Signposting Rebellion
Malashri Lal
UNBOUND: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS by Sanjukta Dasgupta Edited and Introduced by Jaydeep Sarangi and Sanghita Sanyal Authorspress, New Delhi, 2021, 251 pp., 350.00
March 2022, volume 46, No 3

This volume arrives resolutely on the global platform of major poetic voices. Sanjukta Dasgupta’s digital footprint is strong thanks to panels and seminars, and her popularity as a performative reader of poems is well known at many cosmopolitan locations. The need for a consolidated selection of her best works was felt by many admirers. Jaydeep Sarangi and Sanghita Sanyal have engaged creatively with six volumes of Sanjukta’s poetry and also persuaded her to showcase her new, unpublished work of which at least ‘O Boishakh’ has a huge following. Most attractively, the volume captures the inclusive spirit of a sensitive poet who casts her eyes upon sorrow and privation, history and folklore, feminism and masculinity, politics and social development and more, with a razor-sharp mind and an infinite pool of language. It is possible to consider Sanjukta as primarily a feminist thinker but that would need interpretation as a broad and generous humanist vision. The diversity of the poems is extraordinary, an authenticity of emotion and sentiment overriding all other concerns. ‘Prose is spoken aloud; poetry overheard,’ said Joyce Carol Oates. I would say instead that Sanjukta Dasgupta’s poetry must be spoken loud and also heard.  It is no private whisper.

The volume opens with new poems that are strong on the current trauma of the pandemic but abjure any sentimentality. ‘O Boishakh’ with its resonance of Rabindranath as well as the Barahmasa of folklore stares at brutal experiences of death and chants the moving refrain ‘Karuna, Compassion, Karuna, Karuna’. What else can one say when ‘Nightmares ride like Furies/ The echoes scream and scare each other’?

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