nothing but the curl of my toes keeps this thing Airborne, or it would slip to meet its wispy shadow Edging below across deserted villages, encroaching desert. How long is a piece of string? Or a cat’s life? I must put my affairs in order before the next haul. The pilot selects auto, sits back and lights a cigarette. Exhausted, I fall asleep, and sleeping, fall.

2. On the...

Poem: ‘I’ve worked it out’

Susanne Chowdhury, 25 June 1987

I’ve worked it out that when my parents parted some time at the end of ’43 I was about the size of a pea eroding the lining of mum’s womb. He had been on compassionate leave for grandfather’s terminal illness, hence, amid the stink of death that was Europe, their chance to make life.

I know it like a memory, the walk to the station with their arms hooked (that’s...

Poem: ‘Chor Chandia’

Susanne Chowdhury, 3 July 1986

for Zafrullah

In late May 1985, a tidal bore struck the south-eastern coast of Bangladesh causing widespread devastation and loss of life.

I

Either side of the bund nobody slept That night. It wasn’t the siren warning (The third time this year), but the wind’s cling And the way frisky things stayed wrapped About uprights, legs or gateposts, till swept By a sidling gust up and...

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