Publication Details

Sharrad, P. (2011). Paul Sharrad reviews Vishvarupa by Michelle Cahill, Mascara Literary Review, (10), 1-2.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Mascara Literary Review

Additional Publication Information

Book of poetry. South Asian Australian writing. ISBN:9780734042057


The Indian interest of this collection of poems is clearly announced in its title: a Sanskrit word meaning the full manifestation of the divine countenance (such as Arjuna experienced in relation to his teacher Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita). It also carries the idea of a manifold of multiple aspects: appropriate for this varied selection of topics. The poems are carefully arranged so that the three main focuses — meditations while bushwalking, a mother reflecting on her life and that of her daughter in suburban Australia, and travels in India — become a varied selection. It’s possible that something gets sacrificed in this arrangement, as otherwise there might be a sense of building a Yeatsian poetic mask through sequential investigations of the Hindu deities (Vayu, Agni, Hanuman, Kali, Durga, Sarasvati, Ganesh, Lakshmi), or of the poet’s persona growing through progressive exploration of yoga and Hindu ideas (at times there’s a faint echo of bhakti devotional poetry). However, it’s no doubt a good decision, because otherwise the Indian material all together could be hard going for the uninformed reader.