Apprentice House, Loyola University
Reviews of Mustard Seed
“Lalita Noronha is a rare creature, someone who feels comfortable among the conflicting demands of art and science. In the Mustard Seed she fulfills the promise of her earlier poems on scientific themes, ekphrastic poems on art and artists, and the post-colonial background of her family in India. In her new work, the biological sciences remain powerful sources of metaphors, especially in poems like “Specimen Child,” “Apoptosis,” “Passive Diffusion,” and the astonishing “Beyond the Cenozoic Era.” “The Python,” one of the most amazing poems in this collection, beautifully demonstrates the power of biological description and begs to be compared to animalistic poems by Ted Hughes and Rainer Maria Rilke. It contains the extraordinary line “sorrow swallowed me like a python takes a rat, head first” and the section in which it’s found culminates in a powerful political poem, “Bird of Paradise.” Finally, something should be said about the tender love poems like “The Shirt”and the ekphrastic poem “The Widow.” I have many other favorites but then this note would turn into an essay. In this sophisticated collection, enlightenment is but a page away.”
— Michael Salcman, M.D., editor of Poetry in Medicine, An Anthology of Poems About Doctors, Patients, Illness, and Healing (Persea Books, 2015) and author of A Prague Spring, Before & After, winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Review.
“Whether discussing the process of passive diffusion (“moving from high to low concentration,/down its gradient,/the way honey swirls, thick in the center”) or the pleasure of going to museums (“your oval gold frame,/a pendant on my heart”), Lalita Noronha writes with the precision of a trained scientist. Mustard Seed travels, from Goa to Baltimore, from Bethlehem to Rome, from past to present—always with a finely attended hand to guide the reader. It is a delight.”
— Kim Roberts, Editor, Beltway Poetry Quarterly