Editorial: Issue 26, MarApr 2020

Verse Vaccines

The more absurd the world turns we return to the solace of words (or stories) – a door knock to the reprieve and refuge of collective unconscious – monomyths of surviving; words through a mosaic of absurdity that can create patterns of sense and sensing. 

In the middling curve of the contagion, we, humankind saw a lot – in the world, in our homes and homelands – but mostly kept the privilege of turning inward enforcing a valentine of soul searching, picking from the palette of resounding distance and space, to make for a still photography of reflection.

Earlier we resisted the days that came, now we swim fluid as hours, weeks, weekends merge endlessly under lockdown, challenging circadian gridlocks. One chord pulling through – a renascence that has the potency to change us – bringing humanity to the surface and brim. To cleanse, forgive, go tender, empathize, share a kind word – passing it around when streets are haunted and stores shut. 

The pandemic-preoccupations take us to the brink of poetry. We are saved to rebuild the world, or notions on immunity from the virus. Humanity mutates at points of blunder and wonder, resolution and resilience. This issue of poetry presents a collage and because it’s read under lockdown, becomes snapshots of nostalgia. Places that were anyway faraway in our memory, as we had moved on our timelines, but now even further into a fantasy of the past with a hope of new futures, tending towards peace — probably a fool’s dream and wish.

After our Israel themed issue, the March-April (2020) issue is a poetry special. 15 stellar poets grace the pages of this issue… in lines that bear to the testimony of the montage. A cacophony growing calm to rearrange under a stained-glass looking lens of experiential understanding.

As Saranya Subramanian… ‘She wonders how the wires withstand the temperamental weather/ of political debates and the storms they bring,’ and Sadaf Wani adds to this coherence with, ‘If thousands of intertwined roots would emerge/From the soles of their jackboots,/We could, maybe, integrate?‘ 

As Maya Nandhini and Rizwan Akhtar wonder about absences in ‘are you just here, a temporary/presence waiting for the/blue light of clarity‘ and ‘I assembled the/furniture of love renting another place’, respectively. 

As Anna Sujatha Mathai speaks of the passionate lovers of Rakhigarhi locating the psychedelia of lust and quest. And deliberations on birth, identity, progeny, and the nexus of civilization is tackled in Sri Lal’s poem, ‘Some say my mother drinks the blood of goats.’, Jit Bhattacharya’s lines, ‘I was made of Anglo colonial prose,/bits of Sanskrit shlokas my father recited.’, Kushal Poddar’s ‘My mother drowned me in the last plague’, or Durga Vijayakumar’s query: “Who goes there?”/Tiresius./“Tiresius, who?”

Poets for whom existence is shape-shifting through hallucinatory forbearance, like Rustam Mavlikhanov’s ‘these Godzillas of my immune system, – landing the brave colonists – adeno-, rubula- and another parainfluenza viruses’ or R. Nikolas Macioci’s ‘Let me have someone walk toward me/with outstretched arms because they want my sorrow.’ or Mona Dash’s ‘…someone who has maybe/one lonely night prodded the moon and broken a bit off for you‘.

If Sajan PK thought, ‘These are roads that people take/And fold and keep for private use.’ it is Md Mehedi Hasan’s poem ‘Meat’ that stuns and startles, while Uma Gowrishankar finally abridges it for us with: ‘The inflorescence of the mustard field/leaves a scar on the retina/blazing hours after I remain/blindfolded in a jaundiced darkness.’ 

For our two non fiction pieces in this issue, Kaartikeya has this to say: I had the good fortune of reading Rituparna Roy’s debut collection, ‘Gariahat Junction’, published by Kitab this year, and discussed the possibility of an essay on her fiction and writing. The product is this delicately personal insight into Roy’s roots, and words. Kavita Ezekiel writes about her father, Nissim Ezekiel, acclaimed poet, often referred to as the father of Modern Indian English Poetry, and his love for Walt Whitman.

While you enjoy this issue, dear readers, we wish you safety, immunity and robust health in overcoming the virus. 

I would also like to add that we are now reading short fiction for our 4th print anthology, themed on ‘Race, identity and gender’. You can find more information here. The last date for submissions is June 15th, 2020.

Happy Reading!

Rochelle Potkar
Poetry Editor
The Bombay Review