the DHAKA 1
REVIEW A Poetry Journal
Editor Aminur Rahman CONTRIBUTORS
Jack Hirschman Fiona Sampson Melissa Studdard Shaip Emerllahu Barbara Pogačnik Claire Booker Fahredin Shehu Isabel White Sudeep Sen Camila Fadda Bina Sarkar Ellias Carolyne Wright Hussein Habasch Asad Chowdhury Muneeza Shamsie Mohammad Nurul Huda Malachi E. Vethamani Habibullah Sirajee Milan Richter Annabel Villar Abhay K. Kamal Chowdhury Agneta Falk Eldar Akhadov Muhammad Samad Paramita M. Mullick Aneek Chatterjee Reshma Ramesh Kama Sywor Kamanda Sudipto Chattopadhyay Ibrahim Al-masri Ali Al- Shalah Rajorshi Patranabis Yuri Zambrano Satkarni Ghosh HS Shivaprakash Joyce Ashuntantang Kalpna Singh-chitnis Bhisma Upreti Julio Pavanetti Lopamudra Basu Reaz Ahmad Sushanta Bhattacharjee Anna Pogadaeva Gloria Gabuardi Jisell Novas-hill Omar Sabbagh Francisco Munoz Soler Protiti Rasnaha Kamal Santosh K. Pokharel
Manfred Chobot Brian Johnstone Agnes Meadows Muniam Alfaker Gerry Loose Lee Kuei-shien Tobias Burghardt Bengt Berg Ilona Yusuf Francisco De Asís Jona Burghardt Germain Droogenbroodt Sujata Bhatt Ali Al-hazmi Michael Augustin Mannual Iris Mrinal Basu Chaudhuri Mamta Sagar Jahidul Huq Fakrul Alam Biplab Majee Sampath Kumar Raja Rajeswari S. Raman Amir Or Ahmad Kamal Abdullah Mahnaz Badihian Luz María López Raja Ahmad Aminullah Jaydeep Sarangi Hemant Divate Ángeles Camacho Rivas Tulasi Diwasa Naida Mujkić Winston Farrell Claudia Piccinno Vadim Terekhin Hasna J. Moudud Keshab Sigdel Victor Pogadaev Ayaz Rasool Nazki Tarik Sujat Amanita Sen Takir Hossain Daya Dissanayake Gopal Lahiri Ahmed Tahsin Shams Nandita Samanta Sonnet Mondal Ashraf Aboul-yazid Kiran Bhat Anna Keiko
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Bangla Poetry in English, Spanish & German
100 Poemas de Bangladés Antología de 25 poetas bangla (Spanish)
100 Poems from Bangladesh Anthology of 25 Bangla poets (English)
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Editor Aminur Rahman Advisory Editors Manfred Chobot Tobias Burghardt Jona Burghardt Germain Droogenbroodt Contributing Editors Bengt Berg Agnes Meadows Gerry Loose Dr Yuri Zambrano Isabel White Dr Mannual Iris Dr Victor Pogadaev Luz Maria Lopez Claire Booker Managing Editor Bilkis Mansoor Art Editor Maksudul Ahsan Graphic and Printing Supervision Mohammad Yusuf Ali Published by Dhaka | Bangladesh Price Taka 800/ $ 15/ â&#x201A;Ź 12/ ÂŁ 10
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THE DHAKA www.thedhakareview.com
REVIEW A Poetry Journal
Phone: +880 1819238511
Contents PROSE Gerry Loose
War peace poetry and reconciliation
The colour of music, the song in a painting
Poetry – a time of change in the UK
Mappings, vanishings, printer's devils, disruptors, and eulene (!): ordering— and dis-ordering—books of poetry
Lopamudra Basu Meena Alexander’s refugee lyrics: witnessing trauma in an age of insecurity
Mohammad Nurul Huda ‘Bidrohi’: An aesthetic charter of human emancipation
Black box: etymology of crisis: before, after & there after
Germain Droogenbroodt The Wisdom of unspoken Words
Agnes Meadows Poetry – expressing the inexpressible
Reshma Ramesh Grandmother’s yard
Joyce Ashuntantang 107 Masks, aesthetics and meaning: Framing bate besong’s disgrace: autobiographical narcissus and emanyankpe collected poems
Muneeza Shamsie 125
Fakrul Alam 138 Rabindranath, Jibanananda and the anxiety of influence
Isabel White 164 Language and identity - people divided by a common language
Gopal Lahiri 175
Ashraf Aboul-Yazid Modern Egyptian Poetry Seeking an Identity
Hasna Jasimuddin Moudud
Victor Pogadaev & Anna Pogadaeva
Mystic Poetry of Bangladesh
Kemala’s poems from the view of international literary criteria
Takir Hossain Three important poets of sixties in Bangladesh
In a family’s history, a nation’s
Is poetry dying?
Omar Sabbagh Falling into Hope On Fiona Sampson’s Come Down
Kiran Bhat Sudeep Sen’s ‘Anthropocene’
Manuel Iris Triptych of glimpses
Contents POETRY Jack Hirschman 11
104 Hussein Habasch
Fiona Sampson 15
117 Manfred Chobot
Melissa Studdard 17
120 Asad Chowdhury
Agnes Meadows 27
122 Ali Al-Hazmi
Shaip Emerllahu 29
124 Paramita Mukherjee Mullick
Sujata Bhatt 31
129 Milan Richter
Muniam Alfaker 32
131 Annabel Villar
Brian Johnstone 39
132 Kamal Chowdhury
Barbara Pogačnik 41
135 Abhay K.
Lee Kuei-shien 42
154 Agneta Falk
Fahredin Shehu 43
156 Eldar Akhadov
Tobias Burghardt 64 Isabel White 65 Michael Augustin 68
158 Sampath Kumar 160 Muhammad Samad 162 Raja Rajeswari Seetha Raman
Biplab Majee 76
167 Amir Or
Mannual Iris 77
169 Mohammad Nurul Huda
Malachi Edwin Vethamani 79 Aneek Chatterjee 80 Bengt Berg 87 Mamta Sagar 88 Ilona Yusuf
Camila Fadda 93 Francisco de Asís Fernández 99 Bina Sarkar Ellias 100 Jona Burghardt 102
172 Sudipto Chattopadhyay 173 Reaz Ahmad 181 Ahmad Kamal Abdullah 183 Mahnaz Badihian 185 Hemant Divate 187 Reshma Ramesh 188 Rajorshi Patranabis 194 Luz María López 195 Kama Sywor Kamanda
Contents POETRY Raja Ahmad Aminullah 198
Jaydeep Sarangi 201
Ibrahim Al-Masri 209
Ali Al- Shalah 211
Ángeles Camacho Rivas 213
Sudeep Sen 215
Tulasi Diwasa 226
Yuri Zambrano 229
Naida Mujkić 231
Satkarni Ghosh 233
Ahmed Tahsin Shams 234
Winston Farrell 244
Joyce Ashuntantang 246
Sonnet Mondal 249
Jahidul Huq 258
Francisco Munoz Soler
Claudia Piccinno 262
Mrinal Basu Chaudhuri
Kalpna Singh-Chitnis 264
Ayaz Rasool Nazki 266
Protiti Rasnaha Kamal
Bhisma Upreti 267
Julio Pavanetti 276
Carolyne Wright 278
Santosh Kumar Pokharel
Editor’s Note The most difficult thing for a poet at the beginning of the twenty first century is how to navigate this brave new world, where we are in the midst of making up our collective mind about what it means to be mutually connected from different parts of the globe to form a common platform of friendship. Poetry takes as its purview what is deeply felt and essentially unsayable; that is the paradox on which the poem necessarily turns. The Dhaka Review is a poetry journal. We tried to keep it purely a poetry journal. Poetry and poetry related prose are the main content of this journal. Those who are writing in English and English translations from well reputed poets and scholars across the globe have been enrolled here. Twenty-two unique prose linked with poetry have been published in this journal. We did not ask for any open call for submission here. In this issue more than ninety five percent are well known poets and writers from across the globe and we know each other for quite a long time. 101 representative participations of many languages from all five continents are present here, a true collector’s issue. However, it is very difficult to get good English texts or translations, but we have tried our best to make it happen. Senior most renowned poet like Jack Hirschman’s to brilliant poet Anna Keiko’s poems have been collected. I am happy and thankful to all the contributors for their beautiful creative piece sent to be printed in this journal. Hopefully the printed version of The Dhaka Review will attract reader’s mind. More than twenty years ago Poet Fazal Shahabuddin and I had dreamed this poetry journal. After a long interval it has been witnessing the light of the world. The Poems and Essays published are all gathered simply because of an outstanding resonance of language and if you are someone who loves words and what they can do, then all poems and essays will resonate within you, and you will find yourself at the bookshelf, time and again. - Aminur Rahman
Jack Hirschman The black rice arcane 1. I watched a woman pass by me, profile-glimpsed I thought was you; pink slippershoes, coffee-colored legs in a purple skirt and maroon sweater, with a hairnet but of pink satin flowerettes, like in a Detroit garden, shoulder-stooped as if the air itself was burdening on down, and then, at the corner light, that face of jutjawed beauty, feisty, proud, black rice, the staple of the human race. It was more than a decade since I’d heard your voice, only to hear someone’d told me yours decided to become… you know how it goes, the song of the sound of a woman standing still in my skull, then spreading throughout my soul enduring decibels, as she crosses one more gutter, on the green. 2. Go back to “the human race”, the last words, after all, of the most sung song, The Internationale, the song I fight for the meaning of, a meaning I’d die for, no matter the backlashes, contemporary drivel, deviations
and double-crosses. Objective to whether it’s sung correctly, or whether or not Maketa I still call you, did or did not applaud or smile at my given, or your obvious, or your subtle. You’re voice like what’s gotta, and needs a lotta because of everything to this point, and so I fight on for it, and for you till nothing’s not out of the hoosegow, into the pure now, like you’re now, like you are You. 3. The French took you for an African, for your cheekbones, those bright eyes and intelligently aristocratic way you move the wrists of your words when you speak. Whether they’re polite or not there’s no question of your nation.The wild abandon of your disenchantment, the desperation under the smile you often put out. When you looked at me I became a breast, standing upright like a student of your mouth. And that burnished flesh looking at me, O, Diablesse, you cadavered me. I thought: my hair’s naked, and it is. And I’m what she wants, ever so desolately as a mirror decomposing
into a drop of the sweet blood we are together, And we’re this blazing etcetera on a string of air, and this is a clear nudity right to the heart of us, that wears nothing but a diaphane of kisses on your dark wheat skin that leads me out to minutely see the particulars I need most of all to hang my eyes on, and space so close, all’s open-armed and my lips come down the rib-steps of your body and each of us builds a mutual spermal geyser with breathing prana, oxide, ether, sure, pure in a word-sky, your light body a feather in this smith’s arms, under falls pouring down, hair over limbs intertwining, jubilee hallelujas in a room where we came to be this kindness of a memory of love.
Path Go to your broken heart. If you think you don’t have one, get one. To get one, be sincere, learn sincerity of intent by letting life enter because you’re helpless, really, to do otherwise. Even as you try escaping let it take you and tear you open like a letter sent, like a sentence inside you’ve waited for all your life, 13
though youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve committed nothing. Let it send you up. Let it break you, heart. Broken-heartedness is the beginning of all real reception. The ear of humility hears beyond the gates. See the gates opening. Feel your hands going akimbo on your hips, your mouth opening like a womb giving birth to your voice for the first time. Go singing, whirling into the glory of being ecstatically simple. Write the poem. Jack Hirschman is a Emeritus Poet Laureate of the City of San Francisco, and founding member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade of San Francisco and the World Poetry Movement of Medellin, Colombia.
Fiona Sampson After proust How the violin works over these coloured intervals the piano proffers like a frame for thought to clamber on violin is voice of course but harmony is thought as voice is thought at another moment or in another place so the violin labouring from a different room inside the building reaches as if for a truth and then repeats itself saying what was said before in another tone thought moving through cadences and through the open windows of an August evening as if someone were speaking on and on in the last evening warmth
New music Suddenly this new music â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a chainsaw droning in the wood like the queen wasp yesterday at the window seeming to 15
eat the glass the saw eating the shaking tree as if fury could clear everything away fear and frustration tidy in a pile of creamy sawdust – or is it the piled logs that say things have changed here’s a space where there was something and where now only the sky stays on to chuck down light as if relinquishing something long withheld which turns out to be no mystery – some die and some of us go on into the familiar of our own end and if the path is sand this dry spring at least it will hold our footprints Fiona Sampson is a leading British poet and writer. Published in thirty-seven languages, she’s received international awards in the US, Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Fellow of the English Association and Fellow of the Wordsworth Trust, she’s received an MBE from the Queen For Services to Literature and published twenty-seven books.
Melissa Studdard Incantation —for Paige and Kaveh Speaking of vows, someone mailed the bride an envelope filled with finch’s wings. As if love could ever be so simple. The groom said, Bring me this new dialect. I want to fill it with couplets. The bride said, First, show me the ladder in your throat. When they handed each other the promise, it looked like hoops of gold. But really it was a sunrise that will go on and on. After all, every poem is widest where it’s been stretched by lovers walking in twos. But this must be how all marriages begin: someone carrying an envelope filled with enchantment, someone opening it without breaking the wings. *Previously published in Cutthroat
We either will or will not die in this moment will or will not throw plastic into the ocean will or will not make love make love to the rumbling hood of the car and call it leaning will not or will throw ourselves off the narrow edge of the universe will or will not write the great American novel will smoke pot or not or not or not or will wreck the car will not will leave all our belongings to a river we drank and peed back into itself we will we will staple ourselves back into the marrow will dive deep into the hummingbird heart
learn to go faster we will or will not we will will we enter the anthropocene, half-opened, catch space junk falling from each other's mouths, stomp stomp it out stomp the laugh from the warbler, write letters to the presidents of distant galaxies, stay awake into the wind that messed up the dandelion's hair we will we will stomp morning into the sun stomp the sun's face into the basket we carry to gather eggs will paint the eggs will or will not take them to the church down the street for kids who would otherwise have nothing we will or will not remember the kids will or will not take the eggs the eggs that are fertilized with the chickens' sorrow and what will happen to the kids when they eat the chickens' sorrow we either will or will not notice will or will not make change, we will will we not or will we remark on what it all meant *Previously published in Crosswinds Poetry Journal
The heart is a muscular organ Each morning when I wake I pray to be a channel of divine blessings to all I encounter. By noon Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m pissed off at someone and like a chopper full of soldiers I carry God inside me. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re dressed in camo and boots haven't bathed in a week 18
can't quite remember how they got there. By dusk I’ve bathed God a hundred times in the hidden light of compassion changed them out of camo into cool pastels unlaced the fighter boots and re-strapped the sandals. My heart then is like a little forest clearing with the one patch of sun shining all on God and the people who piss me off. The truth is sometimes I get tired of being human and I walk through the darkest part of my aorta collecting tiny flowers that grow hidden under rocks and leaves the size of giants’ feet. This is how I learn to pray. O God, I say, Let me be devoured by a pack of lions. O Lord, please let me be reborn as mane. *Previously published in Tiferet
Inside the beige brick house, the beige rooms and beige-shirted people sit beautiful as unbuttered biscuits, their awful loveliness upon me. They want me drier than wheat and so still no marbles can roll from my head. I want summer flashing the yard red with begonias. I want Ladder-backed Woodpeckers knocking at the gables, and Crepe Myrtle blossoms blown down like hot pink cotton in a storm. I’m embarrassing like that. A walking faux pas no one wants to be seen with at the mall. I know love like the arms of a cactus. I know the scent of earth revealing her secrets after a much-needed rain. I buried everything they told me to bury. Then, I dug it up again. *Previously published in Cutthroat
My kind My life’s burning. That’s what I mean when they ask how I am and I say Fine. Rope-dangling, kicking-the-chair-out-from-under-me fine; flirting-with-blades fine; looking-for-Pallas-Athenain-my-pancake fine (why would she visit that twerp Telemachus and not me?) In my spare time, I’m building a death out of sad songs and leftover, microwavable food. I’m building a life out of sad songs, good friends, and leftover microwavable food. It occurs to me that I may be my own soul mate. That’s how I’ve ended up in this body alone. But science says self is not so simple. I’m a mosaic of viruses, bacteria, and, likely, other people. All of us making decisions together. Group hug! I am my own kind. I’ll learn to play piano. Like Hélène Grimaud, I’ll see blue rising from the notes. I’ll see children swinging in a parkby the ocean. The music will evoke everything. A meaningful life. All of this inside a drop of dew. I’ll be an amateur bird watcher, a volunteer firefighter, a gourmet chef, a great humanitarian. I’ll plant a prize-winning garden, grow a pot farm. My hair is on fire. I’m running out of time. Maybe I’ll learn to paint. Get a cat or a dog. Something sweet that likes to cuddle and craps outside the house. Something feral and one step from wild. Something that, when the moon jumps in the lake, will jump in after, howling, in love with the lake, in love with the moon, in love with itself and every other disappearing thing. My kind. *Previously published in The Normal School Melissa Studdard has authored four books, including the poetry collection I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast. Her writings appear in magazines such as The Guardian, Harvard Review, and Poets & Writers. She serves as a producer and host of VIDA Voices & Views and teaches for Lone Star College-Tomball.
Gerry Loose War peace poetry and reconciliation Peace is not the opposite of war. Let us begin with fundamentals. War is a virus; one which we will never eradicate by the use of force or by the use of the language of force. What force of arms will overcome war? Clearly there is none. Peace has no need of answers, since it is the natural state of us all. It is where we live harmoniously, where a mother feeds a baby without fear, where women walk untroubled paths. Peace comes dropping slow as the poet WB Yeats wrote; it is another way of being, a way of patience, of compassion and wisdom, of slow living, absolutely distinct from the pace and fury and instantaneous destructions of war. Poetry, and the language of poetry, is an antidote to war – not necessarily the only one, but nevertheless an expression of an assertive, positive force that denies the position of war and oppressive power. It is diamond-pointed thought with utter clarity of vision that paradoxically slips away when examined too closely. It is like something on the periphery of vision at night – looked at full on, it disappears. It holds no direct answers, but its vitality, its vigour, hold up a mirror to the inhumanity of war and the serenities of peace and those small daily struggles that are free of the oppressions of warmongers. Poetry’s mind is a beginner’s mind. Like a child’s logic, it unpicks and asks inappropriate questions. By inappropriate, I mean
questions that get to the heart of that logic whereby killing is normalised. Neruda’s posthumously published Book of Questions, as a single example, turns our apparent verities – or those of our politicians and leaders – on their heads in a simple and wise way that the young and old have in common: “How large was the black octopus / that darkened the day’s peace?” demands answers to many questions we had not thought of before. The role of poetry in peace, then, is not always direct; often it allows us to see, allows us time to think, to enquire; and with that enquiry we have the beginner’s mind, with the questioning we avoid the rational thought that offers us only binary solutions: the falsehood offered us that we must wage war on terror, that we must kill others for their perceived transgressions. You don’t fix a problem with the mind that made it. That poetry speaks truth to power is almost banal now, but a necessity. Who else will do this if not poets; though not poets alone. In his Defence of Poetry, Shelley wrote that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”. That the powerful and the oppressors listen to the songs and verses of poets is clear when we examine the numbers of voices that various regimes across our world try to silence with jail sentences, torture and death. Their words are seen for what they are: a threat to the status quo of militancy and despotism. Think of the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, sentenced to 8 years in prison and 1000 lashes on trumped up charges of blasphemy in Saudi Arabia, his home, since his own has been stolen in acts of war. “Poetry is powerful against the criminal madness of a deranged state” writes Margaret Randall of his case. Think of another Palestinian poet, a woman, Dareen Tatour, sentenced to 3 months in prison and now under house arrest. Her poem (Resist, my people, resist them) translated into Hebrew was read as evidence against her in a Nazareth court where she was charged with incitement to violence against the State. Reflect on other imprisoned poets in the Arab world: Wael Saad Eldien, Adel Labad, Abdulmajid al Zahrani; of my own friends now in exile in Scotland from their own lands, imprisoned and
tortured for “carrying words” Ghazi Hussein, Iyad Alhiatly. Spare a moment for the truth spoken by the Nigerian Chris Abani, three times imprisoned for his words and once on death row. Another moment for the “poet of the people” of Sudan, Mahjoub Sharif, imprisoned for a total of 17 years. The list goes on, past as well as present, imprisoned or murdered: Wole Soyinka, Federico Garcia Lorca, Osip Mandelstam, Cesar Vallejo, Ismael Cerna, Armando Orozco Tovar, who abandoned armed struggle and decided to promote social change with his writing: imprisoned many times; Eric Knauf, poet, beheaded by Nazis: just one among the millions. I have no doubt that you, dear reader, are already sickened by this list, but also that you could add to it. Where, then does poetry go after horrors. How do poets work against these forces? It is the poets who give the earth their salt I have heard said. Poets remind us of the conundrums and beauties of existence, the things which cannot be bought or sold. It demonstrates over and again, not least by the anger which it arouses, that there are other ways, that life is diverse, is worth celebrating and that fear is banished by love. Poetry is celebratory. There is a social use to poetry; oblique or direct, made for the public good with cultural aspirations. Poetry has the energy to heal. Poetry has entire landscapes as characters, stars and leaves together. Of course, I am a poet, not a fool. I do not believe that a poem overcomes a bullet; but it may affect the thinking of the man whose finger is on the trigger. More can’t easily be done. I have read my work at the gates of Faslane, home to the UK’s nuclear submarine weapons fleet. There, among the crowds are the military and the police, who stop and listen. Where might my words end up in their heads? When their loved ones come close, scared of the darkness? I have walked the atomic weapons testing sites of the USA deserts, leaving seeds and syllable-seeds of peace, and again, where those weapons were used in Japan. It is not because I am brave (I am not) but because I am human, and like
everyone I have ever met, I deplore war and will do whatever is in my power, as a person of peace, as a poet, to speak against it and to bring people together, to act in reconciliation. Activism, then is also a form of poetry; is poetry or may accompany poetry. Small acts of defiance, like the songs of Pussy Riot, like sitting down in front of tanks and in front of the gates of weapons factories: these are thoughtful, poetic acts. They challenge, but non-violently. This then, is one of the purposes of poetry in the service of peaceful humanity: to create the conditions of thought whereby not just peace may, just possibly, ensue, but thought and compassion, justice and reconciliation may begin. Justice must happen, but grace begins through reflection and forgiveness. As poets we know then what we must subvert and the tools - words are all - that we have in order to do that. It’s clear that our language, not the language of war or despotism and oppression, but our lexicon with its oblique and beginner’s mind view would work towards reconciliation. There’s no-one but us; and those we work towards and those who work with us are one and the same. Walt Whitman: Word over all, beautiful as the sky! Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be utterly lost; That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil’d world: ... For my enemy is dead—a man divine as myself is dead; I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin—I draw near; I bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin (Leaves of Grass) What compassionate reality. A recognition that wars are between brothers and fathers, often so-called civil wars, wars that have ravaged countries across the world: Guatemala, Northern Ireland, 24
Colombia, Nigeria, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia. We know that we have common ground with our brothers, our fathers. Our mothers and sisters suffer the most. There is a paradox here. The poetry of war and of conflict is something that people turn towards; poetry that expresses suffering, expresses the emotions of people caught in turmoil precisely because such poetry may bring a healing, can help towards comforting the oppressed. This it achieves not by polemic or by martial words, but by allowing thought and time and the suffering of experience to enter to salve wounds: I am not alone. With the strength of words and my comrades and my cousins and sisters, there is hope. There can be forgiveness and work may begin towards reconciliation. We know the power of the powerless, the power of the word alone. I bear witness; poetry can stand aside from conflict and speak of love: because it is that – the stuff of poetry – that really gives the earth its salt. My friend Maud Sulter, a poet of Ghanaian and Scottish heritage when asked what sort of poetry she wrote replied “In the end, there is only the poetry of love. That is what I write”. I spoke of poetry holding a mirror to the oppressor. Interesting then, that in other cultures, poetry is part of healing and mirroring rituals made that we might see ourselves clearly and that others may see themselves. The word may be part of elaborate or simple rituals concerning music and theatricality, as in the case of Pussy Riot, or the healing songs of the Dine people in north America. Cannupa Hanska Luger, a First Nations person born in Standing Rock and an artist at the heart of the protests against the North Dakota oil pipeline has devised an actual mirror, cheap and easy to make to be placed in the hands of protestors to show the militarised police in their riot gear with water cannons and plastic bullets and tear gas, precisely how they look. This what I term the action of poetry: non-violent, imaginative and creative. But above all it is the word which we use. The words of poetry in the end carry more weight, more meaning than the words of diplomacy which are the common words of conflict resolution and reconciliation. The words of poetry are the words we use in 25
our daily round to describe tenderness, to delineate joy and contentment. Words to puzzle and to please, not to challenge and subdue. Diplomacy is conflict without arms. Our poetic vocabularies must carry rain in the afternoon, lemons in the mouths of iguanas, chaff in the western wind, a ball bouncing down the street, a salmon swimming upstream, a mother’s lullaby. Our songs must delight and enlighten, shedding light and luminescence, glowing with a love for the planet and our fellow creatures. It was always that way. In the beginning was the word. Our poems must find their way to the beginning, the beginner’s mind, and demonstrate that there are ways forward and towards reconciliation. How poetry may achieve that is multiple and diverse, like the raised voices of song, like the paged voices of the US poet Sam Hamill’s global movement Poets Against War. Celebrations like Fernando Rendon’s splendid International Poetry Festival. As many ways as there are poets. The Scottish poet Alan Jackson once wrote: “Glasgow is full of poets/ they are three feet tall/ and all eat sherbet dabs” (I paraphrase). But it is poets who can, like children, look clearly, ask simple, thoughtful questions that those travelling the normal diplomatic and punitive routes towards justice and reconciliation will never think of asking: they are locked into the binary rhetoric of opposition. They wave flags. It’s poetry than can build bridges, not walls. It’s the unthinkable that we need to think of. If war cannot defeat war and if judicial actions cannot bring reconciliation, then maybe, just maybe, the vigour and utter honesty of poetry may help. We, as the makers of poetry, are bound by morality and by tradition to offer help. To offer words that will replace the tired words that have been, to remake the world in newly-worded ways; to create the new myths of equity and reconciliation. Who knows who may hear? Who knows what may be the fruits of our songs? Gerry Loose is an award-winning poet living in Scotland. His work is translated into many languages. His latest book is The Great Book of the Woods.
Agnes Meadows God’s paintbrush
At the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s Masterpiece, Barcelona, January 2020
And I stepped inside, overwhelmed already By the honeycombed spires which needled clouds Kissed by the harp-string of angel’s breath, By the intensity of patterned stone on stone, Intricate carvings so dense it was hard to distinguish Head from torso, a rising undulation, a coil, a whiplash, A turbulent rubric of blooms and creatures both. I stepped inside, and my breath was snatched away By the sheer immensity of rising pillars confronting me, A forest of trunks worn smooth by multitudinous hands Seeking salvation, a supplication of branches Expressing the eternal alphabet of faith all overlaid By the low rumbling undercurrent of human voices, A burgeoning leaf-fall of prayers eddying To a ceiling distant as Heaven itself. Red glass flamed along one wall, the heat Of madness translated into vitrine inspiration, While other panes mosaiced the ocean’s swell, The marriage of sea and sky in swathes of blue and turquoise, As if Neptune’s very spirit had been captured And held fast within Aurora’s never-ending clutch, Each window an elemental celebration of life within life. This was beauty solidified, as if Bird song and bell chime, summer laughter And the soft glance of lovers at midnight had All been brought there to sleep within the stone’s embrace ‘Til woken by the Architect’s soft celestial kiss. And seeing all this, this panoply of beauty, it was easy To believe in the Almighty, however invisible or inscrutable, And to ponder if Gaudi had, indeed, been God’s paintbrush.
April 2020 – In the wake of the coronavirus 19 Pandemic
Imprisoned by this viral foe, the somnolent smile Of evening sunlight turning brickwork golden on old Victorian walls reminds me that life beyond my window continues. The horizon is clean of airplane’s rasping interruptions, And only clouds and sparrows soften azure skies. Spring burgeons trees, misting them with emerald love, The promise of blossom and fruit still dreaming in each Waiting bough. There is sweetness in the wind, Deprived of endless footsteps or fume-spread. The land breathes a soul-deep sigh, Gaia’s relief whispering through Abandoned streets and alleyways, across heath and hill-top, A joyous sibilance that weaves through forests, snaking along Stone-rich canyons, and stream-stitched valleys. Our cities stand silent and empty now, streets occupied Only by the shadows of the long dead congregating moth-like Under a silvery lunar lamp, each castle-keep, each church, Each monument and battle-site forsworn. And I wonder when all this is done, when these days and weeks Of viral terror have finally departed, when we have Grown accustomed to stillness, and solitude Is no longer a burden, will we understand The complexion of our brave new world, count up the cost Of gain and loss, and take the time to once again Recognise the beauty of ancient sun-gilded stones, Acknowledge the purity of spring’s unfouled breathing, And remember the currency of kindness in all its myriad forms.
Shaip Emerllahu Troy of the horse The geography of the Troy running horse expands with bitten knifes you break out and your little mind doesn’t understand how we bite the fish bait when the shadows surround our bodies with the Troy of the horse through and through the foam of its mouth fills our tables nobody ruins their day, their fun what remains from Troy despite of the horse with the whinny’s fraud 13 january 2011 Translated by Belfjore Qose
The apples of tetova through the concerted centuries Tetova pruned and watered its own apple trees like rock salt you’ll want to burst when you spot them turned rotten from maggots in the end they’ve eaten so much their teeth went numb Tetova, 1989
Where are we going the tail-end of night stayed to host crickets the morning leaf exploded in anger where are we going now?! 1994 Translated by Craig Czury and Elvana Zaimi-Tufa Dr Shaip Emërllahu was in North Macedonia. He got his PhD degree for Literature in Tirana. He is a lecturer at the State University of Tetova. Director of the International Poetry Festival “Ditet e Naimit”, Tetova. He has been awarded with many national and international literary prizes.
Sujata Bhatt These rice fields Frogs and eels live in these rice fieldsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; just listen. A knife can bring a cure; the sea will play along. Mornings I watch red dragonflies glisten. This ritual makes you weep; learn a new song.
Sometimes words dissolve into sounds Sometimes words dissolve into sounds and sounds begin to inhabit colours, while colours want to grow into fish or birds. Often when Paul Klee worked in his beloved atelier in Dessau amidst pine trees he would play the violin for hours before beginning a new painting. Mozart was one of his favourites. He kept the door locked. The cat was his only listener. Sujata Bhattâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s latest books from Carcanet are Collected Poems and Poppies in Translation. The recipient of numerous awards, her work has been translated into more than twenty languages.
Muniam Alfaker The world This is not a world But a wisp of countries This is not a humanity But a handful of communities This is not a homeland But particles of dust This is not a human being But drops of blood These are not alive people But they are not dead This is not a sea But a cemetery of water Even you Aren’t you …. The world is my home Iraq is my room
To build a home One day I shall Take a bit of sand, Take a few herbs. Take a little water And thousands of kilometres of barbed wire. This is how I shall make myself a home. Shall i call it “Iraq”?
The pain If the pain had been white we would have painted the houses and decorated the rooms with the pain but as the pain is black we hid it in the innermost drawer of the heart.
A family In the morning: a cup of coffee between cheese and olive. The breakfast table grew bigger with their hands, when Father was about to leave the boy asked for chocolate, mother asked for a kiss, father said “ I‘ll be back this evening” In the evening: the boy is out on the balcony mother is in the kitchen, father is in the mortuary. Muniam Alfaker is a Iraqi Poet and writer. Lives in Denmark. He published more than 60 poetry books in Denmark, Norway, India, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, France, Bosnian-Hercegovina, and Morocco. He received several literary prizes in the country and abroad.
Claire Booker Poetry – a time of change in the UK Poetry faces many challenges in the UK. Where once it was read by the majority of educated people, it is now largely read by poets and their friends. There are even serious plans to make poetry an optional element in the GCSE English Literature exam. School is where many of us started reading (and writing) poetry. How many children will continue to do so in the future if poetry is seen as an option, not an essential of education? Poetry is the deepest, innermost expression of the spirit. It has the power to change the course of the world, not least of all, by changing us as individuals. It is, and should be, available to all. As George Sand said in 1851 – “He who draws noble delights from poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life.” About 3% of the adult population of England currently writes poetry, according to a 2016 survey. That equates to about the same number of people who attend contemporary dance, and a little fewer than those who go to the Opera. Contemporary poetry is very much a minority interest within an already limited poetry-reading public. A recent poll revealed Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If ’ to be the most popular poem in England. How very different, it seems, to Bangladesh. When I visited in 2019, at the invitation of the International Poets Summit, I was
struck by how passionate so many people were about poetry. Bangla created a nation; Rabindranath Tagor is a hero known by all. It was so refreshing to be part of something that clearly truly mattered to people in all walks of life. In the UK, print-runs for poetry publications and literary magazines are measured in the hundreds, not thousands. Independent bookshops have been slowly going out of business, which means fewer places for poetry to be displayed and sold. Most poetry publishers are relieved if they break even. But all is not lost. The restrictions imposed by Covid-19, have brought about some interesting changes in perspective. Many people have been forced to live a more contemplative life, and poetry is being noticed again – within the pages of books, on-line and on television and radio. There is a relatively healthy spoken word scene in the UK (currently largely on-line because of Covid restrictions). Such fantastic poets as Kate Tempest and Benjamin Zephaniah have a significant fan base, and can fill large venues. Poetry has also started occasionally appear in TV adverts, with a well-known building society using the poet Jo Bell and her words on prime time TV. Performance poetry (which tends to use easier syntax and feature repetition) goes hand in hand with a culture of stand-up comedy, which now dominates important events such as The Edinburgh Festival. Many song lyrics, of course, can be thought of as poetry, although usually they’re more limited in their scale and scope. For many people, the words of a pop song, are their primary, and often, only experience of poetry. There are interesting developments too, in who is writing poetry. The 2016 Taking Part survey revealed that in England poets tended to be disproportionately young, female or from the gay community. A significant number of successful British poets have parents who weren’t born in the UK – Imtiaz Dharker, Dalit Nagra, John Agard, Richard Scott and Zaffar Kunial to name but a few.
Magma (an important UK Poetry magazine) recently dedicated a whole issue to publishing poetry by, or about, deaf people, and has earmarked an issue for 2022, which will exclusively showcase work by members of the black and ethnic minority communities. It has been a very tough time for literary magazines which rely on funding from The Arts Council of England to survive. The pandemic has certainly not helped. The Government does not priorities the arts. Many theatres have closed probably permanently, and the Arts Council is woefully short of funding, and so must spread itself too thinly across all the arts. However, paper and books are not the only way for poetry to exist and thrive. Its online and social media popularity is growing. Visitors to the National Poetry Dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website have doubled, year on year. Instagram alone featured 19 million posts (in 2019) using the hashtag #poetry. Insta-poets such as Nikita Gill are using social media intelligently, bringing poetry to a broader audience. You can now study creative writing at increasing numbers of British universities. Many of my poetry colleagues hold Masters degrees in Creative Writing, some even hold Doctorates. Gone are the days when a poet like Dylan Thomas left school at 16 with no qualifications except English, not to mention William Shakespeare who left school even younger! The trend towards making poetry-writing an academic subject has been around since 1970 when the University of East Anglia first offered a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. In 1987, it offered the first Doctorate in Creative and Critical Writing. These academic courses have greatly increased the number of people writing and submitting poetry for publication. At the same time, the creative writing courses have helped make available paid work for poets, who can now become Professors, on proper salaries. Other poets can make a living running workshops (sometimes over several days or weeks) teaching aspiring poets their craft.
Of course there are dangers, as well as benefits, to poetry becoming closely tied in with universities. There can be pressure to conform to a certain kind of poetry writing, perhaps one that is unnecessarily complex or pretentious, and hard for anyone to enjoy except another poet with a doctorate. There are fads in poetry, and it can be interesting to watch a particular word do the rounds of the literary world, only to disappear when the word becomes unfashionable. ‘Petrichor’ is currently in the ascendency, ‘thrum’ and ‘oubliette’ slowly becoming cliché. Professional poets (even the most successful) cannot make a living in the way that novelists and film/television writers can. Even the Poet Laureate (currently Simon Armitage) only gets paid a stipend of £6,000 a year. A few years ago, he went on a spontaneous tour of England, using only the money he could raise from impromptu recitals in pubs and small venues to pay for his food and accommodation. He survived (just!) and some excellent poems came out of it. Books continue to be big business in Britain. In 2014, UK publishers released more than 20 new titles every hour. Which means Britain published more books per inhabitant than anywhere else in the world (that year). According to a new report from the International Publishers Association (IPA), UK publishers released 184,000 new and revised titles that year. But of those, fewer than a thousand were poetry collections. You can probably triple that, if you count self-published poetry collections. These days, self-publishing is extremely easy and inexpensive, and people sell their own poetry collections via Amazon and other outlets. Another trend that has developed in Britain more recently, is the growth of poetry competitions. There are annually more than 12,000 entries for the National Poetry Competition – as well as small local competitions where perhaps only 200 people enter. Competitions are increasingly being used by literary magazines and literary organisations to boost their funds. Because English is a first language to millions of non-UK residents, and a highly proficient second language to hundreds of millions more – UK 37
Poetry competitions draw in talent from around the world. It is quite common to see American and Indian poets among the winners of major UK competition. UK based international festivals such as StanZa in St Andrews, Scotland, welcomes international poets to a great four days of poetry in March each year, where vital poetic exchanges occur between poets of different countries and traditions. Smaller UK publishers are coming into their own, in a democratisation of poetry publishing which means more poets are able to be published. These small publishers have marvellous names, such as ‘Penned in the Margins’, ‘HappenStance’, ‘Nine Arches press’, ‘Bad Betty Press’. My own current publisher is ‘Indigo Dreams Publishing’, who publish around 20 books each year. It is so important, I feel, for the life and aspirations of a country to make poetry attractive and available to people. As Percy Byshe Shelley so perfectly stated: “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.” Being alive to this is surely what makes poets write? And hopefully, they in turn, speak something valuable and lasting to their readers, so everyone can share in a common humanity. December 2020 Claire Booker has won three Arts Council Members' Poem competitions, and a Kathak International Literary Award. Her latest poetry pamphlet is The Bone That Sang. www.bookerplays.co.uk
Brian Johnstone Side effect All mine, the shaky plod that wavers in the dark; my heart, awry from medication, kicking back in protest at the drug it’s been prescribed, ingested hours ago in light, and now, as hours drag me back from sleep, the night is loud with beating ear-wormed in my head, the drum skin in my chest an out-of-synch jazz solo, pulse unsteady as a drunk at midnight reaching out for something solid to grab on to, force a calming in the gait that wanders, like some lost electric current, fizzing in the space between the poles.
The cry of tin If a piece of tin be bent it emits a sound…termed the “cry of tin”. This phenomenon is explained by the peculiar crystalline structure of the metal. J C Douglas, Philosophical Magazine, 1881
A man would find this cry maybe by accident, maybe intent. It lies in wait unheard, unknowable beyond the surface sheen, a counter to solidity that touch makes so apparent, the eye imagines as received. How could he know that this,
the grinding of the crystals one against another, was not the dialect of gods held within the magic of the tin, the spirit of the metal crying out in remonstration as its substance was deformed? Trapped in every ingot, truth as it was known to men. Brian Johnstone, one of Scotlandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best known poets, is the author of seven collections and a memoir. His work has been published in over 20 countries worldwide and translated into over a dozen European languages. www.brianjohnstonepoet.co.uk
Barbara Pogačnik Good night, season With a high wall of fire, spring invisibly pulled in air and changed it into eternal wakefulness. Season of white nights, out of all the seasons the bears would sleep this one through. The clouds have been shot through; they nod off in the breath of a shoulder. There’s nothing in this deserted town except for birds and the red ball that I’m sitting on. That`s me inside the ball of feathers rolling down the hill. In the ball I is a shield and sword, also I is not me. Poison is whistling from a red balloon, leaking tiny caterpillars on the rails and on the grass. Translated by Julija Potrč & Anthony McCann
Hats The cat’s paws are set softly on the grass, peace in the springtime. Ivy grows up through our feet into our hearts. From dark corners straw figures fall. Their hats hide our toes for a moment. Jellyfish, hats of the sea, welcome the first flowers. The body bends like rubber around the moon and our houses are finished. Flowers have dropped their snowy petals. Then the cat forgets the peace of its white paws, suddenly it grows huge and our heads land alone on the bowling green – poor moons without hats. Translated by Ana Pepelnik & Kelly Lenox Barbara Pogačnik, is a Slovenian poet, translator, literary critic. Published four poetry books. Her poetry appeared in 35 languages and translated more than 150 authors. She has been member of several literary juries, is member of PEN, and is on the board of Slovenian Writers Association.
Lee Kuei-shien Poetry is love The God creates the love spreading all over the universe. The God also creates the poets in praise of the love for sunrise and sunset for floral fragrances for bird chippings for small grasses for big trees for beasts for livestock for the wind for the rain for sad for joy for meeting each other in laughing hugs for parting to wave hands in tears. In your poems I feel the mutual attraction for loving poetry. The images from natural things express your passion your affection because love is poetry and poetry is love is your calling.
Sacred love Love is a sacred word as a gospel combining truth, goodness and beauty in one. From the beginning of the world love is the fundamental of everything. People are born of love, people also die of love. Love is the driving force behind the world always sacred always warm. The universe thus exists eternally. Dr. Lee Kuei-shien is a renowned Taiwanese poet has published 28 poetry books, among which â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Hour of Twilightâ&#x20AC;? was translated into many languages.
Fahredin Shehu Remnants of another aeon Turquoise ink I save to write only about love and bloodletter of mortgage keeping in the box made of oak tree wood, copper leaves for its lid and a splash of heavy lacquer above all Moschus sprinkled on my epitaph of Graphene light letters inscribed with green laser states “herein floats the Soul of a Light-man – a remnant of another eon”.
This dry day age of mine They were classifying stones to decorate the pavement a mosaic of life a mosaic for life and beyond Friends called me to go swimming in the river far from home Father was strict I dare not to ask him permission unless I lied to him as I was going to shop a chain for my pappy a Yorkshire terrier he brought from Vojvodina some days ago I didn’t know how to put those days in the memory ampules to preserve them in a velvet box
all nacre and silver decorated and satin flushing red inside smelling the oakmoss and ambergris and Tonka perfume of my Mom in this dry day age of mine smog and skunk and rotten fruits suffocate and drown us down to the ravine all blood and bones of the past ages Fahredin Shehu was born in Rahovec, South East of Kosova. He is a authored of 20 books, poems, essays, novels etc. He is the Director of International Poetry Festivalâ&#x20AC;&#x153;Poetry and Wineâ&#x20AC;?- Rahovec, Kosovo. Founder of Fund for Cultural Education and Heritage in Kosovo.
Carolyne Wright Mappings, vanishings, printer's devils, disruptors, and eulene (!): orderingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and dis-orderingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;books of poetry Each collection of mine seems to have found its way toward an ordering principle that emerges organically from its subject matter and formal qualities. I touch on the exploratory nature of this organization with terms like "finding itself" and the tentative-sounding "seems" because I want to point to the importance of cooperating with the material and its essence, of not trying to impose organization but of allowing it to reveal itself. At the same time, though, I observe that my more recent collections are conceived of as whole books, rather than as assembled collections of individual poems. These more recent books are largely narrative and story-impelled; and in one manuscript currently in progress (a "memoir in poetry"), the sequence of poems is chronologically ordered, following events in the lives on which the poems are based. Such has been my evolution as a poet and arranger of poems into collections. Another influence was the notion of the "lyric sequence," subject of a text by Sally Gall and the late M. L. Rosenthal, with whom I studied in the early 1980s. According to Gall and Rosenthal, poems are linked in a book-length ordering by their inherent lyric, as well as dramatic and narrative, properties, to create what they called a "liberated lyrical structure."
More recently, I have been edified by Natasha Sajé's notion of "gesture (Latin, to carry) as a trope for a book's organization: How does the book carry itself, and how does it move the reader?" According to Sajé, "gestures" are movements and designs in the arrangement of poems within a manuscript that signal authorial intent and focus. These gestures include "opening strategies"–thematic, imagistic, linguistic, rhythmic—that can "seize the reader's attention" and welcome her into the world of the poet's imagination. Sajé is particularly interested in the autobiographical gesture, which "negotiates between self and subject" to place the poet's identity within a social context. Indeed, she posits poetry as "alternative autobiography"—not a "correlation of identity and biography," but a series of gestures in which the relationship of the poet to her poetry remains "deliberately oblique." In my case, I have contemplated these various gestures in retrospect, not while putting a book together, but in order to write about the process of putting together the books discussed here. My first book, Stealing the Children, is a series of lyric-narrative, mainly free-verse poems selected from the miscellany of my Syracuse University Master's thesis manuscript. For this collection, I found myself grouping poems not according to their dates of composition ("Poems 1972-1976," for example), but according to the personae and voices that inhabited them, and the thematic concerns that impelled their creation. The lyrical voice of this early poetry explored what Donald Dike in his Introduction to Stealing the Children called "the human nexus," amidst Northwest and Rocky Mountain settings that "map and re-map the inner life of ongoing relations with others and with oneself." The book is divided into two (numbered but not titled) sections, the first section "mapping" the inner transformations of the life of the spirit, including the dynamics of relationships with friends and lovers, as echoed in the contours of the landscape. The second section undertakes a journey across the physical landscape of the speaker's native West, including the movement outwards from the family of childhood into adult life and family relationships. But which poems fell into which section was not determined by a logically imposed ordering or an external examination of subject matter. It simply "felt right" to order them as they are--to begin the book, for example, with an ironic ars poetica of setting forth in 46
dedication to the life of the imagination (which turns the speaker from a "secretary to the thoughts of others" to a "tenured scholar of all galaxies"). It "felt right" also to follow "The Cosmic Scholar" with a poem involving a hike along the Pacific coast as a figure for the inner journey, then a poem taking the metaphor of a long-distance drive to map a spiritual trajectory. Sometimes an image or phrase in one poem presented itself, or a variation on itself, in another poem; such a likeness of image or similarity of tone would cause me to place two poems side by side in the collection to heighten the resonance of the sequence. In this way, the poems arranged themselves organically in a harmonious flux. The book concludes with a "Prayer," wryly echoing the Lord's Prayer, in which the speaker and her companion ask to be allowed to make an extraordinary inner life together amidst ordinary external circumstances. In turn, the Higher Power encourages them, in the speaker's imagination, to persist despite distractions and discouragementâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;that is, to keep living, to "breathe on." The poems in Stealing the Children were influenced by my rainy, fir-and hemlock-shaded, mountain- and inlet-ringed Seattle childhood; by the brooding presence of ancestors of the Northwest indigenous people, who had only in the last few generations relinquished their territory to the onslaught of white settlers; by my travels throughout the Western U. S.; by early readings of (and in some cases, study with) poets of the "Northwest School": Madeline DeFrees, Richard Hugo, Carolyn Kizer, Theodore Roethke, and William Stafford. After I moved East to pursue degrees in the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse, this "lyrical Northwest" voice began to modulate to a more "East Coast" tonality. When I recall the occasions of their composition, I realize that nearly one third of the poems in Stealing the Children were actually written in the East, but under the still-forceful momentum of the Northwest speaker's voice. Another matter that can influence a collection's organization is manuscript length. Stealing the Children is 41 pages long, which according to some criteria categorizes it as a chapbook, 48 pages being the minimum for a standard book-length edition of poetry. The policy of Ahsahta Press at the time, though, was to publish books of about 40 pages in lengthâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;perhaps as a cost-saving measure. Accordingly, after they accepted the manuscript, the
Ahsahta editors asked me to reduce the number of poems in it. Working together some months later, the editors and I finalized the Table of Contents by cutting about a dozen poems, mostly those not as close in theme or tone to the book's core concerns and the Western subject matter of the volumes published by Ahsahta Press, hence not as likely to be "missed." However, neither I, the young poet glad to be publishing her first book, nor Ahsahta's editors in the third year of this publishing venture, realized at the time that less than 48 pages could qualify Ahsahta titles as less than full-length. Prior publication criteria for a scholarship that I held at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference a year later was for a chapbook, and in my Bread Loaf Scholarship bio paragraph in the conference brochure, Stealing the Children was called a chapbook. Nevertheless, the book has a spine, not the chapbook-format folded-over, stapled or sewn binding. It was marketed, reviewed, and acquired by bookstores and libraries as a full-length book. I never thought to reintroduce poems cut from Stealing the Children to make for a new, standard-length edition, because I had already incorporated them into another manuscript, Premonitions of an Uneasy Guest. Most of the poems in this manuscript were written between when I first arrived in Syracuse for the doctoral program and when I completed the dissertation manuscript upon which Premonitions was based, thus many of its poems are contemporaneous with those in Stealing the Children. I submitted Premonitions for a few years to the publishing contests extant then, and it was ultimately a finalist in the AWP Award Series. At the time, AWP circulated its finalist manuscripts to presses with which it had a cooperative publishing arrangement, and one of these accepted Premonitions of an Uneasy Guest. This collection, now out of print, is 67 pages long, but there were major production problems with the press that published it. The first issuing of the book was far below industry-standard production values and thus unacceptable both to me and to the AWP. After receiving the first shipment of author's copies, I recall stopping in the open hallway between the mailroom and an administrative office of the small, conservative college where I was teaching, to tear open the package. I was so appalled at the poor quality of the books inside that I burst out with an "Oh, S__t!" so
forceful that the poor secretary in the office jumped several inches in her chair, almost knocking the Bible beside her typewriter to the floor. Lengthy phone calls ensued to the press's director and managing editor, as well as to AWP—calls in which I gradually recovered from my initial shock and emotionality, found myself standing up for the professional production standards that publication in the AWP Award Series was supposed to guarantee, and resisting all excuses or attempts to persuade me to accept the crummy printing job. Reluctantly, to fulfill their legal obligation to AWP, the press's editors agreed to reprint the book to correct the worst flaws. But even in this improved version, the primitive binding made for odd ridges at the folds around the spine, the sans-serif font was more appropriate for advertising fliers than for poetry, and the cover stock was an easily soiled white and not sturdy. Because the budget for the book was basically depleted by the first sub-standard issuing, the second printing was for fewer than 500 copies—which, according to most criteria, made it a limited edition: another publishing anomaly. This book was virtually dead on arrival, or so I felt. I could sell it at readings, and by then I felt that the sooner it sold out the better. To keep my spirits up after such a disappointment, I called this second book a "transitional" collection, but I did not want to send it out as a writing sample for creative writing teaching job applications—I felt that a poorly produced book would worsen, not improve, my chances of being offered a position. Beyond the production challenges, this book was indeed transitional—it included most of the poems cut from Stealing the Children for length and thematic considerations, plus others from my master's thesis and my recently completed doctoral dissertation. To order this miscellany, I had arranged it into five sections according to subject matter, each with a title taken from one of the key poems in that section: "Choosing My Name" (poems about identity and the evolution into an adult sense of self); "The Discipline of Becoming Invisible" (poems about the inner spiritual quest expressed in terms of travel); "Eulene" (ten poems featuring this anti-heroic alter-ago); "Premonitions of an Uneasy Guest," the title section (poems exploring the nuances of romantic relationships); and "Vital Connections" (poems exploring the nuances of friendship within family and within romantic relationships). Looking at the 49
collection now, I would collapse the first two sections into one, and likewise consolidate the fourth and fifth sections into one, since the subject matter between related sections is not really all that different. So perhaps it was just as well that this book had limited distribution. As for the "Eulene" section: she was the deadest of dead centers for this book—note that I never refer to Eulene without ironic hyperbole and mauve-tinged metaphors—and she was by far the most disruptive and alluring section in the collection. In due course, I intended surgically to remove her from the poetic *grrrl group* represented by this book and give her a solo career and biblio-album of her own. This is, in fact, what I went and did: confecting a full-length collection, Mania Klepto: the Book of Eulene, which traces—and probably traduces!—the misadventures of this whimsical alter-ego. See below, the very dead end of this essay . . . if you dare! By this point, the publication of both my first and so-called second books qualified, according to some rubrics, as a chapbook and a limited edition, respectively—they represented such atypical and exceptional publishing circumstances that very few publishing contest organizers could determine what their actual designation was. Before sending to competitions for second or third books, on several occasions I had to query managing editors and explain these circumstances in order to learn whether I was qualified to submit. Fortunately, the ostensible third collection, Seasons of Mangoes and Brainfire, won the Blue Lynx Prize, an open competition for poets at any stage of their publishing career, so the status of earlier collections didn't matter. With this collection, I hoped that I would be out of the clutches of the printer's devil! A vain hope, alas! Seasons of Mangoes and Brainfire began as a grouping of poems that dealt with the year I had spent in Chile on a Fulbright Study Grant, and also traveled elsewhere in Latin America, during the courageous but doomed presidency of Salvador Allende. In this year, I came into contact with people whose individual lives were indelibly altered by immense social and political events, the larger forces of history that ultimately swept some of them away. On September 11, 1973, a year after I returned to this country to enter graduate school, Allende was overthrown and killed in a U.
S.-supported military coup. Much of the poetry I wrote in the ensuing months was affected by the parallels I was discovering between the Latin American and North American social stratification and the influence of public events and historical forces, particularly in the lives of the disadvantaged. Hence, a number of poems from this period (their early drafts included in the master's thesis or doctoral dissertation manuscripts) explored the dynamics of marginalized lives in the United States: in inner-city grade schools, remote Native American reservations, and small-town, working-poor neighborhoods. Others that I wrote later dealt with the lingering effects of the Holocaust and the legacy of wars in Europe and the Middle East. A few of these poems moved from other collections in progress because their subject matter seemed more appropriate to this manuscript's overarching social, cultural, and political concerns. When I first put it together in about 1993, this collection was entitled The Lost Addresses, from a line in the manuscript, a title which seemed appropriate because so many of the poems dealt with the sense of exile and estrangement, the dislocations and losses incurred in a world where larger historical forces divided people from each other. The poems grouped into three sectionsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the first contained poems set in the U.S. and Europe, the second section poems set in Latin America. The third section was comprised of a single long poem, "Flowers in Winter," set in Europe during the Iran-Iraq War, and chronicling what Maurya Simon (who selected the poem as winner of a major narrative poetry competition) called "an American woman's devastatingly brief, yet permanently affecting, encounter with a Near-Eastern stranger." The Lost Addresses concluded with a section of Notes on the Poems, to clarify for the reader unfamiliar with the historical references and backgrounds on some of the individuals portrayed in the poems. I submitted The Lost Addresses to publishers and publishing contests, and received some polite expressions of admiration from editors, and a few finalist designations in the competitions, but no acceptance. Then, at the Vermont College Postgraduate Summer Writers' Conference in 1998, one poet on the faculty, Roger Weingarten, looked at the manuscript, expressed enthusiasm for it, and said, "I'm not going to give any line-editing suggestions,
because these poems are finished. But here are my three pieces of advice. First, lose the title and find a more evocative one somewhere in one of the poems. Second, get rid of the subject-matter-driven sections, and the awkward, clumping effect these create, and allow the book's implicit narrative to move back and forth between poems set in Latin America and those set in Europe and the U.S. Third, start the collection with 'My Last Night in Bahia,' because that poem really allows the reader to enter the world the speaker evokes and through which she moves. Then, follow your instincts however they take you in ordering poems after that, but make sure to alternate between Latin America and other settings." Energized by Roger's suggestions and encouragement, I took The Lost Addresses apart, in a scenario often evoked by poets who recount how they ordered a particular collection: I spread all the pages out on the floor and moved them around, the better to perceive relationships among poems of imagery, diction, and voice. As Roger had advised, I put "My Last Night in Bahia" first, then allowed the relationships between imagery in individual poems, and my sense of the atmosphere evoked by each one, to determine the placement of each successive poem. I decided on two sections, with all the poems except "Flowers in Winter" in the first section. It was liberating to break out of subject-defined sections, and weave the manuscript together in a lyrically impelled narrative arc, beginning with the Bahia poems, and moving out from Brasil in ever-widening circles across the literal and emotive landscapes invoked in the poems. Sometimes the connection between one poem and the next was as direct as a linking word or image. The last line of "Victor Jara (1932-1973)," for example, is "like a story from someone else's life," and the first line of the succeeding poem, "Survivor's Story," is "A high wind blows across your life." These poems are inversely linked as well, in that the first is a tribute to the renowned folk singer arrested, tortured, and murdered by General Pinochet's thugs after the military coup in Chile; and the second is a tribute to a young man whose family survived the Holocaust and emigrated to the U.S, but who was still haunted by the enormity of the dislocations he had experienced. "Survivor's Story" ends with an image of trains returning from the front; the next poem, "Sierra
Walk," found its placement because it begins with the speaker stepping off a train, the "Cuzco-Machu Picchu local." "Flowers in Winter," originally the third section of The Lost Addresses, remained as the second and final section. Because of its length and division into twelve sections, it worked better as an entity unto itself, and the mood of longing and melancholy on which it concludes felt like an appropriate note on which to end the book. With its opening poem ("My Last Night in Bahia") that recollects a final event, and its concluding poem that recounts an inconclusive relationship ("lovers who never meant to go home unfinished"), the book resists closure, and this ongoing openness to possibility gives the book, and the journey it traverses for the reader, a momentum that flows back out to the world from which it came and which it exists to represent. Or at least that's how this collection appears to me now, in retrospect, as I have contemplated here the process of putting it together. Following Roger Weingarten's suggestions for a new title, I read through the poems for an evocative phrase or image that would leap out, and when I came to the phrase, "Our season of mangoes and brainfire" in the poem "Josie Bliss, October 1971," I knew I had it: Seasons of Mangoes and Brainfire. I entered these changes in the manuscript and mailed a copy of the new version to Roger, whose response was succinct: "Great! Perfect! Send it out!" After submitting this re-ordered manuscript to about a dozen more publishing competitions with spring 1999 deadlines, in August of 1999 I received the phone call from Lynx House Press's editor, Christopher Howell: "You've won the Blue Lynx Prize." Relieved and gratified that the lengthy submission and waiting period was over, I looked back through my file of letters from competitions, and saw that the older version of the manuscript had been a Blue Lynx finalist in the previous year. Reorganizing the poems and giving the collection a new title had indeed made a difference in this competition between finalist and winner. Organization and revision of the manuscript did not end, however, with prize and publication. The final judge's recommendation was to delete the Notes on the Poems, because they made the text too lengthy, and I acceded to this suggestion. But after the book appeared, many readers and reviewers of the first edition felt that the Notes were needed, to serve the purpose I intended: to clarify
the background of persons portrayed in some of the poems, and to explain historical allusions and cultural references embedded in the language, especially of the poems set in Latin America and Europe. There was also a huge error in the printed book, which had not existed in the final galley proof. I had edited that hard-copy document—galley proofs were still hard-copy in those days—with the proverbial fine-tooth comb, and I had returned it by priority mail to the publisher. My unwitting error at that point, though, was not to make a photo-copy of that galley proof, because once it left my hands and served its purpose for the type-setter and book designer, it was never seen again. One of the first series of readings I did to launch the book after publication was a mini-tour back in my native Pacific Northwest—workshops and readings at literary centers and colleges in Portland, Vancouver (Washington), Seattle, and finally Spokane, for the university where Lynx House Press was housed. Here my reading would be a small triumph, I hoped, with the founding editor of Lynx House Press in the audience. For most of this tour, I read shorter poems from the book, but this evening I decided to conclude the reading with one of the longer ones, "Josie Bliss: October 1971." It was a poem I had not memorized but had read aloud several times in the past, and so I had a sufficient sense, line by line, of what was coming next. About 30 lines into the poem, though, suddenly the next line . . . wasn’t there! Nor was the one after that, or the one after that. Lines were missing! I tried to improvise the missing lines, but there were too many of them, and I didn't have a typescript of the poem with me from which I could continue reading. I don't know if anyone in audience noticed my momentary faltering, but I finally continued the poem with the next line that appeared. Afterwards, as the Lynx House editor was driving me back to the university guest house, I told him that lines were missing from at least one poem in the book, I didn't know how many— did he notice me falter I as read "Josie Bliss"? He was quietly horrified, and when I asked what to do—since the entire edition was already printed, could an errata slip be included with all the copies not already shipped?—he replied, "Keep quiet about this, and I promise you that when the first printing sells out, we will do an error-free second printing."
Later, back home after the tour, I checked my typescript and electronic copies of "Josie Bliss" and identified which lines were missing: 29 of them, in one grouping, right in the middle of the poem! Nothing else was missing from the printed book. "But maybe you simply didn’t notice those lines missing in the galley proof when you edited it," the editor suggested in a subsequent telephone call. "I would have noticed," I replied. "The galley proof I mailed back to you had no uncorrected errors. You could check it and let me know." But the galley proof could not be located—somewhere in Spokane, between the editorial and page designer's office and the print shop, it had gone missing. I thought publishers kept such materials for their archives, but in this case, apparently not—the editor was vague about this. I regretted not making a photocopy of that document before I sent it off—a glance at the relevant pages in it would at least have eliminated one possible source of the error. Years later, as book production technology evolved and I came to understand it somewhat better, it occurred to me that I could have asked to see the electronic file from which the book's text was printed, surely that would be saved on somebody's computer? In any case, I sensed that I shouldn't press the issue—there would be no way to trace how and where the printer's devil had crept into the print run of this book, and the editor had promised me a perfect second edition. Winner of the Blue Lynx Prize as a manuscript, and in the next several months the recipient of other awards after publication (the Oklahoma Book Award in Poetry and an American Book Award among them), Seasons of Mangoes and Brainfire did indeed go on to sell out its first edition. In early 2005, the editor sent me a note, "Time to Reprint!" In the interim, Lynx House Press had become an imprint of Eastern Washington University Press, acquiring a higher profile and the advantage of a more extensive distribution network. For this reprint, once again I proofed the galley (this time an electronic file), returned it with all errors corrected . . . and once again, when I received the carton of books in late summer of 2005 and opened one copy of the new printing, I instantly spotted another printer's devil, this time affecting both the Table of Contents and the related link between two poems in the text!
I telephoned the editor immediately, explained the error in detail, and calmly stated that I would not accept this printing with such errors. There would have to be another attempt—the promise of an error-free second edition had to be fulfilled. Of course, as with my second book, this re-do cost time and money for the press, but the editor was true to his word . . . and later it was discovered that the glitches in this edition were electronic, caused by one employee whose efforts to correct the problem only exacerbated it! (Why didn't she contact me, I wondered? I could have made the correction right away!). Happily, the second attempt at an error-free second edition was successful—this time I copyedited the electronic galley with the Founding Editor of Lost Horse Press, Christine Holbert, who had also recently accepted for publication my next book of poetry, A Change of Maps. In spring of 2006, Seasons of Mangoes and Brainfire was reprinted, error-free, as an Eastern Washington University Press / Lynx House Books title. With the Notes on the Poems restored at my request, a new ISBN number, and a few changes to the book's cover that made the striking cover image and typography even more attractive, the new printing—technically a second edition, not merely a straightforward second printing— was beautiful, a book for which I was grateful and finally, fully proud! The most recently published collection, A Change of Maps (Lost Horse Press, 2006; a finalist for the Idaho Prize), is not at all the newest in terms of composition. From the writing of the first draft of the oldest poem to the completion of final revisions of the newest poems, there is a span of over twenty-five years, and the manuscript has gone through more transformations, title changes, and reorganizations than any other collection of mine to date. The earliest poems are extensions of a sensibility that began in Premonitions of an Uneasy Guest, and are, I think, completions of what I was trying to accomplish in the Premonitions voice. The early lyric personae from the first book reappear, but a few seasons older now, matured and made wiser by disappointments with spiritual quests and a few romantic relationships. Indeed, the voices of these more mature personae—who fuse lyric allusiveness and humor with ironic social awareness and cultural themes—are the principle unifying factors that have determined the inclusion of poems in A Change of Maps.
Another characteristic of this collection is a greater prominence of form, signaling my increasing interest in and reliance on formal patterns in poetry—partly as an homage to some of my mentors, particularly William Blake, Elizabeth Bishop, Madeline DeFrees, Emily Dickinson, and James Wright, among many others—and partly as one strategy to enhance the intertextuality, the web of echoes and allusions, both linguistic and formal, to the poetry of those who have inspired me. The most resonant of contemporary poetry is engaged in a dialogue with the tradition—with the voices of poets who have gone before—and to the degree that a contemporary poet reads and is informed by these earlier voices, her own voice develops, enriched and enlivened by what she absorbs and how she responds. Attending a graduate writing program while free verse was still the dominant, indeed default style, I felt a need, similar to that which James Wright noted in his recently published letters, " . . . to commit myself to the traditional syntax and the traditional meters of English verse; for many of the writers who preceded us were so sloppy, that we had to begin not by revolting against competence and restriction . . . but rather to begin by creating our own competence." Influenced by New Criticism, many American poets of the generation prior to my own wrote in traditional form: the early work of Maxine Kumin, W.S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton, W.D. Snodgrass, William Stafford, and of course James Wright himself demonstrates this fact. But by the time these poets began working as Creative Writing teachers to the next generations—including my generation—I wonder how many of them imparted any of their early formal training by assigning readings of and exercises in the sonnet, sestina, villanelle, and the like? How many taught classes in craft for poets? Nobody I ever worked with, except Elizabeth Bishop—ironically, she stated at the outset of her workshop that she didn't like teaching, and didn't know how to teach, but we would at least learn something of practical use in her class! So we wrote in form, one exercise after the other, in that workshop, the only graduate creative writing course in which I ever received such instruction. All these years later, I remain grateful to Miss Bishop and continue to learn from her; and I remain irked at the laziness and lack of dedication of a few other teachers (not all of them!) who could have imparted
more of their own craft to their students and chose not to, even when we asked them to do so! Among the formal structures available to poets are nonce forms and variations thereon, particularly abecedarians and rounds. The opening poem of A Change of Maps, "Studies with Miss Bishop," is a double abecedarian, a series of 26 slant-rhymed couplets, one couplet for each letter of the alphabetâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;not a form that Miss Bishop herself ever used, but one intended to enable a narrative disciplined and intensified by the sort of formal containment she would, I hope, have appreciated. In the last few years, I have written a number of rounds, several of which are included in this volume. Like the musical rounds we sang as kids ("Three Blind Mice," "Row Row Row Your Boat"), and the more sophisticated Baroque fugue, the round uses repetition and repetition-with-variation of motifs or compositional elements. These elements are interwoven in a relatively free manner over the course of a few dozen lines, with new elements entering at intervals, and concluding with the same line (the opening motif) or a variation on the same line with which the round began, to create what I believe to be a lyric resonance not as available to straightforward lyric-narrative, or to the more rigidly structured sestina. Other poems in form and nonce form, written in the latter 1990s and early 2000s and originally intended for this collectionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a pantoum, several acrostics, a three-sonnet narrative poem, another ghazal, ballad quatrain sequences, as well as other abecedarians and roundsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;got moved to another manuscript still in progress. These newer additions were making A Change of Maps too long and taking it beyond the original voice and sensibility at the core of this collection. Even when not writing in form or modified free verse for A Change of Maps, I focused on symmetry and balance, putting poems into regular stanzas, though these were largely unrhymed and not in any fixed meter. Partly in reaction to what I felt were too many shapeless-looking free-verse poems in the transitional volume Premonitions of an Uneasy Guest, this later collection features several poems that appear formal: their stanzas divided into tercets, quatrains, cinquains, sestets, septets, octets, and dectets. Most of these poems achieve a sense of intrinsic order with a regular
number of stresses per line (but without strictly counting stressed and unstressed syllables to measure feet), and in a few poems, with slant rhyme. Thus the formal look is mainly just that—a look—and not truly a demonstration of rhymed and metered terza rima, ballad quatrain, rime royal, or whatever. Over the years, often after exchanging manuscripts in progress with other poet friends, I rearranged poems in the collection and changed its title in response to these friends' suggestions and according to several different ordering principles. Having saved many of the successive Tables of Contents, I find it interesting to compare these by way of tracing the manuscript's evolution. Originally entitled The Custody of the Eyes, the earliest version had 36 poems (in two sections of 18 poems per section); as I wrote new poems in the 1990s and early 2000s that seemed to adhere to the same sensibility, I added them to the manuscript, which grew to 42 poems (21 per section), and then to 46 (23 per section). At one point, entitled Daughters of Albion to emphasize an aesthetic debt and connection to William Blake, the manuscript was organized into four sections named after books or poems by Blake ("Innocence and Experience," "The Idol Virtues of the Natural Heart," "Daughter of Memory," and "Daughter of Albion"), with each section's title page featuring a relevant epigraph from a Blake poem. This arrangement was quite satisfying in some ways, but I soon realized that it was too artificial a construct, given that the subject matter and settings, as well as the sources of influence of the majority of the poems, were American, not English. Later, at its most expanded version and by then entitled Under the Sign of Cancer, the manuscript contained 51 poems, all in one continuous lyric-narrative arc, with no sections, according to one reader's idea of linking the poems by key-word or key-image, in a structure akin to M. L. Rosenthal’s notion of the lyric sequence, according to the associative thematic and imagistic links resonating from each poem to the next. The focus on symmetry, harmony, and formal properties with which I put together this manuscript highlights an ever-increasing awareness of the reader: particularly of what might be attractive for the first readers and judges for book publication contests. In fact, as the number of contests (and entries to contests) multiplied over the years, I grew acutely conscious—perhaps overly
conscious—of these issues. Of course, with the wide range in taste and sensibility of final judges, and the first readers who are charged to choose send on only a small number of competition entries to the final judge of each context, it is also true that much was left to chance. Through its many incarnations, the manuscript that became A Change of Maps was a finalist several dozen times (more than once in some competitions), and came tantalizingly close in a few instances—as runner-up in competitions that do not publish both winner and runner-up, but only the winning collection. Then there was the unforgettable "case of the disappearing publisher"—in which the manuscript (at the time entitled Under the Sign of Cancer) was invited and then accepted for publication in a new series, and even received a $1000 advance, before the poetry series was abruptly terminated by the publisher's new corporate owners. A few days of despair ensued, mixed with relief that none of the poets accepted for this series were compelled to return their advance—it was the publisher, after all, who broke the contract! I determined to take advantage of this opportunity to revise and further strengthen the manuscript. Working from extensive comments and suggestions of one poet friend with whom I exchanged manuscripts; I reordered the poems yet again, emailed a list of half a dozen poem titles (including all those that had already served as the collection's title) to another poet friend, then changed the title to A Change of Maps based on that poet friend's preference. I kept sending it out, and soon thereafter, it was accepted by Lost Horse Press as a finalist for the first Idaho Prize. After all the experiments and re-orderings, the final Table of Contents is not too different in its scope or lyric-narrative arc from the earliest arrangements, except that more than before, with the opening and concluding poems ("Studies with Miss Bishop" and "The Custody of the Eyes") the collection emphasizes with humor and pathos the author's debt to and distinction from her poet-mentors, particularly women poets. The poet's ultimate aesthetic and social gesture, then, is to inscribe herself with optimism and confidence as a member of a vital and ongoing literary tradition–a tradition she intends to carry forward into the future. But wait! We are not done! Several years and pages ago, I stated
that I would give the alter-ego Eulene—that most violet of violators of literary norms—a poetic venue and stage of her own: was it a threat or a promise? It is up to you, dear reader! Here is what happened with this "Disquieting Muse"—you decide how much, if any, of it is true! (To plagiarize Pontius Pilate: "What is truth?") Eulene's utterly contrived generation, and mystifying (if not stupefying) birth took place sometime in the fall of my first semester as a student of the Creative Writing program at Syracuse University. At first this nascent shadow-figure was nameless, amorphous: a source of unease and guilty displeasure who kept cropping up in otherwise well-behaved poetic exercises. This character—"my double" or "my shadow," as my scribblings lamely titled her—took over the outpourings of my night sweats, and began to co-opt my moments of lucid-insomniac inspiration, muddled and non-Borgian as they were. She shoved me away from my grad-student work station and began to wreak havoc upon the speakers in the "serious, well-made," New Criticism-influenced poems I was trying to compose at the time. She seemed determined to function as a sort of Doppelganger-cum-Dr. Jekyll / Ms. Hyde figure upon whom I could project emotions I dared not attribute to myself as a responsible member of the body politico-poetic. That was fine, as long as she was prepared to take the blame. . . and to pick up the tab for any lawsuits. But soon she demanded a name: the most irksome, clingy, oleaginous name I could summon up from the wellsprings of memory—Eulene—the moniker of a high-school drama coach whom I had adored and feared at the time, and who had been one of my first mentors among strong-minded, self-directed professional women in the arts. Eulene Reed will forgive me, I hope, for misappropriating her unusual and memorable given name for such poetic irreverences. Along with a name, of course, came a separate and distinct identity: like characters in novels, Eulene assumed a life of her own. She insisted on her place in the world, much as natural forces compel an infant to be released from the womb at the end of its term. In effect, Eulene, self-created, chose moi as her vatic instrument, her reluctant mouthpiece; and she heaped coals of fire upon my tongue if I, the serious student of Creative Writing, attempted to
evade or elude her daemon. For further indoctrination, Eulene directed her poetic lackey to read, not the poetry of high seriousness and elegiac regret, but "Howl" and "Naked Lunch" and other works of Beat extravagance. The young poet's colleagues and fellow graduate students suggested further literary excesses such as "The Dream Songs" by John Berryman and Ted Hughes's "Crow." The first dozen of Eulene's misadventures blighted my poetic life during the fall and winter months of my first year in the Creative Writing program, and were yoked violently to the otherwise bland and well-behaved manuscript of the dreaded Thesis in Poetry. But Eulene had not yet finished having her way with me, and after a long period of quiescence, she re-emerged full-blown, right where she had left off, in the series of absurdities beginning with "Eulene's Noche Oscura." After that, she dragged me hither and thither about the planet, compelling me to indulge in subaltern post-structuralist (dis)courses and engage in acts of lurid anomaly that violate socio-poetic norms. She stowed away in my baggage when I departed for Kolkata on fellowship, and demanded a full-fare ticket to accompany me to Bangladesh (I had to sit in luggage-compartment steerage, with the port-a-pet carriers). Disguised as burkha-swathed Begum Eulene, she romped and stomped in the Sunderban with Crow, the omnivorous, world-destroying alter-ego of British poet Ted Hughes. She took on the Developing World, and I could only stand by in fascinated horror as she carried out her schemes to topple Developed World preconceptions as if these were governments. Mania Klepto: the Book of Eulene was the outgrowth of these poetic contortions, published in 2011 by Turning Point Books, and Eulene sincerely hopes (if you can believe her!) that this volume did not represent a turn-point for the worse for this press! The text was flawlessly designed and typeset by Christine Holbert; the spooky, telluric and ever-alluring cover image and shadow-images of Eulene-as-Svengali were provided by another of my literary collaborators and co-conspirators, the Seattle-based Chilean poet and artist Eugenia Toledo; and we all retained PDF and JPG copies of this material in case the book went out of print and we needed to reassemble it pronto for a reprint, with no fear of vanished galley proofs! Needless to say, if this book were an album
it would have gone platinum . . . at least as platinum as Eulene's hair! Meanwhile, Eulene continues to demand that I take courses in Old Testament jeremiad and Elizabethan invective, bureaucratic bafflegab and cybernetic compu-speak, in preparation for what looms ominously on the horizon: the ever-widening, techno-trash-littered on-ramp to the information superhighway. If either of us is to be a casualty of the downsized, outsourced, post-industrial, post-employment, post-truth, health benefits-free, eco-hostile, simultaneously globalized and balkanized, leaner and meaner Brave New Sweatshop, it will certainly not be Eulene. Her world-consternating exploits threaten to run beyond book-length, and there is no end in sight. Works Cited: Ali, Agha Shahid. Ravishing Disunities: Real Ghazals in English. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2000. Rosenthal, M.L., and Sally Gall. The Modern Poetic Sequence: The Genius of Modern Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983. SajĂŠ, Natasha. "Dynamic Design: The Structure of Books of Poems." The Iowa Review 32 (5) (Fall 2005). Wright, Anne, and Saundra Rose Maley, ed. A Wild Perfection: The Selected Letters of James Wright. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005. An earlier version of this essay was published in Open Book: Essays from the Postgraduate Writers Conference, edited by Kate Fetherston and Roger Weingarten (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006).
Carolyne Wright's latest book is This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse Press, 2017). She has 16 earlier books and anthologies of poetry, essays, and translation. A Contributing Editor for the Pushcart Prizes. She has received NEA and 4 Culture grants, and a 2020-2021 Fulbright Scholar Award will take her back to Bahia after the worldwide CoVid-19 travel advisory is lifted. https://carolynewright.wordpress.com
Tobias Burghardt Paribar tiktiki Lane # 23 for Aminur Rahman On the reverse side of all cabinets in the dining room dwell three small lizards on the 5th floor of a corner house at 23rd road. My goodness, how to invent more reality, experienceable? The writer beholds: turned to one.
River moon voyage for Parvez Khan Gramay jao? on the side.
Sounds the fisherman
Where do you go
on the water, is it going to town? From the river port the water course up at night to the bamboo-lizard. Loosely rolls from Barisal.
Tobias Burghart was born in Germany. Poet, essayist, and translator of Latin American, Spanish, Catalan, Sephardic and Lusophon poetry, together with Jona Burghardt. He received the International Poetry Award City of Galateo â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Antonio de Ferrariis 2020 at Rome, Italy.
Isabel White On the occasion of the latest mass shooting You can keep your thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers are made of lead “We’ll shoot you down”, is what they said. Where is the hope in thoughts and prayers that bring us back to where they led, back to the streets where our children bled? And still they rise, the sales of arms and still they rise, the calls for calm. But when the riot act is read thoughts and prayers only get you dead.
Ancestry Its complicated, this idea of the full English, that somehow, we are one nation; one nation under the cosh. This idea, born of sweat and toil; himself, self styled laird of croft, clan and kirk, of sword and sward, tilling his depleted soil; the other, a tributer, chipping away at Kernow’s granite spine, still trying to work it out; undermining it. This myth of me that binds me to this earth, this land; of nationhood, misunderstood; of custom, folk and song, of all that’s just plain wrong, for truly we never were one nation.
One, was a Scot born of Scots; the other, a latter-day king of Kernow, both toying with the notion of just getting out.
Consequences You asked if I could spare any change; I gave you the quid that killed you. I guessed you’d end it one of these days. ‘Don’t be sorry’, that’s what you said. But I was, and now you’re dead and I gave you the quid that killed you.
The day that Greta came The day that Greta came the sky wept for joy; washed the College clean of its green carapace, the day that Greta stole a march on February. The day that Greta came she set the pace, enlisted mother earth to come to her aid, to strike at the heart of indifference, at the deaf ears of all who put profit before planet. The day that Greta came the cynics of course, closed their blind eye. But mother earth sent us a greater gift, shackled us to the land, taught us the lesson of our age; we mess with them both, at our peril. You did not count on Greta’s ire; that day, when Greta came; she who will not be silenced, while the earth is on fire.
I spend, therefore I am I’m with my Mr Medicine his Covid cure-alls, the origin of specious. I’m shopping for a pangolin (with its unprecedented scales; weighed in the balance, it’s less conspicuous in traffic). Bagged a bargain the last horn of Africa; been there now, done that. What price death these days; the all-pervading smell of the clientele? What price easy meat, fast fashion, smart phone, dumb ass? Discounted trees, how much are these?
Michael Augustin Operating instructions for the poem in memoriam Adrian Mitchell Please keep your distance. Do not touch the poem. Add a dash of salt. Warm it over a low flame. Printed side down. Allow it to come to a quick boil. Stir well. Avoid eye contact. Keep the doors and windows locked at all times. Keep the poem out of the reach of adults. Let it drip-dry. Rub in thoroughly. Make use of our tariffed announcement service. Get ready for the worst. Validate the poem. Change its batteries in due time. Be aware of heavy smoke development. Wear protective clothing. Put on your helmet. Feel free to fire your weapon. Please do not wear short pants and cover your shoulders. In the presence of danger, count to three and throw the poem away from you in a large arch. Duck and cover. Do not inhale the poem. Protect yourself from infection. Use condoms. Be advised that colors may be distorted. Avoid air bubbles at the tap.
Remain buckled. Enter your password. Refrain from further enquiry. Mind the opening hours. Flush. Keep the poem under surveillance at all times. Do not feed it. Do not deposit hot ash into it. Water it regularly. Wear the poem visibly at all times. Produce it for inspection, when asked. Shout it out from the rooftops. Confirm your agreement with the content and observe confidentiality. Lay it in plain sight at your front door. Mind your neighbours. In case of complications, consult your doctor. Never interrupt the cold chain. Fill in the white spaces with colour. Fill up to the highest mark and use up within two days. You can return the poem within three weeks without accruing additional charges. Do not include return postage. Forget about the poem. Wash your hands. Have paper and pencil ready. Translated by Paul-Henri Campbell
About poems Poems are not written, poems happen.
Poems were there before there were poets. Poems are scratched window panes. Poems are decomposable and therefore must not under any circumstance be burnt. Poems are open around the clock (even the hermetic ones). Poems from foreign countries do not require a visa. A good translator will do. No one should be forced to read a poem or even to write one. Poems cannot be held responsible for their author. Poems donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t read poems. Poems can be exchanged for other poems at any time. Translated by Sujata Bhatt Michael Augustin is a German poet, artist and broadcaster. His books Mickle Makes Muckle, A Certain Koslowski and Hurly-Burly are available in English translation.
Sudeep Sen Black box: etymology of crisis: before, after & there after for Neelam, Kabir, Angad & Rocky
1. BEFORE: Talk, Trailer, Fore Play “Prisoners of drops of water, we are nothing but perpetual animals.” — ANDRÉ BRETON & PHILIPPE SOUPAULT, The Magnetic Fields A high-voltage swiveling lighthouse beam blinds us in this controlled darkness — Virginia Woolf or Robert Eggers are not present here to write their scripts. Shrill echoey electromagnetic sounds shriek, deafening our wavering eardrums. Behind a lit translucent cloth-screen, a man in a wood-chopping motion wields his axe. His long hair glimmering halo-like — a chiaroscuro. He shines his shoes, breaks bread. He rummages through a box to a find a length of gauze to bandage his eyes, his mouth. His nose, stuck-shut by black tape. On his bare body, he places fresh flowers on his skin, every hair follicle marking its petaline scent on a digital oximeter — measuring his pulse-beat, heart-rate, his blood oxygen levels — every new-fangled indices of health, trendy obsessions of these pandemic times. On an empty chair, sits a bodyless form — legs crossed, no spine, a jacket hung on the chair’s frame, a spotlight glaring on it. This light moves, trailing a pair of footsteps, following electrical wires to a set of old switches blackened since war-torn blackout days.
A female form scribbles text on a notebook — all work and no play — in robotic repetition. Metronomic words leading to more words in silence — but speech cannot be silenced under any circumstance. There is agreement and contradiction in this duality — a bipolar tension of ego/alter-ego, of fulfillment and vacuity in our unstable psyche. The graph is not constant or regular like sine or cosine curves — the mathematical grid inexact, unsure and asymptomatic like the contagion surrounding us — trying to resuscitate every molecule of breathable air under our masked pretenses. Parallelly, a film unfolds in the black box — the eye of Kabir writes dohas on an old tin trunk, the couplets composed in cinematic frames, its edgy noir feel obliquely reminiscent of Mehsampur. In the company of dark matter, I try to trace my steps of sanity in this thick heavy air as we sit at more than an arms-length fearing human touch and disease. What convoluted times we live in now — where being human is inhuman, where free-thinking is dissent, where being democratic is anti-national. Even the ‘black box’ of a crashed airplane storing facts cannot reveal the facts — everything in done in secrecy, everything is subterfuge to maintain the sub-altern, everything is about power or the lack thereof. 2. AFTER: Play, Black Box It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. — CHARLES DICKENS, A Tale of Two Cities Under a conical thatched roof held up by bamboo armatures, the misen-en-scene — four tin trunks painted black containing personal and household items, two off-white gold-bordered cloth curtains, a metal kettle, a large white shallow tray to hold water from spilling out, a metal black chair, a white bicycle, lots of white flowers, black electrical tape, two long bamboo poles, a pair of shoes, two empty transparent polythene bags — all framed by three more bamboo poles set up as a goalpost, or a proscenium marking out territory to contain spillage of any narrative beyond silence. The theatre walls are painted matte black, the floors tiled in clay
terracotta. There are three lights that hang from the ceiling, a whirring fan, two spotlights, and old-fashioned wooden switchboards with clunky round black switch fixtures. The lead actor, a soloist dressed in black, lies askance on the carpet on the centre with a low wall of loosely stacked bricks forming a horseshoe enclosure. In is silent here and our eyes are led by lights that train our sight to follow a story. It is a gaze that looks outward and inward. Words are minimal, metronomic, repetitive like a refrain mouthed by an invisible chorus. But there is no ensemble cast or musicians. * A white bicycle stands at an angle, alone — white flowers lie scattered, upturned on the floor. Piece by piece, petal by petal, I pick them up — stick them onto my bare body, on my eyes, nose, mouth. I get onto the cycle — slowly start pedaling, circling the outer periphery of the brick enclosure, marking my tracks. I gather pace and more pace, circling round and round at breakneck speed. I disembark— start unpeeling the flowers off my body … and start running, circling round and round like a falcon. Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer; / Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, …. * I sit on the loose bricks that form an enclosure, a geometric U-shape. I sanitise my hands, look at my hands closely surveying my destiny — wear latex gloves, put a pair of shoes in a transparent polythene bag — and say: “Eya sab ko chahiye nahi!” Dateline: March 25, 2020. I start counting from 1 to 2 to 3 to … bang a steel plate with a stick — keeping up the beating until the cacophony is no longer discordant. The futility of the country, endless. No earnings, no hope: “I want to go back to my home” … 485 kilometres … I start to count down the kilometres as I drearily trudge along the highways and on rail tracks with a trunk on my back like a homeless migrant. All transportation is shut down, everything immobilised — our mobility too is immobile — “I can’t go, can’t reach home!”
I am craving for a home-cooked meal, a simple meal — but instead all I have is a stale sandwich that might have been donated by someone who took pity on me. * Sanity, insanity, sanitised — I give my half-eaten sandwich a stray animal and insects. Both animal and human reduced to one, on our knees, by the powers to be. Everything is shut — door, window, sky, auditorium, stage, audience — no one is spared. What does an artist do? Storytelling, dastangoi — stage, kings, ghungroos — story of a sparrow, wise folk tales — anything, any tales to keep our sanity and imagination intact, alive. * The overhead lights dangles precariously on wires that might short-circuit any moment — like a pendulum clock, it wavers counting down time. Ghungroos become an instrument to auto-tune dissonance in place. A moth sits on the white screen, its wings wingless, awaiting flight. Sparrow speaks to an ant, the ant to an elephant — everything is a deal, deal without a deal, deal within a deal — * Dateline: April 24, 2020. Body, corpse, futility. My cadaver tries to sit up, ascending with the help of crutches. I spot a squirrel. I walk, walk, walk. “Let’s go for walk, … baby, let’s talk …”. Two transparent polythene bags. I fill water in them using a kettle, and then tie them on the bamboo crosspiece. I pierce the bag carefully with multiple holes. The piercings induce rain. Rain is the only hope. * Chair with a wet cloth, bodyless, waterless, hopeless — nullity — everything, all life-source is pushed away — But still one is hopeful — writing on soil — scripts of hope, future. “Hello! Is there anyone out there?” — just for a moment I am reminded of the Pink Floyd, but that may be misleading. “Hello, hello …!” * Four tin trunks. Two of them the same size. Ideal furniture. He opens a trunk that contains stories, cloth, a blue floral-printed 74
woman’s top — vesture of memory, hope, … now asleep. Only in dreams, is there hope — hope of embrace, humanity, scent of my beloved’s garment all life-source I can’t hear or smell her — * “Where are you?” I can’t hear you, touch or feel you. All senses have evaporated. I have nothing. I have everything. All my mere belongings in a trunk. I stack the trunks up in ascending order, and open the smallest one on the top. On the obverse of its lid is pasted a 10-digit number. Can I call for help? Or is it just a missed call? Om, om, om, … breathing – pranayam. Back to the beginning. Black box. 3. THERE AFTER: Memory, Will We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory. — LOUISE GLÜCK It is very late at night and I am knackered. Yet, I cannot sleep. All night I dream in fragmented images. Memory plays tricks with my mind. Her story, his story, my story, history — all collude and conflate. The trailer I saw before was only a glimpse. The film is still being cut. We might yet change the narrative. But do we have control over our own destiny or karma’s fate? Jump-cut, dissolve, fade. The parallel sprockets of analogue film-reel struggle to run smoothly on its spool. It is all digital now — memory is not an issue, megabytes abound in tiny microchips. Yet it is all about memory — real, virtual — inscriptions on epitaphs, coded hieroglyphs, ink, text. Will. Our will. A will on a parchment that was never written. Will to live. What will it be? “Is there anybody out there?” Sudeep Sen is a prize-winning writer & photographer. His books include Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (HarperCollins), Rain, Aria, The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (editor), Fractals: New & Selected Poems | Translations 1980-2015 (London Magazine Editions), EroText (Vintage: Penguin Random House) and Kaifi Azmi: Poems | Nazms (Bloomsbury).
Biplab Majee The eye of winter The eye of winter is getting sharp and penetrating The sharp razor's edge of the eye of winter At its sight the helpless tree. The leaves are shed with a murmur I'm naked sans leaves The winter fog has come with gifts of woolen garment The wool with the hue of fog will befit this age The young dames will look at it with jealous eyes amidst the flow of traffic...
Tears in the eyes of stone There are tears in the eyes of stone when history trickles down the cheek One must understand that there is no longer any man though there are men They have been all transformed into ghosts being dead The oozing of the blood of history remains spread across the breast of civilization... Biplab Majee is a poet, writer, literary critic and translator. He has published 28 books of poem, 36 books of prose, 16 books of translation, 6 books of Children literature, 8 edited books. He received 8 International, one Indian and 8 Local awards and honours. At present he is Chief-Advisor of International Society for Intercultural Studies and Research (ISISAR), Kolkata.
Mannual Iris Ars poetica Stubborn, the yellow leaf does not let go of the branch. I watch her battle against wind and rain, against gravity. For days, I've been watching her quiet effort, her tiny tragedy. Her persistence does not deserve oblivion. That is why I put her here, in this verse from which she will not fall.
I am from here To Pat Brennan and his students One is from the places that he has arrived, from the language in which he canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t dream and one day it happens and he wakes up wondering which one is now his house when there is always a heart elsewhere. One comes from the streets that never are the same when he returns.
One comes from the moment in which he decided to leave and from that other one in which he realizes that everything departs. That it is impossible to stay, even if you stay. That it is impossible, even if you come back, to be back. I write a verse that is like a farewell and I point at it: I am from here.
Malachi Edwin Vethamani Song of Sorrow The sun beams spread my words, I'm sorry. The winds whisper my guilt: I'm sorry. For tearing asunder the earth beneath your feet With my misplaced foolish anger, I'm sorry. For the turmoil in your tranquil waters With my fearful distrust, I'm sorry For the flames that scorched all you hold dear With my imprudent greed, I'm sorry. For the tempests that uprooted your dwelling With my wicked thoughts, I'm sorry. Beloved, for your tattered and tormented heart My words give no respite, I'm sorry.
Longing A silence spreads as the music dies in the night Each pair of lips is stilled in the soundless night. The loosening of clasped hands Fingers slip away in the traitorous night. The glasses and lips stay apart Minds slowly sober from the stupefied night. A new light flows through the panes Darkness flees with the dying night. I am left to wonder, why you have stayed. Beloved, submit what you denied in the night. Malachi Edwin Vethamani is a Malaysian Indian poet, writer, editor, critic, bibliographer and academic. His publications include: Coitus Interruptus and Other Stories (2018), two collections of poems, Life Happens (2017) and Complicated Lives (2016). Website www.malachiedwinvethamani.com
Aneek Chatterjee You In a faraway land I search for words, in boulevards, by-lanes when you evolve In my native village green paddy fields swing in air, sunshine when you evolve In my birth I first felt you, in school my verse carried you to earth in a cloudy morning, in march Syllabus in college was you; syllables you, And in a busy office, the wooden desk, unknown file, you In near and far In paddy fields, and boulevards, in birth and daily death, only you evolve
Outsider Fresh sapling in between stones, outsider, looking up to feel the sun. The sun is an outsider too, here in this planet. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have that charisma, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have that energy,
& the power to enlighten every mind. Waiting like an outsider, if you bend down a bit if you come & sit on the stone & if I receive a splash of that irresistible odour. Waiting in anxiety, pain, with newly composed love tunes, if you recognize the outsider in between stones & tunes Aneek Chatterjee is from India. He has been published in reputed literary magazines across the globe. His poetry has been archived at Yale University.
Agnes Meadows Poetry – expressing the inexpressible What is poetry? Answering this question – defining its nature and purpose – was not something I thought about when I took up the mantle of poet and began writing poetry seriously over twenty years ago. Ask any writer why they write, and the answer is rarely for money, fame or recognition. It’s for the sheer joy of writing, of expressing themselves, and hopefully having other people relate to what they have written. So, why do I do it? I do it because I must, because I am driven to do so…I can’t not write! For years, I was a journalist, both here in London and overseas, and although I have always written poetry, until I reached my early 50’s, I only produced two or three poems a year. And then, at the age of 53, I was taken to the Poetry Café in Central London for the first time, and discovered their Poetry Unplugged open mic sessions, which are still running every Tuesday evening, and hosted by the excellent Niall O’Sullivan. I was immediately hooked and began to read my work their regularly. It didn’t take me long to realise that if I was often going to read my work there, I needed to write a lot more poetry. Of course, there are some poets who have made a whole career out of reading the same half-a-dozen pieces, but I was gripped by ‘poetry fever’, and soon had a robust and growing collection of work, which people seemed to like. 82
I self-published my first collection ‘Quantum Love’ in 2000, as well as producing a CD of my poetry with specially commissioned music, but it was always the book of my work that sold rather than the CD. It was also during this time that I learned how to perform my work. I’ve always been amazed that some poets, often really well-known ones, read their work incredibly badly, as if they were reciting words from the telephone directory instead of their emotive poetry. As a performer of your own work it’s incumbent upon you to learn how to bring out all the emotions, colours, feelings, and textures of what you’ve written in as dynamic a way as possible. The better you read, the more your audience will appreciate your work, and ultimately, you’ll sell more books! And then in 2003 I was picked up by Nii Parkes, himself an accomplished poet, writer, editor, and performer, who published my first full collection, ‘Woman’ under the Flipped Eye/Waterways imprint. He subsequently published several other full collections of my work, and remains my main publisher (and good friend) to this day. While poetry has never made me rich, it has taken me all over the world. I have featured at Poetry/Literature Festivals from the USA to Bangladesh, from Norway to Nicaragua, as well as Israel and Palestine. I was also invited to read three times at the Babylon International Arts & Culture Festival in Babylon, Iraq, in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and it was these three visits that inspired my ‘Back to Babylon’ collection (Palewell Press 2019). I have also produced a dual-language collection with 15 poems in English and their Taiwanese/Chinese translation, which I read from at the Formosa International Poetry Festival in Taiwan in 2017. I am hoping that a new collection will be coming out sometime during 2021, as well as a ‘Silk Road’ focused pamphlet of new work inspired by further travels along parts of this fabled highway. But back to the question, why do I write? I was attracted to writing poetry because the form enables you to express in a few words what you hold in your heart. You enter a world of urgency, vibrancy, passion and extreme emotion. Nobody writes abut humdrum love, a love where the heart doesn’t beat faster, or the 83
ordinary day where nothing much happens – eat, sleep, work, repeat – a pale love or life, grey and lacking shape and tone; nobody writes abo0ut a dull life, one containing no passion, nothing to get excited about. Poetry highlights passion and emotion, giving you a tool to change the world, to challenge whatever you find unacceptable, to question, communicate, change misconceptions, and alter world views. It is a mechanism for social change, or to highlight beauty in all its forms, and to stroke the features of love with your pen. Ultimately, for me, it gives me the mechanism to express the inexpressible. Without the freedom to express yourself, there can be no genuine harmony. Simplistically, self-expression is a way of articulating love of self, with self-love being a reflection of how you love the world…the place you live in. One of the questions I have always been asked when giving readings or attending overseas poetry festivals, is where do I get my inspiration from? Of course, sometimes it’s easy to identify the sources of inspiration, when you witness something cataclysmic or life-changing, such as in my ‘Back to Babylon’ collection where I was writing about the things I saw and experienced in Iraq. But often it’s much subtler, and requires a lot more thought and focus. Inspiration comes from paying attention to what is happening around you, listening to what you’re being told, hearing both text and sub-text in every conversation, absorbing and engaging your imaginative awareness, finding the uniqueness in what you are seeing/witnessing/experiencing and pinning those images down on the paper. If you go around with your eyes, ears and heart closed, then that lack is going to be reflected in what you write about, and ultimately in the power of the poem. Inspiration isn’t only something that comes to you out of the ether, but something you must actively seek by paying attention to your world and what is happening around you.
I often like writing poetry to being a jeweller, where only the exact gemstone will fit into the piece of jewellery that is being produced – likewise, each line of poetry is made up of exactly the right word(s) fitting into each space to build the line, stanza and poem. As I have written before, it’s also my job to make the reader see what I see, hear what I hear, and feel what I feel, because until I do that, the reader is blind and deaf to what the poem is saying. If I can’t/don’t do that, then I have failed in my job as a poet. Over the years I have often given poetry writing workshops, either free-standing or part of the programmes of the Festivals I have been invited to read at. It has always given me great pleasure to encourage budding writers to improve and polish their work. Every poet, whether they are experienced or new to the form, has a unique voice, although many are still in the process of discovering it. I believe that as a published international poet I should encourage participants in my workshops to find that unique voice, their platform of self-expression, and run with it. Whether the language they use is raw or more polished, what they write is a tool of empowerment for them, challenging, questioning, observing and commenting on what they see in their world, both positive and negative in a distinctive and dynamic way. In early 2019, I was fortunate enough to be invited to read at the Dhaka International Poetry Festival, run by the internationally renowned Aminur Rahman, whom I had first met in Iraq back in 2012 at the first Babylon Arts and Cultural Festival. Being in Dhaka was an extraordinary pleasure, and I found Bangladesh a truly inspirational place because there was a real sense of everyone working together to make Bangladesh better today than it had been yesterday, and better tomorrow than it had been today. The Dhaka Festival introduced me to many new poets both from Bangladesh and international, and the readings I did at the university there were incredibly exciting, the students an intelligent and lively bunch it was a pleasure to read to. I even managed to work with a few of them, getting them to write their own poetry, which they had never had the confidence to do before. I only
hope that they continued to write, and that I might have been instrumental in sowing the seeds of a new generation of poets in far-away Dhaka. Unfortunately because of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Dhaka Festival had to be cancelled, although Aminur Rahman has invited me to return to Dhaka some time in 2021, when we are allowed to travel again, so I can lead a series of workshops and sessions with students, young people and would-be writers. Hopefully, whatever grows out of this visit will flourish and grow strong in the sunlight of new inspiration. We all have a poet inside of us – it’s just a question of unlocking that inner poet. And if I can help people to do that – to help them express the inexpressible – then I am happy that my job is done. November 2020 Agnes Meadows is a London based poet, writer who has toured nationally and internationally, giving readings, workshops, and residencies all over the world, encouraging people to express themselves through poetry. Agnes has run Loose Muse Women’s Writers Night in London and spearheaded regular satellite events in other parts of England.
Bengt Berg Humanity It´s called humanity but can´t be googled. Humanity is not for sale and can´t be bought on-line. It lies in your empty hand if you open it and see.
A new day … just like a week ago Lucky to have the weather you can always hang your alphabet on the weather and the mail you're waiting for, the postman also arrived a week ago The cat is like me a week older, but the light gets lighter, spring is up ahead it's just a couple of pine trees in the way and a whooper swan flying upside down But then spring arrives like a letter in the mailbox, like a whooper swan, right side-up Translated by Agneta Falk Bengt Berg was born in Torsby, Värmland, Sweden. Poet, translator and editor. Published more than 40 books, mostly poetry.
Mamta Sagar Hide and seek A leaf from the tree gliding sliding swinging a kite caressing the wind a boat on the river with colourful fish yellow and green flash on the shining water moves quickly disappearing with the flow water doesn’t know air doesn’t know tree doesn’t know fish doesn’t know this game of hide and seek.
Knock on the door Knock on the door from outside, from inside Doors that open from this side are thrust forcefully from that side. Darkness barges in, drags the lights out to the streets anarchy, turmoil, an utter chaos… when the dark spreads the inside out; those that sleep under their cosy concealed blankets never see the RED of the blood seeping under their dark sheaths
knocks, not so frequent are now heard often from every side! Note: This poem came as a response to the arrest of five activists in India on the 28 Aug 2018. They were blamed by the State as â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;urban naxalsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Mamta Sagar, noted Kannada poet from India is actively involved with international poetry/translation projects. She is the Founder-Director of Kaavya Sanje and teaches Creative Writing.
Ilona Yusuf Sarai Amanat Khan neither the eloquent arches crumbling brickwork peacock glint of light on tile arabesque inscriptions speak though they might of the hand of the man who gave shape to his emperor’s vision the taj – elements of its brilliance here in his fiefdom – haven for travel weary horses humans nor the tufted ruins gaping brickwork grown through with roots and branches nor the villagers’ faces glimpsed through doorways along alleyways belie its history you can only guess currents that might sleep behind bright smiles lie latent in synapses dull aches locked in the sockets of old eyes like well-water still inscrutable
its heavy depth the contained custodian of lives passions you can only guess what lies below the land itself centuries of raptures and rages for love money gods echo of voices legacy of blood and bones that feed flowers and grasses lie quiescent beneath new streets and dwellings built onto the old sarai only the oldest living memory might remember the stroke of a pen the stroke of midnight carving villages towns fields â&#x20AC;&#x201C; sculpting separating shaping erasing tenacious threads of lifetimes generations
Voice-Box the dog daysâ&#x20AC;Ś the dog days are over she sings
in a cottage in the hills on a monsoon night soft with the percussion of crickets my mind winds back night driving with my son and this song this voice first heard carrying carrying a-wing on our speed and even though we drove towards a death deep space ink sky dark earth enfolded us and this sound breath air held resonant rapturous ringing notes set free Ilona Yusuf is a Pakistani poet, editor and artist/designer, all elements of which, she thinks, intersect and connect in some way.
Camila Fadda Womb Nor light nor shadow nor noise nor a thing moving. Quietness and silence and water without above without beneath without vertigo nor gravity. Nothing that could stay raised nothing that could be torn down. Nor cold nor warmth nor hunger nor thirst. Just Liquid and beat.
Resemblance Suspended in the fog Disorientate Or disorientate oneself. Wander in the doubt or stay trapped in a nylon net Condense oneself start dripping and bend oneself to the dry soil. Desperate for the root. That is what I am in front of the fog: more fog. Camila Fadda Gacitua is a chilean poet, translator (from German). Camila Fadda’s latest book of poems Mover el agua, published in August 2019 by Editorial Los Perros Románticos, receives the award for best poetic work of the year, a recognition granted by the Círculo de Críticos de Arte de Chile.
Reshma Ramesh Grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s yard When we are travel far away from our home, we are getting closer to ourselves. As I put my head out to look at mile stones lined with Gulmohar trees, swollen monsoons, empty roads, distant thunder, trees with hands on their heads, clouds looking like dyed wool, the wind in my hair making it fly all over the window, looking out at the Agumbe hills a tiny part of the mighty Western ghats that line the Indian subcontinent from Maharasthra to Kerala. The road is curved mostly, the monsoon just ended and the mountains are filled with tiny silver streaks which I thought at first were glistening rocks but then I realized it is water trickling down slowly to form streams. Though we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop to touch the water I know that it is very cold just like the ones in Chickmanguluru which we stopped to feel last summer. There is something about flowing water especially on my feet that is soothing and takes me back to my childhood where I would stand by the beach and look fascinated at the sea while the small waves lap at my feet. Because you left me some warmth this winter In the belly of a jack fruit smelling of Directions given by strangers to familiar places Where you are lost and yet know the way somehow.
Because you left me with only notions Like earrings dangling from a jasmine To let me wonder if all the things you Said was dissolved in the clock Or leaving as vapors of time. Because you left me this place with fading maps, Crevices with unhurried ants, bruised eyed windows, Clogged bottles of hellos and goodbyes, Stainless steel tiffin boxes without yesterday's stale conversation, Howling books, old coins and kanjeevaram sarees full of no logic or love. Because you left me with this language Of amphibious rain and thoughts in transit I do not know how to be a person With all things straight or how to clean a family cupboard But I can only summon up courage Pretending to confront the rattle of your leftover hiss And the flat tire of your bicycle. So many memories are attached to fleeing things, relationships, experiences, places, time and memories within memories, like the water on my feet taking me back to the sea and the sea taking me to the taste of my grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pickles. It is April hot sultry summer afternoon; the temperature must be close to 37 degrees and usually everyone in the household naps after having a scrumptious meal. It is usually red boiled rice, fish curry, curd and pickle, mango pickle to be specific. In March the mango trees around our house which my grandfather planted when the house was built with love, would bloom and there would be birds chirping all around these yellow flowers and soon the whole tree would be pregnant with small baby mangoes. Grandmother would decide which ones would become pickles and would tell Eera to get the long bamboo stick with a sickle attached to it and he would nick the tender mangoes at the stalk. They would fall softly on the ground which would all be picked and spread on a sheet washed and dried. Grandmother would make sure there is no moisture on the mangoes, she would wipe them vigorously and sometimes 95
make us rub them with a cloth too and then she would sit down on the floor with a wooden stool which had a sickle attached to it in the front, which is a typical chopping instrument used in most household in the coastal region. She would then slice the mangoes in four and if they were small half or she would let them be, soak all of them in a mixture of salt, red chili and tampered oil. When she would tamper the kitchen would be filled with fragrance of turmeric and hing or asafetida which is a sulfurous smelling gummy plant extract that is traditionally used in Indian cooking which has a very distinctive savory flavor to the food and our mouth would water. Grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s feet remind me of the sea, the place you keep returning back to after travelling all over the world and they would remain in the same place, patiently waiting, loving you like no one else. The gentle waves beating against the shore over and over again, grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hands oiling my hair with coconut oil massaging my scalp until I become free from the noise, any noise, there is only me and the sea, only her wrinkled hands ironing out my worldly worries. I can be myself, wander around, knock on the doors of my past, smell jasmines, look at cats sleeping peacefully in the sun, boats sailing in the horizon and things moving so slowly like it would make me feel that they were still, like the world had stopped for me. How many life times the sea would have lived and how much wisdom it would hold, how many sunrises and how many fishermanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s songs it would have heard just like my grandmother. If only I could measure the weight of shells and my own loneliness growing roots into the loose sand, if only I could put in words for you to see the colors of the twilight, if only you were with me, like me If you were like me You would know that A name is a place that you used to visit long back, A place where there are no farewells only shadows of fables, Where a river would flow around us in stillness and listen To the gentle beat of your heart.
You would know that A name is a certain night where a sea is drawn from a window, A night where you would fill my wounds with your poems, And the wind is made of clay. If you were like me You would know that Some things remain with us and some things float away And you would fold a river into my palms So that when you leave they would Recall your fading footsteps. The open slits in the east wall that makes the house porous and lets the rain in is my favorite wall in the world. These holes in the huge wall that you will meet on the staircase while I run up to meet my grandfather which allows the early morning light to fills up the house are as much residents of the house as much as each one of us, so are the silver worms slithering in the old musty books, frogs that jump out of the pots that hang from the underpart of the roof and the old Bharani that sits now in the dark corner of the store room that no one visits until they are searching for something useless or old or something sharp to open stubborn things. Like I am stubborn with things I want to love, the corners of his eyes that glinted in the sun, his golden spectacles that he would never lose( I always lose mine, I have no idea how), the hair extension that my grandmother would carefully keep under the pillow and wear it with her bun as soon as she woke up in the morning and her nose ring that would move only when she frowned with disappointment. I think my grandmother was disappointed with many things but never let us know. She always made sure everyone was fed on time, trees were watered and my grandfather would have his lemon water at 3pm sharp. My Grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s backyard is the only place in the whole world where I can always be what I want to be. A sweaty person full of breaking pimples, A woman draped in saree with Jasmine in her hair or a five year old bringing home stray puppies, a broken hearted teenager learning to love or just a poem. A poem that you continue to write and hopefully never get it right, a poem that my 97
grandmother would want to sing to the Lakshmi the cow when she milked her, a poem that is working its way around curiosity and pain. You draw me like the rain draws shadows Filling empty cobwebs without names Breaking into memories of a town, a street, A yard and a window, a child sitting with a book Clasped in his hands with empty eyes. You draw me like unpossessed places do Like a traveler lost in the past leaning into the fading light Against a noise in the sea, searching for the burnt smell of autumn Searching for a midday shadow cast over a poem You draw me like distance, fleeing from all intimate things like Soft kisses, butterflies, breadcrumbs, trains and emptiness And put me in a book, among words where someone wrote About islands and children with lamp lit brows And an orchid pressed between the sheets. Reshma Ramesh is a bilingual poet writing in English and Kannada. She has an unique honour of her poem being displayed permanently in the ruins of Ancient City of Olympos, Antalya, Turkey. She is a distinction holder in BFA photography (KSOU) and she practices Dental Surgery in Bangalore, India.
Francisco de Asís Fernández The invention of constellations Each day I step out to contemplate the immensity of the universe and to search the night for fissures in Heaven where gigantic angels enter and depart, passageways through which Lucifer returned as a prodigal son to ask his father for forgiveness. The angels know every corner of the universe because they created the routes for the stars to orbit, they invented the constellations, they painted the colors of the galaxies with the celestial fantasy of their dreams and they gave the stars their delicate brilliance. There are hundreds of millions of angels watching over the harmony of the universe, and there are hundreds of millions of angels above contemplating the ruin of men and women on earth.
The lark The lark appeared in the world before the gods and from its song ambrosia and dreams were born. The lark sings to the spirits of fire, air, and water from wellsprings and the spirit of trees on earth and it sings to heaven when it takes flight. The lark was born in a small lagoon of nothing in infinite darkness before grinder sparks would make the stars, before white islands would appear so that a woman with blue lips could imitate the lark’s song. Francisco de Asís Fernández is an important poet of Nicaragua, Chief of the Board of International Poetry Festival of Granada, Nicaragua; received Gold Medal of Honour of the National Assembly of Nicaragua, Cross of the Order of Civil Merit by King of Spain Juan Carlos I.
Bina Sarkar Ellias In the stillness of a moment in the tempest of this day i found you in the shadows of noon oblivious to the urban storms that sweep through our lives. you were quiet in your cocoon, counting the beads of time. you read from the sea and wind and you knew that all is noise and in the stillness of that moment you communed with the universe~ and took wing.
Intangible knowing a burden of bland words sit heavy on the tongue waiting for freedom
from the myopia of conformity. they need contours, razor edges~ these words that want to come alive and touch those who march in the coliseum of black and white those who live with mathematical precision, and weigh life's moments with the arrogance of acquisition. they want to touch these lives, these barren linear lives, with the light of intangible knowing. Bina Sarkar Ellias is a poet, founder-editor, designer and publisher of the global journal, International Gallerie. She is also an art curator and fiction writer and has received several awards for her work.
Jona Burghardt When you get to the intersection Following the curb as far as it goes, to the reunion with portals and courtyards close by, everything breathes at the rhythm of the known. The open bag because it's crowded doesn't close, the paths are falling, the cautions, in one bus stop, the firmament. Sometimes, there are unnoticed bells, random passers-by, black cats, trills, and the doubts are hanging over the branches. And, step by step, comes the corner of uncertainty, wait, bend, move back, move forward, or drift... In the calm of the absent-mindedness bursts in a dumper causing a squall to gobble up the canvases of the frames. No remodeled facades, no curb, no corner and no crossing all the magic begins.
Tides We'd have to look for other frames, other than the fences of the dream, and then we'd have to unframe what was drawn, let the vacuum figure the tide. High tide of nothingness and its perspective in spaces full of sky and wait a light with another glow at its ends, a color with all the voices of the stone. Time would have to protect the clocks to find the nail for the old frame, the low tide would keep him by the threshold,
and maybe then, at last, he'd make foot in an unfathomable muddy bottom. The frames would have to frame without dreams locked up and float forgetfulness that no one remembers. Jona Burghardt was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Then moved o Germany at the age of 20. She is a poet, Play write and Translator besides being an official translator and interpreter. She has collaborated with numerous International Poetry Festivals in Latin America, Asia and Arab.
Hussein Habasch As a Kurd would love his stubbornness! I love these rugged mountains And these slender rivers, with wobbly knees pouring into their charnel house. I love these stones that defies sunrays in the midsummer heat, and the frosty cold in the midwinter chills. I love this soil that resembles my body And this land that foremost means the heart. I love this dust, a kohl for my eyes it is And this air, a balm for my lungs it is. I love this skimpy terebinth And the fragrant hawthorn. I love cacti and its thorns, Olives and its yearnings. I love this thin reed that serenades all the time on the river bank, This dark swamp where frogs continuously croak. I love the daisy flower that resembles the whiteness of my heart, And these tulips that fraternize with my blood. I love these mud houses And these tents, fluttering on the outskirts of forgotten villages. I love this generous vine, bequeather of grapes and wine. I love these yellow grain spikes, bequeather of food and bread. I love these swaggering kite birds, And these cicadas, continuously singing. I love my land From top to bottom and from bottom to top Just as a Kurd would love his stubbornness! Translated by Azad Akkash
The difference between you and me The difference between you and me Is that you sit crosslegged Leisurely savoring your glass of wine While I wrap myself around myself As I gulp from the glass of pain at the hospital. You post the photo of your ninety something mother on Facebook, Still in her prime! And I remember the complexions of my seventy something mother, With all her wrinkles! You see her every day and place a peck on her cheeks Whereas I have seen her only twice in twenty two years I kiss her photo every day in longing. God bless our mothers! You follow all football matches You laugh, comments, cheer and support this team against that one While I follow all the agonies of my people in Afrin I weep, despond, curse and grieve for what has befallen them. Your sister has a splendid house in the city center Whilst my two sisters are vagrants, homeless and vagabonds, A family from “Ghouta” occupied the house of one, And a family from “Qalamun” occupied the house of the other. You sit with your only brother And debate how to split your father's vast legacy While I worry about the affairs of my brothers, exiled and fleeing, scattered around the globe, I have no means to reunite them and to bring them to safety. Your country is Germany My country is Kurdistan Two worlds apart Germany is flourishing and growing at each moment and minute While Kurdistan is slaughtered and murdered at each moment and second. Your country is exporting Leopard tanks to kill what breath was left in the lungs of my country!
And my compatriots who miraculously survived the killing machine Are applying in their scores for asylum at your country. You were born with a golden spoon in your mouth And I was born with a poison challis in my mouth. This is only a drop of an ocean of differences between you and me I shall not go on unfolding the pain that adjoined me as a twin since birth Despite the differences you see between us I fully understand why you celebrate life I never understand why I despair of it! Translated by Azad Akkash Hussein Habasch is a poet from Afrin, Kurdistan. He wrote many books. His poems have been translated into many languages, and has had his poetry published in a large number of international anthologies. He participated in many international festivals of poetry.
Joyce Ashuntantang Masks, aesthetics and meaning: Framing bate besong’s disgrace: autobiographical narcissus and emanyankpe collected poems On March 8 2007, a few hours after launching his last collection of poetry, Disgrace: Autobiographical Narcissus and Emanyankpe Collected Poems, Bate Besong, the firebrand Anglophone Cameroon writer died in a ghastly car accident at the age of 53. In his short lifetime, he wrote six plays, five collections of poetry and a plethora of critical newspaper and journal articles. Bate Besong’s poetry and plays have been scrutinized using various theoretical approaches including postcolonialism, Marxism, deconstruction, historicism and structuralism. As the gadfly of Anglophone Cameroon Literature, Bate Besong positioned himself as a minority writer and held that position as a creed for all Anglophone Cameroon writers. His literary credo is summed up in his keynote address on the first workshop on Anglophone Cameroon writing held from January 18-21st 1993 at the Goethe Institute, Yaoundé. This workshop organized during a period of growing Anglophone nationalism in Cameroon, was sponsored by the Anglophone Cameroon writers’ guild and the University of Bayreuth, Germany. In his address, Besong characterized Anglophone Cameroonians as “an embattled people under the cancerous embrace of “national integration” and in this vein he warned:
The Anglophone Cameroonian writer must never forget his origins. His writing must depict the conditions of his people, expressing his spontaneous feelings of betrayal, protest and anger. It must challenge, it must indict head on…our literature must convey with remarkable force the moods of the Anglophone Cameroonian caught in the assimilation-nightmare of Sisyphean existence…The Anglophone Cameroonian writer at home and in the diaspora must tell the outside world the story of its tragic minority.” (Besong “Literature in the season”, 18) While situating Besong’s works within the theoretical framework of minority discourse exposes the suffocating experience of the Anglophone minority in Cameroon, I posit that a crucial part of the aesthetics that frame Besong’s works is often overlooked because literary critics are not familiar with the cultural masks of Obasinjom and Emanyankpe which he utilizes to construct his creative works. Understanding the nature of Obasinjom and Emanyankpe provides a distinct lens unique to Bate Besong’s writing, especially his last publication, Disgrace: Autobiographical Narcissus and Emanyankpe Collected poems. This collection is divided into two sections. The first section titled “Disgrace: Autobiographical Narcissus” consists of sixteen autobiographical poems which are like a series of vignettes capturing the poet’s negative experiences in his homeland, especially the university campus where he taught. The second section titled “Emanyankpe: Collected poems,” is made up of a few new poems but mostly poems which had been published during the period he branded himself as Obasinjom warrior. These poems come principally from three collections, The Grain of Bobe Ngom Jua (1986), Obasinjom Warrior and Other Poems After Detention. (1991) and Just Above Cameroon: Selected Poems 1980-1994 (1998). Consequently, Disgrace: Autobiographical Narcissus and Emanyankpe Collected poems is the only work by Bate Besong where he projects both Obasinjom and Emanyankpe as operating aesthetic frames. To a non-initiate, Bate Besong’s masks may just be a distraction, but these masks point to meaning and frame him even more as a
protest writer fighting for his people. These masks capture his literary style and effective response to what is known as the Anglophone Cameroon problem or crisis. To understand the Anglophone Cameroon problem is to delve in a bit a history. Kamerun was a German colony from 1884-1916. After the defeat of Germany in World War I, Germany lost its hold over Kamerun and Cameroon/Cameroun was born, a trust territory administered by Britain and France with France gaining 4/5 of the territory. The British territory named Southern Cameroon (Anglophone Cameroon) was administered as part of another British colony, Nigeria. French Cameroon and Nigeria gained independence in 1960. Wedged between this two larger geographically entities Southern Cameroon was asked to decide its fate in a United Nations sanctioned plebiscite in 1961. Southern Cameroon had to choose between joining French Cameroon or Nigeria. Southern Cameroon voted to join French Cameroon. Although the new Federal government established English and French as the official languages, a “diaglossic” situation quickly became apparent with English being the language of the minority thereby having a lesser status. The marginalized position of English within the new nation state has translated to an inferior position for the English-speaking minority. The Anglophone problem captures the discontent of Anglophones who call for their region to be retained as a “distinct community” (Eyoh) with regards to the language and inherited English colonial institutions of education, law and public administration. Today there are many groups, some of them armed, clamoring for secession and others asking for federation. From 1985 to 1990, Besong felt the impact of the Anglophone problem at a personal level as the Cameroon government covertly censored his literary creativity. He was forced to abandon his critical column, “The Writer as Tiger” in the only daily newspaper in Cameroon, the government owned, Cameroon Tribune. However, as a teacher employed by the Cameroon government, he was susceptible to intimidations from the autocratic agents of President Paul Biya. Besong was threatened many times with detention and denied his full salary for years, all attempts to make
him to stop using his writing to criticize the government. He was eventually detained briefly in 1990 after the performance of his acerbic play, Beast of No Nation. Ironically, it is during this period that Besong took up the moniker, Obasinjom Warrior. His poetry collection, eponymously titled Obasinjom Warrior and Other Poems after Detention published in 1991 served as a baptism where he claimed the identity publicly. Amongst the Ejagham/Bayang ethnic groups in Southwestern region of Cameroon where Bate Besong and I hail from, Obasinjom is a speaking mask, which has the gift of prophecy, and the power to seek out and destroy witches. The mask is a carved crocodile head adorned with peacock feathers. The protruding mouth of the crocodile reveals carved teeth. The choice of crocodile is important and significant because it is an animal that can live on land and water. The feathers also show that the Obasinjom can also engage in flight. Thus, Obasinjom, translated as “God’s medicine” has the ability to permeate every realm to rout out threatening criminal forces. The Obasinjom mask has mirrors for eyes, which gives it the ability to see beyond the earthly world. The mask is intended to be frightening and this is accentuated by the mantle which is often black. As Kloss explains, “the mask demonstrates tellingly the multifarious relationship between masks and medicine in Africa.” (63) The Obasinjom performance is a collective experience for the whole village. As Ute Röschenthaler, observed, “The success of the Obasinjom cult agency and of its variations depended to a large extent on its capacity of visualizing its witchcraft detecting agency by means of an eye-catching masquerade performance.” (249) When the Obasinjom begins its performance, it is usually closely followed by a translator because he speaks the language of the gods not understood by ordinary men and women. This is one of the mask that fuels Bate Besong’s writing style and meaning in his creative works. Bate Besong is the Obasinjom warrior who seeks out the “witches” of the decrepit postcolonial nation called Cameroon, bringing them to public scrutiny. Emanyankpe (or Nyankpe) on the other hand, is a masquerade of the Ngbe Society (Ekpe in Nigeria). Ngbe is a secret society 110
(Leopard Society) in the Ejagham and Bayang culture open only to men. Central to this society are two masquerades, the Ebongu and Emanyankpe. While Ebongu is calm and two of them may appear together, Emanyankpe is usually alone and always appears ferocious in its full-body colorful netted costume. Emanyankpe masquerade is a law enforcer who does not hesitate to use the cane in his right hand to whip offenders of Ngbe or social deviants. (Elliott Leib and Renee Romano, 54) African masks and masquerades like Obasinjom and Emanyankpe are used in religious and social events to preserve peace and maintain order in the village community. These masks and masquerades come to live during frenzied performances possessed by the spirits that inhabit them. For Bate Besong the performance associated with his masks is creative writing, especially his poetry. Although the themes in this final collection are diversified, Bate Besong’s poetry, or plays for that matter, always revolve around the same issues; the denunciation of oppression of one group by another, economic exploitation, marginalization, corruption, social, political and economic inequality. In the first section of the collection titled “Disgrace, autobiographical Narcissus,” Bate Besong appears as Emanyankpe. His anger is evident in the poems as the speaker heaps insults on different personalities and castigates all who seem to be stifling progress in the university environment as they uphold values that oppress Anglophone Cameroonian. His words cut like the lash of a cane. In “Post-mortem Intellectual,” he writes: Blood founts of injustice can be vanquished only by the lantern of fearlessness and torrential down-pour of outspokenness. But, You allowed yourself to become as useless As a crow flying Across the Cameroon sky. (6) In another poem, “Collaborator,” he gets even more caustic: Although you are covered with silver and gold, like the Cuckatoo in Rdpc kabba ngondo1, you are made of Wood and are as powerless as stone taken from the 111
Synagogue of that tribe-crazed god You are a dead tree without any leaves Or fruits You are no more than dung; you are Repulsive, and no one wants to get near you (7) Bate Besong’s words are analogous to Emanyankpe’s cane. Besong s lashing out in frustration at the depth of human depravity and inability of those in power to relieve the masses of suffering. According to Beban Sammy Chumbow, these poems “constitute a series of tabloids in which BB lambasts, castigates and stigmatizes all and sundry for the sorry state of the university and the university system from “autocratic” leaders through “collaborators”, “post mortem intellectuals” and “comatose professors” to “dead lecturers” who “organize the ignorance of the faculty and pervert and muzzle discourse” (Foreword to Disgrace, Viii). Besong thus emphasizes that anyone, who alleviates suffering for the people is on the right side of posterity. Consequently, he uses these poems in his anger to whip those undermining the lives of “the common man”. Emanyankpe, a ferocious and distraught masquerade, does not hesitate to use the cane, which is always in its hand to whip those who are deviants. In fact, Bate Besong impersonating the Emanyankpe mask in these poems show his exasperation with his marginal status as an Anglophone in the nation state Cameroon and his willingness to endorse violence as a correcting tool to reach self-determination, if need be. In the second section of the collection, Besong reclaims his mask of Obasinjom warrior by republishing many poems from his earlier collections where like Obasinjom he unmasks the “the witches” who hold the minority Anglophone Cameroon captive by refusing to share power and resources equitably. For example, he castigates the abuse of power in the “Kaiser Lied”: Brewed; In deudonal crimsons, Ah! Moronic You fed
Kangaroo gonads to the world press corps to camouflage the soporific bankruptcy of a traumatized brotherhood-insophistry, already, shrouded in the obituarist lagoon of wrong Deal! (62) This is the same mood expressed in “Ntarikon Massacre” inspired by the six who were killed by soldiers during the launching of the Social Democratic Front party in opposition to the ruling Cameroon’s People Democratic Movement. Besong laments: The blood is still fresh On the slabs, the morgues Are wet. For those whose Tomorrows Are now shards of broken Glass (59) In “Their Champagne Party Will End,” Besong decries state rulers and their cronies who exploit the poor even as they embezzle state funds: For sure Jewry stood for an exploiting race, but Our own middle men manage to amaze them for all that… Dead After day When our workers died of chronic shortages of overwork and exposure it was fashionable for the repulsive old creeps; with large baskets of cash to give their champagne parties in open defiance of the victims they had exploited wretched. (88) Just as Besong throws invectives at those who despoil the nation for their personal gain, so too does he celebrate the heroes who champion the cause of the masses. This section is replete with poems honoring African heroes like Kwame Nkrumah or Nelson Mandela. He also honors Cameroon national heroes like P.M.
Kale, S.A. George, A.N. Jua, Um Nyobe and Mongo Beti. In one such poem, “The Beauty of exile” Besong explains: Do not say you are abandoned And deserted Friend It is the beauty of your exile That has shown how ugly we have become Heroes have made their way Along the Tchollire swamps into nameless Catacombs, martyrs: Their limbs become to frozen For them to rise to their feet, to walk. (95) Nevertheless, one criticism constantly leveled against Bate Besong, is the opaque form of his art. Often one has to jump his linguistic hoops to come to grips with his thematic concerns. For example, in “After Mandela’s Earth” BB writes: year after harlequin year and the circus also came to circus town - quislings of a Francophonie cretin; they devise the decor: opaque columns of dung, rise and rise above this doomed empire which takes counseling blunders from the cadaverous old crocodile whose monumental basilicafolly in the Bokassa Zombie Archipelago - cardinal devil of Yamoussoukro (73) The reader is easily lost as he tries to decipher Bate Besong’s differing codes here. One can readily assume that he is just displaying some of the features of modernist writing like fragmentation and allusiveness. However, if the reader takes into consideration that Bate Besong is an Obasinjom warrior then he is in a trance when he writes, and his writing can only be deciphered by a select few with literary prowess, just like the Obasinjom translator who has to translate Obasinjom’s prophecies to the
masses. Critics like Shadrack Ambanasom serve as translators for Bate Besong’s cosmic writing. As Ambanasom makes plain: Conventional versification is not his (Bate Besong) inclination. Not for him the regular poetic lines rhymes or fixed stanzaic forms. Like most modern poets Bate Besong prefers free verse…at the level of diction, Besong sometimes goes for the rare word, one that looks seemingly strange and seemingly unpronounceable and unAnglo-saxon. Yet more often than not the word is an English word. E.g. “djinns”,“thong”, “thaumaturge” “simurge” etc. Even in the most advanced dictionaries, a few of Besong’s words cannot be located, in which case they may simply be words of his own coinage or borrowings from his local vernacular e.g. Mfam or obasinjom. Occasionally Bate Besong boldly brings into his poetry words from such diverse languages as Arabic, German, French or Kenyang etc. in an attempt to express his idea precisely. He is a poet with elliptical poetic imagination; his poetry is often erratic in its movement. There is no rigid respect for chronology in the expression of his thought and ideas, nor an attempt to stick to a syntactic logic in the structure of his sentences. (http://www.batebesong.com/2007/10/bate-besong-is-.html) Nevertheless, if Bate Besong is sporadic in his style, he is consistent in his themes as he strives to champion the cause of freedom and justice for the common man. As Tanure Ojaide opines, “The point is that aesthetics is not only about beauty, but has come to include interest, value, meaning, literary devices, such as form and realism that help the reader to grasp the content of a literary work.” (“Theory of Minority Discourse,” 13) Thus, to enjoy this final publication from Bate Besong the reader must pay attention to the specific features from his ethnic culture which render his poetry unique. By bringing the Obasinjom Mask and the Emanyankpe masquerade to frame this collection of poetry which ended up being his last word, Besong seems to be providing Anglophone Cameroon readers with two possibilities. Like the Obasinjom mask they should remain vigilant and continue
unmasking all who do not act for the common good, but if that does not work they are allowed to consider violence like the Emanyankpe who does not hesitate to use a cane to clear its path. _______________________________________________________________________________________
RDCP stands for “Rassemblement démocratique du Peuple Camerounais,” is the ruling political party in Cameroon. “RDPC Kabba Ngondo is a traditional loose female outfit sewn with the RDPC fabric often worn by female supporters of the Cameroon government.
Works Cited Ambanasom, Shadrack. Bate Besong: Is his Poetry too Difficult for Cameroonians? African Literature Association (ALA) Bulletin. Vol. 28(3/4), Summer/Fall 2000. http://www.batebesong.com/2007/10/bate-besong-is-.html. ---. Disgrace: autobiographical Narcissus & Emanya-nkpe collected Poems. Limbe: Design House, 2007. Besong, Bate. Disgrace: autobiographical Narcissus & Emanya-nkpe Collected Poems. Design House, 2007. --- “Literature in the Season of the Diaspora: Notes to the Anglophone Cameroonian Writer” in Lyonga, Nalova, Eckhard Breitinger and Bole Butake.eds. Anglophone Cameroon writing, (Bayreuth African Studies Ser. 30. Bayreuth, 1993. pp. 15—18. Chumbow, Beban. S. “Foreword” Disgrace: autobiographical Narcissus & Emanya-nkpe collected Poems. Design House, 2007. pp. viii-xi. Eyoh, Dickson. "Conflicting Narratives of Anglophone Protest and the Politics of Identity in Cameroon". Journal of Contemporary African Studies. Vo. 16. No. 2, 1998, 249-276 Koloss, Hans-Joachim. “Obasinjom among the Ejagham.” African Arts, vol. 18, no. 2, 1985, pp. 63–103. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3336192. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020. Leib, Elliott, and Renee Romano. “Reign of the Leopard: Ngbe Ritual.” African Arts, vol. 18, no. 1, 1984, pp. 48–96. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3336097. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020. Ojaide, Tanure. “The Theory and Aesthetics of Minority Discourses in African Literature.” The Handbook of Minority Discourses in African Literature. Eds. Tanure Ojaide and Joyce Ashuntantang. Routledge, 2020. pp. 10-23. Röschenthaler, Ute. “Transacting Obasinjom: The Dissemination of a Cult Agency in the Cross-River Area.” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, vol. 74, no. 2, 2004, pp. 241–276. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3556932. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020.
Dr Joyce Ashuntantang was born in Cameroon, Central Africa, is a poet and Associate Professor of English at the University of Hartford, Connecticut. She is the author of many scholarly and creative publications.
Manfred Chobot Ballad of the river I was sitting by the side of a river My feet dangled in the water When I suddenly felt that the flow of the river Suddenly changed its direction The water was no longer following the course of the river Now it clearly was flowing the opposite direction upwards A barge was having the biggest troubles With the completely new situation The captain and the cox were suddenly in panic As they did not understand what the river told them That it did not wanted to be devoured by the sea anymore for the sea kills every river Each estuary is the end therefore it had to stop right there back to the spring to the origin But the river did not take into account that its water would accumulate itself back in the source and that the clouds would roundly deny to take back its water After all around the spring was floodes The river chose on the spot to dry up Translated by Robert Max Steenkist
War is shit with my finger on the map i traced 117
my grandfather’s captivity from Poland to Samarkand you had two children dysentery and barely enough writing papers for your war diary in the books that belonged to you i read when you read them you were 34 when you shat yourself to death and the 1st war in its 3rd year i would have loved to have had you for my father Translated by Karoline Ruhdorfer
The doll the grandmother lies on the floor and if we didn’t know that she was dead we would mistake her for a doll a life-size one that holds her set of false teeth in her right hand and i put on the flash bulb and i snap a picture and the jacket she wore the day before she is still wearing or again i don’t know and now the photos are lying in front of me and the past curls up she lies there like a toy left behind and on the day of the transformation of grandmother to a thing the grandchild dressed in black and whoever has a yearning is invited to interpret and read into and out of according to taste the apartment will putrefy of carrion
the father-in-law prophesies and thus avoids having to see his rag-doll mother yesterday still alive the Yugoslavian caretakers report it is disgusting nowhere is one unobserved from all sides you are under surveillance i hide the stagnant feeling in the dollâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s apartment Translated by Karoline Ruhdorfer
The fee to melt a coin the world is not round. anymore. touching brightly the shape. of your being. and a wet presence. splendorous. nothing else. but one spirit. two virgins. sharing a chair instead of a wire. starting to be resurrected. not even a leaf can be switched in between. touch you touch you touch you. no movement at all. so far and near. your voice is the fragrance to aspire. grabbing very two arms. up and down. and down and up. to your holy mountains. like a kid. asking please. show it to me. all of yours. the triangle and the circle. all of these circles. of your existence. show me the top. up to the bottom. and I will suck it. taste your voice and grab it down yonder. no breath but your exhausted memory. an eagle will wave its wings. just eyes. and nothing but nothing makes the flight. us to fly. your body spreads. widely open. up to the next planet. the moon and the sun got it. and we find each other opened. to the next door. we paid the fee to melt any coin. Translated by the author Manfred Chobot was born in Vienna, lives as a freelance writer. Twelve volumes of Poetry in German; twenty six volumes of Prose; two novels, two volumes of photo books, and two books for children. Books of Poetry in English, French, Spanish, Slovak, Czech, Polish, Bulgarian, Georgian, and Bangla. Books of Prose in Ukrainian, and Polish.
Asad Chowdhury The Taj getting soaked in rain The Taj is getting soaked in rain I have no umbrella with me what can I do now I look at the Taj from near the gate At least I have to tell my folks back home something The telephones are not working The hotel lobby is crowded. Dining tables are full of customers Friends from other troupes are already here And the Taj is getting soaked alone Certainly the Taj is used to this But the bad luck is mine The two poets from the Maldives ask me over and take my picture Will the picture tell everything Will the picture sing the words of my heart Exactly as they sing now. Translated by Syed Manjoorul Islam
Some words still linger on A few words still linger on between your lips. Having cursed and having called names to the utmost, and after salivating Sycophancy for selfish ends, there still persists the thought - something more yes, there was something more to be said. Lengthy discursive lecture over, you look upon the drowsy faces of a yawning audience,
and still feel-nothing had really been said. The written lines hold some of the words. Colours bind some together, and so does melody; and then some fall off with your kisses and your punches. And still when all is over, there between your lips some words still linger on. Translated by Mohamed Mijarul Quayes Asad Chowdhury was born in Bangladesh. He is a Poet, Writer, Translator and Anchor. Chowdhury was a former director at the Bangla Academy, Dhaka, and worked as an editor at the Bengali service of Deutsche Welle after his retirement. During the liberation war of Bangladesh, Chowdhury was a contributor and broadcaster of Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. He was awarded the Bangla Academy Award and the National Award Ekushey Padak.
Ali Al-Hazmi Tears rolling down her salted burning lips Near the coast, we used to build sand homes. When he left for fishing, for the last time... We raced to return the trimmings of his net To his little canoe. With little hands We waved unceasingly to the last waves That snatched his boat away, Away from the times of our childhood. Behind the window bars, our little heads squeezed; With eyes fixed on the coast road; Mother's wings spread over our little shoulders As she injected her body among ours; Immensely worried about our budding innocent souls. I was scared that her long hair may submit to the winds, If she forward on the metal rail; I drew her back towards the warmness of the timber room; Then I stared at the seashores dwelling in her eyes, And saw the sea travelling far beyond the sand homes. leant "Sure, he will return," she said, Before her tear floored upon my lipsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; my salted burning lips. Twenty years did not avail to demolish the sand homes In our eyes. The dried out face of my father, laid upon the waves Became a window that looks at the silver years of our age; An age abandoned in muddy traps. Still, my beloved mother conceals her regrets behind her shadow. Still, on the mornings, She makes fresh bread with her dreams; And at midnights, She reheats what remains of her wishes on the stove of her soul. Still, we trust her and eat the bread of her lie, Just to live on
A corner in a tavern She paid no attention to me, As she sat close to my table, In the oriental corner of the tavern. She paid no attention to my chaotic solitude, Reflected on my two palms holding a cigarette, That extended its flame to my blood. Smoke flew away like white poems Wiping off the spotlight that fell down, To uncover the cloud of stately passions Before my eyes. Forcibly, she started to hide The silver of silence that spilled over pulses, Framing us, To complete the portrait of passion in her palms. She, then, reassembled a lock of her hair that spontaneously fell Over her left eye, When she was absently looking at a bouquet of roses On a table separating us, Hiding half my face. How much I wished I would become a complete string In her eyes, To notice what painful yearning had raged on my last half. To see a wretched person inhabiting the bottom of my cup, Drowned in profound agonies. Ali Al-Hazmi was born in Damadd, Saudi Arabia. An important poet in Arabic language. Obtained degree in Arabic Language and Literature at Umm Al-Qura University. Published a good number of books, translated and published in different languages. Received awards from country and abroad.
Paramita Mukherjee Mullick Mosaic There is a checkered board within. With love, passion and hate the pawns. There is a checkered board within. With sharing, caring and patience the pawn. So many different thoughts, so many different moods. So many varied virtues, so many contrasting vices. There is a checkered board within. With integrity, honesty and jealousy the pawns. There is a checkered board within. With sympathy, empathy and cynicism the pawns. So many conflicting thoughts and moods. That I get astonished at the mosaic of my mind.
The lone flower The lone white flower on the branch of a tree. The beautiful flower did I see. The lone white flower on the branch of a tree. Did the beautiful flower see me? The lone white flower swaying on its own. Does it know it is all alone? The lone white flower spreading its beauty all around. Does it care whether it is lost or found? The lone white flower imparting its fragrance to all who are near. Does it know the near ones are dear? The white, huge flower with its petals spread out. The green stalk holding on to the flower taut. The spotless petals spreading beauty to the world. The five petals at the edges curled. The lone white flower will spread beauty and fragrance to foe and friend. Till it withers, dries and meets its end. Dr. Paramita Mukherjee Mullick is an Indian poet, writer and translater. She has published six books. Some of her poems have been translated into 35 languages. She has been blessed with numerous awards for her poetry.
Muneeza Shamsie In a family’s history, a nation’s At the Time of Partition by Moniza Alvi, Bloodaxe Books (Tarset) 2013 pp64 ISBN: 978 1 85224 984 7
The Lahore born, Moniza Alvi, one of Britain’s foremost contemporary poets today, has a new collection At the Time of Partition shortlisted for the 2013 TS Eliot Poetry Prize. The volume consists of twenty poems which flow into each other to create a single haunting and lyrical narrative, welding the personal and the public. The result is a stunning, skilled and controlled work of immense grandeur. Alvi, daughter of a Pakistani father and an English mother, wrote the poems shortly after her startling discovery that her father’s younger brother, brain damaged by a childhood accident, had disappeared at Partition. In 1947, while crossing from Ludhiana to Lahore, Alvi’s widowed grandmother had entrusted him to friends. She never saw him again. Alvi researched Partition compulsively to write about this family episode, drawing on her imagination to recreate incidents and characters, including the grandmother she had never met. Her poems she states are “a version of what might have taken place.” The book begins with newly divided India and leads into newly created Pakistan. In the process it encapsulates many great migrations throughout history: a story of conflict, trauma and loss, followed by adaptation, mutation and change, alongside intangible dreamlike images of memory. 125
The first and last poems “The Line” and “Going Back” respectively, revolve around that invisible, surreal boundary line drawn so arbitrarily between India and Pakistan a line so narrow a sparrow might have / picked it up in its beak. Framed within the first poem, “The Line” is the story of her uncle Athar’s childhood accident: a bright young boy, Athar, playing outside in the dust and the gay painted lorry / that struck him. This fateful moment and its denouement, the brain-damaged child, that the best of physicians, including his father, could not cure, resonates with the tragedies that follow the sub-continent’s defining “midnight’s hour”. The land itself at its most calmest and most dignified / yielded to the line, lay still—/ it didn’t know what was coming. References to Sir Cyril Radcliffe, Nehru’s independence day speech celebrating India’s freedom, are interwoven with the dilemma of the poet’s grandmother, widowed now, in Ludhiana, / a son in England,/ five of her children / with their mother / on the wrong side of the line. In “Must we go?” the poet imagines herself in her grandmother’s place: the decision she has to make, while her children complain and protest, and the neighbourhood empties out, as rumours of rape, murder and suicide spread. “Better by Far” describes her resolve to leave, in an overcrowed bus in the scorching summer, with five children – Ahmed, Athar, Rahila, Jamila and Shehana – a foil to fairytale imaginings of a flying magic carpet with Nehru to wave them on/and Jinnah to welcome them. “Ever After” dwells on that critical moment when friends offer to take care of the young Athar “We’ll take him, Shakira ./ He can travel with us ./ You’ve enough on your hands / with the other four./ There are places still / on the second bus, inshallah!” The poem dwells on the grandmother’s turmoil, and desperation with the benefit of hindsight, to reverse time, to undo those words: Take him. The poem describe her farewell to her known familiar world: her house And Ludhiana itself, the Old City and the New-/Civil lines with its flowering trees. These peaceful images belie a harsher reality: Bleeding internally, the city / tried to appear whole/ for a final goodbye – / as they would gather and wait, / appear whole/under Muslim rain and Hindu sun, / Hindu rain and Muslim sun. The next poem contemplates illusion, friendship and trust in an unreal climate of fear and hope while “They Took the Bus” details that arduous journey, the smells and sounds of the congested bus, children clamouring “how much further?” And the danger: the stories 126
of terrible atrocities and trains filled with the dead and no young women. Those tales which had no beginnings / or had swallowed their endings/tales which recoiled from / or feasted on themselves. No one dares leave the bus, not even a woman giving birth. The approaching dark brings more fears; morning reveals deserted villages, dusty anonymous landscapes. Alvi’s interplay on the words “tales” and “nights” in “Not A Thousand and One Nights”, heightens the terror. The tenth poem “No” tells of arrival - in that nameless, waterless, “no-man’s land” a strip flanked with walls of barbed wire separating India and Pakistan. The second half of the collection begins with “The Camp”, a vast parody of a city, a teeming cluster of tents and shelters constructed from rags, bamboo, sheet metal. There is rejoicing at loved ones re-united, lamentation over the missing and dead; incidents of cholera, theft and murder. Alvi’s use of repetition and rapid rhythm heightens the desolation and unreality. Holes in shelters. / Holes in families / the losses/ trickled out ,/ poured out ,/ in the queues, in huddles / around the fire. There the poet’s grandmother tends to her four children, queues for rations – and sends a messengers for news of Athar. Then comes the revelation: We’re sorry they said, / the friends of friends. / So very sorry – /He isn’t with us –/ he disappeared at –/ He vanished –- between –-/ The last time we saw him. / We did what we could –- Alvi moves between the specific to the collective, to tell of thousands who suffered likewise, as she describes her grandmother’s agony, her quest for Athar. Sometimes she thinks that she has glimpsed him nearby. She cross-examines, desperately, people who claim that they, or someone they knew, “had seen Athar / or someone just like him.” Sometimes she thinks that she has glimpsed of him nearby And she prays, and prays and prays. “On the Brink” begins with the words The camp was on the brink of the city / the city was on the brink of the camp. The poem considers the changing face of Lahore, the influx of refugees, the exodus of Sikhs and Hindus, the solid edifices of the High Court and Assembly buildings, schools and colleges and the abandoned and gutted houses, havelis and hovels worlds within worlds /, microcosms of the beleaguered,/ expectant city./ Lahore, still-beating heart of the Punjab. This contemplation of violence and resilience weld in with “And 127
Now?” the story of the poet’s grandmother and Athar the family / began / to reconfigure/ around an absence ,/ this ripeness/ of his loss. / Ripe as if some/fruit/must fall / but hour by hour/month by month/no fruit fell. There is the offer to share a house, a constricted space, compared to their Ludhiana home. They move in and feel they are trespassing: it is filled with someone else’s furniture, clothes, food, Everything as it was / when a family mirroring/their own had grasped the / future –- and fled. In “Settling” Alvi’s descriptions of the family settling into Lahore, are intertwined with Pakistan growing older, a country divided between East and West And always there was India its immense shadow / forever fixed to its heels. Alvi tells of her grandmother’s applications to the authorities in search of Athar; the certainty and uncertainties of a new life in a new country/ “And Where?” conjures up photos of the Founder of the Nation, his vision of freedom, followed by his death. Mohammed Ali Jinnah. And her lost son / At rest in the afternoon or waking / she might picture them both, / one superimposed on the other. “Continuing” describes the poet’s grandmother re-assuming the rhythms of daily life: the children join school, there is cricket and social gatherings, and her son in England marries an Englishwoman. What was there to cling to / but hope? / The fine escarpment of hope. / Hope in her children/ her sons –- her daughters. / Hope in the future, of some vestige / of the-past-in-the-future. The book culminates with “Crossing Back” a meditation of time, imagination, memory, the process of writing and the blurred edges of divisions and dividing lines, life and death. This is a truly extraordinary collection, a work which succeeds in being spare, compelling and timeless. Furthermore, for the sub-continental reader, it captures a moment of time, a memory, so visceral that it has an extraordinary power. This book should not be missed. (Lead Story version published in Dawn: Books & Author’s Supplement) Muneeza Shamsie is author of 'Hybrid Tapestries: The Development of Pakistani Literature in English', Bibliographer (Pakistan) of Journal of Commonwealth Literature and Co-editor (South Asia) of the online Literary Encyclopaedia.
Milan Richter A girl at the poet's grave in Dhaka What were you doing there, with a saturated bindi between thick eyebrows, alone, with eyes like black cherries on a smiling table, with raspberry lips like wings of a morning Muse, with a translucent red scarf over a summer dress, with a brown shopping bag on the right shoulder? Did you come to read your verses to Kazim Nazrul Islam, verses of hidden passion for all human and beautiful? Did he listen to you, the Poet buried only a few steps from the great mosque? Or were you to meet here someone who would seat you on the throne of his heart? I am asking, asking but I don't want to hear any answer. The glitter of your black cherries stuck in my retina, it was with me all days in Dhaka, in the chaos of the streets, in the halls where proud verses swirled the dust of vanity, in the solitude of a sad hotel room, yes, the glitter of your eyes everywhere. "May we take a photo of you?" I asked, standing already next to you, with my massive chest pressed to your tender shoulder. "Are you a poet?" you didn't ask, knowing at that moment more than all the poets of the world that the Muse will remain a mystery forever. We went to pay homage to the Poet of poverty, despair, of love and sorrow: Bengt, Benaissa, Lee, Aminur... After some minutes when I looked toward the gate, there was no saturated bindi between thick eyebrows, no black cherries nor raspberry lips, not even a translucent red scarf â&#x20AC;&#x201C; only a dried-out old woman selling dead pictures of a living poet. Informative translation by the author
The shadow of light – a little feather from an angel? Ever since Mother hung a picture above the nursery door showing a Guardian Angel, you asked yourself what did he look like and whether he would really protect you when you walked that narrow plank above the abyss… Could it be you never saw him in the dark moments of your life, because his feathers are black? You used to sense only his breath. Light snow from the cherry orchards. And though you were falling as if into a chimney, you knew it wouldn’t end so black. He held you by your collar and dragged you out from there. There, where you staggered, where you stuttered, he would push you ahead, putting words in your mouth, although it might not have been the will of God. Again and again you looked over a poem’s shoulder. The shadow of light… occasionally flitted in the dark. A pair of eyes, like those of your mother when she hung over the nursery door her own portrait… Translated by Peter Petro Milan Richter is a Slovak poet, dramatist, and translator. He published 24 poetry books in Slovak and in translation into several languages, as well as 4 theatre plays.
Annabel Villar Black & blue Blue, blue, blue… blue silk, blue satin, blue velvet, tiny white milk drops, red tiles, green branches, golden sands, gray pebbles, black seagulls, multicolored and disgusting jellyfish. Black, black, black… an open spirit at the jail of the beach.
Doze At the fuzzy hours of matins, at five o´clock every day, I awake with my Heart in a fist. While I tighten hard the eyes I beg that doze does not come Fear pervades the shadows and vice versa they share the darkness. So then, I implore pray the sleep -as an uterus and an accomplice to return and rescue and show me the essence that denies the vigil. Annabel Villar (Montevideo, Uruguay) Director of Liceo Poético de Benidorm, International Poetry Festival “Benidorm & Costa Blanca” and “Azul” Poetry Collection. Author of “Viaje al Sur del Sur” (2015), Meditation (2017) and Claustrophobia & Vértigo (2018)
Kamal Chowdhury Fairy tales In the trees of the dead I’ve hung a white dove You can call for Peace now! Because I’ll tie on the body of fallen leaves a mystic om Magic realism beckons this day. Lonelier than this land are manuscripts of innocence. Cleansed, they ascend on clouds riding on unfamiliar rugs There dreams of the dead hang on boughs where doves perch My peace that dangles so, oh peace that I crave, Fairy tales I write as I traverse tumultuous realms! Translated by: Fakrul Alam
The invisible city A three-day walk to the east will get you to the city- domes, columns and copper sculptures all around. A golden rooster crows in a mysterious way in the mornings. Many years after Marco Polo, Italo Calvino narrates a fairytale-like description of this city in the court of Kublai Khan. The cunning and skeptical king does not believe in one word. But the courtiers- even the poet laureate sitting in one corner- consider undertaking a voyage to the East. Within a few evenings, the sights of the town change, especially those belonging to the rainy season. The sun sets fast. The diners are lit with red, blue and green lights. Once the mysterious veil between the visible and the invisible is removed, a lament in a female voice is heard. Crying is the real beauty of this city. Translated by Shaikha Shuhada Panzeree
War child War-child looking for mother. Mother remains a face in the mist Cannot erase that accursed birth-mark, so many children in the world come in search of mothers. After each war, the sun rises as usual and rain falls, too. The bloodstains eventually dry. But countless truths remain hidden, they must. Some of those who survive the maternity ward even after two or three decades return with countless questions want to wipe away mothersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; shame. Mother is perhaps a disconsolate star in the distant sky. Or somewhere else a face hidden behind leaves. The war-mother is still fleeing that fear, that hatred, that violence. In the face of a childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s questions, the fleeing feet bleed invisibly. Only identity is stripped. Even after two or three decades, waves are crashing against the Bay of Bengal. There are many mothers on that coast, many children. But war-children are the offspring of none. Translated by: Pushpita Alam
Before hunting for birds Before hunting for birds, don't forget I also need wings. At your gun-powder scent, the warmth slides from feathers. On strange days, searching for leaves lost by the trees, I too lament. On these fractured days, our village draws its shutters and sits. From time to time, across the silent market, like an inconsolable child, dust flies.
Still, the husbands, sniffing for moonshine raise a great ruckus and send the women to bring wood from the forest. Fallen leaves return with the lyrics of dead birds. They return with the eyes of scared Robins. Each time I read the language of those eyes I scream. Every time, I feel the urge to throttle, oh hunter, your gun. Translated by Pushpita Alam Dr. Kamal Chowdhury is one of the most prominent poets of Bangladesh. Chowdhuryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s journey into poetry began in the mid-seventies and by 1981 he had published his first collection, Michhiler Shoman Boyoshi (As Old as the Procession). He awarded Bangla Academy literature Award in 2011. Presently he is the Chief Coordinator of the National Implementation Committee for the Celebration of Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Abhay K. Moon rising Moon rising over the horizon, a longing rising in my heart to see the moon and you through the night without blinking, to follow the moon and your body until it sets and you rise.
To the ocean i Ocean, I have returned to you to breathe with your breath to sing with your waves to merge my every cell with your every shell while your currents carry me to your depths and toss me back again my species story started here, who knows in which age, and I have returned to you for pilgrimage. ii I write poems on sand letter by letter, word by word, only sand knows my poems
iii Roaring sea waves back and forth hit your bare body, you float up and down with waves hungry eyes wait on the shore as you emerge from the sea like the Venus of Botticelli iv Golden gates of dawn open with sounds of the sea waves beating at the shore the ocean is restless as ever restrained by its shores as day by night and life by death v I ask—what's a beach? I can’t think of it for a long time, then, it all becomes clear— beach is any place where earth meets water, water meets air air meets sky, sky meets the Sun. Beach is life! vi I become sand and sand becomes me I become sea and sea becomes me I become sky and sky becomes me I become wind
and wind becomes me I become clouds and clouds become me I become sun and the sun becomes me lying on the beach.
The rickshaw puller Storm or sun I pedal sweat, blood abuse, scorn I pedal day or night summer, winter or rains I pedal my shrieks my pleadings unheard my knees crumbling I pedal my family in shacks on the footpath my children picking rags of hope my ailing wife scrambling for water I pedal I pedal in dreams I pedal through miseries I pedal I pedal. Abhay K. is author of nine poetry collections and the editor of The Bloomsbury Book of Great Indian Love Poems. He received the SAARC Literary Award in 2013. www.abhayk.com
Fakrul Alam Rabindranath, Jibanananda and the anxiety of influence I If ever there was to be a case made for the kind of “anxiety of influence” Harold Bloom has perceived in English romanticism in Bengali poetry, surely it is to be made by examining the relationship that exists between Rabindranath Tagore’s verse and the poetic career of Jibanananda Das. Bloom makes the case in his The Anxiety of Influence for viewing poetic history as distinguished by “strong poets” who make “that history by misreading one another, so as to clear imaginative space for themselves” (Bloom, 5). He sees literary history as a site of struggle where the successor poet must perforce wrestle with his domineering precursor so that he can win the oedipal battle by disposing of the only begetter and thereby come into his own. It will be my endeavor in my paper to read an important episode in twentieth century Bengali poetic history as marked by just such a struggle between the two strongest Bengali poets where Jibanananda decides very early in his poetic career that the only way he could become a master poet was to break free of his ancestor, wary of the “anxiety of indebtedness” to the greatest poet Bengal had ever known, whose influence he knew he could not or would entirely overcome, but with whom he would have to grapple to break free. What I will do subsequently then is show the dialectical relationship of the two greatest poets of Bengal and look at the writings of Jibanananda in the context of his developing awareness of his own powers, and his need to get away from the anxiety of influence that began to obsess him as soon as
he attempted to be his own poet by getting rid of his poetic father’s powerful grip on him. II But before turning to Jibanananda, I would like take a look at Buddhadev Bose’s characteristically brilliant essay on Rabindranath’s influence on subsequent poets, “Rabindranath and Uttarshadhak” which I prefer to translate as “Rabindranath and His Successor Poets”. Buddhadev observes that by the time Rabindranath was in mid-career as a poet he had begun to blaze so strongly that a whole generation of poets was scorched by him. In fact, he says wittily that the sun-poet’s influence was a huge problem, because as he puts it in Bengali, it was “upodraber moto”, that is to say, tyrannical and the cause of attenuation of all later poets who failed to exit from his orbit. Buddhadev implies that Rabindranath was too immense and too powerful for lesser talents who just didn’t have the wherewithal to withstand his radiation. As a result, the Bengali poetry of the period—that is to say, almost till the second decade of the twentieth century— was weak and undistinguished. It was all too easy to praise the sun-poet and his work but enormously difficult to survive him and come up with anything original, let alone brilliant, because of his overwhelming presence. It was inevitable for these minor poets to imitate him but it was also impossible for them to do so! Only Satyendranath Dutta, Buddhadev points out, could manage to stand out amongst the crowd of minor poets but he did so not in an exemplary fashion. Imitation was death for the rest but how would they know this? Bengali literature was immensely lucky to have got a poet as great as Rabindranath, but the price later poets paid for his cosmic qualities was too high for them. Even Satyendranath did not realize how difficult the task of poets had become because of Rabindranath’s brilliance; Satyendranath’s attempt to be different through stylistic excess only made him seem outlandish. What was worse, Buddhadev declares, was that Satyendranath continued to use the accoutrements of Rabindranath’s poetry—the seasons of Bengal, rural scenes, flora and fauna, the cloud and the sky, the sun and moon and patriotism. But while Rabindranath gave life to these elements because of his great originality and because his feelings for them were so profound, Satyendranath’s treatment of them was artificial and skin-deep. 139
The first poet to have successfully evaded the rays that scorched these minor and eminently forgettable poets, as far as Buddhadev is concerned, is Kazi Nazrul Islam, the premier and wholly original poet to have succeeded the sun-poet. Buddhadev says that he is aware that Nazrul’s unique upbringing as a Muslim and as someone who grew up in a place that was quite remote from Kolkata could explain why he alone escaped being burnt up by the blaze Rabindranath so unwittingly emitted on successors who stayed within his immediate orbit. Moreover, there was a tempestuous element in Nazrul and the diction and versifying that he brought from Arabic and Persian gave a distinctive flavor to his verse. That Nazrul had his faults, Buddhadev is willing to acknowledge, but he finds him exemplary for more than standing up on his own, breaking new ground for Bengali poetry, and carving his distinctive space. He was a comet that blazed a trail all his own despite the sun-poet’s mid-sky brilliance. Nazrul unknowingly paved the way for genuine successor poets to escape from the radiation emitted by Rabindranath because he showed that there was stellar space outside Rabindranath’s orbit for other comets to shine, or if we can vary the image, to evade the shade cast by this huge baat tree that inhibited the growth of all but minor plants in its vicinity. The Kallol poets emerged in Nazrul’s wake, emboldened by his example to resist and break free of the overarching ancestor poet. But that does not mean that this new generation of poets—or if we want to use Bloom’s word for them—“ephebe” poets—did not treasure Rabindranath. Quite coyly, Buddhadev talks about a young poet he knew— no doubt himself— who recited the archetypal poet’s Purabi poems as if intoxicated by them at night only to write about his verse critically the next day! But to express themselves in their own unique ways he and his friends knew that they had to stay as far away from Rabindranath as they could. And that is why the Kallol poets were determined to be post-Rabindranath poets. That is why also at the end of the second decade of the twentieth century, Buddhadev suggests, new poets emerged, having achieved individuation by revisioning the subject matter as well as style of poetry. He singles out Sudhindranath, Jibanananda and Amiya as poets who had cast off Rabindranath’s influence decisively—each
in their own way—determined not to live off the giant ancestor and to get off his shoulders. Jibanananda he felt had essentially “side-stepped” Rabindranath, while others he believed had internalized him, or if we use Bloom’s word and Oedipal cast of theorizing here, “repressed” him, so that they could write differently from the father poet. Consciously or unconsciously, they tried to avoid sounding like their great ancestor and found help in their efforts by turning to the modernist poets of the west. They wrote from the confidence that Rabindranath was in their genes and the awareness that while they owed a large debt to him, mimicry was what had deadened Satyendranath and his generation. They knew full well too that they would have to swerve away for their precursor, opting for discontinuity by embracing a strategy of difference. III Like Buddhadev, Jibanananda was only too aware of the dangers all ephebe poets of his generation had been in because of the immensely strong precursor poet who preceded them; he too knew that they had to clear imaginative space for themselves by wrestling with Rabindranath, by appropriating him for their own purposes, and then by going clearly beyond him. Jibanananda too was aware that to be original was to be unlike Rabindranath; constant revision and daring would be the price for poetic liberty for him and others who wanted to clear out space for themselves and ascend to the galaxy of poets that would orbit the Bengali poetic universe forever in the sun-poet’s wake. Jibanananda, like Buddhadev, has left behind a number of prose essays on Rabindranath that not only make us aware of his immense respect and admiration for the gigantic precursor poet but also his consciousness of the necessity of not being consumed by the fiery path he seemed to be perpetually blazing even in his old age when their generation of poets was struggling to come into their own. The first of the Jibanananda essays that I am going to focus on here, “Rabindranath O Adhunik Bangla Kobita” (“Rabindranath and Modern Bengali Poetry”) seems to have been written soon after the sun-poet had passed away in 1941. It begins by acknowledging the large debt he had left behind for all his successor poets and stresses the difficulty of evading such an overarching influence. But Jibanananda believes that mere evasion 141
is not really the way out for the ephebe poet; better even to conform than veer off thoughtlessly as did Debendranath Sen whose attempt to be different from Rabindranath by imitating Bengali poets of the past made him only a curiosity and not worth emulating. It was only when the ephebe poet first appropriated Rabindranath and then immersed himself in his own age that he could hope to create a form and diction that would sustain him in his bid for originality and justify the necessity of being different from the ancestor poet. Satyendranath, according to Jibanananda, also failed to come out of Rabindranath’s shadow and shine on his own because he felt that formal excess alone would draw attention to him and not depth of thought; the outcome of his excessive experimentation with verse was only tinsel poetry and tinny sounds! Jibanananda declares in his essay that only the poets of the Kallol generation had succeeded in evading the radiation that had consumed all those who had not made the effort to move away from the sun-poet’s orbit or who had aimed to be different by merely resorting to extrinsic and facile experimentations. The Kollol poets succeeded precisely a) because they had sensitized their consciousness to the unique problems of their generation that Rabindranath did not have to confront, although to his immense credit he reflected his awareness of them in a few volumes of his later poetry; b) because they had struggled consciously or unconsciously with Rabindranath’s thought and language knowing that their age demanded a different poetics; and c) because they had cast their gaze away from Rabindranath and his kind of romanticism or religious worldview by looking beyond and above him. For them Rabindranath’s “Jibondebata” was no solution for the enigmas the universe posed to modern man who had no such inner assurance of an ordered universe. The modern Bengali poet thus took recourse to the wasteland poetics of Yeats, Eliot and Pound and the manner and method of the French symbolists, partly since they had found them spiritually akin but partly because the novelty of their poetics fascinated the new generation of Bengali poets. No longer happy with the techniques or verse forms of Rabindranath’s poetry, they would make a show of deference to Rabindranath but would stand poetically in line with Mallarme or Verlaine or Yeats and Eliot. 142
Rhetorically, Jibanananda asks, who had captured the waste land worldview of their generation better than Eliot? But it was not Rabindranath’s fault that the patrimony he had amassed in fifty years of writing had been so squandered by blind imitators who failed to see how acute a critic he had been for over fifty years of his own contemporary world; why hadn’t they learned to critique himself and others and invent themselves over and over again from him? Why hadn’t they understood from his work that constant critique always leads to stylistic innovation? Surely, the inferior poets had only imitated Rabindranath blindly and had not learned from him the dictum that one was original only when one was immersed in the existential problems of one’s age! In contrast, the Bengali moderns had enshrined Rabindranath as a classic of their literature but had taken Eliot and the other western moderns as models for dealing with the problems of a decrepit and fragmenting India in order to forge the kind of new poetics that their age demanded. Even Rabindranath, Jibanananda notes, was striving to take cognizance of this disturbed world and transforming his poetics accordingly. However, the Bengali successor poets would have to go decisively beyond Rabindranath and transform their poetics, although for them he would always remain the fixed foot of the compass from which they would depart, knowing that his fixity allowed them the freedom to roam. Four years after he wrote “Rabindranath and Modern Bengali Poetry”, Jibanananda came back to the topic of the sun-poet’s influence on his poetic sons in the 1946 essay “Uttar Roubick Bangla Kabya” which let me translate as “Bengali Poetry after Rabindranath”. Jibanananda begins this essay by lamenting that recent Bengali poets had been opting for what he terms—using the English word for his purpose—“cleverness”; the kind of cleverness so amply on display in the verse of e. e. cummings. But Jibanananda implies that there is no scope for mere cleverness in poetry. This was a negative development and cummings thus a poor role model; in contrast, in their revolt the young poets of the thirties had attempted to free themselves consciously or unconsciously from the poetics of Rabindranath and from his take on time and eternity through embracing much more meaningful western models and without abandoning Rabindranath fully. Their
movement away from Rabindranath was not a repudiation of his greatness or mere gimmickry but an essential act of self-preservation that did not diminish him in any way. His successor poets would never have among them another sun-poet like Rabindranath emerge but would shine in their own way and would make their age one of many poets and not a sun-centered one. No other poets would overwhelm all else like Rabindranath did any more or have his lasting presence because no one else had his immense capacity for growth as well as his innate brilliance. Three years after he had written “Uttar Roubick Bangla Kabya” Jibanananda published an English essay called “Bengali Poetry Today” where he picked up many of the points he had made in his Bengali essays on the post-Rabindranath poetic world of Bengal and Rabindranath’s ever-strengthening place in Bengali literature. He notes in this essay the distinct growth of the Bengali moderns and reiterates his belief that none of them would attain Rabindranath’s stature. However, he is sure that they had to veer away from Rabindranath and that change was healthy and inevitable for survival and individuation. He decries poets of the previous generation who had been content to be “spoon-fed on Tagore’s message and philosophy” (Jibanananda Rochnabali, vol. 3, 655). He notes that Satyendranath strove to be different but that mere technical ingenuity was not enough and that “the large measure of triviality of the content of his verses made even his technique suspect in the eyes of discerning readers” (ibid). No doubt including himself in the first person plural he confesses that “And we bit later realized that Dutta’s form more resonant than subtle, more clever really critical or important, required far more chastening before it could become the right medium for deep and suggestive poetry” (ibid). In this essay on the state of contemporary Bengali poetry, as in all his other writings on Rabindranath, Jibanananda shows that he believed that the bounty that Rabindranath had left behind was so immense that it was a great and unending resource for all his successor poets, as true classical poets always are. But confidently and unequivocally he declares that while it was proper to be grateful “that is no reason why the age of Tagore should not come to an end at a certain turning of the way where far-reaching social
and poetic changes demand of the age a perspicuous confession of what it believes or not, a new literature, and what is not less important, a new attitude to its literature” (Jibananda Rochnabali, III, 656). Ending his essay positively, he finds that he and his distinguished contemporaries had set modern Bengali poetry on “a very unique age of exploration, trial and achievement” (ibid), and implies tentatively that their total effort would in the future be deemed equal to that of Rabindranath’s in the preceding one. Jibanananda Das’s critical essays on Rabindranath thus reveal him to be duly respectful of him and his legacy but also confident that the successor poets would have to strike out on their own, swerving away from the sun-poet’s orbit, and searching for alternative traditions to ensure a lasting place for themselves in the Bengali poetic firmament. Not as outspoken as Buddhadev, he is nonetheless sure that blind imitation of Rabindranath was death. But he knew too that to ignore him was equally dangerous for the would-be Bengali poet; the way forward for his generation of poets was through him but not with him. Sounding almost Eliotesque in the last paragraph of his English essay, he declares oracularly that “the mature artist... arrives at his own philosophy and builds his own world, which is never a negation of the actual one, but it is the same living world organized more truly and proportionately by the special reading of the special world” (ibid, 657). This may sound stately and not rebellious and does not disclose the kind of preparation for the agon or conflict that the ephebe poet had to go through to deal with the precursor’s poetics, but Jibanananda is certainly much more radical in his poetry than in his criticism vis a vis Rabindranath. It is to his revisonary poetry therefore that we must now turn. IV For sure there is no anxiety of influence in Jibanananda’s first and— it must be stressed—uncollected poem, which was published in a periodical when he was barely out of his teens. Titled “Borso Abohon” or “Welcoming the New Year”, this poem shows in its diction and accent as well as its subject matter the clear influence of Rabindranath. Unquestionably, juvenilia, there is no anxiety of influence here and only mimicry of the lyricism of the precursor poet in lines such as “Esho esho ogo nobin/ Chole
geche molin/ Ajke tumeo Mritubehin/Mukto Shemarekha” Jibananda Rochnabali I, 139), which I translate simply as “Come come o new/The worn out or faded has gone/ This day you are free of death/Limitless as the horizon.” No doubt one can hear Rabindranath still influencing Jibanananda benignly and from time to time even in Jhara Palak (“Fallen Feathers”), the first volume of poetry that Jibanananda published a few years later after the New Year poem in 1927, and that still has the accents of juvenilia. He would later say to someone who was intending to write the history of modern Bengali poetry in 1945 that he no longer thought that “the volume is of any significance” (Quoted by Seely, 48). He would therefore only publish three of the thirty-five poems of the volume in his 1954 selections from his best verse, Jibanananda Daser Shreshto Kabita. However, when considered in the light of Jibanananda’s subsequent evolution as a poet, these three poems, “Neelima” or “Blue Skies”, “Pyramid, “Shedin E Dharanir” or “Back Then This Earth”, are revealing choices for they show his preoccupation with universal history and a cosmic vision that took him away from the landscapes of Bengal and the present that are subject matters of the rest of the poems of Jhara Palak and that Rabindranath had made central to his poetry. But what is more interesting in the volume to someone trying to locate it in the context of Jibanananda’s oedipal poetic struggle with Rabindranath is his obvious desire to sound a lot more like either Satyenranath Dutta or Kazi Nazrul Islam or Mohitlal Mazumder than Rabindranath in the poems it collects. It is almost as if he is trying to swerve away from Rabindranath’s influence in the 35 poems of the volume by embracing these other poets and adopting their experiments with rhyme, rhythm or diction rather than seeking poetic succor from the true begetter. Indeed, so prominent is the influence of these poets on Jibanananda at this stage of his career that the soon-to-be legendary literary magazine Kollol where he was already being published noted in a brief and on the whole appreciative review that the volume’s only fault was that “it is obvious that he was unable to avoid being influenced by Nazrul and Mohitlal” even though “it seems that he has been able to incorporate these influences into his own personal style” (Seely, 50).There is a kind of anxiety of influence at work in these poems
then; Jibanananda is seeking out surrogate father poets, as it were, as he is leaving the gates of his poetic father’s house. It is almost as if Jibanananda is learning to be a strong poet by being aware of what Bloom italicizes in his book as “other selves”(27). As Anbuz Basu has demonstrated in his excellent and comprehensive introduction to Jibanananda Das’s work, Ekti Nokhotro Ashe or “A Star Appears” Satyendranath’s rhythms and sounds and even themes and Nazrul’s diction drown out the accents of Rabindranath’s versification that are also faintly present in the poems of this volume (Basu, 182-85). Nevertheless, by the time he published his first major collection, Dhushor Pandulipi (“Gray Manuscripts”), Jibanananda seemed to have wrestled free of all poetic ancestors, giant or not. That is why he could proclaim at the beginning of his song of himself as well as his poetic declaration of independence, “Kayekti Line” (“A Few Lines”): “What no one has ever known—the message I convey;/The tunes once heard—are spent—being old;/And there is need for what’s new;/That’s why I’ve come—and there’s no one like me!/I’m the crest on the wave of creativity” (Alam, 78). That is why he can declare with such confidence a little later in the same poem, “Listen to me treading; /Only my sound is new—all else is lost—or in ruins” (ibid). At the heart of Bloom’s theory of the anxiety of the influence is the idea that when two “strong, authentic poets” occupy the poetic scene, one of them proceeds to misread “the prior poet in “an act of creative correction that is actually and necessarily a misinterpretation” (Bloom, 30). For sure, it is possible to see Jibanananda for the first time systematically revisioning the Bengal rural landscape, its flora and fauna, and its seasons in the poems of Dhushor Pandulipi. Take the poem, “Mrityur Aage” or “Before Death” of this volume, for example. We have it on record that Rabindranath had liked this poem very much indeed for he singled it out for praise when Buddhadev sent him a copy of the literary periodical that he edited, Kavita, saying, “Jibanananda Das’s poems, full of pictorial beauty, delighted me” (Seely, 113). Later, when Jibanananda had sent him the published book containing the poem, Rabindranath amplified his praise of the young poet in the characteristically generous tone he took with younger poets thus:
“Your compositions have the essence of poetry” (“rasha”), distinctiveness (“shokieta”) and “the delight of one beholding the world” (“takiea dekhar ananda”)” (in Syed, 403). I wonder though if Rabindranath paused for a while to wonder what a poem like “Before Death” and other poems of the collection such as “Vultures” or “Camping” was doing to the Bengali countryside that he had stamped with his own unmistakably poetic persona in his poems and songs. The ephebe poet’s landscapes were quit unlike his in being full of the smell of death and in focusing on fallow fields, fog-filled and barren landscapes, and ever-spreading darkness Moreover, Jibananda seemed to set almost all of his poems in the Bengali wintry seasons of hemanto and sheet; the denuded, chilly landscapes he broods on overwhelm all other images and take the poetry away from the landscapes and seasons that Rabindranath himself loved to delineate, for he touched them habitually with fruitfulness, or gave to them festive lilts, or saw in them the impress of the deity, or humanized them with his warmth. Seen in the context of Bloom’s theory of the anxiety of influence, it is possible for us to conclude that the younger poet has initiated a movement of discontinuity from the precursor by first appropriating and then denuding the landscape of the sublime that the precursor poet so valued. But what Jibanananda was beginning to do with some of the poems of the Dhushor Pandulipi volume was not only removing them of Rabindranath’s sublime but also initiating “ a movement towards a personal and counter-sublime” at his expense. (Bloom, 15) Also clear are the strong influences of Yeats’s poem, “The Falling of Leaves” as well as Keats’s ode to autumn; clearly, Jibanananda is resorting to western poetry and seeking out poets of that tradition to be influenced by even in his treatment of the Bengal countryside. I am reminded in this context of Eliot’s brilliant and ever thought-provoking essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” where he advocates for the writer the cultivation of the “historical sense” and recommends great labor as the only way of claiming one’s place in a tradition. As Eliot puts it so well; this sense must be acquired by anyone who want to excel in writing beyond his twenty-fifth year and will only come to those “who writes not merely with his own generation in his bones” but with
feeling that he must have in him “the whole of the literature of Europe” and “the whole of the literature of his own country” (Texts on English Literary Criticism, 462). Surely, to be his own poet and in his continual quest to seek alternative ancestors to escape the overwhelming one, Jibanananda is now appropriating the western tradition in order to forge a distinct poetics and a counter-sublime for his poetry. I have often wondered why Jibanananda concentrated so on the Bengali wintry seasons and why he penned so few poems on our rainy season or on spring in Bengal. Ponder, if you will, on these facts: a quick glance at the content page of Rabindranath’s Geetobitan indicate that he wrote around 114 songs on Borsha or the monsoons and 95 poems on Boshonto or spring but only 5 poems on Hemonto and 11 poems on sheeth. Consider then the bulk of Jibanananda’s poetry for when you come away from them you are left with the clear impression that the only seasons of Bengal that he felt obsessively drawn to were the wintry ones of Hemonto and Sheeth. Shouldn’t such an exercise at comparison lead us to conclude that Jibanananda was deliberately skirting the seasons Rabindranath had stamped as his own and embracing the ones that he had treated only sparingly in his poetry? Not only was Jibanananda evading the liveliness of spring or the magnificently moody Bengali rainy season which more often than not Rabindranath saw as bearing the impress of the deity, he was also making his own the exhausted and barren winter landscapes of Bengal as his metaphor for modern man in a landscape bereft of the deity and waiting for the end. Even when atypically Jibanananda writes a poem about the rainy season of Bengal as in “Sravan Raat” or in my translation “Sravan’s Monsoon Night” it becomes remarkable not only for its haunting beauty and sonic brilliance but because of its depiction of a silent, brooding sky, of life edging into “the earth’s stony skeletal darkness”, of a Bay of Bengal whose “passion has been all spent”, and of a poet who at the end enters through his mind’s eye “into darkness” (Alam, 82). Reading such a poem with Rabindranath’s songs of spring and the monsoons in mind, one can’t help wondering: where are the songs of spring? Where are the tempestuous qualities of the monsoons? Where has the God who left his marks on all of Rabindranath’s poems on the seasons abdicated in Jibanananda’s poems?1
Around the time or just before Jibanananda published the Dhushor Pandulipi poems, he had completed the manuscript of his brilliant Ruposhi Bangla sonnet cycle. Thinking of them now, I am reminded of Buddhadev’s comments on the way Satyendranath had mindlessly replicated the accoutrements of Rabindranath’s poetry— Bengal’s seasons, country scenes, the province’s flora and fauna, its skies and the love and reverence with which he gazed at his country. But unlike Satyendranath, Jibanananda revisions the Bengali landscape Rabindranath had stamped as his own, and he does so with no less love and vision than his precursor in his wonderful sonnets. What is more, he gives to the landscape something that his precursor did not do by taking it “to a range of being beyond that precursor” (Bloom, 15); that is to say by placing in that landscape presences from Bengali myths and legends. Indeed, he now ventures to see his Bengal in the context of the cycles of history. Decay and death, fogs and the chill of wintry landscapes, and all-pervading sadness suffuse the countryside; mythical men and women like Sankhamala, Chandramala, Manikmala, and Chandsagar, Behula and Loehana drift across it or are readied for funeral pyres where they were immolated. Anguished smells and exhausted silences pervade his landscapes; melancholy now seemed to have taken over “Bengal’s rivers, fields, flowers” (Alam, 49). Looking at such scenes the insomniac poet can only feel haunted by the evanescence of beauty and a denuded world from which the Spirit has abdicated totally. Or if we want to put the whole in Bloominan terms, the Ruposhi Bangla sonnets reveal the work of the successor poet who has emptied the universe of his precursor’s sublime and impressed it in his poems with a countersublime buttressed by myths and legends and cosmic casings. In the next revisionary move of the Bloomian successor poet that I have been casting Jibanananda as, he will walk the world alone, no longer carrying with him the precursor’s legacy, even if only to revision them. In this stage of his poetry, Jibanananda either develops images and themes that we already saw him working with in the Ruposhi Bangla poems by placing his characters in “ash-grey” worlds such as Vimbishar and the distant darkness of vanished cities such as Vidarba or Babylon (Alam, 62), or the darkness of
the stars. Or he will walk the streets of Kolkata lapsing in time as he wanders till he feels “In Babylon streets too alone at night thus had I walked/I know not why though thousands of feverish years have passed” (Alam, 78). No doubt encouraged by Rabindranath’s comments on his Dhushor Pandulipi poems, Jibanananda must have sent a few more of his newer poems to kabiguru after he had received his appreciative letter. What Rabindranath thought of the new poems that he had sent we have no record but the copy of the letter that Jibanananda wrote after he had received from him a response to his poems makes it clear that Rabindranath disapproved strongly of the turn the poet had taken. But the Jibanananda who wrote the letter to him explaining his style accounts for his revisioning of his poetics confidently and strongly, arguing that the tension and anxiety in his poetry that Rabindranath apparently disapproved of, did not make his poems any less poetic. Jibanananda stresses that serenity, on the other hand, was not essential for poetry and Dante’s Divine Comedy and Shelley’s poems were none the worse without it. He stresses with great conviction that some of Beethoven’s symphonies and sonatas are stirred by a spirit akin to restlessness and disquiet and that was their strength. It is clear from the tone of the letter that Jibanananda feels confident now that he can survive as his own poet, whether Rabindranath approved of the theme or style of his poems or not. What had happened of course was that the poems that Jibanananda began to write in increasing numbers after the Dhushor Pandulipi book, some of which Rabindranath perhaps saw either in the Banalata Sen, volume and/or little magazines and which were later collected in The Mahabrithibi or “The Great World” volume are full of turbulence and disquietude; they are wasteland poems, more often than not transcending the personal and cased with the tones of apocalypse. The models of these poems are primarily from Yeats and Eliot but some of them also seem to be inflected by images influenced by surrealism. From Yeats Jibanananda has learned to read what was happening in Kolkata in terms of a cycle of history coming to a catastrophic end and from Eliot he seems to have taken urban desolation, pervasive squalor and decadence as themes. The persona too seems to be taken from western models;
the lonely man in deserted midnight streets; grotesque characters; morgue scenes; corpses floating “forever in blue red silvery silence; nightmarish visions; “a dreadful dynamo of the world”. Jibanananda has moved as far away from Rabindranath’s universe as anyone possibly could in less than two decades since he wrote the poem welcoming the New Year in the early nineteen-twenties! In what Bloom calls his “revisionary ratios” the final stage in the relationship between the precursor poet and the successor is where as he puts it “the wheel” (Bloom, 16) has turned full circle until there comes a time when the precursor seems to be writing in the successor’s vein. Or as Bloom puts it, one has the “uncanny feeling” in tracing the relationship between two strong poets which was initiated by the “anxiety of influence” of the younger poet, there ultimately comes a time when the work of the precursor poet appears to be in the later poet’s vein. Did this happen in the relationship between the two poets? Not really, because as Rabindranath indicated famously in “The Crisis of Civilization” he would never commit “the grievous sin of losing faith in man” (Alam and Chakravarti, 215), and so he would never subscribe fully to the waste land poetics of his successors, but it is interesting to note that in at least a few of his later poems such as “Africa” he is on the brink of the kind of poetry that we see in the “Mahaprithibi” stage of Jibanananda’s career. Also, when I read a poem like “Chiradin Sohore Thaki” by Jibanananda which I have translated as “I Stay in the City All the time” about a city clerk’s life of drudgery and frustrated dreams, I can’t help thinking of Rabindranath’s “Banshi” (which Kaiser Haq has translated for the Essential Tagore as “Wind Instrument”) and its city clerk’s thwarted romanticism and despairing life. Perhaps here was a case when the ephebe poet had managed to seize a theme that the precursor than took over and made his own! V For Jibanananda Rabindranath was the poet he had to go beyond despite his great love for him. As we have seen, he had to vacate the Bengali landscape of the sublime Rabindranath had impressed it with and establish his own counter sublime in that landscape in his poetry. But in the oedipal drama of the two greatest poets of Bengali poetry as in almost all father-son relationships, the last
word is the inconsolable state of the son at the news of the death of the father. That is why after the death of Rabindranath, Jibanananda wrote one of his most apocalyptic poems on the passing away of his great precursor and it is with that poem that I would like to end my presentation. Here it is in my translation: The world’s bustle is ended The last sleep is overtaking the constellations In a while their lights will go out The whole universe will hush in the dark. Love’s eternal fervor will fade In the quiet of that numbing darkness God’s handiwork will be done. The last sleep is coming to the constellations. That last sleep (Alam, 137). ___________________________________________________ I am reminded here also of the famous monsoon poet by Rabindranath’s long time associate and another great modernist poet, Amiya Chakravarti, “Brishti” or “The Rain” which begins with that startling declaration, “Kedyo Pabe Na Take Borshar Ajoshro Jaldhre” or “You will never find him in the monsoon’s unceasing water fall”.
Works Cited Bloom, Harold. The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. London: Oxford UP, 1973. Bosu, Anbuz. Ekti Nokhrotoa Ashe. Kolkata, Pustok Biponi. 3rd Revised and Expanded Edition, 1999. Bosu, Buddhadev. Sahityacharcha. Kolkata, 1996. Jibananananda Das Rachnabali. 6 vols. Dhaka, Oitijhya Publishers, 2006. Eliot, T. S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent”. In Texts on English Literary Criticism, Dhaka: Friends’ Annotated Classics, 2012. Syed, Abdul Mannan. Shuddhatama Kobi. Dhaka: Pathak Shamabesh edition, 2011.
Dr. Fakrul Alam is UGC Professor, Department of English, University of Dhaka and Director, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Research Institute for Peace and Liberty, University of Dhaka.
Agneta Falk Dancing on a wing of a breath The wind brought me here into a hidden corner on a rocky beach something about the light the sky and sea melting into one, into me the pounding waves feeling like I look inside and there she is, my mother and all the mothers before her dancing on a wing of breath becoming my breath and nothing can stop me now from releasing a torrent of tears for all those who’ve passed and those wandering over the earth in search of a new home where bombs don’t fall.
Otherness It’s not because I don’t love you that I can’t see your face, it’s just that I can’t face your face without eliminating mine. When you look at me, I turn away so I don’t quite notice your eyes. If only I could look at you without you looking back at me,
I could begin to see you, discover the curve of your lips resembling mine, that on the slope of your cheek runs a river as deep and dark as one I grew up near, as shallow and dry. And maybe, if you dared look back at me and see your tears filling my eyes, we could replace fear with love. Agneta Falk was born in Stockholm, Sweden is a poet, visual artist, translator and editor. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s has five volumes of poetry, as well as the co-editor of several anthologies, and is represented in many anthologies world wide. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade. She exhibits her paintings in the USA as well as in Europe. In 2018 she was the recipient of an International Poetry Award in Italy, the Regina Coppola Award.
Eldar Akhadov Tree Artillery shots. Foxtrot sounds. Villages and ancient manuscripts burn. And only the tree outside the window keeps waiting. Whenever you glance at it The mind darkens. Ice crumbles. A fiery moon ascends. And only the tree outside the window keeps waiting. Whenever you glance at it You wander around for days on end. Walls before you. Walls behind you. Nothing is any use. And only the tree outside the window keeps waiting. Whenever you glance at it Echoes turn into a watery abyss. Time collapses and vanishes. And only the tree outside the window keeps waiting. Whenever you glance at it You turn into snow falling. Into a whisper in darkness. But the tree outside the window keeps waiting for you For this tree is just like you. Translated by Richard Berengarten
Except you â&#x20AC;Ś I tore all your photos. But it did not help. I remembered you. I went very far and never came back. But it did not help I remembered you.
I met with others and was loved. But it did not help. I remembered you. I got drunk - like dead, like a shoemaker, like a tramp, like the last creature. But it did not help. I remembered you. I got married, had children, became home-grown. But it did not help. I remembered you. I'm getting old. Everything is eroding from memory. Everything. Except you. Translated by Brian Henry Tomlinson Eldar Akhadov Was born in Baku in 1960. He lives in Krasnoyarsk. A member of the Union of Writers of Russia and other writers 'organizations of Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan, a member of the Russian Geographical Society, Co-Chairman of the Literary Council of the Assembly of Peoples of Eurasia, a member of the PEN International Writing Club.
Sampath Kumar 26 March 1971 the smell of burning flesh filled the air rotting corpses sprawled allover the gluttonous scavenging vultures flew above as the wail of the raped and tortured resonated there were no men nor youths visible most butchered by the army the razakars padma and meghna once abound with fish carried the floating dead in thousands two weeks of decisive war changed all its history forever tearing the ball and chains an independent nation was born people unshackling from the misery and pains the sea of humanity returned by hordes in renewed hopes and renewed vigour the challenges met by one and all standing together shoulder to shoulder the fertile greens and the bloody war fly in the form of the fluttering flags high and towering as proof of the victory from every pole for all to see
The unopened envelope heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s at the pub drinking shots after shots the distillate numbing his mood he thought he would visit her to demand from her the reason his ego prevented him how dare she
she did not find him fit to meet for one last time to bid a goodbye he heard she is getting married to a wealthy merchant’s son an errand boy knocks at his door to thrust an envelope from her no! he would not open and read put himself to more ignominy she is no different like most others he loathed he wobbles back to the village there’s crowd, their mood sombre someone whispers ‘she has died’ he feels at his pocket the envelope hurriedly tearing open to read ‘take me away with you forever i shall wait for you at the crossroad’ she had written and sent over the boy and waited vainly in the dark she could not ever marry anyone else than the man she loved he is now walking back to the pub to drink and forget his miserable self the letter burning his soul forever Sampath Kumar is an author, photographer and a bi-lingual poet (English and Tamil) and has his works published in Bengali, Hindi and Italian. His verse libre poems seldom have punctuations or uppercases.
Muhammad Samad Crow I find it difficult to make out the behavior of the crows of Ted Huges1, They are somehow post-modern. The crows of Bengal are eternal like my simple mother. All through they talk about our good and bad, Hold meetings for freeing the world from garbage, And in the light of policy-decisions, they fly and run in sun and rain; and at the correct moment they broadcast their forecasts of danger. So, I love the crows of Bengal. All morning-crows are my younger sisters. They awaken my daughters and seat them at reading-tables. They send my father to the eastern sky with a plough, and call my soft mother to bow in prayer. They shout out to the world and say â&#x20AC;Ś Sister, get up and keep well - our throats are about to burst crowing, right now they will bleed! Translated by Kajal Bondyopadhyay 1
Ted Huges was Poet Laureate of England.
Tree: one See time's nail is here pierced through my palm. Dig into my youth, and see how beautiful and blind is this furious burning, this life-giving love - this deep faith of the earth!
Unfold the layers of my body, and see how brightly shines the plough's blade there like the sixty-four arts of love-making of Vatsyayana2, and there the gandham3 fruit. The pleasant episodes of the golden earth are only the noble epic of ancient blood - a storm, everything that makes the poet with his firm faith on fire and his roots dug deep into stone. Translated by Kabir Chowdhury ________________________________________________________________________________ 2
Mallanaga Vatsyayana authored the Kamasutra, an ancient Indian text on love in Sanskrit literature.
According to Islam, it is the name of a fruit of Heaven for eating which Adam and Eve fell in disgrace.
Muhammad Samad was born in Bangladesh. He is the Pro-Vice Chancellor in the Dhaka University. President Bangladesh Poetry Council. Poems of Muhammad Samad have been translated into many language that include Chinese, Greek, English, Swedish, Sinhalese. He has received number of awards for his contribution to Bengali poetry and literature.
Raja Rajeswari Seetha Raman Portrait of a teacher A teacher blossoms in the blue night to calm waves in a purple heart. A teacher keeps eyes on greenhorns to move them away from hilly zones. A teacher fuels wisdom with a divine pen to grow the world with prosperous degrees. A teacher arrives on a stormy night to raise awareness in creative delight. A teacher breaks the shell of horizon to swim steadily in the blue ocean. A teacher burns the raging thirst for knowledge to conquer the throne of all powers. A teacher a rising sun that keeps the desire alive from the cradle to the grave!
Lamentation of the universe At daybreak i take a close look of the sun’s face it’s ember gets cooler. At day light i look out for the look of an ocean it’s calmness in turbulence.
At twilight i had a good look of the moon it’s chilliness embers. At midnight i caught sight of the sky’s appearance it’s sincerity is fading. The sky is long in dismal the sea is long in dismay the universe is long in somber! Dr. Raja Rajeswari Seetha Raman hails from Malaysia. A bilingual poet, certified translator, researcher, literary critic, essayist and freelance lecturer. Her poems have been translated into 35 world languages. Recipient of twelve literary awards and prizes at International, National and State level.
Isabel White Language and identity - people divided by a common language Those of you who know me will know that I am a mongrel from a mongrel nation. An island race that spent several centuries being invaded, who then invaded a quarter of the globe has absorbed a legacy of language and culture that is one of the richest in the world. All that was, for a time, in mortal danger. Because, like so many societies, we have a ruling class that for most of its existence has been pre-occupied with devising ever more fiendish ways of holding on to power, our language has been one of the weapons used against the rest of us proletarians to keep us in our place. From the moment that man first put stylus to clay, writing has been the most powerful weapon of division and oppression, as well as the greatest tool for emancipation and unanimity. So, when the Catholic Church arrived in Britain, it was not long before it acquired a monopoly on the written word. This meant that anyone who wanted to better themselves had to master Latin alongside their native tongue. During the 17th century, French began to usurp Latin as the pre-eminent language of diplomacy and international relations (the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;lingua francaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;). It remained so until it was marginalised by the combined influences of the British Empire and the rise of the United States as the dominant global power after the first World War, with English as the dominant language. 164
Even then, the rarefied language with all its idiosyncrasies that become modern English was used as a means of reinforcing social stratification. Just as the Académie Française had been established to protect the French language, scholars and statesmen seized the opportunity to do the same for English, from the pronouncements of the likes of Fowler and Partridge1 to the overweening diktats of the Mitfords and the English glitterati with their U and non U vocabulary; this was a way of putting linguistic space between the proles and their ‘betters’. What evolved by the mid-twentieth century into ‘Received Pronunciation’ was then championed by the BBC, and therefore given worldwide legitimacy. This did immense damage to the standing of the forty odd accents and dialects that already existed in the UK, bolstered by a rich variety of dialect and patois from myriad immigrants arriving on our shores over 150 years. For a while, our dialects were in danger of dying out completely, until rescued by a combination of factors – their championing by the folk dance and music revival begun in the Victorian era, and the social mobility and egalitarianism of the 1960s to the present day. The one cohort of society famously unaffected by the need to ‘talk posh’ is of course us poets. This wonderful variety of accent, dialect and patois, overlaid with the huge array of slang words from so many cultural minorities have given us a rich palette indeed, from which to draw the language we use to articulate what is essentially an emotionally resonant artform. To be seen as great work, poetry has to work on so many levels, and while the jury is out on what poetry is, it is much easier to argue for what it is not. There is also wider agreement that it should stand above and apart from its more prosaic counterpart. What relevance does this have to readers of this journal? I have been fortunate to have shared a platform for my work with practitioners from all over the globe, from myriad cultures and in myriad languages and in turn, have been heavily influenced by them. Many of them have gravitated to the UK, where there is a temptation for them to present their work in translation, and we can sometimes be all the poorer for it, for in reading their work in
a foreign tongue they lose a degree of the passion and scholarship that inhabited their work in its original language. In our London poetry group for example, we always ask our readers to read their work in their mother tongue, so we can hear the cadences, the music, rhymes, alliterations, onomatopoeia (if there be any), but essentially, the passion which drove them to create their work in the first place, and the animation in its delivery that brings it alive for us. Thus does poetry achieve its eloquence and its status as the greatest of all art forms. It falls to the poets to rescue lost dialects and languages, to champion and celebrate them, to mix them with modern speech and language so that they are not just received in aspic but evolve into new forms of vernacular speech. There may be those who denigrate the patois of the immigrant without understanding how it found its way into daily use, without listening to how wonderfully diverse it is, how eloquent in its simplicity and in its potential to enrich our own language. Hopefully, everyone reading this will recognise the creeping homogenisation of the language of their own cultures and will strenuously resist all attempts to do this, for we would all certainly be the poorer for it. Long live the common and the less common tongues of the world, which tell their tales with the greatest power. In writing for the poor, the oppressed and the disadvantaged, you will be writing for everyone and in so doing, boosting their self esteem and giving them hope. _______________________________________________________________________________________ 1
Fowlerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Modern English Usage; Partridge - Usage and Abusage
Isabel White is UK based prize winning, published poet, with a particular interest in linguistic diversity in her work. Performing across the UK, in Paris and Rotterdam, Isabel has worked with a host of performance poets, actors and musicians, many of them household names in the UK.
Amir Or The temptation This was the temptation: to rub the I against the you, our thought against its images. To feel. We were there before, you remember, without mother or father, without navel, marked only by the first cut. Free of weight, measurement, destruction we wandered inside each other, dreamt worlds, lived. But the stakes were too low, the risk – only a game. Desire was action, instantly complete. And that’s the way (remember?) we got here too: by a single desire, by a glance. And now we’re here, in the viscous air, rubbing this in, with effort – every single sensation, every meeting. Our suns rise and set, our worlds get old, but here: suddenly we find a new wrinkle in our soul, and this – is for real. It’s real. Finally we can lose, destroy, finally we are alive. For a moment we can even die.
By the temple By the temple / Assad's begging bread / Abdalla's begging money. Nearby / among the booths of / incense and charms / Mustafa's begging stars / and Issa's begging love / stretching out / their begging bowls / gaping. Mansur's begging truth / from every passer-by / Jallal begs freedom / Omar – life. And he? / He's begging nothing / yet no one gives him any. His begging bowl's filled / with glances and stares / thought-alms / word-alms / air, fire, earth, / kingdoms / elixirs / salvations. He turns his begging bowl upside down / and empties it. / Yet it's still quite full. "Dear Self," he writes on it / fills it with wine to the brim / and drinks up in one gulp; ah, it's not empty! He smashes his bowl / in one go / broken pieces / yet it seems to be now / even fuller; / multiplied. By the temple / Assad's begging flesh / Mustafa – pebbles / and Omar – walls. By him / by the temple / there's no temple. AMIR OR, the 2020 Golden Wreath laureate, published 14 poetry books and 2 novels, translated to more than 50 languages, and published in 37 books in Europe, America and Asia.
Mohammad Nurul Huda BinduBari Touching a feather flying from Siberia, I came close to a crane; mortal eyes wide open. Confined in a mud-home in Bindubari, Birds swam in seas and lakes, their wings half-broken. BinduBari is a herbal resort in making, I’m a tree; Soon I shall measure the universe, legging it free. 04.01.2021
Paris 2005 An alien has arrived here With his outlandish steps Paris, be aware be aware All our art and poetry May end in mere garbage The city of cultural diversity Signing a universal treaty Of all nations and individuals Burying wars and funerals Sailing like a Phoenician sailor I am reading ‘Leaves of Grass’ I’m in disguise a Tiresias tailor Wearing a lungi, holding a brush Paris, you are too aesthetic Hoarding poetry, art and flowers Planting all the buds of stars In the blue and muddy bowers I’m really wonder-struck That you still dream at daytime Let dogs rejoice behind a truck Carrying all corpses of crime Can you make cities of flowers
In all soils on all river-banks In no land no cadavers Crushing warheads and tanks With questions I’m an alien Riding an unsettling train From all directions Stopping at all stations Your street, cafe, tower Never grows old, never Just make me a favor Since I am alien everywhere None wants to die ever Like Gilgamesh I care Hunting immortality Not just painting or poetry Give me the elixir of my choice If you fail, please down your voice I am not Vinci, nor Mona Lisa I’m an alien, with a timeless visa An alien may remain an alien To all deadly itinerants Please step inside my vessel I deal in formlessness An ever-born trace. [Original in English by the poet on 05.09.2020 Note: In 2005 I visited Paris to take part in UNECO intergovernmental meeting on cultural diversity representing Bangladesh. The poem was conceived and drafted at that time, but finalized today. Best wishes to my friends across the world.]
Say good time Let me read every moment of your movement, since I move only with you. If you don’t move, I am ever anchored in your show. 170
The universe is a zero if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t grow; Throw me out, just throw; Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t keep me captive Within bone and marrow. Let us share our free time, From one birth to another, Say always goodtime, goodtime Migrating from one domain to another; Forgetting a birth is just a crime. [Original in English. 01.01.2021]
A ride from Dhaka to Delhi Missing the flight of Air-Universe From one nation-state to another, I chose a ride on a mule-celestial, Born in the wedlock of a Mughal angel And a Konaraka damsel; My mule-chariot spoke to me In a pidgin voice combining All the mother tongues of the world, None could communicate to the other, All the way we quarreled and quarreled. The aeronaut who drove the mule-airbus Was reborn as a human after millions of years, Both a man and a woman - rather a Tiresias, Let the world not be ruled only by a Sycorax. We landed At a Delhi Fort of tricks and aesthetics, Near the military Fort of Akbar, the great; We warred with the weapons of roses and Poses, posing no nuclear threat. 05.10.2018 Original in English 4/6, Siri Fort Institutional Area, New Delhi, India.
Sudipto Chattopadhyay O body I leave my feelings everyday Beside your agony, From the broken play-house Bring the austere devotion. Every quiet afternoon With the suns setting Wakes up the face of destiny, Taste of tongue, touch of skin, Nameless story of birth, Feeble utterances of gossamer existence Foiling everything, I keep on touching the still world; O the life come back Bring me the ancient body.
Poem of dawn Will you pardon me? It is not six in the morning yet, The light of dawn hasn't touched that body for three days, Now I shift from body to disembodied soul! Left behind are the mementos, tyranny of water, I have been hearing this hurt with my own cars, How sweet are the hurts, feelings are long, I live together with others, the united belief, Within me it is I who am growing, it is I..... Sun, you come, touch the devotion, the source of crime, Lover, you come, we will sit wearing the same dress, The dialogue of the start of the war of not mine but ours, Uttered in the unison is the mantra of the high-held head. Nobody has come. At the last hour of the day - blood has Spilled over from body of the fallen body. All my courage, all the fearless music Have gone lost, perhaps it is not six o' clock yet I am fleeing, o body - will you pardon me? Dr. Sudipto Chattopadhyay is a Poet, Translator, Essayist of Kolkata India. Joint Secretary International Society for Intercultural Studies And Research (ISISAR). Editor â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Cultural and Questâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, Kristi O Anvesa.
Reaz Ahmad Internment A ship idles off the coast, A mariner checks out lazarette Under the weather deck; A beach long been deserted by revelers, Now comes alive to its natural self With a brigade of red crabs Blanketing the shore; Caressed by morning glory and sun ray. Last of leper colonies shuts down Atop a far-off mountain Where all the heavenly birds chirp, With their music tuning down the creek; Little did they knew A horde of pestilence Riding on an apocalyptic white horse, Comes down hard on neverland Pushing Lombardy's funeral parlors To a breaking point; Hardly a man is out there to Partake the wake and accompany The casket to the chapels; A calm is only to be punctuated By a bird's hum or a bicycle's creak, Where the dives and the lazarus All are at the mercy of a great leveler, Don Rodrigo's killer The plague that puts on test The believers, the agnostics alike; Go back home all mourners.
Man on a cane bottom'd sofa He would curl up on the rusted couch, His legs bend and feet off the damp floor; 173
After all, how much space a man can occupy In a shabby veranda, poorly ventilated, Where one gets to see roaches quite often Rushing out and in, busy they must be hell-bent; And spiders weaving layers of webs merrily, With an army of ants marching down The worn-out floor gully in single file. Was it a hardwood settee? A Mahogany hardwood or A Burma teak sofa probably; Where naturally occurring oil resist Anything watery. Cane bottom'd and rattaned back, It was quite a furniture Slight shy of a bed, With round cushions proxying pillow. The man coiled him up on the couch, His knees bent, head up, reposes on the seat He looks like a reclusive, reclining Buddha! After all, how much space a man can occupy In a shabby veranda, poorly ventilated. That old piece of heavily built settee Must have weathered Many a sun and many a moon Long days of monsoonal rains, Windy nights and dust mite allergy, Beetles and termites, bugs and mice; It must've acclimatized Many a house shifting too, As man on the couch also do (es). Reaz Ahmad is a career journalist and a poet. He is now serving as the Executive Editor of Bangladeshâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fastest growing English daily Dhaka Tribune. Reaz Ahmad teaches journalism as an Adjunct Faculty of Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) and the University of Dhaka (DU). He loves composing verses both in Bangla and English languages.
Gopal Lahiri Is poetry dying? Poetry and Prose Poetry is not dying. It is merely changing. It’s a way to attain life without boundaries. Poetry has never been a booming industry. Poetry is all around us and is still a way of life. “Do people still read poetry?” This question revolves around for a while and this also alarmingly suggests: “Poets are only talking to each other.” In doing so, somewhere along the way, the overreaching impulse behind the writing poems has been dwindling over the years. It is also true that very few people read contemporary poetry but still poetry survives ages and highlights some key moments and trajectories of life. To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time. (Macbeth by Shakespeare) It is the means of expression that exist from time immemorial. Rhyming poetry was with us since ancient time. It’s an oral art and ear poetry was the order of the day. End rhyming is more popular than any other form. But with passage of time, poetry has undergone changes and readership shows declining trend. Rhyming poems are almost passe now. Free verse is more accepted now. “The heightened consciousness” in poetry still reminds us that the ideas are not necessarily doomed in “utopia and dreamscape.”
Prose has become more popular in recent times because it’s a more direct art form where readers can communicate directly to the author and is being written more now because it is easier to consume, it gets consumed by even larger mass. Poetry does not sell, it’s a truth. There may be a few exceptions. But that does not stop anyone of writing poems. Now people are writing more poetry. Prose is easy to understand with your ideas explained easily. Poetry is meant to have many layers of meaning, moving from shadows to light and can be best understood when you explain your ideas. Sometimes one cannot understand poetry in a single read. It takes time for ideas to sink in and understand from reader’s point of view. ‘Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth’ so said Samuel Johnson. ‘Poetry is the crown of literature’ said Somerset Maugham. Robert Browning went to the extent of saying ‘God is a perfect poet.’ I, too sing America I am the darker brother They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes But I laugh And eat well And grow strong (Langston Hughes) So, it requires a bit of learning for the readers, the form, the structure, the metaphor and simile, the metaphysical and surreal forms etc. Poetry is basically an interplay of words and rhythm. It often employs rhyme and meter. Right words are in right order. When people are emotionally drained, they often express them through some form of poetry. Poets compare poetry to mist, the alarming waters of storm. A new path of expression, the post-modern poetry asks questions of life. Dylan Thomas wrote long back,’ Do not go gentle into that Good Night’ and the natural instinct is for life, not death. Yes, death is inevitable but people should fight for life and the poem inspires us. True Poetry is a way to bridge, to make bridges from one continent to another, one country to another, one person to another, one time to another. The poet strikes a right note if the reader is able to understand the nuances of poetry. 176
Layers in Poetry There is a dynamic spontaneity, and multiplicity, contrast and risk. The transient is enjoyed for its own sake. Humour, satire, sentiments are all there with strength and nonchalance and that is the beauty, the hidden magnet in the poems. Intuition and intellect join hands. Here - colours, clouds, patterns capture the creative space. Words are the tour guide, moving from shadow to sunlight and the terrain, sometimes, tarnished and at other times dazzling like Van Gogh’s Sunflowers Poets like to express themselves in a way they never could before. It allows them to say what they want while still leaving the true meaning up to interpretation, beyond metrics and rhyme. It is a form of art that is unique, special and borders on a creative outlet. There is no denying that poetry is one of the most powerful instruments for our survival. It is one mode of transport one takes on the long way through unknowing. Poems are not really written; they just happen as a reward of listening to inside and the surrounds. The sensory images that arrive and stay when we are open to the world around us. One can appreciate poetry from a moment in time. That moment when finally, instead of being asked to heal and forgive, they are allowed the vengeance, the rage that is rightfully ours. ‘Alone, alone on a wide sea’ (Emily Dickinson) or ‘Grow old with me/The best is yet to be’. (W.B. Yeats) Poetry can attack us suddenly, sharply, so deftly we hardly notice. Readers have to be there to feel the effect. Its true poetry can’t stop your digestion but can take your breaths away. I believe that’s what’s so powerful about poetry. Happiness…not in another place But this place, not for another hour But this hour. ------A song for Occupations (Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass)
Recent Trend Poetry reading in US in 2017 is up from 6.7% to 12% since 2012 according to the survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). 177
Social media has a great impact in surge of poetry reading/writing. In fact, commoners start writing poetry as age is no barrier. 28 million people picked up a poem in 2017. According to National Endowment of Arts, US, poetry is more popular now than ever and Social media could be partially responsible. Social media poetry is suddenly everywhere on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and increasingly in print too. These short poems accompanied by illustrations are shared by countless readers. Famous artists like Rupi Kaur, Amanda Lovelace have millions of followers. Who follow for a dose of poetry and inspiration? They have helped poetry go viral in a way it has not been able to do before. Then there are numerous poetry organizations o different geographical locations and from different backgrounds, races, ethnicities and genders all over the world have increased the growth of poetry. Poetry is making a story out of a moment. You can unpack any moment in many different ways. Yes, the quality of poetry is a concern but those poems will not stand to the test of the time. Philip Larkins observes that performance poetry is a fashion and this has led to a kind of poetry that you can understand first go- easy rhythms, easy emotions, easy syntax. Serious poetry normally is quieter and deeper to linger with you for a longer period of time. And the verse that uses subtler charms are sure to win you over. Forget the ink, the milk, the blood All was washed clean with the flood We rose up from the falling waters The fallen rainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own son and daughters And none of this, none of this (Rain by JH Prynne.)
Corporate World Impact In corporate world or even in business, poetry now act as a stress buster. Haiku moment gives peace of mind. Poetry is really practical in the sense that it grounds you in whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s possible with 178
language. In governance, fundraising and communication, bringing imagination to question and look at the languages is a new concept. The act of distilling information in 5-7-5 syllable format to capture the wonder of the human experience in the simplest of terms. Poetry Unbound podcast are popular amongst listeners. When societies are fractured, poetry always rises. Poetry is also useful in workplace. Making sense of strange grouping of words require an agile form of listening. - one that can bridge ambiguity and keep pace with a poet’s linguistic leaps. In poetry, one allows ambivalence and ambiguity of multiple meanings to coexist. It creates space for hospitality and complexity as said Padraig O Trauma, an Irish theologian and poet. He suggests that business professionals, have a latent facility for poetry It is believed that Poetry can change us. One can turn to poetry to express which cannot be expressed easily. It’s to convey thoughts and emotions through beautiful or ordinary words.
Future and Unfounded Apprehension Even if, as Christian Bok has claimed poetry in the future will be written by machine for other machines to read, there will be, for the foreseeable future, someone behind the curtain inventing those drones; so that even if literature is reducible to mere code- an intriguing idea- the smartest minds behind them will be considered our greatest authors. It is impossible to suspend judgement and folly to dismiss quality. If all language can be transformed to quality. Success lies in knowing what to include and more important what to leave out. If all language can be transformed into poetry by merely reframingan exciting possibility- then poetry can be written. World poetry day was declared by UNESCO in 1999. It’s become a celebration of all kinds of poetry. The new poetry is realistic. The poet's consciousness of the grim realities of life has shattered all illusions and romantic dreams. The tragedy of everyday life has induced in the poet a mood of
disillusionment. So, the poetry today is in general bitter and pessimistic. The pessimism of the modern poet is very poignant and heart-rending. It is even sharper than the pessimism of Hardy. Because it arises out of the contemplation of the stark realities of life. There is nothing sentimentalÂ about it and poetry is as if extraction of poems from pain and wounds. The Modern and post-modern poetry are a poetry of revolt. It results largely from the impact of science. The poet turns away from the older romantic tradition. The revolt is best exemplified in the poetry of T.S. Eliot. The poet sees life in its naked realism. Poets welcome even the most prosaic and commonplace subjects are considered suitable. The imagery and vocabulary of the modern poet reflects the influence of science and scientific inventions. Realism in subject matter has led the modern poet to reject the highly, ornate and condensed poetic style of the romantics in favour of a language which resembles closely the language of everyday life and connect with the readers At the end it can be surmised that poetry is alive and more vibrant now and this trend will continue in future also. As it is the soul of the humans which can never be destroyed. Gopal Lahiri, is a bilingual poet with 22 books to his credits. His poems have been published across journals/ anthologies worldwide and translated in 12 languages.
Ahmad Kamal Abdullah A twinkle uyghur star in the sky of Xinjiang If your tears falling down oo Uyghur Let’s say, those are our tears too falling down If your blood bleeding oh Uyghur Let’s say, those are our blood too bleeding If your eyes’s ball comes out oo Uyghur Let’s say, those our eyes’ ball coming out too If your heart piercing by bouyonet oo Uyghur Let’s say, our heart were piercing by the bouyonet too Uyghur were kicked and triggered by bullets Lets say, we too were being kicked and triggered by bullets Rasulullah with ripe smiling and waving at you From the planet, the al-Mighty keeps on embracing Uyghur screaming out in the fold of al-Rahman Burning up the condemned atheistic Hans’ brutality Uyghur fortifying with their chests and Faith The Prime Love, unity of longing in Shahadah. Uyghur! Uyghur! Your Love blossoms Becoming the shinning Stars on the Sky of al-Fattah. 31st January 2019
And this deep lonesomeness The Night’s Sun. And the Day’s Moon Hanging At Kediri lonesomeness. And this momentum and intuitively Is Layla’s love has genuinity? Is this, the mountain of Wisdom? Sadness within three words. Your cry of desire Slicing My Self Sky. And this deep lonesomeness. Dato Dr Ahmad Kamal Abdullah is the National Laureate Malaysia. Known widely as Kemala in South East Asia. He is the winner of SEA Write of Thailand (1986). DASAWARSA LIMA (Five Decades) is his completed book of poems from 1960-2013 (DBP 2016). He was innagurated with Knighthood (Dato’ Paduka Mahkota Selangor) by the Palace of Selangor. He writes poetry, short strory, essay and criticism.
Mahnaz Badihian I only can suspect I suspect a night as perfect as tonight The floral curtains are dancing like drunken ballerinas with a breeze through an open window next to a painting of a lady with scared eyes and gaping open mouth I hear frogs calling to each other next to morning glories and smell of stock touching green sheets on my bed where a man, like a naked statue, is sleeping Next door there's a room I never knew, I hear a voice, as if she has forgot losing her son, my brother, her country and her youth. From the window, I also see the girl They shot on the street, washing her face her blood pouring next to poplar trees worried that I may wake up trees and disturb frogs and never find the girl, they shot on the streets of Tehran No longer I hear frogs but I feel the breeze on my green pillow putting me to sleep early morning!
From the balcony We bend over from the balcony, from the windows of our car, from crowded roadsides from the shattered windows in all continents, with our hands stretched for unity Whisper to each other : we are all members of one family our name, skin, nationality are only variety in the human garden
Fertile soul I give birth to a new woman in myself every day the art of multiplication grows new buds in me I feel life crawling on my shoulders, the gods of fertility will never let me stop being a woman. Mahnaz Badihian is a poet, painter, and translator whose work has been published in several languages worldwide, including Persian, Italian, French,Â Turkish, Spanish, and Malayalam. Her latest collection of poems," Raven of Isfahan," was published in 2019.
Hemant Divate Begun to rust The creepers in my balcony form a bulwark against rising rust, fut flowers crumple and litter floor tiles. From somewhere inside, the hoarse chirping of rusting birds. From a garden in springtime, the stench of rusting jasmine rises in the night. Every day, I water my pots with filtered RO, but even so these plants, bought specifically to beautify my living room have begun to wilt. A rusted dusk is spread everywhere. Everywhere, we can hear tired, rusted sounds of the city. I too, have begun to rust and the nation… rust to rust, dust to dust. spite this, very timidly, he lives a good life An LG air-conditioner keeps him cool. He eats Kohinoor basmati rice And chapatis made of Pilsbury With bhaji made from Nutrela soya Cooked in Hommade tomato puree. Sometimes he just heats up a pre-prepared MTR packet Or tucks into an order from PizzaHut; Vada pavs are no longer nutritious. Why should he screw up his belly Gorging on bhel puri or pani puri? You could never get clean water out in the street. He only drinks Kinley’s mineral water; it’s safe Or on the rare occasion, a Diet Coke. Bland dipdip bags hardly satisfy his craving for tea,
While coffee brings on constipation. He has become conscious— Of health, wealth and brand value. He keeps getting a computerised check-up From his brain to his nails, From his heart to his kidneys, From his sputum to his stool. He has life-insurance And all sorts of policies— Householder, jewellery, Medi-claim, accidental insurance. He has every type of card— Debit, credit, shopping, parking Identity, PAN, health, ration, driving, citizenship. He has invested in Mutual Funds, a bit in PPF And NSC; he has put his money into property And has a locker in a safe deposit vault Where his wife stores all her jewellery. He specifically takes time out from his life For religious rituals and charity and When he has time (and no one’s looking) He folds his hands before God. He takes no issue with anyone, Nor does he escalate conflicts, Nor is he in any sort of lafda. A little tense about how people regard him, but Despite this, very timidly, he lives a good life. Translated by Mustansir Dalvi Hemant Divate is a Marathi poet, editor, publisher, translator and poetry activist. Divate is credited with changing the Marathi literary scene through Abhidhanantar and the Indian English poetry scene through his imprint Poetrywala.
Reshma Ramesh Shadows You have left these shadows That I wear on my afternoon skin Like tattoos On my right thigh is a hibiscus Bleeding On the nape of my neck water Running When the night falls, they turn into Outstretched hands of poems That strangle my throat.
Silence Silence is a slice of sea, a wall of soot, an intimate memory acquiring flesh. Silence is shallow water resting around your ankles, is the evening light burying into a swallow's nest. Silence is a kiss that hovers over a pond, wet and unfinished. Silence is an empty wing that hands out hunger To the mountains Silence is a door that opens like a book and closes like a poem.
Rajorshi Patranabis Self potrait I stood in front of me deciphering my features, my contours, Meticulously roved through my curves, my nose, My forehead, adorned with red vermilion, my ears sparkled in luminous studs, I looked through my belly, my feet, my lashes and my dark irises, Appreciative looks on my lips, painted pink, an epileptic wave to kiss myself, I stopped at my bosoms. They looked incomplete and incongruent with my lustrous self, I couldn't find that pear shaped red organ that complements me.. Thuds that I feel, every now and then, a beat that cries, a beat that lusts and a beat that loves was not visible.. I stood incomplete in front of me. Self portrait incomplete My mirror lies..
Remember I look for you, this myriad spring, I hate your absence, your abstract, hapless mirage.. Asked my blooms to color your thoughts, A false wish with truest of desire.. Smelt your odor in my roses that garland my bed, Utopian anomaly, but still, a voyeur, toxic rebellion..
Asked the winds to kiss your hand, lips and forehead Remain in unison, till we meet again.. Asked the nor'wester to shake you up from within To fling your mane, shout loud and clear Remember, it's spring again, love again It's love again.. Rajorshi Patranabis is a multilingual poet and translator from Kolkata, India. He has 2 collections of English poems, 1 collection of Bangla poems and 1 book of translation. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Pregnantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; is his most recently published book of Sonnets.
Daya Dissanayake The colour of music, the song in a painting i can hear i can feel i can smell and i can taste through the four senses i can see1 Banalata Sen has been translated into English by many poets and writers, and I have struggled to find the poet Jibananda Das in any of these translations. Then I tried to translate the poem into Sinhala, my mother tongue, because I found so many words which are common in Bangla and Sinhala. Next I back translated it to English, but not the way Mark Twain did with the French translation of “Jumping Frog...” “soft sound of dew in the evening a kite cleansing the scent of sunshine....” I was thrilled to find the synesthete in Jibananda Das, in Banalata Sen, because in Sri Lanka too we had our own synesthete, Mahagama Sekara, the poet, lyricist, artist, novelist and film director. A person who could appreciate all the true wonders of nature and share his feelings with us in so many ways. "starshine on the lake
disturbed by rain drops mingles into soft music"2 "had I been an artist I could have created a painting of this whole world to the rhythm she heard"3 Sekara had all his senses functioning properly and probably using them better than most of us. He must have been able to see the colours of the music he listened to, or hear the music of the paintings he created. Humans express themselves through images in paintings, photography and sculpture, through movement in dance, and in speech and music. Sekara excelled in most of these forms of expression. Sekara has imparted to us some of this wonder, as we too can see the paintings he had done with his pen on paper when he wrote a poem, the visual images he created in his novel ‘Thunmanhandiya’, long before we saw the film he created from it. The film he created was itself a poem just like his novel. We also could visualize the cinematic creation in his long narrative poem, ‘Lionel Rajathileke saha Priyantha’ We can hear the songs in his prose writings in the same way. It has been called a "Union of the Senses". Scientists have a term for this, Synesthesia, because they want to fix a label to everything and try to find an explanation to everything happening around us. (Synesthesia is a perceptual condition of mixed sensations: a stimulus in one sensory modality (e.g., hearing) involuntarily elicits a sensation/experience in another modality (e.g. vision). Likewise, perception of a form (e.g., a letter) may induce an unusual perception in the same modality (e.g. a color), according to www.synesthete.org.) Vladimir Nabokov has discussed his synesthesia in his autobiography, "Speak, Memory", and it came up in "The Gift". Before him the French poet Arthur Rimbaud had referred to
"coloured vowel sounds". Much earlier, in 1818, Mary Shelly in "Frankenstein", mentions "A strange multiplicity of sensations seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt, at the same time"' In "The World of the New Born", Maurer and Maurer wrote "we all begin life as synesthetes". Vassily Kandinsky had talked about "coloured hearing" and about the relationship between music and art. Amy Ion and Christopher Tyler had written that Kandinsky's paintings "have a dynamic musical feel to them" Religion can be thought of as something like the metaphoric confabulations of synesthesia, seeing nature and hearing the voice of God or the Buddha-nature in all things (Ramachandran 1998). Richard E. Cytowik, says "synesthesia is actually a normal brain function in every one of us, but that its workings reach conscious awareness in only a handful" There must have been a reason for the alphabet of the Devanagari script to be called "Varnamala", the garland of letters, which represent the universe of names and forms (Namarupa) that is speech (Shabda) and meaning (artha). This goes with the view that Sound precedes creation, that it is more ancient. Anything that moves makes sound. Feel, form, colour, taste and smell are all complex sounds. This is one way of describing what scientists call synesthesia. In the Unnabha Brahmana sutta, (Samyutta Nikaya 48.42), "There are, Brahman, these five sense-faculties... which do not share in each other's sphere of action. Mind is their resort, and it is mind that profits from their combined activity." We may have our sense organs separately feeding our brain with the different signals, but it is our mind which grasps them and in the mind the signals could mingle to give us greater perception. Synesthesia would have been the normal state of sense perception among human beings, as it probably is, among other animal beings. Today it is retained only by a few, not only in Asia but all over the world, irrespective of race or caste. But unfortunately for Jibananda Das, Bangla Sahitya and hence, Vishva Sahitya, most
critics ignored the synesthete, in their efforts to demean this great poet by trying to search for western influence in Jibanandaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s creations. This trend happened with the acceptance of the western concept of literature, abandoning our own concept of Sahitya, as we knew and accepted for over two millennia. We tried to attach labels and compartmentalise Sahitya, to fit into literature Digital technology has entered the scene with the capability to convert a painting into music, or a piece of music into a painting, and so there is 'Visual Music" today. But would machines ever be able to give us what our own minds could give us? It saddens me that I am unable to read Mahakabi Jibananda Das in his original Bangla, and English translations would never do justice to the poet or the poems. There would be many more synesthete poets writing in their mother tongue, in South Asia offering us such poems, and I hope we could get an opportunity to read about them someday. Let us try to see the elephant with all our senses, instead of by touching him with our eyes closed. When we read a novel or a poem, let us try to listen to the music it generates, or the painting that appears before our eyes. When we look at a painting let us taste it and smell the aroma. Let us enjoy all that is gifted to us by Mother Earth, using all our senses together. This will help us to appreciate the real beauty and wonder around us. 1
Dissanayake, daya. Inequality. Colombo. 2005 Mahagama Sekara. Prabuddha. p. 81 (my translation) 3 Mahagama Sekara. Nomiyemi p. 127. (my translation) 2
Daya Dissanayake is a bilingual writer, poet, critic and a student of history from Sri Lanka. firstname.lastname@example.org
Luz María López Shroud We turn our gaze (inward) where throbs go wandering through locked hallways, voices piled up in the docility of a mirrorless inertia. The existing moment is a shroud with fierce teeth. There isn’t poetry between the fingers, neither a reliquary to pray, while the night fades through the lintel of the door. There are fears so sacred! Over the couch the violets doze helplessly. Ritual dance of lethargic hours.
Eyes eyes like drops of dew the world is now revolving in a rictus unknown to me eyes the color of light emerging from every shadow phantasmagorical omen eyes holding the salt of the universe millenarian gospels tied to the wind eyes searching for a path heartbeats rhyming on the darkest nights eyes pulsing the flood of the veins burning fiercely! Luz María López. Puerto Rico. Author, editor, translator, anthologist, prologist, cultural promoter. President Academic Committee EMH International Book Fair in Puerto Rico. WFP Continental Director America. Kathak Literary Award 2017.
Kama Sywor Kamanda Humanity locks down O Eclipse of Humanity! The World locks down! Spectrums of Death! The Sun has vanished! Darkness is everywhere. The agonizing silence. What could be braver than freedom? The solar ages are suspended. How to chase away your fears and awaken your dreary anguish to put humanity in quarantine? Subtle tricks and strange plots; arise in the spheres as enigmas sowing doubts and disarray, Can they fill your soul with tears? The world without hope, dark as a ghost in the night, Resembles our deadly nightmares. Confinement, may be the dwelling of the intimate space of your being. Naive without believing it. Ignorant without imagining it. Submissive without knowing it. Ruined without wanting it. Where do you see the danger then? Safe shelters! Now you are held by ritual, fear and threat: rumors of death are waiting eagerly! Blood, sweat and tears! Pain and sacrifice. Are you less manipulated and less controlled? Are you free or adjusted? Arrogance under all the heavens breeds revolt; Move on without hope! Is it your destiny?
It feels comfortable to escape! But where? The borders are closed! Couples are intoxicated in monotony. Separated lovers languish in distress and melancholy. O forced solitudes!O solitudes imposed on humans! Overwhelming enslavements! Beliefs overflow us like pouring rains. Anger rises in you, alas! You want to live but darkness keeps vigil on the grieving spirits You hear nothing more than the reign of Order! You quit The dreams that occupy your mind clash where authority persists. Duties are more oppressing than cyclones. Resistance and servitude are opposed in a hand-to-hand war. We have reached to the invisible wars of Humanity! Do not defend yourself from your own sensitivity! A logical explanation: accept the control. Unavoidable duties, and without duties no authority. No dominance, no functioning of the brains. But without being yourself, no love under the sun, no dreams under a night of shooting stars. Leave no one the right to impose solitude on you. Forced solitudes, monitoring solitudes kill love and freedom. Do not let fear conquer you. No love without freedom to love! Your life must express your own aspirations You cannot settle down in lands with crooked truths Unjustified injustice makes even the bravest of men dread Finally, one breaks the will to clear out the brains From consciousness and mind. Translated by Charitha Liyanage
The house of dreams I will entwine the leaves of the tree of life With your tenderness. I will collect rainwater to quench your thirst. I will tame the fires of volcanos And the eddies of trance in my loins To bewitch you. I will harness the force of lightning and waterfalls In the chronicle of embraces To master your passions on the shores of the infinite. I will name unknown gods In manifold legends And I will hold you in my arms With strange songs. My love, my gentle companion, Think of the marvels of sharing. Dream together, dream of a shared destiny! Build a house of dreams Where love will by nourished by esteem And trust based on dialogue. I want to admire you, beloved woman! I want to reveal to you The secrets that haunt your mind, Where the daysâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; harmony awakens happiness. I will be your wind of madness. I will translate the frenzies of your body Until we are just one being On an enchanted journey. Kama Sywor Kamanda is a Congolese French-speaking writer, poet, novelist, playwright, speaker, essayist and storyteller. He is also a committed intellectual who contributes to the evolution of ideas and the history of Africa.
Raja Ahmad Aminullah Morning dew a 20 year journey we talked of music film-noir and the writers and poets behind the iron curtain with such passion in the decades past twenty years ago accompanied by friends who wore kurta and sandals sipping black coffee at the benteng in kuala lumpur at the embankment in london at malioboro in jogja we spoke on the issues of humanity of social justice and equality of the rift between the rich and the poor of a fairer distribution of wealth of agreement and consultation of truth and justice not in a cliched way nor parroting the others how we were going to set up generate and create social justice how we were going to have a better world in between the black coffee and imam's roti canai we dreamt of obliterating corruption and injustice we spoke and continued to dream as we grew old
or aged with such speed in the midst of investment booms and just when the skies were about to open unfolding a surreal landscape the nightmares were made visible we took positions, took sides and kept our distance and with the passing of a few moons and witness sought that commensurate with past rhetoric without the intended heroism more so when aided by experience and maturity the distance became all too obvious the valleys and gorges and the shore-less seas seemed unbridgeable is this so, my dear friends. lend your voice yet again to this struggle as before, without dilly-dally can we still sit to sip black coffee or teh tarik till the early hours of the morning?
Music of life of creative juices flowing, ever flowing, amidst torrents of vitriol and spewers of hatreds pushing the boundaries attempting to envelope common decencies come, let us march forth in a flotilla of peace and harmony
come, let us go let's override, the forces of derision with our powerful embrace casting aside inter and intra animosities come, lets henceforth rent asunder tribal prejudices and communal parochialisms as after all we have committed ourselves to a universalism propelled by our belief let the music of life its rhythms its cadences it's metaphysical inflections continually remind and drive us on Raja Ahmad Aminullah is a poet, writer, cultural activist and social critic living on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Raja Ahmad has published several volumes of poetry including " Menyarung Jiwa", Soulship, "Katakata Hati" and "ketawalah tanah airku" (laugh, my beloved country).
Jaydeep Sarangi Rainy days Rain disappears Coiling joyously on long wires like a rope - dancer. whichever weather rolls on gives all downpours, here or nowhere creating a land of where coy fairies descend to dance. The ship sets off on her maiden voyage. The voyagers carry their memory luggage. Everything that takes place in the dark theatre foreshadows the mysteries of nature, night’s normal acts. My ill-timed sleep breaks, secret doors howl through the night, looking for its mother.
Music at hearts Let us press hard, and all shall see Glory of our happy Deity. All contacts are recalled, Miss calls Are called back in social malls, cafes and clubs. After this spell of hotspot. Life Has a happy turn braving the gutter. Rivers are brimming with foams of Heart’s music wakes behind the brow. Love spreads arms to embrace all Sita’s sisters are rejoicing, faithfully. All spaces are conquered, hearts healed Dalit brothers hold a map and a brush.. Love’s weather has no expiry date It runs into happy rainy hearts. Jaydeep Sarangi is a poet and writer from Kolkata, India has eight collections in English latest being Heart Raining the Light (2020). He is a professor of English and principal at New Alipore College, Kolkata..
Lopamudra Basu Meena Alexander’s refugee lyrics: witnessing trauma in an age of insecurity Theodor Adorno, the famous German philosopher had decreed in 1949, in his essay “Cultural Criticism and Society “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” He went on to modify his stance by arguing ““It is now virtually in art alone that suffering can still find its own voice, consolation, without immediately being betrayed by it ”(312). How does this debate about poetry bearing witness to trauma play out in a post 9/11 context of retaliatory wars abroad, Islamophobia within the U.S., and more recently the genocidal Civil War in Syria with millions of Syrian refugees seeking legal residency in many European nations ? How does the deeply autobiographical nature of the lyric poem become transformed into a genre of advocacy and activism in the public sphere? What role does empathy play in this transformation of the personal lyric into a public form? How do poets avoid the pitfalls of the fetishization and appropriation of grief in their aesthetic practices and feminist politics? I will examine some of these questions by analyzing some of the later poems written by Meena Alexander, distinguished South Asian American poet who died in November 2018 after a battle with cancer. In reading Alexander’s late poems inspired by her visit to Palestine, her responses to the genocidal war in Darfur, Sudan, and most 202
recently, the Syrian refugee crisis since 2015, I draw upon philosopher Kelly Oliver’s concept of “carceral humanitarianism.” Oliver draws on Hannah Arendt’s work on refugees to explain the paradox of this condition. Arendt, writing about refugees from Nazi Germany, reflects “Apparently nobody wants to know that contemporary history has created a new kind of human beings— the kind that are put in concentration camps by their foes and in internment camps by their friends.”(Arendt qtd in Oliver 1). Oliver explains the shift that has occurred in the thinking on refugees by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. This is the shift from the recognition of refugees as a manifestation of a political problem to viewing them instead as symptomatic of a humanitarian crisis. Hence the solution to the problem of refugees has increasingly been left to humanitarian aid agencies who settle refugees in woefully inadequate camps and provide conditions of bare subsistence for years while refugees await consideration of their claims of asylum in the new nations that they are seeking admission in. A Alexander’s “The Task,” part of her sequence of Jerusalem Poems, is a lyrical presentation of the condition of carceral humanitarianism and the status of Palestinian refugees reduced to the condition of bare life in camps. These poems were written after Alexander visited refugee camps in Palestine in 2011. Unlike a traditional lyric, “The Task” it is not exclusively conveyed in the voice of the poet/narrator. Instead, it is dialogic, an intimate conversation between a refugee at the Balata refugee camp and the poet. The poem begins with a definition of the poet’s vocation, a task that she gave herself at the age of ten. This task is expressed by Alexander in three languages in the lyric “Ecris une tristesse, Write a sorrow/ Dukham Erutha.” These short commandments in English, French, and Malayalam encapsulate Alexander’ personal linguistic history and exposure to her mother tongue Malayalam that she never learnt to write, and her education in the colonial languages of English and French. The poem begins with the poet’s reiteration of her own vocation as a recorder of sorrows. This sense of poetic vocation is instilled within the Indian landscape with a specific reference to the neem
tree. Then in the second verse the scene shifts to the Balata Refugee Camp. The first association that the poem makes with this camp of Palestinian refugees is the ubiquity of death in the camp. In Balata Refugee Camp when someone dies No time to wash the corpse No time to weep or pray or conjure loss. Carry the body right away The camp is not only a place of death, but it is a place where death is banal and lacks the rites of grief and mourning. This image of constant death, the hurry to send off the body for burial suggests a state of continuous disease and death as a fact of refugee camp life in Balata. It also evokes the sense of what Judith Butler has described as “differential grievability” of human lives. In Frames of War, Butler comments on “the differential distribution of grievability among populations (Qtd in Craps 47). In other works, like Antigone’ Claim, Butler has pointed to the differences in our abilities to mourn certain kinds of death, like those of AIDS victims in the Reagan years in the U.S. and the continuing inability to mourn the lives of American victims of drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the context of Balata and various other camps for refugees from other places, the ubiquity of death short circuits the possibility of mourning. After the mention of corpses being carried away, the lyric changes its voice from the poet persona to that of a camp resident. It is the voice of a male refugee, whose voice is rushed like the wings of the dove scraping an iron wall. It is this voice that questions the poet/ witness observer of the camp: “Too hot for you here? /Too little light?” The male camp resident asks the poet the rhetorical question of how she will find Jerusalem, “city of grief ” and then asks her to sit on the bench, a gift of the U.N., near the barbed wire. The poet is instructed by her interlocuter to sit on that bench like the camp residents and “write a sorrow/ write it true” This line repeats the first couple of lines in the lyric, when the poet had articulated her first realization of her poetic vocation. The repetition at the end of the poem uttered by a refugee with a rushed voice emphasizes the urgency of the poetic task.
In reflecting on the lyric in a time of violence in an interview I conducted in 2002, Meena Alexander had analyzed her process of poetic composition: “In the composition of poetry, something that is very difficult to face is brought within the purview of language, into a zone of images, and is crystallized. And that act of crystallizing the emotion through the image actually has its own peculiar grace, which frees one, if only momentarily, of the burden of experience. . . So the lyric does have this function, it makes for transport, but draws from the ore of bodily being” (32). Alexander seems to assert the capacity of the lyric to record traumatic memory but also to provide temporary relief from the burden of trauma. This therapeutic capacity of not only the lyric but other artistic records of trauma is depicted in Alexander’s representation of refugee experience in Darfur. Unlike Balata, Alexander did not have direct access to Darfur refugees, as she could not visit Darfur after the Civil War in Sudan provoked genocidal violence. However, she was able to access drawings by refugee children of Darfur living in Chad. Two poems in the Darfur Poems section of her new volume of poetry, Atmospheric Embroidery, (2018), focus on the children’s illustrations of their traumatic memories of Darfur. Unlike the previous lyric that I discussed, “The Task,” both “Last Colors” and “A Child’s Notebook” are marked by the absence of the poetic persona. Instead, these lyrics use an ekphrastic strategy, a vivid description of the drawings made by children to bring the reader to a consciousness of the horrific nature of the genocide. In “Last Colors,” the lyric describes drawings of a woman with a scarlet face, outstretched arms, an armored truck with guns sticking out, in a profusion of flames. These images are punctuated by lines from an Arabic dictionary defining words like yatima, an orphan, hashsha, to beat down a tree and the final line which translates from the Arabic as “so the sun is overthrown.” The final image in the poem is not what the child has drawn but what the poet infers, has not been drawn, the bodily mutilation of the father, whose hands and ears have been torn and who lies in “ghost house” in Khartoum. The Darfur poems emerging from the conditions of refugees from Sudan living in camps in Chad, also exemplify conditions of
carceral humanitarianism. The drawings were made available to Meena Alexander by members of the Human Rights Watch organization. Alexander’s task in these two poems is to faithfully reproduce the drawings, translating the visual symbols of the children to a narrative of traumatic memory. She also stiches these memories by evoking horrors that were beyond the expressive capacities of the children. Alexander allows the children’s drawings to stand on their own. She resists any urge to narrativize the stories of these children and only records the description of their drawings. There is no attempt at psychological reparation, after traumatic violence. Alexander thus refuses to turn lyric into a therapeutic form, after the writing and reading of which, the enormity of the traumatic episode can be cast aside and the work of national reintegration of the refugee in the new host country and its developed capitalist economy can go on, undeterred. The lyrics highlight the impossibility of this transition. In the structure of repetition, lyrics embody the recurrent nature of traumatic events As Sam Durrant writes while analyzing David Lloyd’s essay “ Colonial Trauma/ Postcolonial Recovery”, “ the living on of colonial trauma disrupts the therapeutic culture of postcolonial modernity” (Durrant 96). Alexander continues with the strategy of indirect representation in her poem “Refuge,” which most directly alludes to the Syrian refugee crisis. This poem was published in the Benington Review in 2017 and the narrator of the poem is Sarra Copia Sulam, a seventeenth century poet of the Jewish ghetto in Venice. The first three stanzas are a detailed diary of Sarra’s medieval life and vocation as a poet. The first two stanzas in Sarra’s voice depict the tension between her life as a devout Jewish woman and the contradictory tension pulling at her to express herself as a writer. Writing seems to be a self- inflicted bodily wound on Sarra’s skin and body, and an act conducted in secrecy. Writing is like forbidden desire, for the fulfillment of which she has stolen paper and ink from her husband’s library. She collects various exotic objects like speckled eggs, a “rut in the earth,” darkened perhaps by butcher’s animals that have bled over it. From the middle of the third stanza, the poem suddenly moves from the secretive and highly sensuous details of collecting the implements of writing to Sarra’ imaginative life. And in this imaginative transport, Sarrra swims to 206
Lampedusa, clinging to the fins of a dolphin. The geographical reference to Lampedusa evokes the association of this Mediterranean island with refugees who have reached it after crossing the sea in a state of precarity, sometimes in flimsy rubber boats. In her journey, Sarra encounters the body of a child who has fallen off a fishing boat and has choked, swallowing sand. The reference to the child evokes the image of Aylan Kurdi, whose dead body was washed ashore on a rocky beach in Turkey, in 2015, and gave a devastating human face to the Syrian tragedy. Sarra has lovingly unlaced the red shoes of this boy by the Mediterranean Sea. The poem ends with her wish to live with the boy in a house of wind and water. The last line asks provocatively, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Who am I?â&#x20AC;? It is interesting to ask the question why Alexander chooses the persona of Sarra Copia Sulam as the narrator of this poem. On the one hand, Sarra Copia Sulam is a female poet and this poem once again is a meditation on the meaning of the vocation of a female poet. Writing is a transgressive act, as serious as the worship of God, and it is dedicated to the remembrance of those whose deaths are unmourned and forgotten. Secondly, the identity of a Jewish poet is also significant since the Jews were among the early refugees in the twentieth century. The Holocaust creates a powerful association for contemporary refugees, who often try to use symbolic figures like Anne Frank to press for their own causes. In summer, 2017, at the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam, I witnessed a group of Syrians demonstrating and conducting a hunger strike to have the authorities listen to their asylum petitions. The lyric poems of Meena Alexander do no seek to appropriate the experience of the refugee child or adult. Instead, she deliberately employs a strategy of indirection to create a distance, to dilute some of the shock of traumatic experience. These defamiliarization strategies, like the use of the voice of a medieval poet to narrate the experience of Syrian children killed while trying to cross over into Europe through the Mediterranean, deliberately creates a distance between the poet and her subject matter. The question of empathy in literature has been extensively debated by Suzanne Keen in Empathy and the Novel. While reading works of literature may not translate into direct altruistic action for the refugees, the lyric poem, with its strong investment in heightened
personal emotions can certainly evoke empathy. For that empathy to translate into something more concrete as political solutions for refugees, there are several steps needed like more political actions for refugee populations to advocate for their rights. However, the lyric poem can be a catalyst at least in raising the conscience of the world to the ongoing condition of refugees and preventing the displacement of their suffering into a zone of oblivion. Works Cited Adorno, Theodor W. “Commitment” The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. Eds. Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhardt. New York: Continuum, 1997. 300-319. Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford University Press, 1998. Basu, Lopamudra. “The Poet in the Public Sphere: A Conversation with Meena Alexander. New York City, January, 2002. Social Text (2002) 20.3, 31-38. Alexander, Meena. ““Last Colors.”: Atmospheric Embroidery. Gurgaon : Hatchette India, 2015. ---. “Refuge” Benington Review3 (2017). ---. “The Task” Impossible Grace: Jerusalem Poems, Center for Jerusalem Studies, Al Quds University, 2012 Durrant, Sam. “Undoing Sovereignty: Towards a Theory of Critical Mourning” The Future of Trauma Theory: Contemporary Literary and Cultural Criticism . Eds. Gert Buelens, Sam Durrant and Robert Eaglestone. New York: Routledge, 2014. 91-111. Print Keen, Suzanne. Empathy and the Novel. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Oliver, Kelly. Carceral Humanitarianism: Logics of Refugee Detention. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017.
Lopamudra Basu is Professor of English at University of Wisconsin-Stout. She is the author of Ayad Akhtar, the American Nation and Its Others After 9/11; Homeland Insecurity (December, 2018).
Ibrahim Al-Masri Those we waited for Those we waited for in train stations have not arrived nor those we waited for in front of arrival halls in airports nor those we waited for in bus stops nor those who said they would come on foot or in old carriages pulled by empty-stomach horses in whose eyes we see the pain as arches coated by dense dust while we wait with strained shoulders and hardened necks, as the basalt is pointed rock, with poetry blinding us from seeing that we are too old all along there is a cave crowded with pictures of adventurers who left and never returned nor had their photos saved on our mobiles with a glow that saves embers in our eyes and in the pictures that have recently survived drowning No arrival of those we waited on wharves or on cinema screens those who come back as heroes after they have carried over, instead of us, the burden of fighting on maps edges and spilled blood that was beams of light burn out with the pace of steps going far, far away then night darkens as we are accustomed to with great ideas Those ideas we hoped the first of arrivers would tell us about But he has not arrived nor those who went and never returned from ideas, whether they were trivial or great. Translated by Abd al-Rahman Yusef
Time Time is what we have added by the spoon to cups of tea as if we are going soon to work or to the war. And in the pleasures sought only by old penitents, the miracle will shine as if it were a golden earring under a dim-light bulb Then, the shadow will not be submerged by interesting clouds unless softness finds its last resort in your drowse Of course, it is worthwhile for humans to dance with their shadows while cups of tea have slipped one after the other from this paradise of sins O god of pain, we suffered already We lived long lives which we put in boxes now as if we are going to entrust them to mothers sitting lazily before houses their eyes are swollen with old tears Tears that were held till sons begin complaining My mother says that her handkerchief, sunk in sweetness, was found when her son writes a poem afterwards he never feels regret. Translated by Abd al-Rahman Yusef Ibrahim Al-Masri was born in Egypt. He is a poet and journalist. He wrote more than thirty books that vary between poetry, novels and press work trips. He has published 17 poetry books, and shared in several poetry events and festivals, whether Egyptian, Arab or International.
Ali Al- Shalah Live A The father has died the son has died and the home has died.
B The water has died The grass died The voice died So when will death itself die?
Oh God Two hectares of Islam and three tons of Christianity, oh God, this freedom is elusive. My body stares into the future and my soul lives in the past. This freedom is elusive, I am breathing an air of madness, the inhalation is the living and exhalation is the dead. Thieves are stealing the horizon from divine words. I drag the horizon in this desert behind me to return it to its sacred verse, then I try to tie the two banks with my tears. Oh God, love equals fraud, the woman I love is the woman I betray.
Oh God, we must support the uprising of dictionaries: the Prophets have departed, there are no more messengers after today God remains an only One, so the rabbis, sheikhs and priests, how did they become Gods? Not a sinner after today, they are all Gods. Oh God, How will we mend this? Police live in languages, shooting their guns at the present-tense verbs, they build their camps in the genitive. Oh God, how do we build a poem without the freedom of language? My language is a prison dreaming of another prison. A Questions then: why would the minaret call to prayer if the ears are deaf? Oh God Oh God Dr. Ali Al- Shalah Born in Babylon, Hilla, Iraq. He studied in Babylon, Baghdad and Amman. PhD in Modern Literature from the University of Bern, Switzerland. He has published eight poetry books and five on criticism. He Headed the Culture and Information Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, 2010-2014. Head of Babylon Festival for International Cultures and Arts 2011-2020
MarĂa de los Ă ngeles Camacho Rivas Lovers It is not due to carelessness: the shirt on the floor, the sweet chaos of rolling hems, fibers like a rainbow, uninhabited buttonholes, upside down buttons, the black vapour of lingerie like an umbrella over the sandals. Love is a wet beginning, a turned off phone, eyelashes close together in a line, a Sunday without horns, a bit of a dynamited daydream. Summary: floor, pants, wrinkles, a little bird buckle, lamp trimmed with a flaccid pair of socks in the nudity that burns them.
The particle of God They tell that at the awakening she unrolled her legs. They tell that she brought her heart in her hands and took the opportunity to observe it; she caressed those simile-kidnapping sad beats. They tell that the particles of a noble science overpopulated her soul. They tell she was reunited with her smile. They tell there were sighing bursts like those of her fifteenth-birthday fireflies. They tell that she was sleeping
and, as she rubbed her eyes, the ties got undone. She tells that as she opened her heart she gave birth to a Universe with the man's name she would repeat since that moment, forever. María de los Ángeles Camacho Rivas is a poet from Patillas Puerto Rico. She published the collection of poems ¨Días de bromelias¨ in 2011, compiled and edited the student’s poetry anthologies ¨Salmo de un esclavo¨ (2014) and ¨Décimas de 9¨ (2017) and her second book of poems ¨Con mi jirafa azul¨ (2015). It is part of the board of the International Poetry Festival in Puerto Rico and member of Guajana, a poetry group founded in 1960.
Sudeep Sen The Pandemic Sequence there is nothing you don't devour — Pablo Neruda In the mirror it's Sunday in the dream there will be sleeping, the mouth speaks the truth. —Paul Celan ‘Corona’
Saline drip Sweat beads trickle from my forehead threading through my dense eyebrows, over the protective arch of lids and lashes into my unsuspecting eyes. My vision is awash in a fuzzy saline glare, its sting fiercer than the viral load. Perspiration transforms into tear drops — such is the potency of salt water — brackish, transparent, intimate, deathly.
Love in the time of corona I don’t believe in God, but I'm afraid of Him. ― GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ, Love in the Time of Cholera In the dark times, will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing. About the dark times. ― BERTOLT BRECHT 1. Faint indigo tints in the greys of your hair evoke memory — Krishna’s love for Radha,
its perennial longevity, its sustained mythology, its blue-bathed lore — such are life’s enduring parallels. Fourteen years — yet my heart flutters infatuated like first love. My hands fidgety, palms sweaty, pulse too fast to pick — I am not allowed to touch your face. Cyber-flurry emoji-love cannot assuage fears — or corona’s comatose cries. I don’t believe in God. 2. In thousands, migrant workers march home — hungry footsteps on empty highways accentuate an irony — ‘social distancing’, a privilege only powerful can afford. Cretins spray bleach on unprotected poor, clap, bang plates, ring bells, blow conches, light fires to rid the voodoo — karuna’s karma, infected. Mood-swings in sanitised quarantine — selfisolation, imposed — uncontained virus, viral. When shall we sing our dream’s epiphanies? 3. City weather fluctuates promiscuously mapping temperature’s bipolar graph — tropic’s air-conditioner chill, winter’s unseasonal hailstorm, sky’s pink-blue spring. Blue-grey will moult into salt-and-pepper, ash-grey to silver-white, then to aged-white. My lungs heave, slow-grating metallic-crackles struggle to escape the filigreed windpipes —
I persist in my prayers. I’m afraid of Him. Hope, heed, heal — our song, in present tense.
Obituary They were not simply names on a list. They were us. — THE NEW YORK TIMES Death knells peal, numbers multiply, virus ravages us, one by one. Newspaper columns loom, unsteady ghostly apparitions on broadsheets — name, age, date of death — tall epitaphs in fine print. Ink spills, bleeds dark — newsprint blotting out our wheezing breath. No amount of hygiene-ritual enables our lungs to resuscitate. Our lives — micro point-size fonts on an ever inflating pandemic list — black specks, fugitive lonely numbers — the deceased, on an official roster. Another sick, another dying, another dead — yes, they were us.
Mohammad Nurul Huda ‘Bidrohi’: An aesthetic charter of human emancipation Though there are critics who tend to agree that poets are not entirely discovered in their works, poets are not altogether missing whose living and writing are almost identical. Kazi Nazrul Islam seems to be one of those rare creators who stimulated their moments in every possible way to write the desired lines that could portray the essence of the life they lived along with suggestions of rectifying or purifying their life-pattern in a desired manner. And this process may be exercised with aesthetic validity to an agreeable extent without being cent percent didactic. Verily known as the Rebel Poet of Bengal immediately after publication of his towering poem ‘Bidrohi’, where he proclaimed the independence of his own self, finally analogous with individual liberty and collective freedom of the nation called Bangali, Nazrul’s ultimate destination was an admixture of love, justice and liberty of humanity, as applicable to defined nations with their diversified identities as well as a cumulative integrity in the wider perspective of mankind. This is how the individual ‘I’ of Kazi Nazrul Islam became a universal ‘I’ symbolizing his nation and mankind across the globe belonging to no particular bend of time. Nazrul’s physical birth took place on May 25, 1899 in Churulia, West Bengal, India. He was born to the wedlock of Kazi Fakir
Ahmed and Zaheda Khatun. His not-so-long-life that he lived in some five phases had almost direct interaction with his creativity. The first phase was his boyhood, rather Leto period till he entered the Bangali Paltan before he crossed his teens; the second phase was his brief stay in Karachi as a soldier; the third phase was his tumultuous days of revolt and literary creations in prose, poetry, songs and what not; the fourth was his attachment with Gramophone Company in Calcutta and his growth into an undying lyric writer and musician; and the concluding phase was his proverbial silence for nearly thirty four years from 1942 to 1976, the year he made his final journey to eternity. Nazrul wrote abundantly and profusely in almost all genres known to him. Though his first published work was a story claiming that ‘my beauty first came as a tale’, soon he started writing furious lines in verse and rose to the status of an eternal rebellious soul, who was considered to be a most wanted enemy of the then British colonizers. This is the reason why he was put behind the bars in his early twenties. Eventually he was freed and all the good souls of Bengal including Rabindranath Tagore accorded him hearty reception. He was declared as the National Poet of the undivided Bangali nation in the year 1929. This is indeed an unprecedented recognition to a young poet. A most non-communal soul Bengal has ever witnessed, Nazrul translated his beliefs into reality getting wedded to Pramilla Nazrul, who was a Brahmo in belief. He fell in love with Nargis, but the wedding did not take place, for which he suffered for long and created some outstanding love poems in Bengali. It revalidates our assumption that no vibrant moment of his conscious life remained inert, lifeless and unproductive. Nazul’s proverbial revolt produced, undeniably, the fiercest lines and poems, most of which are compiled in ‘Ognibina’, ‘Bisher Banshi’, ‘Bhangar Gan’, ‘Samyabadi’, ’Jinjir’, ‘Proloy Shikha’. ‘Julfiqar’ etc and other published titles that ran to more than seventy-five. Finally he wanted an independent land for the Bangalis in particular and it was clearly manifested in his article ‘Bangalir Bangla’. This article also outlined the armed struggle against the occupation forces of all kinds: colonizers and neo-colonizers and their native collaborators. Thus it is somewhat 219
identical with our liberation war leading to the birth of an independent nation-state. Hence Nazrul, the rebel, is also the dreamer of liberated Bangladesh. This explains why Kazi Nazrul Islam has finally earned his identity as the National Poet of Bangladesh. In fact, his life and creativity not only ran as two parallel currents, but also interacted rewardingly to shape in him a secular icon of human emancipation. He rightly proclaimed at the very outset of his creative career, ‘Hail valiant, / Hail, ever elevated is my head’ in his poem ‘Bidrohi’. Nazrul remained true to this hyperbolic assertion of human strength throughout his conscious life. It is to be carefully noted that this heroic proclamation came at the second phase of his life. Looked from this angle, ‘Bidrohi’ is the manifesto of his all-out creative endeavors by dint of which he pledged to free the self and the other from exploitation and deprivation of any kind. 2. 2021 is the year of the 100th anniversary of the composition of ‘Bidrohi’, an unrivalled historic poem of aesthetic excellence, advocating human emancipation and making him famous almost overnight. He wrote the poem in the last week of 1921, then aged about 22, waking up a whole night in a rented residence of his friend Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed, then living in Taltala lane, Calcutta. In fact, a creative miracle took place as soon as the poem was drafted and finalized for publication. No other poem in the history of Bengali language, not to speak of other languages beyond our perception, made so quick, diverse, turbulent and enduring repercussions among its readers who were also divided into opposing groups of its supporters and refuters. Easiest to identify as opponents were ruling British colonizers who deemed it an unfailing blow to their political existence in the subcontinent, whereas others were mainly fundamentalists and religious fanatics who discovered in it the poet’s blasphemy for laying footprints on Bhagawan’s chest, plus his envious literary opponents who brought the ludicrous allegation of plagiarism, imitation and lack of integrity of its message and stylistics taken together. On the contrary, common people, freedom loving patriots, poets and
literary critics with an insightful, progressive and penetrative look including persons no less than Rabindranath Tagore, Comrade Muzaffar Ahmed, Netaji Subhas Bose, Acharya Profulla Chandra Roy and others acknowledged it as a new poetic text, that captured the minds of millions of readers without delay. That acceptability of ‘Bidrohi’ has been multiplying at an increasing pace in the nine decades passed so far. Immediately after its publication, it appeared in more than one literary journal and almost 29000 copies of two consecutive reprints of ‘Bijli’, the weekly magazine where the poem first came out, were sold, such an incident being unprecedented in Bengal’s literary history. A similar occurrence has not repeated in the last 99 years or so. Nazrul himself was least interested whether his work would stand the test of time or not, but now we see an entirely opposite scenario of its survival as an innovated literary text of extraordinary quality based on the theory of defamiliarization, mostly applied to unorthodox creative texts exploring new possibilities of balanced interplay of form and content. This is somewhat postmodern in nature. Evidently, the year 1921 did not witness the trends of a postmodern poem having its fragmented text, open-ended structure, interconnecting of diverse myths and allusions, inter-textuality of confronting ideas, overlapping of polyphonic voice, juxtaposition of opposites or seemingly schizophrenic utterances along with interplay of varying moods from diverse origins and spheres. But a highly receptive and analytical mind as well as unbiased common masses targeting their individual and collective freedom found reasons for easy and instantaneous response to the message, melody, fury, dance and music of this artifact. In fact, this is a superb creation of wild poetic imagination striking a rare interaction of what Eliot called auditory imagination and visual imagination. The music of this text was created by uneven lines of unconventional metrical arrangement suitable to the whirl dance of its central character ‘Shiva’, a metaphor for the supreme deity of destruction and creation as per Hindu mythology. More than 100 ‘I’s that the poet utters in his 142-line poem (original version is longer) is an expression of this protagonist who can assume any form of tangible and intangible nature anywhere in 221
this unending universe. Nazrul not only equated an individual with this supreme deity, but also declared him as one who is able to surpass deity or divine power. This is an assertion of a superman with immense ability and self-sufficiency in a most hyperbolic manner hitherto unthought-of. While referring to this hyperbole, which is clearly pronounced in the very starting imagery of the poem (Himalayan peak bowing to an individual), we are tempted to mention that Nazrul manifested his astounding capability of employing word-plays, oxymoron, similes, imageries, metaphors, symbols, allusions, hearsay, myths, conceits, confessions and other rhetorical devices from diverse sources to establish the signification he intended to germinate in his created text as a conscious creator with an aesthetic awareness of his kind. In doing so he was directly and indirectly indebted to many of his known and unknown sources of prior art and resource persons including Satish Chandra Kanjilal, Nibaran Chandra Ghatak, Chokor Goda, Bajle Karim, leto songs, religious scriptures, Vedic literature, fables, legends, traditional cultural expressions from diverse regions, Whitman, Shelley, Rabindranath, Mohitlal, Kemal Ataturk, Mehmet Akif, Hafiz, Khayyam, Rumi, Jami, Iqbal, to mention a few. In fact, the moment he was drafting the text, an unending procession of heterogeneous images of seemingly interactive nature were being downloaded incessantly, as if it was a kind of turbulent ‘emotion recollected in tranquility’, carried over by ‘spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling’. He was just wreathing the best words and images into best order. The outcome was, indeed, amazing. As soon as we attempt to dig into the text line by line we are swept away by its unshakable grasp so that we are in a position to willfully suspend any disbelief lurking within us. Although Nazrul was overtaken by the fullest creative ecstasy one can imagine, he could consciously enable himself to edit and re-edit the images appropriate to his textual integrity and contextual diversity. This is indeed a rare occasion of poetic process that confronts a practicing poet not so often. One cannot grasp it immediately. Nazrul’s success lies in his ability to get command on it as well as to implement it into credible and 222
suggestive images in a synchronized musical outfit without waiting for an artistic distance. The logic behind this success largely lies in the fact that he was overwhelmingly involved in what he thought and produced, caring less for the theory of impersonality in an intangible creative pursuit. His lines are centrifugal in nature resembling the sudden explosion of a grenade, but his target is absolutely centripetal to win the multiple shades of freedom he has aimed at. It is no wonder that the poetic process of this soldier-poet may also be interpreted from a war strategist’s point of view quite seriously. Undeniably, Nazrul is a romantic poet of highest order who has excelled in fusing a note of high seriousness, an element that renders a work truly great according to Victorian poet-critic Matthew Arnold. The 99 years of ‘Bidrohi’, people’s ever increasing interest in its existing text and a huge corpus of critical analysis on its artistic viability, although mostly in Bengali, has proved that it is by far a great poem of epic maturity, having no parallel of its kind in the twentieth century. A distant comparison may be suggested with a poem of altogether different structural making entitled ‘The Second Coming’ (W. B. Yeats) where the very first paragraph is also suggestive of an anarchical situation of human civilization with centrifugal forces shaking far away from an envisioned centre, the controlling powers of this chaotic universe. Yeats refers to the protagonist, a vast image of horror and terror, in the symbol of ‘Spiritus Mundi’, - half-man and half-beast-- who moves towards the seat of divinity with an ominous intention. In a changed situation, Nazrul refers to such an oppressive and ominous symbol which must be defeated by positive human force. A closer comparison between the two texts would reveal more similarities and differences of diverse interests. Both the poems were written in the year 1921 as aftermath of world war first. One obvious difference is that Yeats describes the situation in highly selective words producing an integrated text of 22 lines with no prescriptive suggestion whatsoever; on the contrary, ‘Bidrohi’ is a long elaborative text of 142 turbulent and clashing lines with remedial nature. ‘The Second Coming’ ends with a question whereas
‘Bidrohi’ ends with an answer that his war will not end till the forces of tyranny are completely defeated and annihilated. Enduring peace with liberty, justice and love is the ultimate destination of Nazrul’s revolt. This is what can be termed as the unambiguous voice of human unity and liberty across time and space. However, much more is needed to be said and done on this aspect. Hopefully, new aesthetic investigation into his poetic process would be set in motion by his successors in the upcoming years targeting at newer findings. One remark I am tempted to make on its translation (into English primarily, then other languages) into international languages and response coming from readers and critics from other cultures and creative backdrops. Now there are some interpretative English translations of this poem in free verse or prose, without attempting to reproduce the musical equivalence in parallel metrical order and alliterative rhyme, which seems almost impossible. However, the humble attempt made by the native translators has been able to present the aesthetic and subjective force of this poem to its foreign readers. The reason largely lies in the fact that rhetorical devices based on visual imagination and meaning of the text of this work were well thought and clearly organized by the poet and these could be meaningfully reproduced from source language (Bengali) to target language (English or another foreign language). An English poet with required aesthetic competence and aptitude is expected to create a better text in English. However, existing English renderings have proved that ‘Bidrohi’ or ‘The Rebel’ is worthy of being read and acclaimed worldwide as a significant poem of the twentieth century and beyond. The nation found in ‘Bidrohi’ the voice they have been looking for ages together. It looked like a universal charter of freedom for the colonized people of the then subcontinent as well as all-out emancipation of the mankind as a whole. This was later defined as ‘struggle for human wholeness’ by Professor Langley, during the centennial celebrations of Nazrul’s birth in 1999-2000. We are tempted to identify various shades of this freedom: freedom of poetic idiom, prosody, music, rhetoric, form etc; freedom of an
individual, a nation as well as universal humanity. The local and universal message of human emancipation and global oneness has made this poem as well as its creator a champion of human rights for all times to come. Let us pay glowing tribute to this undying phenomenon of creative fidelity belonging to our time and perception. Mohammad Nurul Huda was born in Bangladesh. Huda is a renowned poet, critic, translator, IPR specialist, folklorist, novelist and cultural activist. He has so far published more than 100 titles in prose and poetry. He has been honoured with many awards including SAARC Literature Prize (New Delhi, 2019), Ekushey Padak (2015, Highest Civilian Honour in Bangladesh), Bangla Academy Literary Award (1988).
Tulasi Diwasa Water Samadhi of light Owl As if waking suddenly Over the branch of night Hiding black rosy dreams Of the yellow sunset Well before the red sunrise, Opened the dilating meditative but piercing eyes And Smearing unpolluted red soil1 Of the fresh light Descending slowly from snowy peaks To the meadows and low hills And to the countryside Shaking off the residue of sleep with wings From the wood of the dark Untiring singer of the warbling light Drew the wild rooster closer And said loudly in his ear-'Light in darkness! Light in darkness! You can no longer sing like this The eternal song of the sun-Sun can not be there all the time It can not spread everywhere Can not lodge with everyone Can not be important to all In the same way Listen, I'm saying this to you!' Burnt at once In this narrative
With the radiant amber Of the resolute truth Awakened in the darkness before time Like the pure but little blemished light From the blazing sky of the epic, The rooster Cutting with the sharp beak of his own pen Pulled the sun suddenly From out of his own Everlasting epic saga Unendingly written And threw it out To some other boundless horizon again Shocked by the electric charge Of this sudden Unthinkable but Actual incident The owl closed his eyes even in the dark And said to the rooster With all humility -"Oh dark-throated one You who drink up all the black poison Of the darkness I see You are unbound Mahakala Though tied with the rope of time You are not one who only writes poems But also a great epic poet Who lives it out in life!' On the other side, At this moment of time The rooster was staring With unblinking eyes Helplessly At the defenceless sun
He'd thrown himself earlier Into the sky Into the fathomless sea of darkness, Drowning and floating, To tell the truth The sun cut off from his own sky Had long drowned into the night Exhausted from swimming! Translated by Abhi Subedi Dr. Tulasi Diwasa is a prominent modernist Nepali poet who belongs to the group of those poets who introduced experiments, new idioms and novelty in the mode of expression in the very discourse structure of poetry in Nepali in the sixties and seventies.
Yuri Zambrano At the end of the alleyway (Replying 302)
Labyrinthing inside 302 Upside down, the universe is easy to understand. The stairways to the temple constitute the railway of a flying train leading to the tower of our paradise. On the stones Four steps challenge the moonlight Kisses Sights Hearts burning The seashore is the echo The echo opens our hearts with the master key am inside your eyes making the unforgettable trip searching your soul finding your essence INTO an unavoidable collision.
Big wild-bites Exploring the core of shrapnel shots, with a bit of luck a sea of calm will span the dawn.
With arbitrarily feline little streaks a cumulus of pink clouds are warning me about your jaws on my skin whilst I am rending in pregnancy-labor pains for your kisses. Last night I took out of my magic top hat the best of my caresses I put them on your face I filled my fingertips with fire strolling on your back until crack you each vertebra at the tip of my wild bites ... while I was spraying your pubis with my bullets! Dr Yuri Zambrano is an activist writer, editor, novelist, essayist, story-teller and director of the World Festival of Poetry (WFP). He is also main coordinator of the World Poetry Front for Defending Women Rights (WM). He has published since 1980â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decade, over 50 books in different languages, among literary texts and scientific books about brain behaviour and consciousness.
Naida MujkiÄ&#x2021; Revelation The first day of autumn my father's friend accidentally revealed an old grave in his yard. Nameless female grave - moon and stars Carved in white stone. Below, A little deeper in the ground he found a few bones too, shoulder blades, knee parts. I looked at my father as he descended A bucket of cream on the table under the grapes. It was soiled with earth; I took it And I started to take off black crumbs with my fingertips. A little further dry stalks of corn Trembled as the sun set behind the clouds And a shadow hung over our garden. The more I wiped the bucket the darker the Garden became. The wind blew. It suddenly occurred to me that this unknown woman Whose bones were now stacked in a bucket doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to be Here, among us, who carelessly eat grapes. Put the bucket down you will soil your dress, my father said. And truly when I looked at my dress dirt was already there Glued on the folds at the bottom. I shook my dress, then blew into the bucket Before I put it back on the table. The sun shone on the garden again. And the wind stopped. The cats clung to my legs as if they wanted to say that everything was over long ago anyway.
Midsummer When I was a child my grandfather used to tell me About the women who came to look 231
Their dead husbands in our hills. But how did they know were to look For them, Grandpa wondered, No one escaped from our hills. It's a midsummer. I ride my bike along the river Far from our hills. Old woman crouches by the road. Ivy grows from her face And she cries in them, she wipes her nose With the edge of a black scarf. The pigs broke the boards on the chicken coop, alas! And every night the fox takes one hen. Damn life, alas! It is not damn, if you have a pair of nails, I say. She has nails, she has them somewhere But there is no hammer. She was happy for fifty years. And her husband was always there next to her, in the house, In the garden, loneliness was more bearable with him. And now, now everything is gone. And what will happen It is not known. If only her father had died on that hill, Looking at the sky, like all the other men in the village. She wouldn't be here, prisoner of the field, Whose language she does not understand. Years and years - of broken ribs. I wanted to hug her, but her sadness stood between us. And I just sat down On my bike and slammed hard into another chaos. Dr Naida Mujkic published 6 books of poetry. She participated in several international poetry festivals. She received her PhD from the Faculty of Philosophy, and she teaches literature for many years at University. She was born and lives in Bosnia and Herzegowina.
Satkarni Ghosh Opaque glass A storm has come and I call it a universal terror I know that there is no way of escape But it we live carefully We may save our lives The politicians are playing with it Which darkness they want to cover? Which way they want to divert the direction of the storm? Seeing themselves complacent in the mirror they think others are equally well and taking their daily meal joyffully Alas, they don't know a broken man is continually searching for fuel to ignite his oven
War-game The fight with myself has grown interesting Dust is getting thicker in this war The smooth face and the endless sorrow are mixing agony with the dust one night passes and a war starts In one war hands are lost legs in another war and when eyes are lost The whole world suddenly turns dark Still the war in going on even when the bodies are injured The wailing of the people is making a drum like sound in the air All the birds are crying in fear But flowers will laugh again at the advent of Spring Translated by Sujit Sarkar Satkarni Ghosh is a poet from Hawra, Kolkata India is the editor of Saranga literary magazine and Kolkatar Jishu an international poetry magazine. He is the secretary of Howrah kabita utsav West Bengal. Recipient of few awards. He has nineteen poetry collection, 3 english translated books and 13 edited books.
Ahmed Tahsin Shams There is no…but… [Moon-light moves keeping pace with two figures walking in a desert] "What do you want?" a tyrannical tone knocks. "Why would I tell you?" shrugs the wanderer. "Whom to, then?" the grumpy says leaning back, putting one leg on the other, resting his elbows and buttock on his air-throne. It sure isn't a question. "Do you even have any other job rather than irritating passers-by?" negligence oozes out of wanderer's eyes. "So you consider trespassers and passers-by synonymous?" shaking his tummy scoffs Mr. King. "Is it your land?" laxity slides aside and eagerness shows up in the wanderer's eyes as if clouds making way for the moon. "Whose else, aye?" with poise the Authority throws an Apple he had started chewing before the Big Bang. "Should I leave?" the wanderer wonders. "Didn't you like it?" dances one of the Lord's brows. "Does it matter?" the wanderer turns around. "Who are you?" Owner's question pours as much curiosity as it could breed. "I'm a trespasser, aren't I?" smirks the wanderer. "What made you visit my land?" the Confused murmurs. "Can't I visit for Nothing?" the wanderer asks back aloud from far. "What is nothing?" frowns the One. [Clouds gradually wrap in the moon.] "What are you made of?" the Loner hears this, and no more.
Sajek-ki-sajish His life -- not a Rampal project! His coal life turned cold, but sheuli, kashphul, orchids bloomed when he first met his Green at Sajek-ki-Sajish! Sundarbans resembled her. He won’t let any Ram or Pal to corrupt that greeny-smile! Groves, at times, become rude, as goddess do. Even if it hurts, we bow. He also knows water can make one drown,
but without it, one might get choked in! “What a fragrant grove,” he whispered. The verses of the film ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ haunts: “There was only one thing the perfume could not do. It could not turn him into a person who could love and be loved like everyone else.” He literally prayed to his small-lettered gods: water, leaves, the sky, and the air, pleaded to allow him a walk in her green. And thus -- - be entwined, in all rains and sun shines. Ahmed Tahsin Shams is an academic, film-maker and communication consultant. He works at Notre Dame University Bangladesh. His debut poetry book named Theo 101 was published by Antivirus Publication (Liverpool, England) in 2015.
Germain Droogenbroodt The wisdom of unspoken words How Celan's Poems inspired me Although born in the Flemish part of Belgium where Dutch is the official language, as a youngster it was not the Flemish nor the Dutch poetry that fascinated me, but the French, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud… and even more the German. Initially the romantics and later Hölderlin, Rilke, as well as the East German poets Peter Huchel, Reiner Kunze. Years later, in the early eighties, I read in a German literary magazine Todesfuge (Fugue of Death) by Paul Celan. The language and the style of the poetry were totally new and impressed me greatly. The poem not only describes realistically the terrible event, the killing of the Jews by the Nazis, but leaves the reader freedom of interpretation. The rhythm, the repetition of “we drink” makes the poem even more dramatic: Dark milk of daybreak we drink it in the evening, we drink it at noon and in the morning, we drink it at night, we drink and we drink. In the original German version, the verses sound even more melodious, but the musicality of the poem does not reduce the horror, the drama, on the contrary it increases it. That poem incited me to read more poetry by that Jewish poet, born as Paul Antschel or Anczel 1920 in Czernowiz, Bukovina. His parents had been killed by the Nazis and he had been forced to work in a labour camp till it was dissolved in 1944.
Fuge of Death, written in Bucharest in 1945, is probably his most famous poem, published for the first time in The Romanian periodical Contemporanul, Bucharest 2.5.1947 entitled "Tangoul mortii" (Tango of Death), translated in Romanian by his Bucharest friend Petre Solomon, the poem was included in his first poetry book Der Sand aus den Urnen (The Sand of the Urns) published in Vienna in 1948, but withdrawn by the poet because of many misprints. His second book Mohn und Gedächtnis (Poppy and Memory), published 1952 in Germany by the well-known German publisher Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, contained as well Fugue of Death, the new title of the poem, but also Corona, Zähle die Mandeln (Count the Almonds) and other fascinating poems, in German poetry a completely new tone, call it, so typical for Celan’s style the poetic expression of Sprachlosigkeit, speechlessness, a style which characterizes Celan's complete poetic oeuvre: the expression of what can’t be said, leaving each individual reader to unravel the unspoken which can be understood in several ways. The language remains fundamental, personal, although she had to pass through her own perplexity, the darkness, the horror. (Paul Celan spent most of his life in Paris and was also a very active translator. He translated works of Arthur Rimbaud, Guillaume Apollinaire, Henri Michaux, René Char, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Shakespeare as well as the Russians poets like Alexander Blok, Ossip Mandelstam and other poets.) "Much of Celan's later poetry can be intuitively grasped, but not rendered in another language, without as much knowledge as possible of his sources" pretends correctly Michael Hamburger who translated a ample selection of Celan's poem, published by Penguin Books. I also translated a few poems of Celan, but his language is so personal that many of his poems cannot be rendered correctly in another language. Celan had seen death with his own eyes, anguish, darkness and the stigma of death accompanied him all his life, present in many of his poems, as he writes in the last verses of a poem from Mohn und Gedächtnis, his first poetry collection published in Germany "Count the almonds, / count, what was bitter and kept you awake, / count me among 237
them... the death layed the arm around you, and the three of you walked through the evening. He committed suicide by drowning in the Seine in April 1970.
The unspoken: a source of inspiration My first poetry books, "Forty at the Wall", "Palpable Absence" and "Do you know the Country? Meditations at Lake Como", considered neo-romantic by literary critics, were slightly influenced by German nature poets, but after having visited many times the Far East, having discovered and studied Asian philosophies, starting with "The Road", written in India and translated into Chinese as TAO, my poetry made a big change and became more philosophic. Taoist, pretend the Chinese, or ZEN according to the Japanese. Where nature poetry is descriptive, influenced by the surroundings, philosophical poetry is a reality to be discovered. Paul Celan described it perfectly: Wirklichkeit ist nicht./Wirklichkeit will gesucht und gewonnen sein" (Reality does not exist, reality wants to be searched and gained). The Spanish poet JosĂŠ Ă ngel Valente who also translated in Spanish a number of Celan's poems claimed "As a multiplier of feelings the poem surpasses all possible feelings". However, the poems should not show itself to the reader undressed and nude, it should - as it is in Celan's poetry - conserve what constitutes poetry: the fascination of the enigma. Contrary to Celan, I try to write a kind of poetry which is, apparently, simple, but profound. However, the change from descriptive to more philosophical poetry, to find a "new reality", requires a free mind, I therefore have to leave my "normal" daily life, find a place without people and other elements, such as noise, TV, smartphone, things which distract the spirit, the thinking, inspiration: obstructing the arrival of the word at the white, the empty paper. Because Paul Celan's poetry leaves that freedom of personal interpretation, wherever I go to write, I always carry with me his books. Although my poetry is completely different from Celan's, through the years, as much as eleven poems refer in some or other way to his verses. The poem "Nighthorn" dedicated to Paul Celan, published in "Do you know the Country?" refers to his suicide as does the poem "As one knows..." from "Conversation with the 238
Hereafter". The poem "Thorn or Rose " refers to his poem Mandorla and to Celan's life, full of dramatic events which deeply influenced his life and his poetry: the killing of his parents, death of his first child shortly after its birth, his complicated love affair with the Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann and last but not least the claims of plagiarism by the widow of the poet Yvan Goll, resulting in a press campaign, leaving deep scars in Celan's psyche, the sense of life. "When my Lip bleeds by the Language" clearly refers to Celan's very personal poetry, full of neologisms, unusual words and expressions. The poem "Morning Star" with a verse of Paul Celan "Oh Flower of Time" inspired me for the title of my latest publish poetry book "The Ephemeral Flower of Time" whereas the poem "Don't count me among the Almonds" , selected from my latest, not yet published book "The Unrest of the Word" is a poetic response to Celan's verses "Make me bitter, count me with the almonds" as is "Mandorla". The misleading speeches of some demagogue politicians concerning the corona virus, resulting to the death of hundred thousand of people, as did Hitler's agitating speeches, reminded and inspired me to "Fugue of Death" one of my recent poems.
Poems referring to Paul Celanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s poetry (English translation in collaboration with Stanley Barkan)
Nighttime at the eastern window the tiny wandering figure of emotion now appears to him â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Paul Celan Along the branches of the trees darkness ascends now, and the evening, dying a thousand deaths condenses into night adorning with its black veil the twinkling light, the shards of the day.
At the window of my room as a vain beacon burns— the electric light. from: “Palpable Absence”
for Paul Celan
Full moon strangling light on the black water of the lake magic circle where mosquitoes dance the ghosts of deceased poets following the nighthorn’s call lost in the haze. From “Do you know the Country?, Meditations at Lake Como”
As one knows…
When the night wrecked its forest . . . Paul Celan As one knows an underground river isn’t visible but is still there so he knows how the defenseless body leaks out its life and destroys itself —exactly at this moment when life seems easier than ever before.
Thorn or Rose
Everything is in the mandorla Paul Celan Twilight displaces the borders of light invisible now the stumbling stone thorn of rose gables the night
with driftwood and shells charcoal glows in the heart reading with caressing fingers the yellowed images of olden days From: “The Dewdrops of Dawn”, Poems 1984-2012
A voice, out of which you take the drink. Paul Celan Star-drinking the moon-mouth at the night’s vault voice-goblet quenching-drink for the low-tide poppy-glow in the breakers of the heart. From “Unshadowed Light”
When my lip blends by the language for Paul Celan The ice-wind tears the clockface shadowy bends the hands razor-sharp in the dawn’s glow— the bird’s cry. From: “In the Stream of Time, Meditations in the Himalayas”
What is more Everything is less, than it is. Everything is more . . . Paul Celan What the magpie of the night with its black beak wrote does daybreak not repeat the moonmouth closes is swallowed down airways cross and erase the tracks in the eye-lens colors and forms turn up
slow unveiling of the visible which is more than what it is. From “In the Stream of Time, Meditatioin in the Himalayas””
Morning star “Oh Flower of Time” Paul Celan The morning star intoxicated by obscure sources, mirrors herself in the morning red then vanishes with the faded dreams of night ignited by the light the day wakes ephemeral flower of time. From “The Ephemeral Flower of Time”
Don’t count me among the almonds Make me bitter, count me with the almonds —Paul Celan Don’t count me among them, don’t count me with what was bitter or too dark. Don’t count me among the bitter almonds. Give me, when the night is too dark, the light of the stars and the hope of dawn, the poppy of the dream. From “The Unrest of the Word,” unpublished Lake Como, Italy, 15.6.2016
Mandorla (The nothingness) In the almond, what is in the almond? The nothingness . . . Paul Celan Soundless foghorn the moist mouth behind the bars
of darkness don’t call me don’t give me a name other than someone who passed by. From “Unshadowed Light”
Fugue of death* (Coronavirus) To Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Jair Bolsonaro… Death, we drink you, we drink you with our eyes, we drink you with our ears we drink you day by day Dead, no time is left to say goodbye, no time to dig your graves, the leaders paved the road with hypocrisy and dazzling lies. Death, we drink you, we drink you with our eyes, we drink you with our ears we drink you day by day. Altea, Spain, 28.3.2020 *Todesfuge (Fugue of death), famous poem by Paul Celan about the extermination of Jews by the Nazis Germain Droogenbroodt is yearly invited at the most prestigious international poetry festivals, received many awards and was nominated in 2017 for the Nobel Prize of Literature. He wrote 14 books of poetry published so far in 19 countries.
Winston Farrell Revolutionary son (For Martin Codogan) Liberated brother you shine like an elder Priest on high amongst your peers and prophets Ethiopia’s hands cradle you to earth Goodbye to green to red to black struggle. So many rivers we are afraid to cross Over our own Atlantic-ghost of history We need your guidance now more than ever Your flaming brimstone, your fiery foresight. Rudi, babies are rebelling in this hell Comrades yell their hands stretched up to heaven Fresh flowers wither brown, die in the drought This evening in your honour we break bread We break mould; we break heart and soul in song Farewell old soldier, rest triumphant troubadour.
The voice This is the voice of the voice in the voice Bringing the word out the void into voice It’s the sound of the message in the word Voicing the past in the present future In a time and a place we now call dread This is the voice of the seed now it spring From a crack in the cliff of the country 0ut of the sands of the sure and the holy Up from the gutters of the city of commerce Straight to the gates of the up middle terrace This is the voice of the rage in the yout’s From the lips of the pain where the blood shoots It’s an echo in the head bottled up In the bowels of the ship deep within The soul of this modern society 244
This is the voice of the song where it pitch Note the blues in the shoes of a torn lyric Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a mobile cellular scankking beat To a r n b hip-hop dance-hall high A new tune from the class-room to the streets. This is the voice of the young up coming Stretching the rope at the back of the boundary Pulling and pushing at times umbilical Tugging on the pulse of yesterdayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dream A brighter tomorrow will begin today. Winston Farrell is a poet, playwright and theatre practitioner in Barbados. A graduate of the University of Leeds with a Masters in Theatre and Development Studies. Follow @i.farrell
Joyce Ashuntantang It was a question of time Africa has been riddled with avoidable wars. From Biafra to Cabinda the embers are not dead From Liberia to Sierra Leone, the nightmare was real From South Sudan to Congo, peace is still a dream Cameroon was never THAT Africa The triangle cradled fragile peace As Anglophones pushed the argument of force Hoping for reason to block barrels of guns Today, Cameroon makes THE list Cries of “water na water” gauge bullets mid air Gruesome photos of dead bodies abound And refugees cross borders of spirits and earth. Displaced from our place of innocence Women are trapped in bushes stuffing moss for pads Children out of school use blood to write their names Graves are overrun with grass and abandoned bones They cannot say they did not see this coming They cannot say we were not a sleeping volcano They cannot say our blood is not on their heads 56 years and counting; it was a question of time.
A village in seven vignettes Vignette 1 She staggers, to the rhythm of gunshots Fragments of her younger self float in circles Younger feet scurry away in bushes; Bullets hit the walls around her; she’s 84
You have to do something. They are in my village! They will burn the village. That is all I have, a place to call home. Do everything you can!
Vignette 2: He did not know the village had moved Home was now in the bush He had no time to find out A bullet found his heart in his chest They just killed my cousin! You have to do something. No, he was not armed. Just returned from Mamfe. Got down from a bus and got a bullet. Make them leave. You have five stars!
Vignette 3 Her cry pieced the night like an owl The rain soaked the crowded etem No one could see what had bitten her Her breath labored until the break of day Little lights appeared in our sky like spies. My people know it is them! Drones? Who sends drones to a village? Help me. You are my friend; Help me! My people!
Vignette 4 Who betrayed the land; calling the brutes in? Who told of our ancestral secrets and hideouts? Who gave our names to the slaughterhouse? Who gave our Dane gun count? The fight was fierce! My peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s valor is now in song. They fought a tiger with bare hands and won. My people are laughing in the bush. Their laughter mocks the fear of impending doom.
Vignette 5 Someone is missing in the bush, they say. No one ever got missing in the village Her emptied bowels create a stench Someone has her heart, kidney and more My people cannot live like this. Yes, she was found dead with missing body parts Do something! The ground is soaked in blood. The earth is shifting under us.
Vignette 6: They are in our houses They are eating our fowls They are eating our goats Their boots trample our graves Do you hear me? They are spitting on our dead. But you are the big boss. No Anglo is a boss? Are you still there?
Vignette 7: Two lifeless bodies found Young men tending the wounded Red pieces of cloth falsely tag them Their blood is begging revenge Do you hear me? My people are hunters. They wrestled with animals long ago. No, we cannot stop them. That is their land. Guns may kill, but guts fight!
Sonnet Mondal The lost mango tree The mango tree which I reared is lost today somewhere in the jungle of my wishes. I used to throw whole mangoes in our backyard to see them grow up into trees. Not a single leaf sprouted except from a half-eaten one. After watering it in its infancy I became engaged wining and dining with my life. After years — today a mangrove in our backyard shaded my memories from the hard sun of forgetfulness. I wish I had left myself to the charity of wilderness.
Beginnings When I read a book of poems I try to think of the moment when the first flow of thoughts gushed through its pages. When I hear a music album I try to think of the moment when the first note of the first track in it kissed the muse of its roots.
When I walk barefoot, pressing ageless soils and gravels — I try to think of the moment when the earth was reared from ashes. But, never do they recite the first anecdote of the planet. My head like a shapeless asteroid revolves around beginnings — to peer inside the static stance of time and the state of mind that sets it in motion. Sonnet Mondal writes from Kolkata and is the author of Karmic Chanting (Copper Coin 2018) and five other books of poetry. He directs Kolkata's International Poetry Festival- Chair Poetry Evenings and serves as the Managing Editor of Verseville magazine.
Ashraf Aboul-Yazid Modern egyptian poetry seeking an identity In the middle of hard dilemmas, severe wars and bloody revolutions, people of literature try to find their solid roots that help them standing steady in the face of those strong quakes which could destroy everything. Amid all of modern changes forcing Egyptian poets, they seek for their identity; once by cultivating their old Sufi heritage for an inspiration, looking back in anger at the classic forms of poetry for a revenge, or going towards the west; the eternal conqueror, trying to invade it in return through languages, by finding a foot space for their words in different tongues. Some poets found that their poetic fathers are already dead or old, and the nostalgia for the past is more than having passion for the future: they think that any poet, in ancient history, who had spiritual anxiety, is a modern poet. “Constantine Cavafy (1863 – 1933), who was an Egyptian Greek poet, journalist and civil servant, is considered the poet of the present and the next moment, despite his many works is very old; he seems as if he is writing from grave. The conclusion is: If you want to kill poetry, it is very easy: limit it to one recipe or one pattern. Poetry is bigger than poets, and wider of all styles, it is a free bird that you cannot keep in cages.” (1). Looking at the different types and forms of Egyptian poetry today, I find it difficult to neglect the idea that getting quotes from the Sufi heritage would give us modern Sufi poets!
This is not true. Real Sufi poets made their hard roads as faithful seekers not naive imitators. A modern poet can have his or her own Sufism by getting himself/ herself a path of a faithful mission, but copying Sufi texts or inserting old Sufi verses in a modern poem will not make it a piece of Sufi literature. It was clear that “the emergence of a normative Sufi tradition during the fourth / tenth century can be traced most clearly in the appearance of a specialized literature that was self-consciously about Sufis and Sufism.” (2) But it is also obvious that such social inputs are rarely or impossible to be repeated. A modern poet is busy introducing himself openly to audience more than isolating himself from the noisy society. It is common to have modern poets who get inspired by mythology they read about or those who write daily simple poems expressing their hatred of busy crowded polluted cities without leaving them! Poets who run away to the good nature in the countryside, and poets who write direct speeches, are also common types of the modern poetry writing. You can believe them all, but I will not believe a poet fighting the crowd for a space to write a Sufi poem! The Identity I understand in the modern Egyptian poetry is the living resistance. An Egyptian poet, being an Egyptian citizen, must be trained to resist. He (she) resists the tough routine in governmental offices, the poverty that spread faster than a fire in a windy day, the oppression that faces anyone who is trying to criticize, and the difficulties a citizen suffers to live in good conditions suitable for a human being. This citizen is clearly described in Azmi Abdulwahab’s poem “Wax Museum”, from his collection “Walking in the Storm”, translated by Nasr Abdel Rahman, and dedicated to a man carrying the sea on his shoulders (3):
Wax Museum Trees hate to stand still, Sparrows were killed by silence, Trains died waiting 252
At the stations, Phones do not transmit speech Between lovers. Lovers jailed joy in their Eyes. Teenagers looked for a suitable park To share their love. Stiffenedon benches, They left gaps between their bodies For the wind to proveits Ascendancy. Cold devoured the limbs Of men While Women surrendered In an unequal battle With loneliness, Moreover; the innocence of children Grew old. Everything was muted Oh, God! Set this city free From the grip of a woman; Captured the sun in her hand, Before the whole universe Turns into a wax museum. In a country where poets are repeatedly mistreated, it is difficult to talk away from the need for resisting poems, where this resisting poetry becomes an identity in itself. A modern poet sums up that way the country treated the Egyptian iconic poets: â&#x20AC;&#x153;We killed Salah Abdel Sabour (4), we arrested Fouad Haddad (5), we expelled Afifi Matar(6), and Hijazi(7)- who is one of our greatest poetsattacked us and we insulted him. As for Amal Dunqul(8), we ate his dead flesh and became more delicious than he was alive, cursing parties that repeat annually even though he is a great poet, and it is not appropriate for him to deny his poetry because it does not suit your taste, or because you want to adapt
it to your artistic standards, or because you want to tailor his poems to the size of globalization”.(1) It is very common that the images of hungry children insert themselves in love poems, as Mohammed El Hedeiny (9) writes in his poem - Transitions before and after death: I am a chemical substance, there is no question about that. I was solid when the hands threw me like a rubber ball until I was excluded from the bread queue, then I returned to my hungry children empty-handed. I was liquid when the shell hit me and knocked me down, and while the tears of heartbreak and soreness were flowing on my face, the thirsty ground insects were feeding on my hemorrhage. And I became gas when I died, then my body was buried and eventually I have nothing left only a name whose letters faded through the air. These days, reading Egyptian poems takes you away of certainty, it is a journey full of questions rather giving answers, a poet suspects everything and he feels suspicious about everyone. It is obvious for all generations, especially the elder one who lost faith in many of his early belief about many principals. Poet Gamal Al Qassas (10) recalls, in a poem entitled “I was born one morning under the convolvulus, translated by Kamal Mustafa Gad: I was born one morning under the convolvulus “I was born one morning under the convolvulus I don’t know how my mother carried me to the far lands while I was turning round myself in her womb. She didn't give the usual scream . Only with a tendered smile , touched gently my shoulders ,
whispered in my ears : my son. This world is called life You will still a kid swimming in my soul At nine My mum went to the sky and didn't come back. Since that day, I have been racing my death I don't know what I need exactly How can I keep my heart in the wax discs I steal -from his pain - the dough of emptiness to feel that I was that boy who was born under the convolvulus . The pick of cock in his left thumb when they covered him with a flowery colorful scarf. Many times I lost my animal, its smell attracted the other ones, they were humans like me but they ignored the necessities of rhythm suspected of the love of laziness In the blue music In the convolvulus.” Thinking is less profound than intellect: This is how “the world arranges itself in the poem.” In the epic poem ““Icarus or Plotting the Dark: Diaries of the January Revolution” which was written by Alaa Abdel Hadi, (11):
Diaries of the January Revolution “Once upon a time, writing was my safe haven. I bite my lips – to feel normal – and draw a smile. There was a poet standing under the moon beams. He threw his fishing line beyond the window and before the tree, then rolled up his sleeves and waited. There were scattered texts that no one collected and a mysteriously beautiful beat in the air. There were dumb frogs under the surface that never stopped croaking, and poems crying like the newborn left unintentionally in 255
the dark so they might be seen and fill eyes like tears and dust. It's painful to smile to all of those, or to flow like water when water is the first to drown! Should you have dreamt of death even if it were silly, even if you met some of them there? Should you have escaped to the suburb, to a blank sheet, so you do not live lonely?â&#x20AC;? Along the vast verses of his book we agree with Alaa Alaa Abdel Hadi: Any exact interpretation of poetry is a grave mistake. Some poetry is as ripe as the fruit that cannot be eaten twice! Poetry is a muse that no one owns. Poetry is a gift; it cannot be tutored! Writing is the exhale of poetry; silence its inhale! We meet our forsaken thoughts in poetry. In poetry, secrecy is a new innovation. The poem is the poet's house and grave. Blessed is the ignorant poet! The viable poetic text puts on masks. Rhyme and rhythm are exceptions in poetry. Life is the only value the poet looks for in his poem. Artifice and innocence are juxtaposed in the poetic text. Poets create their predecessors and persist. The least skill in poetry is worth a lot. The poet returns to his poem like an old friend. As if poetry is the game of the extravagant! Does it cancel its reassuring rhetoric and spread its garment to show us its material, so we leave its outdated craftsmanship and tell the tales using only the taste of letters Poetry never stops screaming in everything, but we do not listen carefully. With labor, the poem seems distant despite its closeness. Poetry is a false understanding, a false interpretation, & a false vow. Poetry is faithful to none but itself. I am poetry: the wretched, faces and words. Poetry is not a house for creed. The poet arranges sense rather than bursting meaning. Poetry is not a master everywhere. The examples I brought referring to these mentioned above poets, who are aged from 30s to 70 years, could have a common vision that considers the misery of poet in our modern times. We cannot separate between the poet and society where suffering is also uniting between them.
Notes: (1) Poet Emad Abo Saleh, the Egyptian poet, in an interview for Akhbar Al Adab weekly, by Hassan Abdel Maogoud, republished in the AsiaN, November 7, 2020 (2) Sufism, the Formative Period, Ahmet T. Karamustafa, AUC, Cairo, 2007, p. 83 (3) Azmi Abdulwahab, Egyptian poet with a bachelor of Arts in Arabic Language Department, Mansoura University. He is member of the Egyptian Syndicate of Journalists. He works as head of the cultural section of the "Al-Ahram Al-Arabi" weekly magazine. He published eight collections of poetry in Cairo and Beirut. (4) Salah Abdel Sabour, (May 1931 – 14 August 1981) was an Egyptian free verse poet, editor, playwright and essayist (5) Fouad Haddad (1927–1985) was an Egyptian poet, who wrote in the Egyptian vernacular. (6) Muhammad Afifi Matar (1935 – 28 June 2010), was a leading Egyptian poet. (7) Ahmed Abdel Muti Hijazi (born in 1935) is an Egyptian contemporary poet. (8) Amal Abul-Qassem Donqol (1940 – 1983) was an Egyptian poet whose poems were influenced by Greek mythology, then pre-Islamic and Islamic imagery to modernize Arabic poetry. (9) Mohammed El Hedeiny’s Nobody There, very short stories, Egypt, 2017, won the State Incentive Award for Literature. (10) Gamal Al Qassas (b. 1950) is a co-founder of Idaa Group (Illumination), one of the leading voices in modern poetry movement since 1970s. (11) Alaa Abdel Hadi (1956), Egyptian poet, critic, Ph. D. in Literary Criticism/ Comparative Literature, Secretary General of Arab Writers’ Union. Chairman of the Egyptian Writers’ Union Icarus or Plotting the Dark: Diaries of the January Revolution, Cairo, published by the Egyptian Book Authority: 2016.
Ashraf Aboul-Yazid, Egypt. President, Asia Journalist Association. Some of his 35 books were translated into 7 languages, winner of Manhae Prize in Literature, Korea, 2014.
Jahidul Huq Handkerchief The one in my hand is a piece of cloth, merely a scrap of woven fabric. Only in your hand have I seen, for the first time, a fistful of fabric turn into a handkerchief. How delicate and fine – with an admixture of fragrance of your breath, ‘Les fleurs du mal’ become a bouquet held by your fingers, sometimes gliding along glistening sweat, sucking up your kisses. I filled my eyes with the display of all those red dots in blue -- the blue of your eyes dotted by the red glow of your wet lips. They remain memorable in the midst of my grief, my sorrows being their subject-serf. Do you recall how I used to entreat, “Why don’t you buy me a handkerchief like that?” And you responded merrily with flirtatious eyes, saying, “Don’t you know that giving handkerchiefs causes heartbreaks, brings on the rifts and distractions in the sojourns of ecstasy! Woven or embroidered patterns, you know, create encumbrance.” I know. Even now, whenever I buy handkerchiefs, I remember. You seem to have forgotten. But I keep weaving words on my loom, knitting you with exquisite designs drawn in my dreams, those intricate ones you refused to give me are now blowing in the wind against endless clouds. Translated by Farida Majid
This train is named Garcia Lorca 1. This train is named Garcia Lorca. It runs back and forth Barcelona-Granada (half of it then goes to Malaga). The air becomes heavy with the songs of sailors. Andalusia's heart spills over in its fountains. The day wipes off its sweat on a summer day, dreams create waves in the olive groves. What sorrow lurks behind even as the twilight dances in wide swipes of its red skirt? What sad lament did the wind heave in the orange garden on that night of the assassins? O twilight! You are the dear maiden of which gypsy tribe? The crimson red fever of dance swings through your veins. Your lips are spring-like, spilling forth the trilling songs! What a joy is in this country, and how sweet are its maidens! The intricate motifs of Alhambra are like talking memories, and they bring to mind the diamond of your eyes. Dust of the olden day blows at the galloping horses' hoofs. Who says this country is frozen, dead? Warm life bubbles over and above all the deceased. Grains, poetry, wine, sunlight and sweat are playful — the full moon glows, oblivious of its dark phase. Yet, this soil was bloodied. And the soil tore its heart to speak out! Signals of woods, wide plains, hills and river banks recede fast from the view. Clouds float aimlessly like torn stanzas of a Qasida. Hours, weeks and years melt in the heat of the day's sunlight. Someone is also fleeing, leaving behind his heart in a dark cupboard!
There are also the ones that are hiding between the olive trees, and in the folds of the hills. They seek cover for their own shadows while burying others' lives in eternal chill.
2. A fragrance from afar tears through the breeze — the mind wonders on a calm day ripened by the sun. It is the season of Autumn, crowded, all savings dwindle needlessly in the end. Pain and doubt stoke the flames of memory increasing the severity of drought. Memories play the organ in my heart. sound of tears face the oncoming sunset. Ah! Spring is around the corner, promising a life with some madness! O girl! Sing us a sad lore! Someone strums up a cactus-tune on the guitar, and Cordova recedes farther away from far. Will the menacing shadows of the assassins stalk the heart? Where is the grave, that last bed in the eternal dark? Or is it still afloat in the air, awake and alone, in gloomy Madrid, in Granada, or somewhere in Spain? Or will it tap the breast and fish out the heart, still drunk and moonstruck? This train is named Garcia Lorca. It runs up and down Barcelona-Granada. This train is a very strange one! Each of its bogeyes is filled with sorrow. Nerves weep humming a delicate ghazal tune, the day's lameness listens to it intently.
O train, you run farther and farther away, as if far is somehow better, far better than what is near or current. What novelty is being cooked up in tomorrow's pot In a stew of terribly unfamiliar dreams? Yet your journey without stops brings on a dash of sadness on a full moon night the stars get soaked by which all night long. And it gives recitals of laments and elegies Pinning their lines across the arch of the sky as decorations, as dreams well-crafted. All it cares about is how to leave things behind. It cleaves the heart with love, the love that outpours from Andalusian founts, the love that gives the comely gypsy girl her curves.
3. Lorca, these lines of my poems, like guerillas, will hunt for your assassins. They will carry over the long decades the sound of tears, the incurable pain in the veins, and will raise gusts of turbulent wind in the hills, and in the olive gardens. This trains is named Garcia Lorca. It runs up and down Barcelona-Granada. Translated by Farida Majid Jahidul Huq is one of the major poets of modern bangla language. He also writes short stories, novel and lyrical poetry for song. Jahidul huq worked as Deputy Director General at Bangladesh Betar (Radio), Sinior Editor and Broadcaster at Radio Deutche Welle in Colone, Jahidul huq awarded Bangla Academy.
Claudia Piccinno The courage of the losers He has big eyes… Ismael a parched mouth Ikrahm, a ringing voice Aziz. They are far from the train of the wind the English Kindertransport when the war afflicted Europe. They are the kids on the way The innocent eyes of today, the lambs sacrificed to the cross by land and by sea Those we see parading at the tv news We the servants of Charon, We ”the civilians” we hostage of indifference, victims and possibly accomplices of a similar addiction.. We are on the edge of the path crowded with outstretched hands, we... we are motionless with our hidden little arms That do not essay to offer any help. He has big eyes… Ismael A parched mouth Ikrahm, A ringing voice Aziz. Din of bombs in their memories, at the foot sores chilblains and hands. The baton of the guards spares no one, It is worse than the swing of the tides, It seems the hunger of sharks. Poverty, famine, epidemics. Ismael, Ikrahm, Aziz; To go, to stay, to come back The civilized Europe has invented a deadly device:
the refugee camp to make us accustom to the diaspora of the Lambs to the obtuseness of our minds to the unmathed courage of the losers
Pain and strength I’m living your pain, oh mother! I feel the suffering veins of your arms. I sniffed the death rattle of a tired heart. I look at your intermittent sleep Like the falling drop slowly To sew the still tear of a tormented body. I breathed your strength without ever knowing Since my trip into your amniotic fluid. This is the legacy of your race... mother. Pain and strength. And rebirth. Because together with you I will reborn Once again, today as yesterday, Tomorrow and forever. There are inheritances that multiply themselves As they were pins on The equilibrium axis. Pain and strength. And rebirth. Claudia Piccinno is an Italian poet. She has published 34 poetry books, among her own poetry collections and other poets' translations into Italian language. She was conferred with the most prestigious award “Stele of Rosetta” in Istanbul in 2016. She is European editor for the international literary magazine Papirus in Turkey and for Atunis Magazine international. Her website is https://claudiapiccinno.weebly.com
Kalpna Singh-Chitnis Birds in pandemic A bird up in the tree is in distress. I cannot see her. I just hear her callings. Only the trees know the sorrows of the birds. ~~~ The young bird in the tree has been calling since morning. Perhaps she is hungry, and her parents have gone out to get some grub. I often see them at the shopping center by the food court and water fountain. In the lockdown, there is nothing there for them to eat. I invite the birds in the pandemic home for breakfast and lunch. I interview them. They have many stories to tell. I also write letters to the editors and ask Who wants to publish the stories of the birds? I receive a response It's absurd! ~~~ The bird's nest is on the ground. Her agony encompasses the sphere. She flutters around her broken home and collects the feathers scattered in her beak. She takes them to a safer place and comes back quickly to gather some more. She has been doing this all day today, without rest. Before nightfall, she must mend her nest.
Her fledglings have gone missing. One is dead. We just buried it under a tree. One in my hand is breathing inconsistently. The mother does not know. I can't let her baby be prey. I build the fledge a home, with leaves and grass. Until the mother returns, it is going to be here. We have to do this together.
What becomes of a ravished woman? A ravished woman turns into incense. The ashes of her body folded in her fluids, the splinters of her bones stick to roll on. Her spirit ignites. In her flame, she burns like Eucalyptus and Sandalwood, Rose and Jasmine, Champa, Frankincense, Tulsi, and Sage. Her perfume lingers heavily in the air. Kalpna Singh-Chitnis is an Indian American poet, writer, and Editor-in-Chief of Life and Legends. She has authored four poetry collections, and her works have appeared in notable journals worldwide. Website: www.kalpnasinghchitnis.com
Ayaz Rasool Nazki Three poems 1 One by one wound by wound, please remove all tapes, Band-Aids securely fastened bandages. let each gash open up each laceration weep; crimson red blood, drain the sinews and end the drought in the wilderness of my being let roses bloom let daffodils sprout. 2 Why no dogs bark in this dumb and deaf night? who is hiding in the dark across the street? what is hovering over the tree tops, and who is knocking at my door? 3. Night torments a bunch of blisters on my soles! Across the last desert before advent of dawn, I promised a lonely tree a nest; before I am gone. Ayaz Rasool Nazki is an important poet and Novelist from Kashmir, India. He writes in Kashmiri, Urdu and English. Professor Nazki belongs to a family of scholars and poets in Kashmir.
Bhisma Upreti Flower A flower teaches one To give out a smile To be humble And to truly live one's life But then people don't understand That a flower is also telling us other things 'Youth and smile are merely guests At the end, life too will dry out And will come to an end shortly It is so much better That one gives out sweet fragrance to everyone while one lives.' Translated by Sarthak Karki
Immense happiness You awoke even today morn that for you is for now your biggest happiness. Being sorrowful and full of tearful woes no reason have you to be so. For Nature readily bestows smiles and colourful hues. Rise into gratefulness oh man. Sing tunes of humbleness. Songs of hope and faith.
Your heartâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strumming a melody in tandem with your dynamic breath and raring to go eagerly are your feet. Translated by Meenu Minocha Bhisma Upreti is an award winning Nepali poet and writer. Total 21 books (poems, essays, travelogue and Novel) are in his credits. Currently, he is Secretary of PEN Nepal (Nepalese chapter of PEN International).
Hasna Jasimuddin Moudud Mystic poetry of Bangladesh Bangladesh is characterized by a unique coming together of many races, languages and religions. Its culture is a distinctive composite to which Jains, Buddhists, Hindus, Vaisnavas and Muslims have all contributed. From time to time Bangladesh searches for its roots as if trying to put back the missing parts in its long history. In the search for these roots we must look at its poetry. Defining poetry and tradition , C.M. Bowra states that poetry is the most important element of history. He maintains that poetry ensures the continuity of civilization by preserving the treasures of the past for future generations; in so doing it also predicts and shapes the future. The poetry of a nation reveals to us what that nation has seen and felt. In the absence of recorded history poetry can serve as a dependable documentation of the past. It unfolds a civilization. At the same time it enables us to know ourselves and to look at our own traditions from fresh perspective. Poetry serves as an important cultural vehicle. The translation of poetry allows us to look deeply into a foreign civilization and communicate with others. Though translation can never be an adequate substitute for the original, it is nevertheless a valuable instrument for spreading new outlooks and ideas, in showing us what kind of culture others experience, and for suggesting areas of exchange and the cooperation of ideas and techniques.
In 1907 an Indian scholar, Haraprashad Sastri, working in the Royal Archive in Nepal discovered a palm-leaf manuscript of 'Caryagiti', mystic poems by Bengali Buddhist poets. The poems, also collectively known as the 'Caryapada', were published by him in 1916. Sastri's discovery brought to light the oldest specimens not only of Bengali poetry but also of Indo-Aryan literature. According to Dr. Mohammad Shahidullah the discovery of the Caryagiti means that Bengali literature can be dated as far back as the seventh century. It is probable that the language had developed a hundred years before this. These poem-songs in old Bengali, designed to be sung with a particular raga, constitute an integral part of the heritage of Bangladesh and the basis of a long established tradition of poetry which has survived to the present day. These verses by Buddhist mystic poets are not only beautifully written and add greatly to Bengali literary traditions but they also constitute an invaluable source for the study of Bengali society and the Buddhist religion between the seventh and twelfth centuries. They are a particularly important discovery, since there are very few historical documents of the period in existence. Although the Siddhacaryas, the writers of the Caryagiti dealt primarily with certain deeper metaphysical problems of tantric Buddhism, they also described their world. They give us a vivid account of the life and occupations of the common people, their work, events of birth, marriage and death, religious activities, dress and ornaments, food and utensils, and music and musical instruments. There is also a beautiful description of the riverine and green eastern part of Bengal which is Bangladesh today. The poems describe rivers, canals, ponds, muddy shores, various types of boats and their different parts, ferrying, and rowing: all these were used by the Siddhacaryas as spiritual symbols. The Bengali Siddhas, Buddhist mystics, used poetry as a vehicle for teaching one of the most difficult and mystic religions, that known as the Shahajia mystic school of Buddhism. Through the use of the mother tongue of the common people, the mystic poets conveyed serious religious philosophies. The poems are a part of 270
the cultural and religious heritage of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Although these songs are still ritually sung in Nepal and Bhutan very little research has been carried out on the subject. They deserve to be known outside the region. According to Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah, the Caryagiti as a literary genre are the origins of both the later Vaisnavaite Sanskrit and vernacular songs and the Persian ghazals. The main characteristics of Buddhist songs, according to Dr. Shahidullah, are: a) They are short rhymed poems intended for singing, b) The name of the composer appears in the last verse, c) They are near erotic in theme? The Caryagiti influenced Gita-govinda, a famous Sanskrit work of the Bengali poet Jayader and Vaisnava Padabali, and, much later, Rabindranath Tagore and the Baul songs of Bangladesh. Gita-govinda is a celebration of love between Krishna, the god of love, and Radha. Divine love is humanized and the poems present erotic mysticism. Gita-govinda is written in a Kavya form, divided into formal cantos, and includes lyric drama, pastoral, an opera, a melodrama and a refined Yatra or play. The poems do not follow the Sanskrit tradition but bear a close resemblance to the spirit and style of the Caryagiti and old Bengali poetry. The musical padabalis, although composed in Sanskrit, actually follow the Bengali manner of expression and use rhymed and melodious moraic meters, uncommon in Sanskrit poems. Tagore was greatly influenced by the Baul songs during his stay in East Bengal, as he frequently mentions in his writings. In Bangladesh the Shahajia Baul songs continue the tradition today. My main objective here is to provide an anthology in English of the poems from Sastriâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s text. There have been three attempts to translate the Caryagiti into English but in no case did any of the scholars have access to the original manuscript, depending instead on Tibetan and Mongolian translations and on the Sanskrit notes provided in the manuscript by the Sanskrit commentator, Munidatta.
The need to publish an up-to-date translation is particularly urgent, since the original palm-leaf manuscript in Nepal appears to be missing and is therefore no longer available to scholars of the Caryagiti. My translation is, for the first time, entirely based on the primary source and on a microfilm copy of the original manuscript in my possession. In addition to the Sastri collection, I am including three poems which are missing in the Nepal collection and which have since been retrieved from Tibetan sources. I have also included three Caryas composed by Atisa Srigana Dipankara, More importantly, this anthology includes a second Caryagiti manuscript which I discovered during an extensive search in Nepal in 1984 and 1988; the paper manuscript containing these Caryagiti has not bees published anywhere. It is possible that the source of this manuscript is of the same age, or older than, the manuscript found by Sastri. My publication of this finding will. I hope encourage other scholars to search for old manuscripts which still lie buried in archives and temples and which are in danger of being destroyed. For the first time in an English edition, this anthology includes the iconography and life sketches of the Siddhas from the school of the famous eighty-four Siddhas. In translating these poems I have been struck by their simplicity and grace and I have attempted to use simple English in order to make them more readable. Whilst I have kept as close as possible to the original, I have also tried to retain a local flavor. Both in my translations and commentaries I have avoided burdening the reader with notes, strictly adhering to the view that the poems should speak for themselves. I have deliberately treated them with a light hand so as not to overburden them with my own interpretations of their meanings and inner-meanings. After all, who can be sure what the poets really meant? Besides, if everything were to be explained, it would dilute the mystic qualities of the poems. The text The discovery of the palm-leaf manuscript of Caryagiti by Bengali
Buddhist poets has pushed back the history of Bengali literature to over a thousand years. The poems, collectively known as the Caryapadas were discovered in 1907 by the Indian scholar Haraprashad Sastri in the Royal Archive of Nepal and were published in 1916. This discovery brought to light the oldest specimen not only of Bengali poetry but also of Indo-Aryan literature. The manuscript published by Sastri and entitled Hajar Bacharer Purana Bangala Bhasay Bauddha Gaan o Doha (â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Buddhist songs and couplets in one thousand year old Bengali languageâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;) contains forty-six songs and a fragment of one further song. It consists of sixty-nine folios with writing on both sides. The missing songs are nos. 24, 25 and 48 and the last line of song 23. These songs are preserved in Tibetan translations. The original manuscript may have been longer, since the commentary by Munidatta to song 50 is incomplete. The colophon in the Tibetan translation is missing. The manuscript is a commentary which quotes the songs it comments on. The text of Caryagiti and Munidatta is included in the Tibetan Bstan-'gyur or Tanjur. Besides the Sastri's discovery, Tibetan translations and Mongolian translations of the Caryagiti exist, which actually helped in the putting together of a complete anthology. It seems that Dr. Nilratan Sen alone had access to the only available Sastri manuscript of the Caryagiti, which he published in a facsimile reproduction of the manuscript in a Bengali edition. No other author seems to have actually worked with the primary source except Sastri who hand-copied the manuscripts as he discovered them. Per Kvaerne, the Norwegian scholar who translated Caryagiti wrote: The original MS utilized by Sastri has not been available for inspection. It fact, I have not been able to discover where, if at all, it is preserved.1 In view of this comment I have brought together two manuscripts for inspection by readers and new scholars. The Mongolian translation of the Tibetan text of Caryagiti is found in the Mongolian Tanjur vol. 49, folios 292b-345a, under the title Yabudal-un dayulal-un Sang-un tailburi. A copy of this rare Mongolian Tanjur is preserved in the State Public Library of the Mongolian People's Republic in Ulan Bator. 273
After an exhaustive search I have rediscovered only a few pages of the Sastri manuscripts, so long thought to be well preserved in the Nepalese Archive. The complete manuscripts exist on microfilm but the original manuscript is missing, except for a few pages which I am presenting in this text. In 1984, I discovered a second manuscript of the Caryagiti, on paper, in the Asha Archive. a private collection in Nepal. I am presenting this second manuscript of the Caryagiti, which has not yet been published anywhere. At a first reading the manuscripts seem to be quite similar, including the numbers of the missing poems in the palm-leaf manuscripts, which are now available on microfilm. The script in the second manuscript seems well defined. Although they seem to be similar, they must obviously stand as separate sources of the Caryagiti. I am also including three Caryatikas composed by Atisa Srigana Dipankara which I copied from Tanjur in Bhutan and from Dr. Aloka Chattopadhaya's English translations. Dr. M. Aries of Oxford University has provided me with the translation and comments which I am including in the present text. Rahul Samkrtyayan discovered an old palm-leaf manuscript of East Indian origin in the Sa-Skya monastery in Tibet. It includes fifteen songs by Vinasri, one by Sumai, one by Lui and one by Kanhapa. Others have discovered Carya songs composed at a much later date. I am including a few pages from Caryas composed after our present text, which I found in Nepal. (Illustration 5). The Caryas were songs and were used as accompaniments for dance, as was common in tantric rites. Solo and chorus were accompanied by musical instruments such as cymbals, ankle bells, Mridonga and drums. These songs are still being sung in Nepal and Bhutan and are sometimes danced to by the Vajracaryas in Nepal. The dance is expressed in slow motion with complex but rhythmic movements of the entire body, and is usually performed by old tantric Vajracaryas. I had the pleasure of witnessing Vajracarya dancing and singing at the Lalitkala Academy in Nepal. Sastri referred to the song-poems as Caryacaryaviniscaya, which
means determining what is and what is not practiced. This title, used by Sastri, is not found in the text itself. Perhaps Sastri used the title from the accompanying Sanskrit notes by Munidatta who uses the term in the introductory verse, 'ascarya-carya-caya.' It is the Tibetan translation which gives the title of the work, Carya-giti-kosha-vrtti Popularly the poems are known in Bengal as Carya-giri or Carya songs. The Caryagiti are accompanied by a detailed commentary in Sanskrit by one Munidatta. Munidatta was well-versed in the writings of the Siddhas – he commented on as well as reproduced the poems in a Sanskritised form. According to Per Kvaerne who has used Munidatta and Tibetan sources extensively in his translation: ‘While it is true that Caryagiti cannot be adequately understood without the help of Tibetan and Munidatta's commentary, it is equally true that the Tibetan translation is more or less unintelligible without constant reference to the basic text.’ It is for this reason that I felt that an English translation based on the Bengali text itself will be most relevant. __________________________________________________ 1Anthology
of Mexican Poetry, compiled by Octavio Paz , Paz (Bloomington : Indiana University Press 1971) p. 20.
Muhammad Shahidullah, Buddhist Mystic Songs, (Dacea: Renaissance Printers, 1974), p. xxix
Kvaeme, An Anthology of Buddhist Tantric Songs (Bangkok: White Orchid Press, 1986), p.1.
Hasna Jasimuddin Moudud, Former Professor University of Development Alternative, Former Lecturer, University of Dhaka. She has taught English at the Dhaka University and has been a Visiting Scholar at University of Oxford, at George Washington University and Harvard University.
Julio Pavanetti Complicity In the corner of mellowed kisses our great solar fury was silenced, disintegrated, oh Sylph of the sea, into deep and frenzied atoms. Crushed against the grey window they dispersed encompassing us through our trembling entangled bodies. In the complicity without cushion, from our corner of gasps, satisfied after a synchronized movement, a captured scene remained, while our chests were still beating in a vertical sea of lethargic sex.
Our beach of the past At the peak of dusk amid fading scenery, just as the sun searches the humid pearls that fall, blinding the mirror of the wind with its used repertoire of silver strands, we turned our backs to the rainbow breaking the clouds hidden in our packs. Meanwhile, in front of us the infinite sea with its crackling vast blue, moderates its symphony, unfastens its own cotton
against the multiform rocks and sinks into the dispersed sand that kisses this naked beach, where we came in the past to illuminate our dreams
Dawn Under the silenced care of a vigilant moon -after the rise of desirethe victorious revolution of our bodies was confirmed. Perspiring and exhausted by carnal spasms, defeated and triumphant at a time, we fell in the arms of Morpheus. After the expressions of love, numbed by the moment among red poppies, the dawn stormed in flapping prudently through space and time. Julio Pavanetti is a Uruguayan poet and a cultural promoter. He lives now in Villajoyosa, Spain. He is founder and President of the international poet’s association “Liceo Poético de Benidorm”. Director of the poetry collection "Azul" of Enkuadres Publishers, Alzira, Spain. *Director of the International Poetry Festival “Benidorm & Costa Blanca” (FIPBECO). He has published eleven books of poetry.
Carolyne Wright KZ "Arbeit Macht Frei" —Motto over the entrance of every Nazi concentration camp We walk in under the empty tower, snow falling on barbed-wire nets where the bodies of suicides hung for days. We follow signs to the treeless square, where the scythe blade, hunger, had its orders, and some lasted hours in the cold when all-night roll calls were as long as winter. We've come here deliberately in winter, field stubble black against the glare of snow. Our faces go colorless in wind, cold the final sentence of their bodies whose only identity by then was hunger. The old gate with its hated grillework sign walled off, we take snapshots to sign and send home, to show we've done right by winter. We've eaten nothing, to stand inside their hunger. We count, recount crimes committed in snow— those who sheltered their dying fellows' bodies from the work details, the transport trains, the cold. Before the afternoon is gone, the cold goes deep, troops into surrendered land. Signs direct us to one final site, where bodies slid into brick-kiln furnaces all winter or piled on iron stretchers in the snow like a plague year's random harvest. What hunger can we claim? Those who had no rest from hunger stepped into the ovens, knowing already the cold at the heart of the flame. They made no peace with snow. For them no quiet midnight sign from on high—what pilgrims seek at the bottom of winter— only the ebbing measure of their lives. Their bodies
are shadows now, ashing the footprints of everybody who walks here, ciphers carrying the place of hunger for us, who journey so easily in winter. Who is made free by the merciless work of cold? What we repeat when we can't read the signs-the story of our own tracks breaking off in snow. Snow has covered the final account of their bodies but we must learn the signs: they hungered, they were cold, and in Dachau it was always winter.
The miracle room
(Nosso Senhor do Bomfim Church: SĂŁo Salvador da Bahia) The Kodaks focus on the ceiling, a Baroque reliquary, doll factory of arms and legs. Facsimiles the grateful make of ghost limbs raised from the dead, silver medals from the mouths of infants who weren't supposed to live. Before-and-after photos, testimonies scotch-taped for years to the wall. The home-movie makers check their light meters and wonder what's held up the tour bus. They don't notice the little girl who comes in through the side door without a face. They don't see her cross herself, dip her fingers in holy water with coupons from the Bahia Hilton floating on its surface. No one notices her slide along the wall, finding her way with the help of plaster hands that catch hold of hers. The charter group doesn't know she's lighting a candle, kneeling before Our Lord of Facelessness, 279
Our Lord of Bomfim. They can't see the black madonnas in their sea-froth lace nod from the altars, raise carved hands in blessing. Not even the Cooks Tour guides reciting from the souvenir brochures glance over to see her rise, blink, sneeze once, press fingers to the deep rose of her mouth, and skip out the chapel door, swinging a mask from which the features have been erased.
Eulene meets crow/Eulene eats crow I Out of the estuarine crocodile's snuggled jaws, out of the mud-colored snort of the wild boar, browsing hock-deep in primordial slime, out of the deadly chiaroscuro of sunlight in thickets where the Bengal tiger blinks and whole subspecies of foliage rearrange themselves like silks around the throne of a potentate, out of the miasma, the stunted saline verdure of the Sunderbans, stunned and sun-weary, flapped
Crow that brackish-billed anathema, on a weekend tour of the desperate delta's last paradisiacal standoff, in a private launch doing loops through channels where hand-adzed atavistic scows groaned to their gunnels with teak, mahogany, and pearlsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; all the unprotected renderings of a preserve the government has set aside for spoilage.
Where boatmen poled their slow-motion plunder upstream to the nearest port, and sang ballads in mournful modes about honey-gatherers scraped up limbby-limb between the hives after some stiff-jointed, superannuated man-eater limped out of cover and sampled them for the sweetness of their flesh. Neither off-course nor off his feed, Crow relished these legends of gore and groanings wrested from the throat. New additions to his repertoire. He squawked and hopped up and down on the top of his Port-a-Parrot carrier, straining at his thin tin shackle till it snapped . . . . . . while his master, crouching at the prow and peering through binoculars, chatted with the aides-de-camp and took notes on shadows flitting behind the green purdah-curtain of the forest. Ignored, Crow spied his chances, soared remorselessly off.
II Meanwhile, upriver in her ancestral watering-hole, Kukurpukur, her Dogpatch-on-the-Deltaâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;
Eulene. Begum Eulene, with teased and hennaed beehive and Mandarin-lacquered claws, swathed in some filmy, glitter-sprinkled thing that revealed more than it concealed but veiled her up to the eyelids. Begum Eulene, practiced in all the arts of entrapment, with eunuchs to do her dirty work. 281
She was plotting her escape to the capital, away from this down-country duchess's idler's life: nothing to do but supervise the cook's boy whacking at cabbages with a king-sized scimitar, squabble with the sultan's wives and listen through the lattice-work grille of the women's wing to the hum of the rice crop growing. Might as well be Dubuque as Daulatpur. She put on her see-through burkha. With her favorite eunuch, Iqbal "Sneaky" Siddiqi, she crept out through the cistern window, dropped like a black leaf to the road below and hailed the nearest rickshaw into town. Now she lounged under the rotting canvas canopy of Hussein's Tea Stall and Kebab-O-Rama, swatting at flies and smoldering in the sultry air like some Thirties' cinema spitfire, looking to the local oglers like a houri from Hell.
III Suddenly, out of the sun blasting its jackhammer through every shanty off the square, exploded Crow. What had he noticed below? Tinfoil fringes shimmering on the handlebars of rickshaws, bottle shards glinting in trash outside the tea stalls? Crow's belly rumbled, thunder in a blackening sky. Words like "Truth" and "Beauty" corkscrewed through his brain, his appetite dangerously close to melt-down.
He closed his wings and dropped to a heap of used banana plates glorified with a nimbus of fruit flies . . . as Eulene whipped her seed-pearl veil back over her face and stepped out into mid-day's purgatorial blaze. She met Crow at the nadir of his divebomb: a black hole colliding with a neutron star. They picked themselves up and stared each other down--the recognition instant: two zeros canceling each other out. Crow unruffled his feathers and preened his pinions, a perfect study in nonchalance. Eulene, too, could do indifference but for this show she hunched her hackles and raised her burkha's anthracite-mesh wingsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; the pose crows know as Raven-Feigns-Rage. Could they gabble to each other, and from their colloquy across the species cobble together a world? Not in this stunned din, as the negative force fields fused and all Kukurpukur imploded. . . They'd tried their best to satisfy the catastrophists, as the earth collapsed into random gas and protoplasmic goo. Eulene and Crow flapped off into the phlogiston past the last tatter of the ozone layer. The planet gone poof beneath them.
For Ted Hughes and the original Crow Published in Mania Klepto: the Book of Eulene (Turning Point Books, 2011). Copyright ÂŠ 2011 by Carolyne Wright
A Note on "Eulene Meets Crow/Eulene Eats Crow" Ted Hughes was Guest of Honor at the Second—and last—Asia Poetry Festival held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in November 1989, a fête hosted by Bangladesh's then-President H. M. Ershad. One of Mr. Hughes's chief interests in accepting Ershad's invitation to Bangladesh was to visit the Sunderban, the forest covering the delta region of the Ganges River. It is one of the last remaining wild preserves of the Royal Bengal Tiger, which Mr. Hughes hoped to see in its natural habitat. Meanwhile, Eulene had recently arrived in the guise of personal factotum and gadfly-in-waiting to an American poet and translator (a.k.a. moi). Unable to languish indefinitely in the luggage storage area of this poet's Dhaka lodgings, Eulene burst out and found herself in surreptitious attendance at the poetry festival, seeking Crow (who had also not been invited.) There, unaware of Eulene's (and Crow's) shadow-presences, the American poet met Hughes and learned of his plan to see the Sunderban during his stay in Bangladesh. After Mr. Hughes's return to England, the poem began to struggle forth from the creative primal ooze, after Eulene stowed aboard the launch bearing the American poet on her own visit to the Sunderban. Mr. Hughes was in fact amused when Eulene informed him that she had plotted such a meeting with his poetic character since she had first read The Life and Songs of the Crow back in graduate school. She had bided her time, merely waiting for her occasion. An early version of this poem, which Eulene sent to Crow in England a few months later, is among Ted Hughes's papers in the Special Collections Department of Emory University's Robert F. Woodruff Library. The American poet, who happened to be teaching at Emory University that term, was moved to see this and other correspondence when she was permitted to view these papers a few weeks after Ted Hughes's death in late October 1998.
Keshab Sigdel With the waves of rara* Deceiving the pine trees standing in sentry The moon flirts with the lake In response The lake creates ripples of waves And splashes as if it were a rehearsal of an enticing dance Of a winter night! The moon, as always, Continues its own course In that caliginous night The lake sees the moonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s revived youthfulness Its seductive appearance Excites the lake And it liberates in the waves. In the light of the moon The lake appears intriguing My sickening heart Becomes even more impatient And, to pacify the unquenched desires My imagination dives into the lake. As the night exceeds The breathe of hostlers Evaporate and dissolve in the sky And the horses moving from the alleys nearby Wake up the lazy sleeps With their neck-bells. Travelers with their bag-packs Spend a night in the tents at the bank of Rara And anxiously wait for the sun to come out In the morning, They pick up their cameras
And click a photograph Of the sun's reflection On the lake. I keep waiting For the moon to come back again; When the birds and horses sleep Wearing the night’s somber I prepare myself to consume The excitement of the lake Rippling towards the edges In the obscene light of the moon! * Rara is the biggest and deepest fresh water lake in the Himalayas of Nepal.
Chengdu1 I rode on the turtle’s back Back to four centuries Along the Mingjiang River And the basin greeted me with Swaying crops and fruits I drank in the nectar of the greens I jumped and laughed And woke up at the station Where the city metro alarmed To resume to the South I watched the Pandas Dancing in their divine gestures Amidst the bamboo groves Dujiangyan2 Worked in and out To ensure the basin’s fertility We climbed the flyovers in the downtown That took us to a country of bliss Tian Fu3 is thy name O Chengdu!
I assume abundance runs through The sounds of the sparrows And the footprints of the turtles I just smile To see thousands of faces blurred In the speed of the super express highway. ___________________________________________________ A city in Sichuan Province of China Irrigation system in the Chengdu basin 3 Tian Fu in Chinese means something in abundance 1 2
Keshab Sigdel is a Nepali poet, editor, translator, academic and rights activist. An International Committee Member of the World Poetry Movement, he teaches poetry at Tribhuvan University.
Lopamudra Basu Phoenix park, eau claire, wisconsin In September, we walk down the trail bridge till the flotsam of two rivers and rocks break into a riot of summer color— purple, white and celadon green of many shaped eggplants lying next to heirloom cherry and sun gold tomatoes, serrano, Thai and jalapenos bursting with scorching flavors transporting us to bazaars of our past. The jazz band strikes up in the central square blending with voices of neighbors, children cackling, dogs whimpering, vendors clinking change, as flowers and fruits change hands. Among neighbors and yesteryear vendors, we spot our childhood companions: water spinach, Malabar spinach, squash and zucchini blossoms, the Gourd family headed by Bottle and Snake. We hug them like tender familiars, who would think we would find them so far north— in this cold land’s short growing season? Soon we will be in our home to blend this bounty into concoctions smelling of Calcutta summers. kitchens warm with sizzling mustard oil, spluttering of cumin and peppers, white rice on dark green banana leaves bordered with fragrant sides. Before we leave, an old woman in a stall gives us extra mint and basil, “as a gift.” a refugee from another country, not our own, her garden and her sweat transform our new country to our old.
Hiroshima One year ago. we hung folded paper cranes on the arch, near which boys and girls in school uniform sang songs of peace One year, since the fountains danced in the Peace Park silhouetted by the surviving dome of the epicenter. One year since we shed tears at the distorted metal lunch box in a case, next to Shinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s misshapen tricycle, surviving seventy years after the young boy who rode it, vaporized in seconds while others with burning bodies jumped into the seven rivers, chasing the illusion of relief. One year since we found the one- legged Shinto shrine or the old ash trees, mute witnesses for seventy years. The voices of the museum staff and survivors in their eighties grow faint Yet I return to you Hiroshima, as Susan Sarandon narrates on screen the old picture book of the deadly flash, liquid fires on rivers, bodies stripped of kimonos heaped near Miyajima and child clutching her chopstick, three days after biting into onigiri for breakfast. As the bullet train winds to your twin, the old port city of Nagasaki, girdled by the East China Sea and resting just below the peninsula of countries warring for nearly seventy years, where fierce bombs that can cross oceans and continents are the bargaining chips of powerful regimes ruling over hungry farmers. One year later, I touch the origami paper and cherry blossom incense sticks in my treasure chest of memories, holding the paper crane earring to my face, I see in the mirror, Miiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mother on a river of fire.
Victor Pogadaev & Anna Pogadaeva Kemala’s poems from the view of international literary criteria Every comparison is lame. It is difficult to compare the work of two talented authors because the work of each author reflects his unique personality. It is impossible, for example, to compare Leo Tolstoy's work "War and Peace" with Ivan Turgenev's work "Fathers and children". Both works by themselves are good, work on the actual theme and in terms of language also denigrate the rich and perfect literary language. It may be good to compare not the work but the influence of the work on the development of literature and the development of culture and society in general. If for example in the framework of a country this writer or that introduces innovation, a new way of writing then with that he enriches literature. And especially the importance of literary contribution to the development of culture and society. According to Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, poetry can be " bombs and banners". For proof we do not need to go far. In Indonesia, for example, the Taufiq Ismai’s poem I‘m shame to be an Indonesian in addition to the poem The Land of Tears by Sutardji and the old poems by Rendra including Blues For Bonnie became the banner of the struggle against the Soeharto regime and actually "made the 1998 Revolution" - their poems were heard in the meeting , processions, demonstrations (Victor Pogadaev, 2010: 13). 290
But of course through observation of world literature we can reveal certain criteria or characteristics that show the correlation of certain author's works with the international literary level. For example, diversity of themes, humanism, the subtlety and beauty of language, breadth of views, concern about the state of society and the situation in the world in general, reflections about the place of a poet in the international context. How can Kemala's works be evaluated in the context of the international literary criteria? We start with the concern about the state of society. The Malay poets always respond actively to the social and political events around them. They often protest against things that are considered inappropriate or unfair. Such their stand is often criticized by certain parties. According to these parties, poets should not mix politics with art, and poetry should not contain elements of propaganda and protest. But poets are good at raising every theme including political themes in such a way that poetry does not lose the beauty of its poetic language. Especially after achieving independence, all important events were straight away reflected in the creativity of Malaysian poets. In newspapers and magazines, many protest poems were published. Apart from that, several collections of poems were produced, for example, Keranda / Coffin (1967), Kebangkitan /Revival (1969), Suara Tujuh /The Voice of Seven (1969), Teluk Gong / Bay of Gong (1967) and others. One of the most important topics was the hard fate of Malay peasants who defended their right for land, as in the Kemalaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s poem Tanah dan Rakyat / Land and People: From the interior deep to the feet of intense life The eye-popping story that hinders The position of the weak behind false dialogue Inhale and wake up next In action! (Gong Bay, 1969: 41) The poem above is the voice and statement of Kemala's attitude about farmers and land which is a social economic problem in his homeland from north Perlis to the banks of the Straits of Teberau. 291
The poet protested against the unjust system concerning the poor and oppressed indigenous people. The poem reflects Kemala's sympathy for the farmers who captured the land to provide the existence for their families. The same socio-economic problems are mentioned in the Bay of Gong poetry: You and I are no different We are the tongue, we are the eyes and we are the voice Brothers, we both lost in the mother land If there is no rise & understanding & rise We would be good material for laugh The children of the paralyzed age Will die in the killing room without oxygen! (Gong Bay, 1969: 39) The poem above is full of Kemala’s emotions. He used a new way to present his idea, which was to appear on behalf of the farmers themselves. In the collaction of poems Voices of Seven, the poet proves that poetry should not be limited to high motives and far from everyday life alone but should reflect the reality of life whether the reality is good or bad. In his poem Bunga Taksiah / The mourning flower Kemala notes: Luther King, because you stand on the side of humanity Sea songs become the solid songs of your life The independent angina song is always aging There is no boundary between and distances Man is increasingly careless on the first day of his birth. Because you are a fighter then you rise From shackles and gloomy dreams Servants in the fields of cotton, wheat and wine Lincoln's will anesthetized carefully The word brotherhood is desired now in the soles of the feet. ………………………………………… Luther King, because you stand by human rights Sea songs accompany the sympathy of sympathy The windy caress caresses the lonely cross 292
There is no final kiss for a noble heart The fragrant history that records nothing can be buried. (Voice of Seven, 1969: 42) This poem reflects the breadth of the poet's views. He did not limit himself to the problems faced by his country only and looked at the world with open eyes. As a representative of his time he tried to find answers to the demands and challenges of his time. It is important to look at the influence of the surrounding conditions on Kemala in the poetry collection Manifestasi / Manifestation (1982) in which Kemala appeared as an editor and one of the authors. The poetry collection is a reaction to Israel's policy against Lebanon and reflects the concern of Kemala and several other Malaysian poets of the fate of the nation being invaded by Israel with the support of a superpower. Right then and there Kemala and Usman Awang led the movement of solidarity with the Palestinians in Malaysia with the aim of mobilizing the community to support fellow believers in the Middle East. Kemala, among others, wrote many articles in magazines and newspapers. In one of the articles we can read: Certainly the struggle of Muslims in Lebanon attracted the attention of Malay poets. The brutal actions of the Zionists who tried to destroy Islamic values have never happened in history before. Accordingly, the Malay poets through their poetry express protest against such acts (Kemala, 1982). His poem Sajak Subuh / Morning Poem (Manifestasi, 1982: 30) contained in the collection proves the truth of his words. The rhythm of the poem, the repetition of the most important words, the use of Islamic terms closely intertwined with the metaphorical scene of the problem perfectly show the heartache of Kemala who fully sympathizes with the fighters for freedom and independence. No less important is Kemala's activities to support the Bosnian and Herzegovina. The theme became one of the main themes of the World Poetry Reading in Kuala Lumpur in 1994 whose organizer was Kemala. In the framework of the International Poetry Festival, a meeting was held with Bosnian female poet Aishah Zahirovich. Kemala himself recited a poem in which he 293
appeared enthusiastically to defend the Muslims in the country by condemning the policy of non-interference of the great powers: Bomb has been dropped on Bosnia But Paris is silent, London is silent, Moscow is silent, Washington is silent… (Poetry Recitation, 1994) Now the poetry of protest is not so often in Kemala's work. But from time to time events in the world raise his concerns. It is reflected in his poetry, sometimes unexpectedly. For example, as in his poem Berangkatlah, Bang / Go with peace, Brother read by Kemala at the day of memory of Usman Awang on 4 January 2002 (and again at the launch of Usman Awang's book Turunnya Sebuah Bendera / Descent of the Flag on 1 September 2007). In it, Kemala said goodbye to the great poet through words that were very sad and full of respect and love. But his mind was focused on the problems of the country, the suffering of the people who have always been the focus of Usman Awang's poetry as well, as reflected in the following passage: Go with peace, Brother May you be at peace with Divine poetry This world is full of suffering Our people remain black with their suffering “The Suffering of One Nation” Only you cry about it Fragmented, fragmented the fate of our nation, my friend, Like a trophy cracked into million peaces But Kemala does not stop here. As a true Muslim he could not help but mention what happened in the Islamic world in general including the fate of Osama bin Laden: Thank you Brother, you are the best gift Given by God for the poets and the Malays Gentle but humane, Kind like Mak Sirandung 294
But that is our nation, Brother, Missing oarsmen and leaders Occasionally very stubborn Deceived by Ń olonizers, Look at the fate of Osama bin Laden (Lyna Usman, 2007: 14-15) It may be that the mention of Osama bin Laden's name is out of place. But so is the poet's vision, so is his inspiration. According to Kemala himself: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The poet is not a politician, in his heart there is no political reason to change and adapt to the demands of the times and circumstances. A poet is a poet. He is a personality. Humanism and love - that's what worries him first. Though the boundaries between countries, races, skin color are not important to him ... Social and political motives must have a place in poetry. But the balance between the material aspect and the spiritual aspect is the most important issueâ&#x20AC;?. Thus, protest poetry belongs to the thinking and conceptual aspects of the author. It helps to trace the intertextual relationship in Kemala poetry that is the relationship between the events that take place in the world and its poetry. The protest poems also show the extent to which events in his country and in this world influence poets and the extent to which those events are reflected in his poetry. Certainly the theme of concern about the state of society is closely related to the theme of humanism and the breadth of views reflected in the intertext elements in Kemala's work (Anna Pogadaeva, 2011). He bases his poems on the literary treasures of his own country and the world created before but does not stop here but moves forward by developing traditions, especially elements of Sufism and Islam. Kemala's contribution in the field is also extraordinary and in line with international literary trends that pay more attention to the phenomenon of Islamic revival in the world. He subtly and poetically explains the essence of Islam, trying to instill the love of God in the hearts of readers. By expressing his high wishes, Kemala recorded many historical events sourced from the Quran. He himself admitted that he
studied the Qu'an a lot. In this regard, Yahya M.S., among others, said that "The Quran has become a source of fire and water for poets to say something about life as a servant of God" (Yahya M. S., 1981). In the poem Di hadapan al-Quran / In front of the Quran Kemala describes the recitation of the holy Al-Quran surah by the Muslims who are quietly are sitting on the floor. Their eyes were filled with tears because of great love for God. The image reflects the Majesty of God who promises to the followers of eternal paradise that is beauty and absolute harmony. Kemala is filled with feelings and waiting for unending love, as shown in this passage: quench the thirst, ulama pat my heart subtle and holy grow to be stable once. (Kemala, 1983: 3) This longing and thirst are even more evident in the Kemalaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s poem R itu Rindu / L is for Longing (Kemala 1983: 4), as explained by Shahnon Ahmad: The longing that is "unexpectedly present, not immersed in meaning", "unstoppable in its arrival, unstoppable in its wounds", "unstoppable in its current, unobstructed in its coming" grows at a time when thousands of miles away from those who are loved but who are loved only as the symbols simply because the peak of longing is Allah (Shahnon Ahmad, 1983: 12). Meanwhile, the poet understands that it is common for human beings to show various emotions and feelings that are sometimes very vague. He sought to understand human instincts by observing the history of human life based on the Quran. In the poem Nama /Name, Kemala refers to surah 15 (Al-Hijr) by describing how God gives knowledge to human beings: and the spiritual aspect is the most important issue. Asmaulhusna When Adam was made by God he was taught the secret of the Name
When God asked all the angels to prostrate prostrate the angel upholding the command of Rabbul’izati except Satan who was proud of himself "I am from the light Adam from the earth Isn’t my dignity Higher the one of Adam? God's wrath against Satan was indescribable. "If you are right Tell me the secret of the Name!” The devil swallowed his own words what he could say about the Name?” When the same question was put to Adam He quickly answered to it. The wicked devil Was casted from the Divine throne bringing black revenge to destroy the descendants of Adam. “Go! I give you permission To seduce people but my servants are steadfast in their faith It is impossible for you to deceive them!” The devil is gone passed with the curse as dark as revenge. (Kemala, 1983: 73) In the poem above, the poet describes how Adam who was made of earth and then blown by the spirit of God by God himself was a great work. Then when man is perfect (the result of the merger between earth and spirit) he is given the right to choose. Adam was given the right to choose with all the facilities available, both in himself or in nature, to either miss the face of God or to be with Satan in Hell forever. Among the main facilities taught by Allah to Adam are the knowledge here called Name. It is also interesting that the poem is similar to the poem of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin who lived in the 19th century.
This poem entitled Prorok /Prophet in which the birth of a poet is described. God gave him eyes to see but he was not still a poet. God gave him ears to hear but he was not still a poet. God replaced his heart but he was still "dead in the desert". God gave him the ability to understand God and only then he became a poet (Victor Pogadaev, 2003: 17) The creativity of Kemala’s poetry is very diverse. As he himself once said, human beings as the intelligent creation of Allah SWA in the world are responsible not only for themselves but for all people, nations and the whole world. By focusing on philosophical motives, Kemala tries to show how he himself is considerate of people in need of protection and help. Sympathize with them and try to elevate the world to the core understanding of philosophy from the inner and the outer. Kemala's poetry is filled with the energy that he scoops up in the world around him and after absorbing that energy he releases it while strengthening it so that his poem becomes a great event in literature. Thus Kemala reveals to us the essence of things and events that are not seen by eyes. The poet seems to be trying to tap into the heart of a reader, showing him all the uniqueness of human life, making us believe in the magic contained in words. Kemala's poems are full of music and deep rhythm. He skillfully uses the capabilities of the Malay language by taking from the language sometimes soft sounds, sometimes expressive and explosive sounds. He fills every line of his poetry with movement and makes every poem a living organism. The unity of feelings and high dreams infused with infinite love for God is the relentless source of Kemala's creative inspiration. His poetry is the fusion of images and music, avangardism and traditional Sufi motifs as well as rhythmic forms of folk poetry. Nature and man are two components that are inseparable from each other. Everything in nature has its value and symbolic meaning. Environmental symptoms became the symbolic language against a Sufi background. For example in the poem Laut /The Sea, Kemala symbolically describes his journey to his inner “I”, as follows:
I am the sea beautiful girl sleeping in her bed ripples on my body painting seconds and wind dance united in the rustling want this far away serenity I am the sea agile youth brought up by time the waves crashing into words roar reaching the horizon music stranded to the coral fortress then get to know itself noon option concluded the seagull's sing history passes I love your language I am the first sea the nurturer of eternal love betting night a mighty storm embraced my presence secret and omnipotent scattered by the discoverer of meaning for the sake of space and time I am the sea, songâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s owner grandmother's love, grandchildrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s playfull eyes meet here the far wind seeks harmony trembling lips in tafsir here: in my heart, my dear self-esteem volatiles. (Kemala, 1975: 44) As translators of Kemala's poetry we are always challenged by his poetry but also really enjoy the work because we feel the beauty and purity of his language. Kemala's activity received recognition at home and abroad, which also shows that his works are international in nature. He won the
Malaysian Literary Prize / Prime Literary Prize (1972, 1982/83, 1995, 1999), SEA Write Award, Thailand (1986,), Dato 'Paduka Mahkota Award (2001), Pujangga Title, UPSI (2003), Literary Award Darul Ehsan of Selangor (2005), Abdul Rahman 'Auf Award (2006), Utusan Ecxon Literary Prize (for several years), National Literary Prise (2011). Kemala’s poetry was also published in international publications such as Horison (Indonesia), Hemisphere (Australia), Asiaweek (Hong Kong), and Pacific Journal (New Zealand). In Russia alone his works were translated quite broad: poetries Coral and Sea are contained in an anthology of traditional and modern Malay poetry Ruchei / Brook (1996). In 2001, the book Selected Poems of Kemala was published (Kemala, 2001). Poems Kata /Words; Buku /Book; Mim 27 were published in the magazine Asia and Africa Today in 2008. Poems Ada /There are; Buku /Books; Mim 42 were included into the book Pokoryat Vishinu / To Сonquer the Heights where the poems of Malaysian and Indonesian poets were collected (2009). And finally the important motive that characterizes all international authors is reflection on their own activities, the role of their work and their place in this world. The theme also reflects the maturity of a writer. As a responsible and sensitive poet Kemala couldn’t ignore the theme. The theme is traced in many Kemala’s poems but especially is evident in the poem MIM-40 where he passionately expresses gratitude to God because he was chosen to be a poet: Shukur, you have chosen me for survival Shukur, you for choosing me to be a man of words, a poet who understands the language of the moon, water, sun, snow waves, celestial bodies, mountains, weeds, seagulls Shukur, you led me swimming in the sea Permitted to wear the clothes Of your love, me, sad and miserable after tasting the khuldi of the forbidden garden Throat stuck in thorns must be spitted out, and blood splashes, intensed nestapa 300
delicious love the poems are silent because not been written Thank you for choosing me for not just drowning in an old cave MIM from time to time from continent to continent leveling the experience Thankfully I'm still here can feel smooth and rough of the waves the squeaky song of slender dove Shukur Shukur you have chosen me (Kemala, 1999) Conclusion The analysis of Kemala's creative work shows that his works demonstrate the diversity of themes, the concern for the state of society itself and the world as well as the broadness of the poet's views, humanistic in nature, highlighted by the subtlety and richness of language and reflection on the role of poets which are in accordance with international standards. We think that Malaysia should be proud to have a poet like Kemala and I hope that his work in accordance with his National Laurat’s status will be more widely translated into the world language. There is no need to hide talented poets who are potentially capable to receive the Nobel Prize from the world community. Bibliografi Anna Pogadaeva (2011). Intertekstualiti Dalam Puisi Kemala (Intertextuality In Kemala’s Poetry). Editor Irwan Abu Bakar dan Victor A. Pogadaev. Kuala Lumpur: eSastera Enterprise. Kemala (1975). Era. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Kemala (1982). “Manifestasi Penyair Melayu Terhadap Lubnan Nak Disusun” (The MANIFESTASI of Malay Poets about Lebanon will be Prepared"- “Berita Minggu”, 8 August, Kuala Lumpur. Kemala (1983). ‘Ayn. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Kemala (1999). Mim. Kumpulan Puis. (Mim. Poetry Collection). Kuala Lumpur:
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Kemala (2001). Stikhi. Iz sbornikov raznikh let (Poems. From Various Collections). Trabslated from Malay by Pogadaev V.A and Pogadaeva A.V. Preface by Pogadaeva A.V. Moskow: Humanitary. Lyna Usman (2007). Usman Awang, Sasterawan Negara (Usman Awang, National Laureat). Kuala Lumpur: UA Enterprises Sdn. Bhd. Manifestasi (1982). Disusun oleh Kemala, Rizi S.S., Ahmad Razali. Kuala Lumpur: Persatuan Penulis Nasional Malaysia. Pengucapan Puisi Dunia (1994) (World Poetry Reading), 13-18 Oktober, Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Shahnon Ahmad (1983). Kata Pengantar dlm. kumpulan puisi Kemala Ayn ( Foreword in Kemala Ayn poetry collection). Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Suara Tujuh (1969). Kumpulan sajak-sajak tujuh penyair tanah air. (The Voice of Seven. A collection of poems by seven poets of the homeland). Kuala Lumpur: Setia Murni. Teluk Gong (Bay of Gong) (1969). Penyunting Usman Awang. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Victor Pogadaev (2003). Penyair Agung Rusia Pushkin dan Dunia Timur (Great Russian poet Pushkin and the Eastern World). Monograph Series. Centre For Civilisational Dialogue. University Malaya. N 6. Victor Pogadaev (2010). “Penyambung lidah orang miskin dan tertindas” (The mouthpeace of the poor and oppressed) – Taufiq Ismail. Kembalikan Indonesia Padaku (Return Indonesia To Me). Moscow: “Klyuch-S.” Yahya M. S. (1981). “Konsep Islam dalam Kesusasteraan Melayu Moden” (The concept of Islam in the Modern Malay Literature). – “Bahana”, Jil. 16, Bil. 34, April.
Professor Dr. Victor A. Pogadaev, Vice-President of Nusantara Society, Lomonosov Moscow State University Anna Pogadaeva is a Russian researcher and translator. She graduated from the Institute of Asian and African studies, Moscow Lomonosov State University.
HS Shivaprakash The sound of whose footsteps The sound of whose footstep was it The kreemkling of whose anklet was it That descended from the star-strewn firmament Into my ears trembling in trepidation When, I had hidden myself furtively Out of fear of rebirth In the earthen womb of the earth When death was playing football with it Was it the footstep of death that I heard? Or the klingling of death’s anklet bell? The kreenkrounging of the anklet.. My frightened eyes could not gather courage To look in that direction ‘Look up! Become courage If you have any left’ Said the voice of thunder In the cloudless sky Having waited and waited centuries Weary of nothing happening I at last looked up A century and two millennia later When courage bounced up like a ball From the abysm of fear I saw all along the firmament and beyond The sky-wide arch of your feet Wearing countless specs of stars Like grains of dust Tell me O dancer Drunken with dance of death
Appearing to me dimly From behind the curtain Of blinding constellations How can any planet or star Escape your tyranny and trampling? I heard: ‘None at all Unless those foetuses in the womb of death Cling to the colossal arch In at his endless space In this time beyond time..’
The same eyes the same expanses When I, then a mason,was building a temple In a dream city now asleep underneath one of the seven oceans, You appeared suddenly before me And, wiping sweat from my brow with your delicate hands, You gifted me a heavenly flower Saying: ‘I cannot stay with you, So I am leaving this unfading flower..’ I remember how you came but not how you went In this wakeful dream at this dawn of a new poem After the rise and fall of so many empires So many floods, holocausts, earthquakes, wars and pandemics.. Even the flower you promised to be unfading Has disappeared But its invisible and irresistible fragrance Is still chasing and guiding me Through so many deaths and rebirths, dissolutions and creations Towards a new hope, a new dawn Look! The gates are now open! Another great beginning
The same eyes The same expanses The same sight the same might The same light the same days The same seas The same waves The same sighs The same shores The same wait The ripe fruit The same valleys The same peaks The same stars The void voidkess The same temples The vacant lots The same horoscope The same death will Sumptuous feats In burning ghats So different, your eyes then So exhausted, your eyes now The same objects The same images HS Shivaprakash was born Bangalore, India. Professor, Theatre and Performance Studies, JNU, New Delhi . Author of 9 books of poems, 15 plays and 3 critical works in Kannada. Winner of the prestigious Rajyotsava Award from Karnataka State(2006) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from National Theatre Akademi (1997) and Sahitya Akademi(2012)
Vadim Terekhin It’s well known that It’s well-known that In accordance with all laws of nature, Water is unseen and dead On entering the supply network. And waits to be rescued until It starts flowing through pipes. Water, like the language of poetry, Can’t live in captivity. It’s devoted to flowing, To pressure hidden in the chest. And always beats its way Out of any kind of captivity. And if you take a look at water, Compare it to our own meagre experience: As soon as it breaks loose into freedom, Water becomes alive. Translated from Russian by Jenny Wade
Word and music Do you hear, the cricket starts A song on a baked lyre. No matter how cruel the world is Word and music are eternal. We are born to be lost. Canet in endless darkness Fame, wealth and power. Word and music are eternal.
How can we live on earth Just, slowly, cordially? In a world that lies in evil Word and music are eternal. Life fits into seven notes. But in the fleeting vanity Everything in this world will pass. Word and music are eternal. Vadim Terekhin - poet, Co-chairman of the Russian writers ' Union, Vice-President of the international Academy of Russian literature (Moscow). Corresponding member of the Petrovskaya Academy of Sciences and arts (Saint Petersburg), full member of the Academy of Russian literature (Moscow), full state adviser of the second class of the Kaluga region.
Gerry Loose Where is the clang of this spade on stone where is the fruit of the tree that made this shaft where is the fire and rod that made beads of weld on this steel I stole the soft mist it was mine always I stole the air from the wind it never knew I stole the heronâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gaze she had fished enough tell me : what can I take, what cannot be taken
A valentine for morven of roses, yes & hyacinths & amaryllis all the forget-me-nots & snowdrops as well as stolen fruits this is the fifth the fifth fourteenth of the one thousand nine hundred & forty four days
eighteen or so million heart beats seeding significance only to a man in love who else counts as growing plants each shared passing second impermanent, perfect
Tarik Sujat I Have Embraced Death Before My Birth In memory of the unborn child, Michelangelo, of the pregnant Italian mother Simona Monti1 who was killed in the Gulshan massacre on July 1, 2016 I have embraced death before my birth. I have no land, no language, no nation of my own. I see so distinction between vice and virtue, religion and irreligion. Seeing the gruesome face of life I had swallowed my cry before I was born. My first breath did in no way poison The atmosphere of this earth. My last breath is the first reward The earth has given me! Mother, You are my only toyhouse, my school and my coffin. My eyes hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t yet formed, still I could see The sharp claws of the killer tearing apart my navel. Before my ears took shape, I could hear The bells ringing the end of my school day That strange sound died down slowly echoing From the minarets of mosques, temples and churches. The first bed I had is my final bed. My mother's womb is the only corner Of a home of my unseen earth. There, too, a thick darkness descended And I tried to keep afloat on a river of blood Holding on to the umbilical cord of my mother. But my little hand and my soft fingers Couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t find anything to hold on to My eyes, still not open, saw The Quran, the Bible, the Geeta and the Tripitak Floating away in the current of blood, in the brutal carnage of death. In the near dark world of mine without colours I could not learn how to read a holy alphabet. Still even before my birth I embraced death. 310
My mother's womb is my first grave, My first coffin, my first pyre. This earth of human’s race burst into flames And a few drops of my blood cannot quench its thirst! Translated by Mohammad Nurul Huda
Love for Language Till then, we hadn’t heard about St. Valentine’s Day On a scorching spring day, the morning walked Alongside the processions the city streets The ever familiar sunshine, the fiery flowers On the trees, the eager sky, On that day the city dwellers were busy with their daily grinds; The lawns of Ramna radiated with intense warmth, The adorable birds were tweeting their ever-known trills No one could think in their wildest thoughts That people could be shot while Rallying for their language and love Not even in one’s wildest thoughts one could think Of being shot for showing love for language Still, Dhaka air was thickened by the smell of gunpowder And hyenas’ claws; In murmurs of numerous voices It was written in serene letters “The birth of a nation” The infinite saga of love for language February 21st … Translated by Shuborna Chowdhury Tarik was born in Bangladesh. Tarik Sujat emerged in the landscape on modern Bengali poetry in the 1980s. His mastery of lyric produces appealing music in poetry. By profession he is an award-winning graphic designer and an entrepreneur in the field of design and media. He has five publications to his credit. For his poetry, Tarik was honoured with the prestigious Krittibash Award from India. Tarik is now the General Secretary of National Poetry Council, Bangladesh.
Sushanta Bhattacharjee Poetic imagery Words are oscillating with images And symbols by its vibration In the texture of poetry With its versification From the heart of consciousness Containing poetic imagery. Poetic imagery has blended The finite and the infinite To express the surrealism Of life in its eternal aspects. Poetic imagery has hidden truths Inside its occult chambers of lairs By fencing eternity from the cosmic time To form the word – a mighty inspiring voice.
Social distancing The social distancing is alienated me From my friends – a jerk in my life. Is it Brecht’s Absurdity in life! Or Marx’s Theory of Alienation? But emotionally I am a disturbed person At present because of the Lockdown Because of Coronavirus Pandemic Because of huge death due to Covid 19. Worldwide – a dreaded Virus Surfaced from Wuhan city of China. Sushanta Bhattacharjee is a bi-lingual poet in India. He writes poems in both English and Bengali. He is the editor of 'Suchetana' little magazine. He publishes two Bengali and one English poetry book.
Amanita Sen The smell of death That to me was the first smell of death. As we passed by the crematorium in our school-bus, those pre-electric incinerator days, the waft of lit funeral pyres struck me. It stood out incongruently from the seamless blend of erratic heart-beats for lessons not learnt for the classes, and the girly gossip. Like a sudden change to high pitch of musical notes from the easy, practiced lower ones, the smell felt sharp, but part of the journey. Death feels odourless now, a few high-strung notes of grief blends with life, as much the part of this journey.
The metal-urn speaks The glitz from my body will wane off soon. The broken edge will highlight the lusterless form, my tired demeanour; yet, those of you who know of my days of glory, wish to hold on to its flitting shine, like a drinker does to his hangovers, I hope you wake up to the rigid truth of petered out things.
What remains of me, then, when the polish is gone, is my unsoldered, raw being. Can you then, for once hold me close to your heart and from my cracked lips, drink? She has published two volumes of poetry, “Candle In My Dream” and “What I don’t Tell you”. Her works have been published in numerous journals, both online and print versions. She is a mental health worker living in Kolkata, India.
Takir Hossain Three important poets of sixties in Bangladesh Poetry plays a significant role in shaping the literary landscape of a nation. Bangladeshi poetry has a significant presence in the history of Bangladeshi literature and the 1960s, in particular, was a landmark for Bengali poetry. During that period, many poets started their voyages through new trends and novel approaches. Over the last few decades, Bangladeshi poetry went though a number of changes in the fields of theme, subject-matter as well as technique. The transformation of Bengali poetry also happens for socio-political and economic reasons. And the transformation has been a continuing process for Bangladeshi poetry. Mahadev Saha, Sikdar Aminul Haq and Rafiq Azad are among the most significant poets of the 1960s in our country. Their poems are strong, contemplative and very contemporary in their ways of expressions, articulations of dictions and structures. In my article, I have tried to focus on their genres, inherent thought-processes and lyrical contents. Mahadev Saha is one of the foremost poets of the late '60s, an era marked with accomplishments and revolutionary ideas. He claims to be introverted and has no interest in personal relationships. Saha is also one of the leading romantic poets in contemporary Bengali literature. He is also a poet of mystery and muted
ambiance. Since he took to poetry, he has carefully removed himself from any disquiet and unsteadiness. His love for beauty and nature comes through in a very animated and intimate manner in his canvas of poetry. Mahadev Saha was born on August 5, 1944 in Dhanghara, Sirajganj. The only child of parents Godadhor Saha and Birajmohini, Mahadev completed his primary and high school education in his village. For higher education he went to Dhaka College, Bogra College and Rajshahi University. The main elements in Saha's poetry are solitude, love, yearning, the Liberation War, scenic beauty, poverty, secularism and equal rights. The struggles and sorrows of the deprived spur him to write. The poet is deeply moved by the ravages of poverty. His style is unquestionably unique and evocative. His words and verses articulate the torments of a lonesome soul and a mourning heart. Mahadev Saha is dreamy and given to flights of poetic fantasy. Besides being a visionary, the poet has regularly tried to express his personal feelings and observations in romanticism. One will read “Prem O Bhalobashar Kobita” avidly; and out of that experience one can easily read the poet's mind and bore into his soul. It is true that the meaning of love differs from one individual to another. Expressions of love come to poetry, indeed hold it aloft, in various forms. The rendering of love is very clear in the poems. His love for feminine beauty and natural objects comes in tandem with the frustrations and dissatisfaction associated with modern life. After a close perusal of Saha's poetry, though it is very difficult to trace the exact silhouette of the poet's mind, one is quite clear about the fact that he is a modernist in the complete sense of the meaning. In his poems, one feels the lament of a lonely soul, an underlying sorrow, a feeling of emptiness but not without a tinge of hard realities and other realisations that one can call forth only from life itself. Mahadev's first book “Ei Griha Ei Sannyas” was published in 1972. His second book “Chai Bish, Amorata” was published in 1975. He has published 130 books including poetry, essays, books 316
for children, compilations of poems and a number of volumes of selected poems. The ‘magician of words’ has won many prestigious awards like Ekushey Padak, Bangla Academy Award, Zebunnesa-Mahabubllah Award, Alaol Shahitya Award and Khalekdad Chowdhury Smriti Padak. Sikdar Aminul Haq is generally a modernist Bangladeshi poet. He is also a prolific poet and his poems are of outstanding intellectual quality. Incidents of everyday life can be found in much of his poetry but in a very symbolic and complicated way. He frequently experiments with form and content. He often approaches surrealism and expressionism in his works. He uses the imagery of varied urban motifs and infrequently rural motifs like moon, sun, sky, lush greenery, clouds and other natural wonders in his poetry. His poetry shows a considerable degree of social awareness and a sense of satire. His works also focus on Dhaka's contemporary life and times. Sikdar Aminul Haq was born on December 6, 1942. He is a recipient of the Bangla Academy Award in 1994 for poetry and many other prestigious awards. His breakthrough came with his commendable work “Satata Danar Manush”. The poet is popular for the handling of unusual, whimsical and innovative imagery in his creations. Aminul Haq’s poetry has superbly documented pains, agonies, weal and woe of human beings, historical and political episodes in our country. His poems are distinguished for their highly expressive and communicative, poignant and symbolic traits. For inspiration, Aminul Haq veers towards human life and their varied social and cultural aspects, patriotism, political ups and downs. Aminul Haq's poems are courageous, thought-provoking and intellectually rich. His protest against religious intolerance has been reflected in his poetry. Several of Aminul’s poems are conceptual and some deal with death, romance and at times the absurd. As an experimental poet, he frequently changed his technique, mode and overall substance.
Aminul Haq’s notable works are ‘Duurer Karnish’, ‘Teen Papreer Phul’, ‘Parabat Ei Pracheerer Shes Kabita’, ‘Ami Sei Electra’, ‘Bohudin Upekhae Bohudin Aundhokarey’, ‘Patrey Tumi Protidin Jol’, ‘Ek Ratri Ek Writu’, ‘Satata Danar Manush’, ‘Suprobhat Hei Varanda’, ‘Kafkar Jama’, ‘Sulata Amar Elsa’, ‘Rumaler Alo O Onnanno Kabita’, ‘Lorkakey Jedin Ora Niye Gelo’, ‘Bimorsho Tatar’, ‘Ishitar Ondhokar Shue Ache’. The poet died in 2003. One of the most brilliant stars to have emerged in the tumultuous environment of the post-liberation era, Rafiq Azad forged a unique voice. The Liberation War in 1971 remained a focal point for this rebel who never flinched from critiquing the misrules and inhumanities he was witness to. As a voice against injustice his poetics relied on familiar themes echoing a constant craving for a just society while his form was fragmentary and was easily accommodative to invectives. His strong, intense verses often dealt with political, social issues seen through the prism of the personal. A freedom fighter, he developed a signature style, distinguished by simple linguistic constructions where there were no division between high and low art sensibilities. As a man Azad was liberal-minded - an amicable secularist. Though a diehard atheist he believed in the rights of believers in all religions. As a poet he was out-spoken, bold and uncompromising in his stance. Azad is most renowned for his poem “Bhaat De Haramjada”. The inflammable verses of the poem, especially the fiery last line ‘Bhaat Dey Haramjada, Ta Na Hole Maanchitro Khabo’ (Give me food bastard, or, I will gobble up the map!) sparked controversy immediately after it was published in 1974. The insinuation of the poem was that the newly independent country failed to feed its own people and the famine that had struck the Northern region was a man-made one. There were clear hints that the poet responded to pictures of the emaciated Rangpur girl Basanti found wrapped in a fishing-net alongside a hungry beggar eating vomit of an alleged cholera patient, who were all over the media. Azad was born on February 14, 1943, in a remote area called Guni, under Tangail district. He completed his primary education under 318
the British-Indian education system from Sadhuty Middle English School. He developed a keen interest in writing poems since his early childhood. On completion of school certificate exam, Azad enrolled at Government Saadat College, Karotia. His first book of poetry “Ashombhober Paye” was published in 1973. Since that first spark of self-confessional poetics, Azad’s style of expression went through changes in the course of the next forty or so years. It became more personal, lyrical and romantic. However, a greater portion of his work depicts poverty, sufferings, injustice, inhumanity, collapsing of urban and rural lives as well as the political turmoil, social and economic crises that rocked the region. Rafiq has fourty-four publications under his name, including an autobiography. His notable works include ‘Prokriti O Premer Kabita’, ‘Shahasra Shundor’, ‘Haturir Nichey Jibon’, ‘Khub Beshi Dureo Nai’, ‘Khama Karo Bahoman Hay Udar Omiyo Batas’, ‘Apar Arannya, Karo Ashuro Paat’, ‘Moulobir Mon Bhalo Nay’ and ‘Pagoler Thekay Premikar Chithi’. Azad received Ekushey Padak in 2013 and Bangla Academy Award in 1984 for his outstanding contributions to poetry. The poet died in 2016. Takir Hossain is an art critic, cultural curator and Journalist.
Habibullah Sirajee A lecture on health For a change of health some go to the beach Accompanied by their wives. Their objective: to wrap around their body and mind A vigorous climate, live healthily, And pull the wagon of their years Close to the frontier to some hilly spot. Thus some regain their health, Get back the joy of physical union in the salty and fresh air, The necessary taste of fulfilment. Some, even as they feel the favourable environment, See on the wet sand a sick sunset, The brown back of crabs, and slippery oysters. Everything is natural, And thus all automatic actions Go on happening naturally: The roar of the sea The restless flutter of the breeze The intimacy of the snow The rise and fall of the waves. For a change of soil Some run to the distant west. For a change of palate Some give up fish And pin their faith more on meat. For a change of home Some break up their homes Again and again, Changing one's clothes is, of course, A person's very personal affair. For the sake of one's health Some turn epicurean, some stoic,
Some include in their menu Chicken soup and bread and wine Or tomato and spinach. But however delightful the breeze And the water sweet and tasty, And even if there are flying clouds And captivating nature before one's eyes There is still something lacking, Something absent â&#x20AC;Ś Certain problem-ridden monetary matters Invariably control the climate And the hills and valleys and plains In a very sanitary manner. Translated by Kabir Chowdhury
Tiger Imprisoned within black bars The two eyes of a black tiger watches for twenty one years. It only sees the knife thrower's game, The sleights of hand, and the monkey's trick. This tiger once roamed free in the jungle, It loved the deep sylvan shadows, Water, brimming and shining, the free wind. This tiger loved the harvest on the field, Dewey with the seat of labour, The dropping fruit trees, flower pollens. This tiger talked a lot about himself, Sang songs to be alive, like one's own self. But a hunter one day, leased the whole forest, The tip of the knife became moist And then wet with fresh blood. And interned within the cage A continent's time increases but truth increases even more. The cage of the tiger increases, Black and white skins are incensed. 321
The tiger sees the earth, The snake's tongue sees the flame. The tiger sees death, and death itself then looks at life. Translated by Afsan Chowdhury
A painting of humanity With a gush of cold air from Africa's woodlands I have come to meet you; With a can of milk from Australia I have come to your abode; would you let me sit for a while? I have chocolates, cashew nuts from South America, clothes and toys from Europe I wish to live in amity with you all. I am the green of Bangladesh I offer you the silt-filled crop-fields to sit. Love for hand extended anytime, care on every stride, Eat some rice and fish; from within dreams bring out a bit of broad sky, where a whole picture of humanity is painted life and science. Translated by Quader Mahmud Habibullah Sirajee was born in Bangladesh. Graduated from the Engineering University. Total number of published books is more than sixty; which includes poetry, novels, essays, memoirs & juvenile verse. Received the Ekushey Padak, the Bangla Academy Award. He was President, National Poetry Council, Bangladesh; now working as Director General, Bangla Academy.
Daya Dissanayake Appendages We are all appendages of appendages of appendages of appendages all linked to an untraceable entity. Yet we believe we are all independent, intelligent self-willed entities. We are only helpless mindless soulless components without a will of our own We cannot breakaway there is no survival no existence on our own however much we wanted to Yet we go on dreaming of nirvana svarga paradise in this life and beyond clinging on to the illusion of life.
Gloria Gabuardi Kingdom of words I want a kingdom of words a river of words to wash away human misery and plant roots in my soul so that it might be an Argonaut, a Quixotic lady in fantastic seas a valiant dreamer of liberty. A kingdom of words to rearrange the movement of birds in branches to feel the color of a star the aroma of wind the spirituality of men’s passion. A kingdom of words to help me know human being, seas and stars to join my soul and my body and please my flesh. I want a kingdom of words for my soul as much as I want a vast country for my heart a free country like we’ve all imagined. A kingdom of words to seduce me and roll out from my tongue like a string of pearls at dusk in my country, A kingdom of words or a river of words overflowing, carrying everything it finds in its path a will-o-’the-wisp in my mouth a passion devouring my dreams.
To burn my lips and grant me the keys of the imagination the islands of colors and spices Amboina, Banda, Ternate and Tidore with their trunks and tragedies and adventures in the sea of lamentations of Vespuccio and Magellan To have it come to a halt before me all I need is the light of your eyes the trembling at the threshold of dreams, splashing on the white page. Translated by Indran Amirthanayagam Dr Gloria Gabuardi is poet, painter, member of the Board of Directors of the Granada International Poetry Festival Foundation, Nicaragua. Winner of the “Ricardo Morales Avilés” Award from the National Union of Writers (1982) for her book EN DEFENSA DEL AMOR. Her work has been translated into English, German, Italian, Romanian, Bangla and Turkish.
Gopal Lahiri Livestream No one leave and no one come on the bank, the boat moves farther and farther downstream for that minute, a fly-catcher sings close-by unwantedly, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s late afternoon, The low clouds test like nowhere else the winds of possibility. peddling the story float over the rusted iron railings two perched trees grow on each other. Footprints delete Fridays from the calendar, exploring something else, or in resistance to a series of fragments, worn away as debris, the truth is completely adrift, burning out its time. Sunlit studios hang pages up, as if to display wounds, volatile margins of the walled city shape the life the unheard conversation that exists in a dusty cross road, resumes with a split reflection,
Echo space From here we see them, the cluster of faces tuck at the corner of the pavement their hunger is repressed, their eyes dream an imaginary ship sailing them under blue sky the tea stalls give warmth. The trees record the daily footfalls we the ones from here on the balcony not there or across the road, only here smudge all the colours of the morning the collage of the brown hands, pigeons and the flute man. The blurred figures whisper to the wind the lamp posts scream and flutter near the canal bridge all prayers are shade-less, cast out from the hell, people come out from the factories their stories look out to the wire, to burning echoes.
Jisell Novas-Hill Two poems 1. Instead you give me your creation in the middle of the night you give me inspiration when everyone sleeps your compassion surrounds me you dictate songs to my weak heart You resurrect poetry that inside of me you hid Where does your wisdom come from? I heard their criticism You in my ears you laughed while your ideas you argued with me it has been a journey because inside my dreams you introduced yourself you convicted my conscience you told me about your philosophy in which Socrates coordinating had fun repeating that the only thing “I just know that I don’t know anything” Short plato would stay in his psychology facing the riddles of life you knew what was coming and how many other wise men after they would exist they were only mortal but you would live through time solving the geometry calculating trigonometry and in the statistics of life
thank you for giving me the moon to illuminate my writing in the middle of the gloom.
2. Why love? Why not love me when I love you? Why fall in love after we break up? Why look for me when I am no longer there? Why want to see me close when I'm already so far away? Why love? Why do you make me fall in love when I don't feel it anymore? Why ask me when I no longer answer? Why call me when the phone number changes? Why write to me when I no longer read you? Why love? Why didn’t you hold me while I was cold? Why didn’t you whisper in my ear that I was yours? Why didn't you tell me what was inside of you? Why didn't you say? I love you too! Why love? Why let me fall in love again? Why let so much time go by? Why damage our destiny? I don’t understand. Why didn't you take my hands and kiss me again? Why love? Jisell Novas-Hill, born in the Dominican Republic from an early age resides in New York, USA. Poet, international cultural promoter. Has published the bilingual poetry book Series "God is the Verb" (El Lirio de los Valles 2016, La Rosa de Saron 2017 and El Árbol de Isai 2018). Coordinator of the World Poetry Festival in New York.
Nandita Samanta Synthesis I need a beam of light at the quivering corner of the conscience, and a little air to breathe a steam of wholeness into my desiccated dreams. A taste of decay plays on the palate rolling the half healed shibboleth soul, sloshing an insipid pain down the glottis. The voices from behind and fear in the mind, bend and break the synthesis of propitious tears in a chaotic inertia of a torrid antithesis. Let a prescient beam of deliverance enhance the catharsis, my conscience since long has lived planked in dark alternatives.
Time Those times: the time when I’m all alone; time, when I’m most prone to succumb to what is ‘Gone’ formless thoughts form in the mind, those that scale heights without pinnacles, the signals of the neurons weave intricately the loose ends of time in a tight hold, a very small portion of a latent whole! Bygones toss and turn deeply rooted in the core, the vista of love becomes a formative chaos; an intangible restlessness sting the heaving heart, the feelings resume their liberty without ethos, the delirious plastic fantasies float like islands floating in the middle of a sea, its fringes wet in foams of fancy.
Time: it ebbs, and it grows heals, bruises, infinite, untamed,Â claimed, unclaimed, fleeting, fleecing,Â away it goes... freeing small clods of feeling from the diaphanous chords of charted woes. Nandita Samanta is a Indian poet, a short story writer, a reviewer, an artist. Many of her poems have been translated to different languages. She has two poetry books and about a dozen of short stories to her credit.
Omar Sabbagh Falling into Hope
On Fiona Sampson’s Come Down (Corsair, 2020)1 ‘The contemporary reader needs, more than readers of previous generations, the general reassurance that poetry is susceptible of analysis. Without this, the confidence to take pleasure in any particular poem can be sapped, producing a generalized anxiety about possible failure of response and interpretation […] Demonstrating the power of analysis, as a general practice, is, therefore, not the enemy of a properly emotional response to poetry, but its necessary backdrop.’ Stefan Collini, The Nostalgic Imagination2 Come down where a bridge narrows the fast-moving river two movements contrary and conjoined ‘Come Down’ Fiona Sampson’s Come Down opens with a welcoming and an invitation. This is apparent in the grammar of the phrase that forms the title of the collection and the opening poem, as per above; but is also lived out in how the end of this invocation in that first line starts with a ‘bridge’ which ‘narrows.’ The bridge in fact speaks to the many ways in which this collection is more than the effect of one signal poetic sensibility, and more than the effecting
of poems that dovetail and hang-together in many synergetic ways, fording through and onto each other; the narrowing indicates the way in which this book, though composed of separate poems, is in effect one long poetic meditation. The deep community Sampson elicits between times and places, selves, selves and others, immanence, transcendence, sensations and sense-making, among many other poles of significance, bridges the manifold natures of ‘two movements’ by which contraries are conjoined. I want to begin to illustrate that for all the oneiric gusto of much of this work, Sampson’s cubism (at times), her multifarious folding of realities, is far from a record, however illuminating, of failure. The movements between times and places, selves and worlds, succeed in their mutual and reflexive illuminations on the whole, and the invocation to come down also ends up being successful: description and prescription, falling, fallenness and transcendence dance in a way which is to my mind a poetic tango evincing real hopefulness. Sampson is able to retrieve and re-collect in Come Down in a way that gives the intelligent reader a sense of the purpose of poetry. The collection has no punctuation, and the rigorous flowing of the lines throughout the collection are like stigmata of the interpenetration of the elements that go to make or configure self, selves, world, worlds; or, as Sampson titles the first, longer section of her biography of Mary Shelley, of the ‘instruments of life’. Breath seems key. Indeed, enjambments – which are the predominant mode of instrumentation in this collection – themselves conjoin perhaps two contrary formal senses. They might indicate the overflow of feeling or thought; but it’s also true to say, and this is a fertile boon of the poetic form, that their opposite, constraint, periodicity, could also indicate the same, inversely. In a way, Sampson’s thoroughgoing flow in this collection does both: indicates osmotic oneness and the contrarieties of the ambiguities of, and enacted by the same. In the way in which, consistently, it effects plosive meanings, making-senses well-nigh kaleidoscopic at times, the aesthetic chosen and deployed by Sampson, here as elsewhere, is neither periodic nor is it seamlessly fluid; it effects what Theodor Adorno 332
once called ‘continuous discontinuity’. This opening poem continues: where water rushes against stone that hands itself like a passing shadow over the bright surface of river racing away from the shock of self The verb chosen and deployed in ‘hands itself’, as throughout this collection typifies Sampson’s poetry more globally – both a salutary shock and a relief; both striking and bold as well as comforting. Hands of course are also proverbially busy with art-work. Then the ‘passing shadow’ goes over the ‘bright / surface’, ‘racing away / from the shock of self.’ The two contrary movements, ‘bright’ against ‘shadow’, compound, duplicitous, ambivalent but also polymorphous. The river of time races ‘away’ from the realisations of the self; and yet, it is the authorial self who is handcrafting these conflations. As later in the collection, the egoism of defense, the ego ‘organization’, is both eschewed and evinced, inside and outside the frame, like two more (meta-) movements: ‘through water cold enough / to drown you.’ Then, again, the ‘two movements crossing / over cannot / pass but they do…’ Failure somehow still succeeds, paradoxically, ‘as’, the poem ends: ‘sky steps / continually out / of the river.’ And it’s not just the paradox of contraries conjoined here, sky out of river, realisation, illumination, perhaps, out of the passing shadows of memory; and it’s not just the miming of the striking verb choice of ‘hands itself’ mirrored in the ‘steps’ of the ‘sky’; it’s also, most significantly perhaps, that the sky as it were solicited in and to ‘come down’, goes upwards, onwards. In many ways this eponymous poem does its eponymous business via two complementary movements, contraries conjoined; the discourse and its shaping, two, too.
‘a world turned upside down’ ‘Wharf’ ‘between fir trees and roses where summer smells of something she already knows though she hasn’t yet caught it up’ ‘Frame’ An adopted child, Come Down is dedicated to Sampson’s ‘unknown family’. The integrity of Sampson’s poetic choices reaches back, as it were, to the dedication. For here are two movements, contrary and conjoined again. As two prominently-paired (but spaced apart in the collection’s sequencing) titles have it, the two movements in question being conjoined are like ‘Noumenon’ (‘unknown’) and ‘Phenomenon’ (within the horizon of the knower and the known). Indeed, the opening poem of the main, first partition of the collection, ‘Deaf’, like many if not the majority of the verse encapsulates, but in radically alternate concrete lyrics or narratives, the same desire at or for the unknown – becoming increasingly familiar, if perhaps never quite ‘caught up’ with. I will begin by demonstrating how this is the case. The poet opens with a deep ambivalence about egoism. Sampson is a highly self-aware poet. But self-awareness need not mean, by any means, egoistic tropes or gestures – quite the contrary of course. She is self-aware to the extent of critiquing her self-awareness and thus she is able to allow her selfhood to exist in or with, to partake of what Keats called ‘negative capability.’ Opening ‘Deaf’: Are you listening you are listening to the world you think but you hear yourself over and over the dark tongue of world… Self slates it-self here as much as self also conjoins with world. The contrary senses, though conjoined, are not resolved. Sampson is
both listening to the world, which is a good thing in the value system of this work, as well as listening to the world she (merely) ‘thinks’, which might be viewed as a mode to be transcended. And then – in a different way of reading – even if she ‘thinks’ she’s ‘listening to the world’, she also realises in this second amphiboly that she only hears herself, ‘over and over.’ But whether that last option has negative connotations is not clear, because in this poem self becomes a part of world, no longer apart; which means what may seem a pejorative self-criticism is becoming something sublimated or indeed ‘sublated’ into its better half. In the next, second stanza we read of ‘darkness falling from your feet / so deep you could fall through it’, and the darkness of the poet’s ‘feet’ fall in a negative sense, ‘deaf’ to the world, but also ‘come down’ as it were, falling into the world, which is itself in a manner of speaking ‘deaf’. Deafness is both a problem and a solution, as contraries join hips. In the next, third, penultimate stanza, ‘night in the trees’ is ‘like a roost of parakeets’; and then, closing, ‘the dark tongue of world’ rises through the poet as she falls, ‘dear self dear / lonely self falling silently / mouthing through sound’. The going down, falling, is both falling into deafness, but also coming down to the truer (more risen) world she entices to come down. Even if the poet in the later ‘March Lapwings’ can say ‘…how lost / the senses are / in this disturbance’, there remains in ‘Deaf’ as in most of this opening part of the collection and beyond, a familiarity and intimacy with that nightly absence so often articulated, invoked, and enticed to come down. The roost of parakeets are colourful with sounds in all this darkness and silence; which is to say, faced as we will see more clearly presently with the now-beseeched noumenal, there is much hopefulness in attitude for what must remain to a certain extent beyond the ken of the poet’s awareness, ‘falling silently’ and yet ‘mouthing through sound.’ Self and the ultimate reaches of world, though in some deep signifying way necessarily unknown to each other, nonetheless turn and fold across each other, becoming familiar, more familiar. In the second poem, ‘Lady of the Sea’, again, the natural world seems to stand-in for the sublime reality of the noumenal realm, which is to say, that elicited in the verse is that which is somehow 335
both beyond but perhaps also regulative of the ego or imaginary issuing or at issue. Just as, later, in ‘The Nature of Gothic’ we read of how: our desires make currents stir in tall air that asks us to see something perhaps the roof of the world … but stone shifts endlessly into itself it disappears and reappears like hours that slip out of mind So, equally, the first part of the four sections of ‘Lady of the Sea’ runs: she is going already she is travelling past us and away ancient star flying so slowly we do not see her move But there is more to this elusiveness than this. It is not just a regulative ideal that conditions one’s searching, groping towards it; it is also, like ‘sea’ or ‘night’ or later ‘snow’, a way of personifying or inhabiting in at-hand images the ultimate reaches of experience. The lady of the sea, still in this first section, ‘does not / regard us her / regard is drawn / back from us’; and paradox abounds as
ever. The sublime reality (embodied in this verse by nature’s mythoi at times) is of course beyond us, drawing us in as much as drawing us out, calling us out. And yet the drawing of our regard is not just a passive and subservient movement, as already suggested; the ambivalence of the verse’s shaping may suggest in ways already discerned, that when we are drawn by the ultimate reaches of the world (of experience), what draws us is also drawing-forth it-self. This duplicitous movement, between knowing and unknown, is relayed in the second part: could she move among us then or what would be broken and fired again what understanding newly perfected Though ‘She’ is (part ‘iii’) ‘high and far / very high / and far like / the disappearing // note of wind’, yet (part ‘iv’): we carry you in the eye’s reliquary like a mote or like a beam that drowning we could hang on – Lady stronger than time stronger than light we see you invisible and everywhere For all the progressive flow of this sequence, note how complementary or contrary images are conjoined. Wind and sea and sun-beam; the ‘ancient star’ and the ‘reliquary’ of the eye (‘I’), ‘a mote’; stronger than the light we fail to see by, ‘invisible’, yes, but
also ‘everywhere’. The many dual movements multiply and coalesce both within poems, as here, and across the collection, signifying a unitary and unitive poetic vision; and a way of accessing numinous experience in the immediate vicinity of versification. Or, take the commissioned poem ‘Frankenstein’s Golem’, placed as it is before ‘Modern Prometheus’. The poet questions: ‘who is this… / in a landscape / not yet given / form by daylight’. The landscape, the natural world is not yet a ‘given’ for the ‘golem’ as well as not ‘given / form’. These two sliding senses differ as much as they coalesce inside and outside at least two frames – Sampson and her poem, and Frankenstein and his outlandish creation, who is yet to ‘con-form’. The fact that it is, as elsewhere, the nature of the gothic at issue, is clear when we read of how this ‘who’ in or at question ‘was lifted / not by love / by power alone’. Poor creature, as he is: forced to pass again through his own dying who slips away between rocks The monster forced or enticed to come down into existence, to fall, is forced or enticed to fall again. The fall into the knowing or the known elides that latter as well. And yet in ‘Modern Prometheus’, following, this fallenness is seen in a more positive light, if redolent still with ostensible darkness – two (consecutive) contrary accounts conjoined. The ‘Modern Prometheus’ is: ‘a live thing / not yet separate from the dark / soothing his nakedness’. The dark doing the ‘soothing’ here (again a bold and yet comforting verb choice, typical of Sampson) is a lighter burden for one not yet separate from it; one that is to say, not quite fallen. However, the earlier wish for ‘companionship’, ‘someone to see yourself by’ is defied by the closing, of how ‘he recognises / the one he turns away from’. The dialectic of Nature, or as it stands in for noumenal reaches, revenges it-self against man for his very
unnatural and fallen endeavours and experiments with what remains at the last beyond and ‘unknown’ still. Whether it’s Frankenstein or his outlandish creation, ‘he listens without realising / hears rustling / doesn’t want to be alone / as night listens back.’ This of course recoups some of the duplicitous movements between subject and object worlds that were apparent in ‘Deaf’ and ‘Lady Of The Sea’. Here, this quid pro quo is again both a vengeance and a companionship, of the unknown upon the presumptuous knower or known, and of the unknown coming down to know the known and the knower. The untoward fallenness of attempts at familiarity, with the unknown, has its rewards as much as its punishments. The chiaroscuro, the moral occult of the gothic, seems to haunt as well as inhabit this work, close in time to Sampson’s major work of biography, In Search of Mary Shelley. Indeed, in ‘Noumenon’ the (re)sounding (syllabic) presence of the opening falling movement of ‘Snow falls and fills a valley’ ‘falls like something speaking / noiselessly into silence’. The noumenal is empathised with in parts of this poem, the unknown, it is intimated, invited to become familiar, however distant it may still remain. The noumenal (‘snow’ here) is ‘something that’s all alone / in silence can’t hear / itself.’ The dreamer in this poem who is both called to and calling of the snow coming down – the dreamer recognises in her own dream of snow coming down that ‘falling snow cannot feel / the world it longs to touch.’ The snow is like the ‘golem’, monstrous, sublime, and alone. And yet, the poet and/or dreamer is able to empathise and personify in a way that makes the resolute coming down welcomed, if not invited. in the dark the sleeper dreams snow is falling on her pillow as wide wet words the night speaks about itself snow speaking the words for night The contrariety of movements conjoined here are vertiginous. Among them: snow, white (light-giving) is part of the darkness; snow is dark with its own absence (night) as it is dreamed into the 339
presence here of ‘wide wet words’; and snow is light again as it speaks, a deployed image, for night. And so on, the poet seems to intimate. * Now to some more overtly intimate pieces. In ‘Mother as Eurydice’: ‘she was beautiful / in ways impossible / to understand’. This retraces in a more intimate way some of the ground already covered. But it is also interesting to discern perhaps (in a collection where Mary Shelley is redolent) an identification here with that same Mary Shelley, and the monstrosity, as it were, of having an absent mother, Mary Wollstonecraft. The impossibilities of grasping, then, are not just to do with metaphysical observations about the grounds of being and/or experience, and what P. F. Strawson calls in his work on Kant, ‘the bounds of sense’ – but also about the ground of one particular (part of) being or experience. Indeed, in the long sequential poem, ‘Boat Lane’, a poem dedicated ‘for my adoptive father’, a series of recollected scenes and gestures make up the long sequence, but the narrative design is not quite serial or chronological. Near the opening (and reprised close to the close) we read of how, ‘once again / and for the first time // I am following / my father.’ Like the contrariety in or of ‘Cold War: Afternoon’, where we see a similar metaphysical gesture of ‘once again / and long ago’ – temporal as much as spatial bearings are both condensed and displaced in this intimate and touching poem, ‘Boat Lane’. The ‘sea’ (again) the poet’s persona, following, is led down to ‘remembers how / all of this // belonged to it / once before’, as much as further along the poet knows ‘my grandparents // live here time / without end.’ Again, that is to say, the world’s most sublime natural reaches are mirrored and conjoined with far more intimate ones, whether in time or place. Thus, the poet follows ‘the lane / leading towards / them and away’ – contraries conjoined here across two short flowing lines. And much as the sea ‘murmurs loss’, earlier the ‘owls flutter / like rags trapped // above the tideline / calling me / out of sleep / wild child / wild child.’ The wilds and the wilderness of ‘out there’ are married onto the
self-awareness of the poet, unknown, wild, and yet still errantly familiar as such to herself. ‘[B]ut still the waves / lie and lie / the sea is never / satisfied’. That choice of line-ending is more than just a musical choice: ‘the sea is never’ means just that, as much as it overflows onto ‘satisfied’. Which is to say, as much as the poet calls down her adoptive father via the reaches of memory, the recollection is tarred with loss, the known somehow still unknown; or perhaps, better, the known returning to the unknown. The poem closes with the poet following again: I am following my father who belongs to marsh water and to the sea Marsh water and the sea make here and there, the vast unknown and the more familiar vicinity, neighbours, as much as contraries conjoined. clamber out of yourself little bare creature from your sleeping self? ‘Surfacing’ These lines close the collection. Sampson surfaces at the end of Come Down, as she ‘climbs’ ‘out of the dream / as if from / a dark valley / into light / letting all that was / uncertain come / clear…’. Much like the structure of her previous collection, The Catch, which was also split between two parts, the first longer than the second – the second, shorter section of this collection at hand is titled, eponymously, ‘Come Down’, and is comprised of a long versatile poem, dedicated however to Sampson’s ‘immigrant ancestors’. Indeed, as we open this poem, invited to: ‘Come down where it / narrows down / over the last field / where the valley squeezes / almost shut’, this conclusive, or closing, movement also, in the
next stanza, ‘opens’, as we are, equally, invited to ‘come down / into light and dark / systole and diastole’. As at the start (whose title was a mirror), these are two movements, contrary and conjoined. It’s startling and remarkable how all this unificatory visioning across the collection can still remain radically concrete through each page. One of the most salient accomplishments of this collection, where Sampson seems to be ‘coming into her own’ and in more than one sense (towards her ‘unknown family’, her ‘immigrant ancestors’), is precisely the way it can be seen to be one long poetic meditation in search of her selves as they come down, into a matrix, earthed by now more exponential insight. Sampson in search of herself, she reads ‘traces of the ones who left / just this morning / centuries ago’. She is falling in this section into the knowledge of a truer more berthed selfhood, and the movement redounds with hope, grace, rather than the other, more staple mythos of ‘falling’ or ‘fallenness’: in one stone where the red stain spreads like something entering a wound to turn the blood that gallops into your ears Yes, there is the wound, but the wound seems also to redress itself. Even if the addressees of this powerful poem ‘stand just / out of frame’, they’ve ‘always / known the light lying // along the top field / and the pear tree’s / hieroglyph’. While Sampson travels, out there and in here, ‘amid the ragged light / and bird-screams / of memory before / words’, she sees ‘the fast distant ship’ which ‘dreams of a child / who floats her face pale / her hair spread and tangled / like the dream’. There is a constant movement between knowing and unknowing, dream and waking that makes the poem as visceral as it is magical at times. This is so because the girl detailed in this poem conflates with Sampson herself, the past, unknown, distant, coming down to meet the poet, like her destiny, like the fiat of the gods, for ‘she is you’. As ‘time folds / into another century / where you come walking / down with them //
into the future / they won’t arrive at’, and while ‘three lost children’ take ‘the measure / of their strangeness’ – the acts of counterfactual re-collection, retrieval, in this poem are filled with light, hope: ‘heat and juice / in the smile / of a stranger / who will never / speak your name’. ‘[S]mells as old / as another country / this too is belonging’, as, closing the poem, ‘narrowing’ now: breathing seems to fill the leaves and look the old ones keep passing through us saying world is wide we must come down together into its valley The mutual, reflexive play between the inanimate and the animate, now inter-animated, is like an image deployed for the relationships between pasts and presents and futures, which keep on passing as well as keep on being passages, breathing as much as narrowing, systole and diastole. And it’s poignant that that last invocation to ‘come down’ is no longer as riven by self-searching and self-questioning, but is a resolute invitation to come down ‘together’. Ending this poem, a poem both magical and real, this trope of community – so persistent in Sampson’s oeuvre – speaks not only between Sampson and her ancestors, Sampson and the different movements of her selves, but of course is also a welcoming gesture at her readers, who will have felt their way through the perambulations and permutations of what is one sustained poetic searching, made up of many contrary but conjoined movements. As per the epigraph of this concluding section, both Sampson and we, her readers, ‘surface’ at the last, going upwards like skies stepping out of the rivers of time. We are enjoined to clamber out by what has, or will have, come down to us. Indeed, towards the end of ‘Come Down’, and towards the end of the book, Come Down – before the surfacing, that is to say – we read of ‘night’ again being (dialectically) illuminated:
and all night long digs in sand believing she can reach Australia down and down she digs and suddenly here is wide scrubland red rock the colour of home This searching-out of the ‘red rock’ of ‘Australia’, the outback from which Sampson’s ancestors emigrated, ends up being both earth but also: an earthing. Sampson – going down and down here, into the good earth – is also going and coming; coming down into hope. _______________________________________________________________________________________
This is an adapted excerpt from Chapter Two of Omar Sabbagh, Reading Fiona Sampson: A Study in Contemporary Poetry and Poetics (Anthem Press, July 2020).
Stefan Collini, The Nostalgic Imagination: History in English Criticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), p. 110.
Omar Sabbagh is a widely published poet, writer and Critic. This article is excerpted from his Reading Fiona Sampson: A Study of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics (Anthem Press, 2020). He teaches at the American University in Dubai (AUD), where he is Associate Professor of English.
Francisco Munoz Soler What is it to be a poet and why What is it to be a poet and why, I never ask these questions to myself, it flows out from the spring within my soul forging the choices of my life, my stance in the world, expressing myself through the word and through silence with beauty and humanism.
There are tombs that in their silence There are tombs that in their silence speak of the world, they keep a joyful harmony and emit a music that go beyond walls, barber wires and shackles, that keep alive youthful dreams where love heals wounds with stability and solace, there are tombs that rise above cruelty and infamy, their river of bliss purifies acid rains.
We should be afraid We should be afraid of the fears that control and divide us, that paralyze the energy to combat the greed of the elite,
of cynicism which disguises their prevalent opulence as a sign of security. We should be afraid of not daring ourselves to desire a worthy life.
Hatred seduces Let's not deceive ourselves: hatred seduces. All one needs to do is look at history, no remind us of the splendour of its arsons. The elegant executioners take no rest, they stalk their wretched victims, they discriminate, dehumanize, execute, always firm, neat, credible, they sweep away hordes with symbols and have legions to defend themselves. Let's not deceive ourselves: hatred is lovely. Truth and coexistence demand that brotherhood and compassion should not remain in eloquent silence and hatred should not rewrite history. Francisco Munoz Soler is a Spanish poet has been published extensively in countries like Spain, Mexico, United States, India, Peru, El Salvador and Venezuela. He is the organizer of the Plenilunio Poetic Cycle of Malaga.
Mrinal Basu Chaudhuri An ordinary repose Those dream-balloons, not having touched the sky,ever, are my playmates everyday. I am friends with the river on whose emptied banks I sit and touch the lonely shadow. The temple which sees no worship, I bow my head fearfully to the dark idol there. The lady whose feet lack a sprint, with eyes not buzzing like a bee, I go with her, beyond the fields, to the fair-grounds of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Charakaâ&#x20AC;?, The young man who keeps walking towards the moon, but returns empty-handed at the dusk, I give him a plain shirt and a towel and teach him ways to an ordinary repose. The ways to emancipation, transcendence, may well be researched upon, it is only a man who can stand by another. Translated by Amanita Sen
Freedom the intimidating noise of the boots the blood stained menaces the proud bullets ignoring them all the love that help us to revolt stay courageous is freedom the healing touch that help us forget the monstrous tyranny teach us altruism
walking together side by side I call it freedom amidst the smell of the verdant earth nature under the moonlit sky when people sleep peacefully I know freedom is in the air the parade of artistic dreams invading the thoughts the delight of the gallant river the sublime voice of an unearthly woman wordlessly tells me how much of the self-sacrificial sacred blood have steeped in our freedom history language and the enchanting grassy bed Translated by Amanita Sen Mrinal Basu Chaudhuri is a renowned poet from Kolkata India. He started his poetic journey in 1965 with his book 'Magno Belabhumi'. His total published books on poetry 32, others 6. He has received several awards including Paschimbongo Bangla Akademi.
Ashraf Aboul-Yazid Maps of the mirage:
A map of a spotlight The only spotlight is seeking for two eyes, hurt by darkness. It is seeking for eyeballs engraved by the darkness to read one thousand and one texts. It is seeking for a knife to kill the night with. It is seeking for a star, to get it melted, in a deserted glass. It is seeking for a map of love.
A map of the river My river is thirst for waterfall, It is crawling searching for its tributary, It is searching for a valley to cross, Expressing love and temptation. The river is searching for you, To dive into his mouth.
A map of the city he left The boy will return looking for the house of his neighboring girl. But he will only see the dry roses in her balcony. He will knock at the door, with no answer but of the sleeping bat that tells him of the heresy of death. Despite of the shades
thrown by the concrete forests, he shall search roads around the house. The signs of love, they once engraved in tree trunks, might be still there. Despair shall sleep in his eyes on the abandoned thresholds, as he was looking for the gates leading him out of this labyrinth. But he forgets the password of survival, and becomes a statue in a legend.
A map of a garden at the edge of death The only ways leading to you are wet by the tongue of a mirage. The green color in your fields is a mixture of algae and waste land. Your illusionary garden is only living in your head, lying in the intestines of the jungle. If you stretch your hands to hold its roses of fire, it will take you into its mouth. And inside the belly of the dragon; you shall be a pile of dust.
A map for google’s sons You are just a few points and lines. You are colors left in some corners and circles. Nothing could identify you; no heart pulses, no breast Breathes, and no words. You are the sons of a research engine, You are numbers and letters typed on the maps of «Google.»
A map of an old sorrow It is snaking in your ribs, searching for a hole in the apple of your heart, searching for a deserted road, that leads towards memories. It is inspecting your secret drawers; There might be something you erased. It will feed it with fire, and sing for orgasm, on its way back.
A map of a house over there There is a house where I live Over there, it sniffles like the mills of Don Quixote. From far away It looks like a gravestone. If you are approaching there, you shall see me crucified on its balcony, watching the flocks of seagulls, as I touch my lifeless wings.
Protiti Rasnaha Kamal A lover's goodbye Countless minds rushing to work, yours is only one of them, you follow your own path, while my tears fog your windshield, you don't wipe it clean, you dont see through the haze. Waiting on you, I gasp in fear of losing our time in an hourglass, creating a sand dune, the chaos in my mind says our time's at ease, but we are restless still. As the sand pours you take off to your own crowd, your everyday need to create a miracle without me by you, to create an eye for a thorough read. Sometimes you skim a magazine of the richest 30, sometimes you settle on a philosopher's dream, of figuring out the rational, the quantities the exact nature of love, its greed. I write for you, I philosophize with my words, my own thoughts on love but your thoughts are certain, they are a mind's trail toward an attempt at climbing high. My eyes travel too, you should know my feet fly too, as I dream. The fog, my breath wipes it clean. Now we see each other, as a goodbye coats the screen.
Artist's trace A trial today, a wonder tomorrow the magic lies in the artist's plan. He sketches first, his childhood toy. A fluffy etch, spat from a paint brush's end, a bow or a tie, a misfit on the neck the toy soothes the pencil's ache. Then he turns the page, a growing tree, tall and sharp, with a pen's stroke it smiles a drape of lines around the trunk, some flowers hug the roots, through the designer's eye. A couple of pages later, a face looks on, through its haggard edges. The weary eyes bleed through the page, while the smile is lost by an eraser's mess. And then we find an end to an artist's mind, his portfolio emerges, its hurried pace draws sketches without life, from life's own sketch his tomorrow held tight, by his early days. His vision has painted a picture of his eye, whose dreams are found in walls, exhibits a flock of questions, an image to decipher some value found in an artist's trace. Protiti Rasnaha Kamal's writings have been published in newspapers such as The Daily Star, Daily Observer, Dhaka Tribune and The Bombay Review. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, USA.
Kiran Bhat Sudeep Sen’s ‘Anthropocene’ The Anthropocene: the cycle of time during which human existence has threatened the ecosystem of the earth. While humans have been causing ecological devastation since we wrung ourselves out of the embryos of evolution and began to think for ourselves, there is a new range of art confronting the impact of recent trangressions and their aftermaths on our shared home. Namely, there is the matter of climate change, and the ways that many species of life will cease to exist at the end of this fragile slipshod of a century. But, as the poems in Sudeep Sen’s latest collections of poems reveal, the Anthropocene is not merely an ecological context. It describes a range of human responses to this feeling of an end, or this feeling of an epoch transitioning into something much worse. Anthropocene: Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation -- the poetry collection is divided into eight segments. The prologue essay, “The Role of the Artist is Not to Look Away” reacts on the fate of island nation Kiribati and the ecological devastation occurring in India through the prisms and poetics of Sen’s reflections. The sections which come after are “Anthropocene,” “Pandemic,” “Contagion,” “Atmosphere,” “Holocene,” “Consolation,” and “Epilogue.” While these subtitles give a large enough sense as to what sort of themes and topics the coming poems plan to address, often the subject matters and emotions evoked through the poems
transverse, collide, and intersect. Still, the poems in the collection can largely be classified as reactions to either climate change or the coronavirus pandemic, with a thorough aside of poems that traverse geography, locale, and nature. The strongest poetry of the collection belong to the second caption, “Anthropocene: Climate Change.” Perhaps because climate change is truly the greatest existential threat humanity will have to face in this century, Sen emits far more passion and anguish than he does in any of the other sections of the collection. This genuine desire to spark change or educate readers combined with Sen’s gift of words creates magnificent results. The first poem of the collection, “i.e. [That Is],” as simple and short as it is, creates astonishing levels of subversion. Sen begins the poem on an evocation. He asks the reader to hear “the sound of a lone rustling leaf.” Of course when we think of such a sound, we most likely imagine a leaf from some sort of tree, and the sounds of it shaking against the wind. But, then, Sen says immediately after, “you hear the sea.” We are immediately transported to another place and context that normally would not come to us. Sen plays with our mind again. He says, because I consider the sea silent — you hear its silence in my studio, transporting us once more to a place that we normally do not connect to water. And yet, because of this displacement, we are damned to loneliness, and emptiness. We are lost without the company of others, and so Sen returns to the place of the first image. because of that — the silence will not empty the sea of its leaves. From teleportation to fixation, Sen takes the reader to pollution-inundated Delhi in the poem, “Disembodied.” Sen 355
merges the very bones and muscles of his body with the minarets and fortress walls of his city. He claims his flesh to be “sculpted from fruits of the tropics,” just as he draws his blood “from coconut water” and imagines skin“coloured by brown bark of Indian teak.” However, because Sen is built as well from the “searing ultra-violet light from Aurora Borealis patches,” he cannot fully fit in the circumference of India. He is one atom in the great dissemination of the universe, “where radiation germinates from human follies,” or “where contamination persists from mistrust.” Sen breaks stanza and moves onto the melting of the glacial caps. He worries about the lack of water, or the flooding that will cause countless to drown. “Disembodied floats, afloat like Noahs Ark.” Of the coronavirus poems collected under the compilation “Pandemic: Love in the Time of Corona,” “Speaking in Silence” drew the most intrigue, largely for its exceptional use of alliteration. Sen combines a frustration at the lack of government action towards the coronavirus pandemic with a staggering use of wordplay. In sentences like, “As the world pandemically wrestles with dry heat of disease and pestilence — profiteers pry, pilfer[,]” Sen makes not only a very important political point about corporate greed and human suffering. His compilation of ‘p’ sounds further at atmosphere of somberness and a paranoia of decay. The words ‘pry’ and ‘pilfer’ click off of the tongue, and they create a sense of disgust at the lack of action around us immediately after. Likewise, in the lines, “social distancein solitary silos — mutating metaphors spilling everywhere, defying state and statelessness[,]” the use of ’s’ words create sense of strandedness as well as helplessness. We are collecting as one, but we are equally damned to those who govern us, yet choose to not help their citizens. The poems from section number five of the collection, “Atmosphere: Skylines,” depict Sen’s mastery of couplet. Over the
course of a few weeks, Sen played around on his terrace and captured the sunset on his camera, attempting to evoke his reaction to the changing of the hours with some short lines of poetry. It is not necessary to stare at the same image Sen has taken to be evoked by his words. Under the dazzles of a departing sun, Sen notices ‘the rays glare / splits open their perfect coronas — pollen shower-burst, an ochre-flare,’ giving the sensibility of not only a sunset, but of particles thrashing against the earth, milliseconds of matter parting to compound and erupt at the throw of his thoughts. Conversely, underneath a flock of concavely blue clouds, Sen writes, ‘blue-grey will moult into salt-and-pepper ash-grey to silver-white, then to aged-white.’ To call “salt-and-pepper” a color creates the sense of spices dashing into the air, and then as we reflect on “aged-white,” we assume a milder image, something almost like fermenting cheese. Sen aligns the flavors of food with the sights of nature, and causes us as a result to view images in a completely new way. There are the poems of travel, subtitled under “Holocene: Geographies,” and then the ultimate compilation of reprieve and redemption, “Consolation: Hope.” After cycling through the world, not only through the places that have impacted Sen, but the atmospheric conflicts and confrontations that have riddled his mind with concern, Sen concludes his tour on a poem reflecting on the death of George Floyd. At first, the poem “Knee Jerk” seems a little out of line with the rest of the collection, but offers a weight and gravitas of its own little world. Sen decries, “Your bigoted white knees may have the blunt shameless strength to wrestle me down — but not the gift of humanity, or an ounce of compassion to make life breathe again.”
And so comes this almost effortless conjoining of an undeserved death, the emotions that it arouses, and then this inability to breathe - a collective problem thanks to COVID and to air pollution, a problem faced by a certain minority group due to widespread racism and systemic oppression. Almost each and every stanza of the poem plays with this amalgamation, such as when Sen quotes the lines of President Donald Trump and police officers saying, “‘use more domination, force[,]’ only to remark immediately after, “How long can he breathe toxic air in his dungeon?” The image returns us to a pollution ridden Delhi, reminding us that no matter how geographically far persecution appears, humans are suffering in another way, on another bedazzled and perturbed corner of this world. Ultimately, to truly cover a collection as vast as this one, each and every poem would have to be covered as if they were their own singular collection. That is the amount of thought and time Sudeep Sen has spent in writing each and every one of them. Sen has approached each poem as its own novel, making sure that the structure, wordplay, and intent are aligned to create as much reaction in a reader as possible. Taken one at a time, each poem inspires, devastates, and rewards. But then there are the collective ways that each of the poems speak out to each other, both in their subtitled compilations, but also in how the chapters merge together to form one singular result. It is as if each poem is like an individual on this earth. Much like you or I, there is much to appreciate when we read a person for they are. But, equally like you or I, there is much more to be gained, when we choose to be read in conversation with each other, or in dialogue. Kiran Bhat has travelled to 130 countries, lived in 18 different places, and speaks 12 languages. He is the author of we of the forsaken world... (Iguana Books, 2020), and has authored books in four foreign languages. His writing has been published in The Brooklyn Rail, The Colorado Review, Eclectica, 3AM Magazine, The Radical Art Review, The Chakkar, Mascara Literary Review, and others. He currently lives in Melbourne.
Aminur Rahman The road stretches up to the skies I have been walking along the way since morning. There is no end to the path And I give up both bathing and eating. The whole family walks with me Carrying the necessities of our household life, Looking forward to a safe shelter. But there is no end to this path; The road stretches up to the sky, And as we walk, the road stretches even further. Our house is located a little way from the Police Line of Rajarbag. Yesterday I saw Rajarbag ablaze with fire. The Police Line is horrified by the fire. I cannot see much of it, but I can smell that something terrible has happened. Although our family is not a large one, Our closest relatives are huddled together in our house And everyone is apprehensive that war has started. Papa is listening to BBC Radio, pressing his radio to his ears, While others sit around him trying to hear the news. We had to leave our house early in the morning; We live in the neighbourhood of the Police Line So the Pak Army could kill us any time. All night long our anxiety grew. Mum and our aunties got busy Packing all the necessary household articles for the whole family. Papa got angry because the baggage was so heavy. We were waiting for the sun to rise, Or should I say, we were waiting for the light, Waiting so that we could start our walk. We all walk past marshes and bushes, past trees and grasses, The children sitting on the shoulders or in the arms of adults. The emotions of our surroundings are very different From what is in our hearts, where innocence has become A time of self-awakening. Suddenly a jeep from the Pak Army stops before us. Papa and our uncles are working with the government. 359
They show their ID cards, saving themselves from trouble. When we were leaving our house, I saw them hide these ID cards with care, A safeguard for us all. We continue walking, mile after mile; We could never imagine walking on like this, On and on as if we were in a dream. We are like travelers who have lost their home, Who have become strangers in their own land. A bullet passes just inches away from us. Throughout the country, the Bengalis put up resistance In a sporadic manner. The Liberation Army rises up in every village. We meet them on our way. What robust and thunderous slogans Are there on every lip. I do not know how the people In the villages and towns have become so courageous. This is a different kind of inspiration, For everyone is engrossed in the desire to win the fight. All our family keeps on walking, Sometimes spending the night in the house of unknown people, Then walking, walking, always walking In the ardent desire to reach a safe place. There is so much warmth even in the cottage of the poorest farmer. We live like this, searching for direction On the road we walk down, From path to path, From day to day, From night to night. Sometimes we walk for our homeland, Sometimes for peace; Sometimes we walk for freedom, Sometimes for a piece of land. We walk and walk Along the ceaseless, boundless path, A path that will never end. We continue walking, and walkingâ&#x20AC;Ś Translated by Nandita Bhattacharya
The dimensions of a poem As I search in the dark I have finally caught hold of my poem. I am not ashamed to say that I have been looking for a month at least before it came into my grasp. This poem in my hand Has the dimensions of my loosely wrapped fingers and I can feel within itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cool touch. I have always seen a poem dancing with the wind, spreading fragrance all around. I have seen my poem melting as moonlight on the body of the leaves And how I have never been able to grasp them in my fingers. A poem has been around me like the tinkling sound of anklets. As I hear to the resonance of the music I am looking for it in the music of this song I have searched all around alas! could never find one. In the middle of the night having suddenly woken up Hearing cries I went anxiously looking for my poem. All I found was a salty water drenched pillow but not a single trace of any poem. Now finally after many days I have got a poem in my grasp. And I wonder how long I can hold this poem in my closed palms? As I opened my palms to gaze at them But where? Where is the poem? All I found is the fossil of love in the hungry shape of my hand. Translated by Nandita Bhattacharya Aminur Rahman is an internationally acclaimed poet from Bangladesh. He is a renowned Translator, Editor and Critic. Published more than 40 books in the country and abroad.
Claire Booker It’s never too late for a happy childhood There’s no wrong kind of snow. Scoop a handful. Squeeze. Throw it at a wall. Keep throwing until the wall vanishes. Snow has an open mind. Fall backwards into virginity and flap your wings. Leave a footprint. Spot woodpecker tracks. Be awed by the exuberance of dog pee. Remember – a snowman is not just for Christmas. It will outlast drifts, but never your affection. Remove your gloves. Your hands will become icy. This is empathy. Do not attempt legs or genitalia. A snowman is beyond gender. The head will fall off. Several times. It has hurtled to earth from 5,000 feet. Its coal eyes were once diamonds. Or will be. Your snowman is 98% water. You are 80% water. You have already met in a stream.
Turning back I find myself entangled in red – crumpled bloody handkerchiefs of maple or maybe dogwood? It’s a kind of folly, this letting go. Or a foretelling. Light filters the understorey’s carousel of aimless forms that crash against walls of eternal holly. I hold out my hands, but none drop onto my supplicant palms –
only the sound of acorns pelting the ground. Corrugated clay, thick as a kiss, has moated the path. There’s a gate ahead, half open, the way reckless in snaking ivy. I hesitate. The gate’s half shut against me, and my feet are bruised. The Bone that Sang After the Grimm’s fairy tale A herdsman, driving his beasts through the torn mesh of forest, stumbles on a thread of human vertebrae, crafts its frail ivory into a mouthpiece, and a note comes fluting from his lips – its pitch at first inaudible as the cries of pipistrelles. In his palace, the generalissimo hoists the ripe meat of genocide onto his shoulders – builds a cage out of the contortions of his own mouth, where he constructs truths that walk and talk like real children. Ravines clot with secrets. Whispers float like thistle seed to all corners of the kingdom. He plucks each chalk-white petal of paperwork before he signs: she loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, she loves me not. Under this vaporizing sun, people suck on pebbles to assuage their thirst. Men are turned to firewood, children drop like leaves. But still he knows, how the vanished can fruit death caps from any scrape of earth. That bones sing when they find a ready ear.
Santosh Kumar Pokharel Hoots hunger My hunger hoots in the noon and midnight In the lonesome spots Where bytes have been lied Many a time my hunger has survived In this time belly mine often fights. Tremors feel do my limbs undergo This has been for long time ago This could not your words subside My bellyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still void. Lo nothing will I lose nothing gain Why shall then loyal to I remain? Let me shout for the naught this I know Every bout that about fruitless go But my hope does gallop for my right I do hoot in the noon and midnight. Nov 28.2020. Bhaktapur Nepal
Speak love to be I am aware, aware indeed Let the rites of others and creed To florish but the seed innate To be sown everywhere I won't let Peace be my religion let me peace get. My religion is but a humble smile My religion is nature not it defile I wish to leap dance and enthrall In gaiety, so let live peoples all! Let live people all. I want to win your heart and concealed Your love, and love -whirls that are spilled
Hold me tight in your arms around And keep my words all the way spellbound. What more a man may need to be? Speak love to be, speak love to be! October 21. 2020. Santosh Kumar Pokharel is a senior Civil Engineer and a noted multilingual Poet and Translator from Nepal. He spent almost seven years in in Moscow during his study. Mr. Pokharel is a published poet and has hundreds of poems and four published books,
Anna Keiko The dawn of hope Everything is going down Winter is coming and everything is falling Only the night is getting fuller and fuller The pupils of the luminous sky are clear They are apparently unharmed by fear But humans are knocked back to their origin by the virus Which looks for any weak body it can attack Furious lips and teeth add to the confusion Desire bends the path of light The image of a world wrapped in roses Covers its vast ugliness of reality, A deception called prosperity.
Walking in the Bucharest park The moon stood high in the sky Undulating the waves of the lake Full of mystery the bushes, the fire in my heart Suddenly a dark cloud covered the path and although it was June, summer, a cold wind blew through my dress A storm and heavy rain poured down No place to hide, at loss and disoriented in the dark forest all alone, I had to find the way out.
An empty glass Water, a part of my body I tried to drink it But when I tried to drink it The glass was empty Where did the water go
In no time? Is the existence No more than a glass of water? It's a mystery, it's confusion What happened? Yesterday, I was here at the same time And filled the glass Would the water not have disappeared if I had remained here? Was my mind trapped in the glass Or?
Waiting for the bus I'm waiting for the bus Many busses pass by the station They go to different places But there is no bus to take me where I want to go I am still waiting, from winter to spring Nobody cares about the people waiting for the bus They walk, or they run I wait from dark till dawn Trees hibernate and wake up, So also do the birds Did humans change in thousands of years? Only a few stars have awoke I don't know the distance to the place I want to go I keep waiting for the bus.
Down of hope The light of dawn erases the traces of the night. Relentlessly, time goes on flowing, although I wish it would stop like a picture fixed by the cameraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lens because as valuable like fruit in a tree is love.
Like the moon ascending at night, so you are, my love. Whatever happens, wherever you are, I keep you in my heart. Since I am in love with you, my world has changed for two hearts found a home of tenderness. Sunrays play on the strings of love lighting up the dawn of hope.
In the heart I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see you But you affect me everywhere At dawn, at twilight and at night You are the light My eyes canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t refuse to see You are everywhere Whether I can see you or not You are the unpublished poem I wrote in my heart.
If I were a star If I were a star I would wait for you at your window at night If I were a cloud in summer I would soften the warmth of sun above you. If I were the wind, I would gently blow your face when you sweat. If I were a bird I would sing for you by day and by night But I am but an ant longing to fly like an eagle seeing you from the sky and settle close to you If I were a star...
Love If you are the boat I wish to be water If you are water I wish to be the shore If you are the shore I wish to be the bridge If you are a bridge Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll wait for you on the other side Forever...
The other half of my love In your brightness, I learn how to love In your wisdom, I learn how to write poems Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been perching on my left breast In my right eye And with my luggage and the daily food along the way Open both of your arms, my love Take your fortune in firm grasp Say, if the Goddess of the Parthenon has taken my eyes Then you must have stolen my heart Under the transparent sky People are made to suffer The world where you would roam freely Is but a coastline without limits So, my other half This is the truth if you want to hear To love is to obey To the nothingness that is placed in authority over us. Translated by Anna Keiko and Germain Droogenbroodt Anna Keiko (China) is member of Shanghai Pudong Writers Association, Founder and Chief Editor of Shanghai Huifeng Literature and Chinese director of the ITHACA cultural foundation. She was invited at several poetry festivals and published in 20 languages.
Manuel Iris Triptych of glimpses I
Poetry as an intimate matter Only by stripping naked one can enter the poem. Reading poetry is â&#x20AC;&#x201D; there is no other option â&#x20AC;&#x201D; an encounter between two honesties. Each reader and each poem always intertwine in intimacy: they inhabit poetry, and each other. Poetry reading is a non-transferable, essentially subjective experience that defines the poem as much as it defines the reader. That is why I think it is necessary to defend the practice of naked reading. Naked reading is getting to the poem, leaving aside (during reading) the name of the publisher, and the poet's awards, prestige, and fame. Naked reading is meeting the book or the poem with complete humility, with authentic curiosity while asking the same from the poem, because a naked reader asks for nudity, and a naked poem does not accept anything else in return. One approaches the poem with complete vulnerability, asking for the same in return, as in the act of love: it is focusing on the poem, only. Naked reading is done with honesty, with both feet planted on what is wanted and what is needed, on what is said and what is confessed, on what is kept silent, and what is hidden. For those who practice naked reading, a poet will be valued after reading his books, and not after reciting his awards. The introduction to a poet is his poems, not his biography. The reader seeking nudity reads poem by poem, and not author by author.
The reader has the right to disagree with any academic opinion, if he has truly read and feels that his sensitivity asks for something else: he may have a different need, and there is always a poet, a poem, which may be his, and it may well be a poet from the golden age, from another language, a local poet from his state, or a stranger. It could also be the poet everyone talks about, the award-winning poet. The important thing is that this approach must be made from honesty. Also, the poet should follow himself and not be guided by what the awards and scholarships, the press releases, the poisonous “best” lists, the hallway comments say: he may also have a different need and, if he does not follow it, he will never find his voice. Of course, we must read our contemporaries and pay attention to the opinion of those who dedicate themselves to reading, but none of their judgments should dictate our own: we must defend our emotionality, but also – for it to be healthy and refined – we must feed it with the other, the different. The naked reading makes it clear: it is a lie that there is such a thing as “the best poet” of a generation, country, or time. Poets cannot be objectively compared. There is, yes, the poet with whom I communicate. The poet who tells us things, the one who seems not only to be talking about us o but from us. There is the poem that, at a certain moment, corresponds to us. And we are free to look for it wherever we want, or wherever or intuition sends us. The only condition for making poetry is a total surrender to it: that’s how the poet gets to be free. There is no way out: the poetic experience will be naked, or it will not be. II
Poetry and reality Although it does it, the poem does not seek to reflect or express what is happening in the world. Its real impulse is to respond. The poem is a response to the society of its time and is therefore a stance, a reaction. Not a mirror, but a video projector over the well-known, everyday streets, is the poem.
Contrary to what has been said, todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s poetry does not face uncertainty, but rather explores it, and proposes ways of approaching it, of making it speech, of saying it. The poet is a formulator, a human lost like the others, although with the ability to articulate not only his certainties but the doubts of all his brothers and sisters: he is not the guide of the tribe but the spokesman of the common orphanhood. The poem is not only a chain of words, emotions, an idea that explodes, or a stridency that seeks to be heard. The poetic response is a possibility of the mind, a different way of inhabiting reality. Faced with the noise of the immediate, current poetry proposes (or at least some current poetry that interests me) slowness and calm, quiet, recollection. Once the religious faith has been lost â&#x20AC;&#x201D; if it has been lost â&#x20AC;&#x201D; poetry is a dialogue with transcendence, a re-connection with the cosmos. In the age of automatic information, of live broadcasts of all events at all hours, the reading of poetry is a space for calm, for slowness. Poetry, all poetry, indicates at the same time what we are as individuals, and as a tribe. Seeing ourselves like this, intimately twinned, makes us slow down the speed or our interactions, the rapidness of separating individualities. Poetry reveals our true face behind the mask of the immediate. Even the most explosive poems seek to eternalize a moment to see it happening perpetually in the reading. A poem is always read for the first time; it is always starting over. The words of the poem are born from and go towards silence, which is not their annulment but the land in which they are sown and in which their meaning arises. Precisely now, in these times of immediacy, of accelerated communication, poetry gives us the possibility of seeing each other and ourselves: it unites us. Such is its function in the face of reality. III
Poetry and transcendence
(Silence, transparency, slowness)
The poem is a form of silence. Even speaking of noise or violence, the poem creates silence. Poetry is a mode of contemplation and it is also (like contemplation) a way of accessing the interior of things and oneself when observing them: to leave oneself by entering oneself, that is the reading of the poem. Stopping, decanting, receiving: the poet is a creator of slowness, a facilitator of pause. His job is to show what's behind things, once reality sets in. The poet’s job is learning to disappear, to become transparent: to make room in his resonance box so that the mystery can vibrate within it. Approaching the poem leaves no choice but to start exploring our interior oratories, our galleries of dust, our intimate tombs. The voice becomes a bridge between the flesh and the light. That is why it is necessary, in the face of reality, the slowness of the poem: it is necessary to structure the silence, to articulate the calm. Born from the present times and their concerns, poetry conquers time. It is not present, past, or future: it is permanence. Every poem already existed and needs to be invented. Every poet and every reader seeks the verbal revelation of a time before and after his. Whatever its theme, contemporary or not, poetry is necessary because of the gifts that link it to prayer: silence, transparency, slowness. Word by word, the poet and the reader open the door of their flesh to enter a place that, perhaps, they have inhabited before. The silence of the poem is the echo of a previous silence to which we seek to return. Its slowness is the pulse of another life. Its transparency allows us to see each other. Manuel Iris is a Mexican poet living in the United States. He received the “Merida” National award of poetry (Mexico, 2009) for his book Notebook of dreams, and the Rodulfo Figueroa Regional award of poetry for his book The disguises of fire (Mexico, 2014). In 2018 Manuel was named Poet Laureate of the City of Cincinnati, Ohio. Manuel Iris holds a PhD in Romance Languages from the University of Cincinnati.
Korean Literature by Edition Delta 에디치온 델타 한국문학 시리즈 Hwang Tong-Gyu Berkeley’sches Liebeslied Gedichte, zweisprachig: Koreanisch – Deutsch. Übersetzt von Kim Kyung-Hee und Bettina Opitz-Chen. ISBN 978-3-927648-73-9 황동규
버클리풍의 사랑 노래 -
Kim Yang-Shik - Jeder Augenblick Gedichte, zweisprachig: Koreanisch – Deutsch. Übersetzt und mit einem Nachwort von Sophia Tjonghi Seo. ISBN 978-3-927648-71-5 김양식
Kim Jae-Hyeok - Gedankenspiele Gedichte, zweisprachig: Koreanisch – Deutsch. Übersetzt von Kim Jae-Hyeok und Tobias Lehmann. ISBN 978-3-927648-55-5 김재혁 딴생각
Kim Sun-Woo - Unter Pfirsichblüten eingeschlafen Gedichte, zweisprachig: Koreanisch – Deutsch. Übersetzt von Kang Seung-Hee und Kai Rohs. ISBN 978-3-927648-23-4
도È¬ 아래 잠들다
Shin Dal Ja Morgendämmerung Werkauswahl 1989-2007 Gedichte: Koreanisch (tw.) – Deutsch. Übersetzt und mit einem Nachwort von Sophia Tjonghi Seo. ISBN 978-3-927648-42-5 신달자
Park Hijin Himmelsnetz Werkauswahl 1960-2003 Gedichte: Koreanisch (tw.) – Deutsch. Übersetzt und mit einem Nachwort von Doo-Hwan und Regine Choi. ISBN 978-3-927648-21-0 박희진
퇴계 Toegye (Lee Hwang/ Yi Hwang) Als der Hahn im Dorf am Fluss krähte, hing der Mond noch im Dachgesims Gedichte 1515-1570. Deutsche Fassungen von Tobias & Juana Burghardt auf der Grundlage der Vorarbeit von Doo-Hwan und Regine Choi und mit einem Nachwort von Tobias Burghardt. ISBN 978-3-927648-34-0
Mah Chonggi Augen aus Tau Werkauswahl 1960-2010 Gedichte. Aus dem Koreanischen und mit einem Nachwort von Gwi-Bun Schibel-Yang und Wolfgang Schibel. ISBN 978-3-927648-45-6
Eun Hee-Kyung Wer glücklich ist, schaut nicht auf die Uhr Sieben Erzählungen. Aus dem Koreanischen von Hyuk-Sook Kim und Manfred Selzer. ISBN 978-3-927648-68-5
Kim Kyung-Uk Was? Leslie Cheung ist tot? Erzählungen. Aus dem Koreanischen von Hyuk-Sook Kim und Manfred Selzer. ISBN 978-3-927648-67-8
Jung Young Moon Mondestrunken Roman. Aus dem Koreanischen von Philipp Haas und Lee Byong-Hun und mit einem Nachwort von Philipp Haas. ISBN 978-3-927648-43-2
Hwang Sok-Yong UNKRAUT und andere Prosa Erzählungen. Aus dem Koreanischen von Kang Seung-Hee, Oh Dong-Sik, Torsten Zaiak und Martin Tutsch. ISBN 978-3-927648-36-4
김훈 Kim Hoon Schwertgesang Roman. Aus dem Koreanischen von Heidi Kang und Sohyun Ahn. ISBN 978-3-927648-22-7
Chae Manshik Ein Frühlingstag im Paradies Roman. Aus dem Koreanischen und mit einem Nachwort von Yunhui Baek. ISBN 978-3-927648-47-0
Kim Yujong Kamelien Erzählungen. Aus dem Koreanischen und mit einem Nachwort von Yunhui Baek. ISBN 978-3-927648-50-0
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POETRY WITHOUT BORDERS A unique international poetry project When the Minister of Culture handed over to Germain Droogenbroodt the Kathak Literary Award 2015 for his outstanding contribution to world literature, he did not mention his nationality, but named him a cosmopolitan poet. Germain Droogenbroodt is an excellent poet, published in 19 countries, including in Bangladesh, nominated for the Nobel Prize of Literature, but also a tireless promotor of international poetry. He founded in 1984 POINT Editions, publishing modern international poetry with the idea to do something, however little, for a more human world, crossing borders of race, nationalism, religion and added to POINT the international project Poetry without Borders, publishing every week an excellent poem from all over the world with a nice illustration. Meanwhile translated and published weekly in 29 languages, including Arab, Chinese, Japanese, Kurdish, Farsi, Hindi, Tamil and…Bangla.
Interested? Send an email to: email@example.com and you will receive FREE and without commercial publicity every week a great poem. At www.point-editions.com you will find ample selection of the 666 already published poems in many languages.
I WANT TO BE EVERYTHING IN LOVE I want to be everything in love the lover the beloved dizziness the breeze the reflecting water and that white cloud vaporous indecisive that covers us for an instant. Claribel Alegría, Nicaragua (1924 – 2018) FOOTBALL PLAYER He’s a football player. Kicks a ball, every day, he kicks a ball. One day, He kicked love up high into the sky. It stayed there And didn’t come down. People thought it must be the sun, The moon, or a new star. Inside me, A ball that never comes down, Hangs suspended in the sky. You can see it become fire, Become love Become a star. KAZUKO SHIRAISHI, Japan (1931)
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