4/7/18

Contents | TSC 2018 Special Issue- Guest Edited by Amrit Ghosal

Editorial | TSC Special Issue- 11 new poets | Amrit Ghosal

Credits : Amrit Ghosal

The curious thing with creative pursuits is that if you do not push the boundaries of expression, you collect slime. Soon enough, the standing waters of rhetoric begin to decay and no amount of congratulatory echo-chambers can manage to contain the bad news: the trick has gotten old.

Usually, poetry written in any age is unique in terms of subject-matter, tone and style. It evolves with every passing generation, by giving words to unprecedented anxieties, hopes and longings. The gifted voices of every generation build upon the works of their predecessors and most importantly, add insights of their own, providing contemporary relevance.

 Ironically,  the new form of expression soon becomes  a sort of formula to set words to. Only a few are able to push the envelope in the any sense.  Suddenly, everybody starts to write Formula Poems and everybody is happy! To this I say- Fine! Do whatever you want. Follow the formula as much as you want! Be safe in your little cocoon of predictable identity and expression! It is your ignorance of what art can do, of how all-encompassing  it is.

Soon enough, a market begins to grow around the new scene.  Books, readings, festivals and so forth; but as we all know, there is no big money in poetry.

However, political situations change, new social contingencies arise, the young folks start getting impatient and the old ways just do not cut it any longer. Everything looks stale, blunt, far removed from reality.

As the urban upper-middle class’ post- liberalization wet dream of the new millennium begins to flake away like paint from a crumbling wall, the new-found nightmare of disillusionment, broken hearts and muffled screams of alienation proceeds to inform and reshape poetry entirely. However, this awakening does not occur in the hardened ways of Formula Poems.  When, if at all, was creative expression expanded into new spaces by artists who were afraid of losing their reputations?

With such thoughts in mind, this edition of the Sunflower Collective is publishing fresh voices in English poetry in India. The poems collected here do not seek approval or try to fit in. They exist simply because they had to be written. These are testimonials to the fact that the Inside and the Outside  are blending into a paranoia of invasion. The doorstep is an illusion when all spaces have been encroached by the political and social unrest of our times.

Back in the day God died, then died the man/woman. Politics died about three decades ago and now people say that we have reached the age of Post-Truth as we stare into the debris collected from history: plastic, blood and arid land. A nuclear apocalypse seems more popular in the collective imagination as the fate of humanity than structural changes in human affairs – for example, the need for privileged communities to share the spoils with lesser-endowed ones. When the hope for truth is abandoned, disaffection sets in. Where is the ground beneath our feet now?

Metaphysical speculations seem redundant because we face unimaginable ecological destruction, nuclear threats, continuous wars and death-battles between communities.As these battle cries ring across the television sets and WhatsApp messages, a Baudrillardian phantasmagoria of confusion spreads its wings and talons. You grapple in the dark sea of (non)-(mis)-information. No wonder disillusionment is an inheritance our generation has to bear with. What faith can one have any more in any part of the present political spectrum? Yet the absurdity of it all is that there are many who are full of the Yeatsean “passionate intensity”. Guns and swords and Molotov cocktails are brandished in the streets of major capitals of the Western and Eastern worlds every other day. As Bukowski had foreseen, this is a time of open and unpunished murders on the streets. Educational system has crumbled under a systemic dismantling of progressive policies and the academicians are pushed to self-preservation with their backs against the wall. The rest adjust themselves and turn into torturous snobs. Through it all the "vast lamb of the middle class" winces in pain and smiles in hypocrisy.

In this severely debilitating condition of alienation arising out of our inability to connect whole-heartedly with any political alternative, we look towards poetry. However, we do not want poetry that toes the line of Opportunism as a culture. We do not want poems replete with with the same old images and diction. Most importantly, we do not want poems that play safe to build a career in the age of the commercialized consciousness.

Poems | Atri Majumder

Credits: Amrit Ghosal

New Clichés

Rivers of agitated ecstasy
Crawled on the glass pane;
Where was I
In my rehearsed dreams?

The scars on the sky are leaving
In that patient hurry,
Craving for anonymity.

Those who can see me are not me,
They merely know what I can’t see.

New clichés possess me,
Every time I confess,
 I lie.

Finally, I am alone
In my loneliness.
Waiting for numbness,
Waiting, for indifference.
What for?


Insomniac Dreamers

Whispers of the shadow
Crept into the light-
I don’t have a beginning,
I don’t know
How to end.

I am disappearing,
Fading away,
Returning,
Forming,
Nothing
Out of nowhere.

A Curious chiaroscuro-
Like a curtain revealing more,
Much more than the window.

And you thought
You will never go back,
While you were returning?

At some point,
You’ll get back
Good times
Are just
Around the corner;
And all those clichés-
A shameful escapade.
But you never reconciled 
With that omnipotent despair,
You overruled reality
With future-
A happiness weaved
Out of hopelessness.

Perhaps
You were right,
And you knew it.


Chicanery

A crystal ball shattered in the sunlight ;
You just couldn’t keep yourself 
From turning back,
From devouring another glance.

It wasn’t forgotten
It never did it wither away,
It was denied its presence.
Existence can’t be clinched,
Its essence merely submerges.

None of us knew time;
What we were leaving was
What we have lost.  .

I was just reminiscing ,
While you were predicting.   

Missing Diary Complaint

The evening was stoic like the eyes of the lizard;
The old man at the gate wasn’t aware of anything.
The door was closed
But not locked,

Leftovers on the kitchen-sink,
Cold ruffled bed,
Tablets and a whiskey glass
An ashtray of promises.


Uncalculated excuses,
Silently accusing the mirror.

And a note on the refrigerator;
“Come back and leave.”

Beaten Blues

She led me to the place
Where they sell innocence;
She told me what to expect,
And taught me how to forget.

The silence of the insects
Invades the light in the cobweb;
The pebble moon flickers,
Twisting stars in the staircase.

I took her away from there
Where they buy despair;
And I made her realize
She was rolling an empty dice.


White Stains

A half-melted sun sputters,
Restrained to a diseased night,
Like ink dissolves into
The veins of water.

Baffled hands seek the fingers,
In this last of all places-
It’s all about leaving
All that’s left behind.

Poems | Prashant Priyadarshi


Credits: Amrit Ghosal


(1)

The evening just passed. My legs warm inside the quilt
and hands cold, heart not content but also not unhappy.
All of a sudden, it came to me like a revelation:
that love is not water, or not even air,
 one can live without it; I am.
Now that I do not feel the need to please anyone
and do not have to go out for anyone’s pleasure,
the trees are shadows, the air flake.
I walk around in shabby clothes, bearded face, crimpled,
dreaminess with a sense of freedom but one always wishes
A few things, something that is like water,
Like air.

(2)

Visible Cruelties

My dreams are made of foreign things.
Burning trees, each leaf a familiar face.
They drop on molten lava of silver, vanish with a wisp.
The roots have penetrated deep into the earth.
Branches scattered with cosmic magnificence.
I solemnly stand and look at the moon, a lion
Roaring over the sky. My familiar faces
Now silver. Everything I had is now
Being given away to this river with the invisible Charon.

(3)
A Woman with Spells

It is very hard to recollect
when I saw her first.
she always had a shabby
packet; her legs stilted
in a V shape.
unhindered spells
on her lips
moving as indifferently as people
around her.
Always with someone, I never
had the chance to stop and observe
or talk to
the woman with spells,
beside the MMV
or outside Malviya Bhawan,
just inside the Singh-dwar.
She meditates on the road and vehicles,
sometimes on people.
One can never know.

(4)

Today’s Schedule:
Wake up early. Eat.
Look at the birds. Think of yesterday.
Nausea. Plan the same future-
Which must be different from the imagined.
Read. Replace your void with exhaustion.
Write. Drink Tea. Daily chores. People.
The day passes in your room. Eat some more.
Read some more. Write even if you do not like it.
Think of metaphysical things-
For example why are you here? And other clichéd sentiments.
If possible, die,
Rethink of dying

(5)

It so happened that whatever this man I am talking about thought, turned into reality. It was hard for him to control his hallucinations turning into reality and in the right sense, he never learnt to control it.
Once, while walking through the pavement, he thought of a small molecule and the world inside it, the next moment he could see the outer lining of his molecule of imagination covering his cosmos. There was a fatal demerit to his imagination, once he created something, it couldn’t be destroyed, only managed and that too if you have that will within you.
So the world around him was now confined to a molecule and everything existed inside a molecule, a molecule which could be dried away by a single blow of the wind, the moment he thought of the wind, a gust of wind passed, he could see the drying of half of his molecule of imagination.

(6)

The Black Isle of Innisfree
I am here, here now, in the isle of Innisfree,
Locked in a cabin built here, know not of what things made;
Illusions of freedom I have here, a dive to the will not free,
And live lone in the free-loud dread.

And hope of peace is not here, for peace doesn’t come, fast or slow,
Dripping from the veils of dreams to where the dreary silence rings;
Here midnight’s all a bummer, and noon a scrupled blow,
And evening full of the lamenting streams.

I am here, here now, for always night and day
I hear mundane water of time with conscience-bound by the shore;
While I sit inside the cabin, or by the river turned so grey,
I hear the futility here, in my heart’s core.

(7)

The noon shatters
A yellow gloom rises,
Collapses to rise again.
You are more river, more boat, more of silence.
The curtain of blue lulls you in a palanquin.
Dream of delusions, bit of fire and bit of fields
Filtered and fermented through honeyed rays
Rising like the evening gulls, lost in time
You become more of a desert with hope of water.
The picture of a static ship with a hopeless sailor.
Always suns and moons and the guises of stars
Always flowers and laughter and songs
Nocturnal breeze places you in silhouettes of stillness
As if you are absent, as if you do not exist.
Your languishing winter body fructifies golden strands.
An old man sits, reading the newspaper.
A six year old girl draws a palm tree
And you sputter in thin air, with a thousand kisses.
The green kisses of Peepal, and the kisses of no colour in the air.
The kisses of dreams on my body, almost touching me
With more miracles, more villages and endless grass.
The evening coffee, the blotting sun staining me
With more of you, which I wash the whole night,
Without any success, I hide it under the clothes,
Almost visible, like the sighs of night
Beside the pond, and something crackles
Unrestrained, echoing you, in ancestral minstrelsy.

(8)

I can go from loving to not loving in a single second.
I am as treacherous as my city which changes each moment.
I have awakened to a field covered with hedges and slept with buildings covering it.
I am insolent and ignorant about the past, the past is facing the shadow of a tree and the future sun.
I rise to a silence, tumble into a turmoil, dance with choirs, and dream at night of another day’s toils.
I have only one poem left in me- the act of brushing my teeth- upward, downward and sideways.
I am standing at a cliff, looking at life, the acts, touching nothing, sensing everything.
I have at last understood, I am of no one and everyone in my own way.

Poem | Mekhala Chattopadhyay

Credits: Amrit Ghosal

A Poem for your Calm

And
When the wind blows,
You will always find
Poems scattered.
Pollen grains
Upon this dirty doormat I had bought
Just for a show of cleanliness.

Nobody picks them up.

Who knows they are there
But me?
That they do not grow on a tree,
But hang on to old, sagging trunks
Preparing to die, to be washed off
With pretty, colourful detergent bubbles
Packed with memories of innumerable
Advertisements thronging my TV screen
On quiet days just like this
With the wind blowing outside.

Poems decide to leave me,
They love the dirt.

A hypocritical calm,
 Descends softly over my timely routine
Of buckets full of habitual dreams,
Plaguing the boring shelves,
Hanging under the weight of unused treaties,
On days just like this,
When a scarecrow keeps hopping seamlessly
Across my mind.