A beginning and an end: Five poets respond to a common theme to come up with poignantly varied verses

Editor's note: Manik Sharma curates this collection of poems, all of which deal with the themes of beginnings or endings in some way. The featured poets include Sharma himself, Urvashi Bahuguna, Mihir Vatsa, Rohini Kejriwal and Maya Palit.

***

BEGINNING

— Manik Sharma

I toss things

to feed them to the after-light

and in it watch puckered hearts

crack open over lakes

I thought we'd dive in someday.

Lakes, I thought, would be

there, forever, like ears

holding apart the world's teeth

or sounds that felt crushed

by them. But I fetch from it

what I can — a leaden picture

of the sun, dry and white

without its mirror, and

the impossibility of

knowing where to start

looking in life

having once thought, I'd

find you, even in death.

***

More from this collection:

Urvashi Bahuguna is perhaps the postman of the multicouche, a letter writer of layers, of images within images. In her poem 'The First Summer After You' she anchors grief and loneliness in the kinetics of emotion — ‘Your perfume hits me in the jaw’. The poem pauses, moves and caves into a kind of paralysis in equal measure. Rarely does a single poem arc through so many movements, without losing sight of the bigger picture, the canvas that usually swallows it ‘whole like a Virginia porch’. Perhaps, something that prose never can. Read her verses here.

Mihir Vatsa, who lives and writes from Hazaribagh sees two worlds wherever he looks. It, perhaps, comes with having lived and known one life and having chased another. His poetry looks at the self as much as it sees everything else through the lens of his poetry. In 'Among School Children' two worlds collide (the beginning of something?) but Vatsa manages to retain enough innocence so as not to dehumanise anyone. We are all cut from the same fabric after all — ‘When I entered, I expected numbers, vowels and consonants’. Vatsa has always written with the kind of rawness, that blunt edge that simply cannot be carved. It is just there. Read his poem here.

Rohini Kejriwal writes simply, but never simplistically. Her articulation is light, seldom as complex as poetry is often accused of being. In 'A Ghazal', Kejriwal manages to compile — as much as she weaves together — some worldly realisms. Writing this format is incredibly tricky and it comes with the risk of slaloming into one obstacle after the other, either throttling too hard or saying too much. The ghazal is often about balance – ‘the power of quiet, in a world full of noise’. There are incredible moments here, and the often underappreciated value of saying a lot by saying less. ‘Where our souls shall meet, let’s stay awhile’ she writes. Let’s please? Read 'A Ghazal' here.

Maya Palit remembers a life-altering incident with the kind of deft holding-on-letting-go dilemma that, perhaps, only a journalist like her could. As someone who sees the tragedy of fact up close, and has to cut into it for value, Palit’s imagination is underscored by finding the surreal in ordinary. In 'A Bus Ride Away From a Landslide' she remembers a tragedy, through its many tangible facets. ‘Landslides will happen in the monsoon rain’ she writes, a simple fact that carries incredible weight in the afterlife of a tragedy. Palit’s journalistic eye helps her poetry never lose sight of the ground, even when it is watered down with overwhelming emotion. ‘Was that comforting?’ she asks, as she must. Read it here.

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Updated Date: Jan 09, 2019 19:57:30 IST

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