Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Poetry Book reviewed by Dr Sunil Sharma

From Dulong to Beas: Flow of the soul: A review

FROM DULONG TO BEAS: Flow of the Soul  by Jaydeep Sarangi.
Authorspress, New Delhi.(2012) Pp. 71  ISBN: 978-81-7273-646-0.
Rs. 95/=.

 It is a 71-page poetic document of the extra-ordinary journeys both mundane and metaphysical undertaken by the celebrated bi-lingual young poet from Kolkata, India, Jaydeep Sarangi. In fact, these are the rare visions granted by forces beyond the pale of the physical or the rational realms to very few privileged souls; stark visions that hover over the misty in-between regions of the immediacy and the meta-physical. They both familiarize and de-familiarize the everyday; the intensity of the felt immediacy is transformed into remote, almost exalted glimpses of truth, poetically conveyed to fellow travelers keen to map out this topography of human soul---a mixture of both earthly and divine. Jaydeep Satangi, through this slim volume of lyrical meditations, seer-like, discharges a role denied to lesser poets: A soul-maker. It is his coinage but very apt: A poet has the capacity to recover the visions given to early seers who all were poets and early poets who were all seers. Great poetry is a valiant attempt to re-claim that lost territory, the magical country situated somewhere between desert and snowy mountains, seen by a striving mind only. Look at this simple assertion:
All morning I sat at the arm chair
Hands folded  and ponder over limitless waste,
Ratan babu’s ghat falls flat
Between the mundane and the metaphysical.
A clarion call
From somewhere takes me to strange part of  life
Where I am the instrument among living divides.
I remain, as the crow
Time keeper for oral narration
For centuries to come. (emphasis added)

Poiesis is, on the evidence of the Ancient Greeks, making/ creating something. In the celebrated Symposium recorded by Plato for the post-modern, rational skeptics like us who spout agnosticism about the possibilities of the other worlds seen by the likes of Homer or Hesiod, Diotima speaks of the three poiesis: natural, urban and in the soul through a careful cultivation of virtue and knowledge. Highest priority is accorded to third one by the priestess in this Socratic dialgoue. This distinction is crucial template for any maker of Beauty in these strife-torn times: Human soul, in poiesis process, can attain a heightened awareness of the divine---the illuminating site of the virtuous and logos, the ultimate enlightening experience. Poetry symbolizes that ascent through the phenomenal world to the spiritual. A poet must constantly strive for the spiritual contained in the mundane---very much like the Silenus statues. Jaydeep does that for a whole culture of instant gratification and quick, deliberate amnesia engineered by the merchants of mass market. He is poised delicately over the dross and the divine in his wanderings as a poet with X-ray eyes and inquisitive mind, deconstructing the power narratives, reversing roles, desperate for a conversation. His empathies are for the deprived and the downtrodden, a rare province for the poets of Indian English, more worried about the calibrated response of the Guardian to their Booker-nominated novels soaked in drug-haze than the plight of the fellow Indians in an abject caste system that power elite does not want to dismantle for the expediency of the vote politics:

To  remain harsh,
blunt I  stare back.
Your empathy soaks  my pregnant womb.

I follow   footprints  of  incredible Jogis , I wonder.
Heartless coward in me
Steps back;
Buried alive.
I  visualise life at a distance
Not caught in  nagging   time--
I could be a downtrodden!

But his message is uplifting.  Through a careful weaving of racial memory, history, current politics, naturalism, cultural references, Sarangi creates a powerful concoction:
 (A poem dedicated to dalit writers   of West Bengal)
Sad wings twitter
as my body surrenders
in the snow peaks of  Rotang.

I am more strong than ever
I touch the blue sky
And I remember what I loved!
You blame me as ‘weakness’.
I bounce back with my white dress
On the banks of river Beas.
No matter what I do
I experience the ultimate
In the sad terrace of my Kolkata home.

The ventilator blocks
Air from outside
As my wife wishes me on bed!
I read letters of Swamiji
And take lessons from my dearest one
Near  scenic   Beas.
I remember  
How   Kalyani ,Meena and others
Through hard labour and strength within
Fight for their  right.
They write
As they have no arrow to lift.
My lonely inside
Whispers  in a lonely midnight street
When no bird sing and no priest chant.

Or, look at this strange blend, mixing desire with memories:

The sap is my nation
History of the land;
How my forefathers settled
On the bank of dulong.
These green fields
These castles of mud and goats
All I owe.

I remember my first day
At school
That was the last.
May father got me a youth of ten
And my love ended on bed.

I sit near the bank of Dulong
And whisper in love lost
Like long trees in autumn
Barren as history books
Where dry hard thoughts
Write their names in black ink.

Alcohol connected
In a finer tune near muddy rain water.
Suddenly, green turf  turned greener.

All these are the creations issuing forth, bringing forth in the classic Martin Heidegger sense of poiesis: Changing the stasis into ecstasies. Jaydeep Sarangi, in his cult book, From Dulong to Beas, successfully captures the essence of the Indian experience in all its complexities. Whitman-like, he hears India singing, and, records some of the precious glimpses afforded to a soul attuned to such ethereal whisperings from rolling landscapes and temporal shifts  in a geography  going back to Vedic times:

You crawl on the bed
between stretching hands
And lay all alone and  drink.
Sleeping pills pile up in the stomach.

A lion looks like a king
In a  cage of Patkai-Naga Hills.

My bed is a fossil
Which was true some years back,
In history.

There are journeys outside the immediate framework also. In a sense, it is a search for meaningful alliances in shifting landscapes located within the context of globalization. It is a way of reaching out, to renew tired clichés, to retrieve the lost narratives.
In this sense, Sarangi is indeed a unique soul-maker: He renews our chipped souls running after the tangibles and makes us aware that real wealth lies inside a beautiful soul, not outside. In this sense, he is a real maker of new aesthetics for the Indian poetry in English.

---Sunil Sharma,

1 comment:

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