Poetry | Debarshi Mitra | Part 2

Credits: Samantha Keely Smith


It seems at this time of the night,
I could bring my neighborhood to a standstill
just by wishing if it were so. Only the street lamps
flicker in nervous anticipation and precisely
at the designated corner, the night watchman
holds up his unfinished cigarette 
and sucks time into his lungs. The windows
remain shut, all stray dogs occupy their respective
places in the universe.  Not a leaf dares to quiver.
Even the shadow of the thought of you in my bed
refuses to leave. 


The dream 
has always been this:
by the window 
a steaming cup of coffee,
the warm glow of the fireplace 
opposite the couch ,
an unread book of poems too
on the table beside and
your silhouette
on the opposite wall
leaning against mine.


I used to wear it on my head like a crown
when we went to my father’s ancestral home
on some Sundays, the railways leaping in time
several centuries
taking us away from the city and to that other world
where concrete was sparse and the pale yellow of disease
left its unrelenting trace everywhere. Growing up in the city
there was little congruence I could find there.
Inside the house, surrounded by other relatives, sometimes
my ( now dead) diabetic aunt would drag her body across 
the hall to pick up a fruit kept on the table, 
her eyes gleaming while she looked directly 
at me and asked, “ What do you call this 
in English?”

On a rain drenched morning

The skies are grey,
the room damp 
from last night’s rain
and this moss grown house
once again succumbs to memory.

I open the front door 
pick up the wet newspaper
while a sudden gust of wind
slips in quietly
like an absent traveller.

Three things

The sound 
of a raindrop
striking glass.

A single feather
on a leaf.

A shadow treading
on the surface
of memory.

Between the Lines

between the lines
is a practised art.
In every word
I write to you
watch if you will,
the pale,
imperceptible shadow
of death itself.

Read Part 1 of Debarshi's poems here


Poem | Rhys Trimble

Source: Wikipedia 

A drive through Rhyl 1992

                                              after a performance at Northern Rising,
ambition waded in
the sun at swim the                    sun
noisy little blighter – whatty?
whatty? sun centre fovea
sands bingo       poisoned
shiva the blue throat
best way they could
construct a schema
sea queue
city gold a line of
becoming too bad
the cleaner side
centre of the sun
periphery of poorly
controlled areas
the hill yr hill
a feast in every thought
a root in every arborescence
aurglorious that sees
the crow at a baronial banquet
broiling slot machines
brythonic veins rough burning
two swords near glass salt
your shelter your hand to me
wounded your fact your
beautiful body your tantrums
your thrum-tendency
your poem insouciant
tarmacadam out of conical
lines of flight
drugs give the unconscious the
immanence Ryhyll, yr hyll – hull of wales
brydferth Leidiart sandarm ty’r haul
fun fare bankrupt point to
junky coney island drift
park because the mind
is a casualty
of the lilywhites.

Hear Rhys Trimble reading the poem to Olafur Arnalds' Broadchurch's Main Theme

Luis Alberto de Cuenca (Translated by Maria Lopez)

Source: archive.4plebs.org

Political Incorrectness 

from the collection - 

La vida en llamas 

(Life in flames, 2006)

Be a good girl, tell me things that are incorrect
from a political point of view. For example:
that you are blond. another example: that the West
doesn´t seem to you a barbaric monster
devoted to the sordid task of destroying the planet. And yet something else:
that multiculturalism is a new fascism, only a bit more
tacky, or that you enjoy beating up a pedagogue or a psychologist,
or that the Mediterranean horrifies you.
Tell me things that would take you straight away
to the stake, tell me atrocities
that put into question absolute truths
like: “I don´t believe in equal rights”. Or tell me
terrible things such as that you love me
despite we have different gender identities,
that you love me fully, madly,
forever, like the females of the Earth
used to love before.


TSC Interviews | Debarshi Mitra

Chandramohan Sathyanathan: Congratulations on winning the Srinivas Rayaparol Poetry Prize 2017. How does it feel?

Debarshi Mitra: I'm delighted of course to have won the Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize 2017. Perhaps the greatest reward was to be adjudged as being worthy of the prize by eminent poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra. I've long been an admirer of his work.

CS: Could you briefly spell out your literary evolution until now?

DM: I began writing quite a few years back. I was writing back then what I thought were poems. Those poems embarrass me now. I was introduced to literature early in my life. I was an avid reader by fourth grade or so. I read extensively and widely but my perception of poetry changed after reading the Indian  English poets. Poets like Nissim Ezekiel, Adil Jussawala, and Arun Kolatkar instilled in me the belief that even the everyday is not unworthy of poetic attention. My first collection of poems was published by Writers Workshop. When I read it now, it seems to me that the book required stringent editing. There are poems there that I'm not proud of. But there are also poems there that I still like.

Looking back, stylistically my poems have changed so much. I will never be able to write like that again.

CS: Do you write in the vernacular too? Do you perceive Indian English poetry as having a sensibility that panders to the politically pasteurized urban, 'upper'-class and caste?

DM: I don't write in the vernacular. Recently, however, I have developed a keen interest in reading contemporary Bengali poetry. I've been reading poets like  Bhaskar  Chakraborty, Utpal Kumar Basu, Falguni Ray, Mandakranta Sen. It has opened up a hitherto undiscovered world for me. It has been immensely rewarding.

About Indian English poetry catering only to the upper classes, I think poetry has traditionally been the preserve of only a select few. This is because few people have had the privilege of introspection. However there are Indian English poets such as yourself, Meena Kandaswamy and others who have challenged the status quo, have tried to forge a new language from the debris of years of caste and class oppression. So I wouldn't say that it only panders to the privileged. Having said that I believe poetic sensibilities vary.  While there are poets who address historical wrongdoings and rebel through their works, there are also wonderful poets whose works do not quite reflect their social concerns. The presence of these diverse voices are instrumental to the growth of Indian English Poetry in general.

CS: Recently there has been an upsurge in the number of English poets from India and online literary platforms.  In your opinion has this abundance of literary platforms helped the cause of English Poetry from India?

DM: With the upsurge of online literary journals, Indian English poetry I believe is a much more democratised space now than it was a few years back. Newer avenues have presented opportunities to poets belonging to different communities.

CS: Do you think Prizes such as this significantly alter our perception of what is good?

DM: I do not think prizes alter our perception of what good poetry is.  Prizes are important for recognition and motivation. Writing poetry, I'm sure you'll agree, often is a very lonely pursuit with little or no encouragement.


Poetry | Poornima Laxmeshwar

    Chronicles of an obligatory cook

You were a man of procedures
To win your heart I had to unravel the enigma
of flavours that made you, of jackfruit curry that
could linger on your fingertips, of fried bhindis
that could appeal your appetite
of vegetables alone as they stood unforbidden
I had to undo my years at hostel
where all I ever learnt was
how to make Maggi
And the only lesson I drew from it was
it never happens in two minutes

You are a man of precision
Can tell a burnt mustard from a finely roasted one
twitch the nose at the smell of a single clove
of garlic in a bowl of dal, know the sweetness of the
Payasam by the mere fragrance of it
As I deal with the leftovers
convince them to taste good
every noon while you eat away your lunch I pack
in the morning

Amma was worried
she knew I didn’t know the art of making
Idlis tender as jasmine and Dosas crisp as Appa’s opinion
on gold shopping, so she wasn’t sure about how to praise
my cooking skill the first time you visited us to see me
So she smiled and smiled some more
until we were left alone to discuss other priorities
Her only relief that evening was
that we didn’t talk about herbs and spices
but instead spoke about careers and long-term life plans

Jowar rotis are the toughest if you ever ask me
They need knack, love and stamina in equal proportions
No, don’t get ideas
You knead the flour in hot water, on and on
Wait for it to be mushy like a romantic Bollywood duet
Then you spread it on the floor and go thap-thap-thap
in between you shouldn’t forget to rotate it
and again thap-thap-thap till it looks
like a parched moon, you pick it gently
as your lover’s letter while the tawa stares at you
with the worldly sarcasm

But you must like cooking they insist

At the dining table you throw a list
of observations and feedback that sounds like a
title of a spoken word piece
Ten ways to improvise your cooking skill
While I collect them with caution
store it in the Bharani, ajji gifted
awaiting the pickles and your words
to marinate, settle quietly
with time