Oasis | July, 2020
Postcards of poetry fall into my inbox from newsletters. Long ago when the world was chaotic, these postcards were an oasis. Now these postcards are islands of solace, when the world has gone quiet.
These poems-a-day capture, for me, the cacophony around and made sense or nonsense of it, in a few stanzas and the situation would redeem itself. Maybe that always was the power of words, and its stringing together, could do.
For this time, I enjoyed the poetry I received, as editor, through The Bombay Review’s submissions – each turning out to be lyrical postcards, nestling into corners for cadence, dimension, musicality, and sense.
Of the selections, what startled me was the imagery in Sonnet Mondal’s grim ‘the nameless man scooping out milk from the road to drain the drought inside’ or ‘a forsaken boatman/rows for food in the twilight.’ The fact that food and scarcity of spirit are the same. Ajmal Khan’s title ‘Portrait of a bastard’ made me sit up straight, where layers of racism from being Asian – the accent of a Dravidian governed more than religious divide, and yet the overlaps with ethnicity brought out an unpeeling of facades for the unison of humanity –same pain, displacement, ideas of home – made for an informed read.
Umar Nizar’s poem On Tabassum, my daughter stumbling upon the word ‘Consummation’ in a dictionary, where the title of the poem is as artful, provided a recursive unfurling of the circularity of dead-ends, with a refrain, entering a path of imagistic exclusion, to reach a dry word in the dictionary. While Anindita Sarkar’s bold pieces on abortion, bullying of a unique boy, and surviving health ordeals spoke of grit under the surface, in the core and kernel. The choice of her themes – riveting with knife-edged impact.
Ranu Uniyal has the adorability that comes from a shifting relationship to English. For no matter how much we love it, we can’t live with it when we know beauty and depth may lie in other languages. ‘Fuck in English/Fuck it now.’ Mihir Chitre, whom we are publishing for the second time this issue, is as evocative as always; the years have only refined his poetry.
Adil Hasan’s prose poems are a surprising interlacing of abstract and fablery taking over the trail-edges of mist-filled suspense, unlike Sahana Mukherjee’s two-part poem that concretely explores the pendulous sway between father and mother as seen from the viewpoint of an offspring.
Saranya Subramanian’s poems have gasps-and-wonder-in-punctuations taken from places like Bombay and Chennai or grown from the life of Perumal Murugan and his interiority. Such variety! As Carl Scharwath’s thesis on duality is piqued in well-crafted miniscule phrases that bear testimony to imagery.
Mihir Chitre’s new poems left me dumbfounded with the need to read them slowly, savoring them the second time. The intermixture of concept, imagery, and emotion strongly texturizes his new work.
Rajosik Mitra’s is refreshing new voice written in almost a stream-of-conscious tone, capturing the qualia that would otherwise have sieved away.
There are a few who rhyme as well as Sanjukta Ghoshal, as she not only rhythms it, but has well-timed meaning with each of those lines. A difficult feat made to look as easy as her girl-next-door bio note – a clever deception I tell ya!
And Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih’s poems might well be the gliding end to this bouquet of with poems like Dystopian and Temple, where he takes you to a philosophical quest and leaves you there – right at the cliff.
Stay safe, dear readers, protect thy breath.
The Bombay Review