It’s National Poetry Month. My poetic soul celebrates as I honor the poet in me, and the poets, and poetic works that have nurtured my life. Like most of us I have been in conversation with poets whom I know only through their writings. At other times, I am sharing a repast or sipping a drink with a poet whose vitality is radiating the space around us.
One of the poets I am privileged to know is Deenaz Paymaster Coachbuilder. Deenaz is well known to most of us who are part of the Inlandia community, yet her many accomplishments and talents are sometimes hidden by her soft and nonintrusive demeanor. I met Deenaz in the summer of 2009 at the Inlandia Creative Writing Workshop led by Ruth Nolan, MA, MFA, at the Main Riverside Library. Our friendship solidified over the months, indeed years, that we participated in the workshops and has continued on. For us, the workshops were a way to connect with a community of writers and continually challenge ourselves.
Deenaz, a Riverside resident, is a published poet in the US and India. Her poems have appeared in Inlandia: A Literary Journey; Sun Runner; Sugar Mule Literary Magazine; Parsiana; The Elphinstonian; Slouching Toward Mt. Rubidoux Manor; 2011 Writing From Inlandia; The Riverside County Recorder; India Journal; and Crucible. As an artist, Deenaz exhibits her often mesmerizing works in oil. She is also an educator and environmental advocate. Deenaz received a doctorate in Theater, an MS in Communicative Disorders in the US, and an MA in Literature from Bombay University, India. A retired school principal, she is a consulting Speech Pathologist and university professor in “special education.” A Fulbright scholar, Deenaz is the recipient of several awards, including President Obama’s “Volunteer Service Award.”
Deenaz published her first book of poems, Imperfect Fragments in 2014. Having watched the work unfold, I wrote a review that is including in a final section of the book entitled “Words of Praise.” I am waiting to post my review at Amazon, whenever the book is available there. Until then, I am overdue posting it here to honor Deenaz and her work. Happy National Poetry Month.
Joan Koerper On Imperfect Fragments by Deenaz Paymaster Coachbuilder
Harvesting imperfect fragments arising from a full range of human experience, translated internally in a multitude of languages, sensations, and lingering emotions, Dr. Deenaz Coachbuilder transmutes swatches of vibrant phrases into a stunning outpouring of poetic expression. “Life is a pilgrimage. But where does the path lead?” she begins, extending an invitation to accompany her on this personal journey of questing and questioning. Deenaz’s poems illuminate a journey of compassion, grace and transformation as she contemplates and celebrates, time, love, faith, the human condition and the continuum of spirit.
In the end, however, it is the humility of her spiritual journey that is most telling, and the true stairway to the profundity of her poetry. Even in the days when she felt no affinity to any particular faith, her unfailing sense of connectedness to all forms of life, the Universe, and particularly her family, in other words, her spirituality, never wavered. Deenaz shares her acute awareness of class differences in poems such as “The Green Hedge,” her almost unbearable grief over the untimely and tragic death of her only brother, her struggle to confront her mortality as she battled cancer, and her joy at the birth of her grandson, Barjor. We feel her affinity with the desert rose rock, the dandelion, the Joshua Tree, her dissolution into, and oneness with, a monarch butterfly and other sentient beings in “Impermanence of Being.” We read her tribute to the labor of the earthworm in “Paradise Lost,” become hypnotized along with her by the sight of a tiger languishing in cooling waters, celebrate Ocotillo Lady in the deserts of California, and listen while “Cymbidium Orchid Speaks.” All of her poems are ultimately a spiritual “answering echo to one’s primordial being.”
Deenaz’s heartfelt, lyrical, sometimes painful reflections are augmented with visuals of her other talents in the arts: stunning photographs such as “Alki Sunset.” We run with the wild horses contemplating her painting of same and feel our own eyebrows lift to her painting “Startled Flight.” The array of family photos across time, generations, and place, solidify that strong sense of her cultural identity across borders as she wonders at growing things.
I have been privileged to read and watch Deenaz’s poems evolve over the last few years. Yet I am profoundly moved by this collection she has courageously assembled. Each time I read and reread the poems, I am taken to a different depth of thought and feeling than I traveled on the previous read. Deenaz’s fravashi, her guardian spirit, has given a gift to us all by not only being at her side, but by guiding Deenaz’s poetic hand to weave her imperfect fragments into a memorable work that the reader will want to return to, again and again. (c) 2013 MJ Koerper.
Imperfect Fragments © 2013 Deenaz Paymaster Coachbuilder. First published, 2014. ISBN: 9780991308507