Diplomat delights with poetry of promise (IANS Book Review)November 7th, 2011 - 10:40 am ICT by IANS
Book: “Candling the Light”, Author: Abhay K., Publisher: Yash Publications; Price: Rs.350; Pages: 120
“Candling the Light”, an anthology of verses by young poet, diplomat and artist Abhay K., shows the pressures of diplomacy - which does not give the bureaucrat enough time to explore the details of a narrative, but filter its essence through the verse.
The volume paints a picture of the poet’s life in words - as a boy from Bihar’s Nalanda district to Delhi University (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the shining folds of the Indian Foreign Service.
The anthology is divided into three sections - Meditations, Reflections and Reminiscences.
“Poetry is more spontaneous. And with the pressures of my job, I can only pen the essence without getting into the details of a literary form. In a novel each and every detail has to be put out…poetry is the essence of a story stripped of the facts,” Abhay says.
The early years instilled in the poet two key literary traits — an innate sensitivity for the sublime and a finely-honed awareness about the real world. These two divergent traits merge in Abhay’s poems which draw from his experiences in life, the characters who peopled his years and his stint in Moscow from 2005 to 2007, during which most of the poems were written.
Abhay, in his early 30s and a senior official in the Ministry of External Affairs’ public diplomacy division, looks for hidden subtexts in the mundane realities of life.
“I used to write in school, but had to stop later. I returned to writing decades later when I wrote my first novel ‘River Valley to Silicon Valley’, about the migration of people from agriculture to the Silicon Valley,” the poet says.
A poem “Grandma” in the anthology dredges up memories of the poet’s childhood spent in idyllic splendour amid sugarcane plantations and fairy tales of native turf.
“Grandma, you may be gone…But you live for me In the shining sun/the glowing moon/in the smell of wet earth after first rains/… in the ripened guavas of our orchards/… in the sweetness of our sugarcanes…,” it reads.
The poem, simple in its poetic sensitivity, stokes nostalgia and recollections, the staple of world poetry down the eras.
Abhay’s style is childlike and yet lyrical. The frugal words, used with spartan judiciousness, tell stories that are both tangible and intangible at the same time. The colours of the emotions are riotous. Truths and profound realisations hunt for a toehold in the melee of the daily beats that crowd his sonnets.
“A poem is just a stream of words/flowing, flowing, flowing onwards… carrying loads of heart’s feelings/in the hope that someday someone will find some meaning…,” Abhay says in his poem “Words”.
“Words” sums up the spirit of poetry and the core of any literary art - which is about hitting on the right word to tell the right story and to connect.
Abhay connects to the global Indian reader with his Moscow poems which capture Russia on the move.
“Moscow… I will always love you…in all your colours, in all seasons… white yellow, red or green,” the poet says in his paean to the city.
Moscow, to Abhay’s poetic mindscape, is like its “matrushkas” — the colourful wooden dolls that define the soul of the cherubic Russian doll-girls who “walk, talk, sing, dance and glide on the streets of Moscow”.
“Some are heavy, some are tall, simply elephantine, some are tiny, slim and pretty - hidden from the eagles gaze,” the poet describes.
Each sonnet ends with one of Abhay’s doodles. An accomplished artist, the diplomat-poet has exhibited widely.
Abhay is currently working on a volume of poetry on Delhi — which inspires him with its rich classical legacy of poetry and literature.
“It will be my personal chronicle of Delhi. Without meaning to hurt anyone, I cannot relate to the contemporary Indian poetry being written in English here,” he says.
The poet has authored five volumes of poetry and prose.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at email@example.com)
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