For The Love Of Poetry

‘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.

The Poet As The Catcher In The Rye

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.

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.

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.

It’s not very often that one gets access to the rarefied world of boys who are on the cusp of becoming men. This is a precarious world they occupy, often populated with insensitive adults, jeering peers, and unfathomable fears—some imaginary, some unfounded—that threatens to come all undone at the slightest provocation or insult. Thankfully, Being Boys is a refreshing revelation of the male adolescent psyche that doesn’t resort to stereotypes of what boys should be like or aspire to become.

The Boy Who Speaks in Numbers takes us into spaces that Young Adult fiction usually does not go. Here it is a village in the Jaffna area of Sri Lanka that is bombed during the civil war and then a refugee camp for Tamils with its unique horrors. As the back cover says, ‘in all places where human deaths are reduced to numbers and guns do not differentiate between adults and children.’