Book Review: Gas & Food, No Lodging

Gas & Food, No Lodging
Poems by Devi S. Laskar
(Finishing Line Press)

By Samir Shukla

Chapel Hill native and poet Devi S. Laskar has gathered several of her poems previously published in different journals into this lovely volume. Gas & Food, No Lodging features 17 of her works, speaking in a voice born in the US but clearly entangled and soaked in Indian culture. It's a breezy read, yet feels fuller in the richness of words and musicality. She is a former journalist, and maybe that gives her a keener sense into the hyphenated immigrant ethos. The observations and reporting of facts of her training enliven her poems, as if finally unshackled from the rigors of objective reporting. It is especially enticing when the heat and the dust of the American South blend with that of her Indian heritage. There is a sense of realism imbued with wit and a flow evoking a songwriter as much as a poet. Shards of Indian life blinker like strobe lights in “Raga" and “Alive, Burning." All are wonderful to read but if I have to pick a few faves out of this collection, they are “Handshake Agreement," “How to Cackle like a Wicked Stepmother" and the longest poem, the epic of the bunch if you will, “Second Language." Laskar currently resides in California.