Tanya Mendonsa’s journey across con-tinents, from India to France and back again to India is mirrored in her poetry as a hunger: a thirst for a spiritual way of life in harmony with the physical so that the potentialities of both are realized to the optimum.
Language is our first line of defence—and also our last resort. Bob Dylan won’t tell you that you’ll be incinerated in a nuclear explosion. He will warn you about getting drenched in a hard rain. A Bengali matriarch, when she looks at the bottom of an empty rice jar will not say dhana shesh (the rice is finished) but dhana prachur (there’s too much rice), trusting that her son will get the message and buy a fresh bag. Language is driven, again and again, by defence mechanisms, obscuring all that we are afraid to acknowledge about ourselves and the world around us.
If you knew that a British Haiku Society was founded in 1990, you are much bet-ter informed than I am. What surprises me is why it took the Brits so long given their homegrown propensity to be stingy with words.
Urdu is quizzical. First, as a language that is both spoken and written, it communicates thoughts, references, situations, objects, and describes subjective emotions. Urdu has a tangible presence—as alfaaz (words) one can hear and speak Urdu.
Urdu poetry, indeed, has traversed a long way from the obliquities of Mirza Ghalib, didacticism of Iqbal and the lyrical buoyancy of Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Regardless of countless premature obituaries, Urdu poetry thrives after three centuries, not alone in printed pages but in popular memory.
Rohan Chhetri’s Slow Startle is a true indulgence for lovers of poetry and the written word. His poetry spans various subjects: love, loss, relationships, memories that flood the past, shape the present, and the future. His poems about the pangs of growing up, of coming to terms with his grandfather’s death, a difficult relationship with a father given to uncontrolled spurts of violence, a resigned mother humbled by fate…
The poetic imagination works in mysterious ways but never more so than when it is being unpoetic. Other than what people believe, a poet is not a dreamer, with his head perpetually in the clouds, as the caricature has it. On the contrary, he is someone who walks the firm earth, especially those parts of it that are less than beautiful. Which is why when a well-meaning friend says ‘Come and stay in my cottage in the hills (or my house by the sea), you’ll feel inspired and write lots of poems,’ you know why you’ll never accept the invitation…
Acollection of intimate recollections, The Fingers Remember, Aditi Rao’s debut volume of poetry, provides a cache of memories for the intrepid reader.
The Sand Libraries of Timbuktu by Rohinton Daruwala is a collection of the poet’s interaction with life, people and situations. Experiences, objects and moments come alive in these poems and take the ordinary into focus. The collection is divided into nine sections.
Each time some poem is ripe and I believe ‘ready’ in my head—and my heart heavy with it—a compulsion to deliver urges me to confront the blank sheet … but then, the slow pain of deliverance has to be gone through! Soon enough I realize, it’s a poem in the making and not really ready and complete in the head. The blank sheet stares back at me in defiance each time I sit to write a poem.
‘… tuk-tuk … tuk-tuk … tuk-tuk …’, that’s how emotions are in the latest Hoshang Merchant’s work curated by poet Kazim Ali. The language of love gets explored subtly and consistently as they are introspected from within.
‘The poems that I will make true were born in this interregnum’… Of all the poetic utterances—words that make one sit up and read again, words that hang between despair and a strange resignation, and words that make one begin to believe that, after all, ‘poetry is the only thing that matters’—these words are, as if, whispered into the reader’s ears explaining the birth of these poems into the arena of what we call public. It has been a long wait of twenty-two years; after, as the poet points out, maybe after coming of age at twenty-one.
If you are looking for poetry that is as razor sharp as it is dreamy, as real as it is bound to imagination, then Saleem Peeradina’s Final Cut is for you. Decidedly urbane, Peeradina’s contemplations force the reader to pay attention to what has been in front of them all along, and yet has been taken for granted.
Hesitant Light is the latest collection of poems by the renowned poet Jayanta Mahapatra who has read his poetry across the country and around the world in various international poetry festivals. His poems find their rightful place in every globally distinguished journal.
We are at our best when we are young. And so the story goes downhill. From what I can remember, poetry meant something completely different to me when I was young and in school. It was that odd language, imperfectly printed, aligned and punctuated, and it stood for everything that I could not connect with. Worse still, it was unavoidable. Such is the predicament of our conversation with art at that febrile stage; it feels like a whole lot of smoke being blown in our face. Most of these conversations are taught, or ‘coached’, and it says something about the manner of doing so, that we carry it like a burden.
I will begin this review with a clichéd commonplace—in the similar manner in which several reviews of Eunice de Souza’s works begin—by foregrounding her India, and specifically ‘Goan’ identity. De Souza was born in 1940 into a Roman Catholic family in Pune. Her family originally belonged to Goa.
The better poems in this volume are exquisitely crafted and polished to near perfection. Richly layered with an inner life that reveals itself as each poem unfolds, Summer Requiem seduces the senses and draws the reader into a reverie that seems never-ending, awash with shifting moods and remembered experiences threading together the sublime and the pedestrian with gentle profundity.
A good reason to get the newspaper Indian Express is that most Sundays there is an article by Ranjit Lal on the animal or plant world. These articles look with gentle humour and a different perspective at fellow inhabitants of our earth: bugs, birds, animals. They may be creatures we have just read about, or even those we see every day, mostly unnoticed by us as we whiz past busily through our very important lives, sometimes destroyed by us deliberately or unthinkingly.
Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean is an anthology of feminist fiction from Australia and India, some of them collaborations between writers and artists from both nations. It’s an interesting mix of graphic stories, short stories, and plays. The Introduction is a sort of story too—why and how this book was made.
The rise of indigenous graphic novels in India is not entirely steady or even smooth. While the premise of a graphic novel is exciting, it’s not easy to come across a writer-illustrator duo who can pull off the task with panache. In the case of The Cobrapost Affair, one can say they almost accomplish it, if it only weren’t for the absurdity of the tale that ensues.