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Truth of darkness unfolded layer by layer

By March 26, 2018No Comments

Source : The New Indian Express

This is an interesting bouquet of poetry from the former editor-in-chief of DNA. His experiences in the literary world and life in general seem to have seeped through the recesses of his poetry. There is a glimmer of darkness where the world scampers for light.


One agrees with Ranjit Hoskote’s inference in his forward which sees CP’s work as clearly not ‘entertain[ing] an unduly optimistic belief in the human animal’s belief to redeem itself from its failings’. In fact it is this quality that makes his work unique and brings out the decadence of the masses in a world, which in lapses of moments, is sliding to nothingness. What is left out is daily life. What is captivated is the wisdom of trials.

CP 1

This quality runs through the entire stream of his poetry rightly justified by his writings in tribute to Vijay Nambisan at the beginning of the book. CP stands by the man’s integrity and a hope lost in the faith towards humanity uplifting itself by spirit in life when it is so base materially while dealing with men and women of creative and honest spirit. From this spring of the spewed raw truth rises the despair in CP’s verse.

The works may describe everyday life yet are decadent and reveal subtleties of the dark recesses of human turmoil beautifully. There is a sense of nothingness as far as time is concerned and life moves on even with the worst turmoil. The poems do not care to lend themselves to a poignant experience but are meant to show the facets, though sometimes ugly and sometimes devoid of life, in their entirety.

Some of the verses are uncomfortable to read and they are meant to be so. There is no release or catharsis but a brilliance of the ultimate truth of life. Life goes on in his works in a sauntering sort of a gait.

CP has also been careful not to show pity to the self in his works from memory and stayed away from a poignant attitude towards past events. Though the beautiful textures of darkness are brought out gently and not as a force unleashed, one can see he is capable of the sensitive positive subtleties, though he seems vary of it.

In some places within his verse he lapses into private moments that are incomprehensible and emerges again in shifts of expression of the lack of expectation of life and its events. It is only in the darkness of the truth revealed does one find rest and freedom in his work. One feels a holding back as far as the energy of the verse is concerned almost as if left unsaid with the will wanting.

The verses in ‘Contentment’, seem to distil the essence of this particular collection of poems in their revelation of life, discovery of the nether, dealing with it and moving on to a mundane regular living with a brilliance in even its lack of meaning. In that understanding does the poet gain his freedom. Let the truth of darkness be unfolded layer by layer in the escaping joys of the vision of positivity that life is a mirage of.
If you are looking for poetry as a lyric of a romantic imaginative soul to utopia this book is not for you. But if you have the courage to live life and face its beautiful, spellbinding greys then this might just be your call.

CP Surendran

‘Poetry Would be Written in a State of Helplessness’

CP Surendran tells Medha Dutta that the essential poet is one whose lines are written for him, but this happens once in a while in any poet’s life. An excerpt:

There seems to be a feeling of loss and melancholy running through most of your works in this collection.
Well, I am not sure about the melancholy part of it, as it is a coinage that gained currency, I believe, with the Romantic period. I am no great Romantic. The sense of loss though is real. And I think it might have a lot to do with a certain aspect of my childhood. In my case, the sense of loss—not unmixed with anger— is the constant feeling that I have betrayed the child in me, and perhaps in others.

CP 2

Your first collection Gemini II has a clipped, terse, controlled tone to it. From there to Available Light, which has a personal view of the world, how do you think your writing has evolved?
The terseness you mention stems mostly from an unrelenting pursuit of the past; a dig and search operation. Not that one succeeded in the mission. The current crop of poems is relatively an outward journey primarily because they seem to reconcile to the possibility that the world outside the self is just as f****d up as the self.

In this age of instant coffee and WhatsApp messages, have we stopped enjoying poetry?
I believe it is not so much as enjoying poetry as a fierce disrespect ingrained in the perception of it. Poetry as we perceive it in India can be anything so long as the lines are short. The general result is a secret scorn and contempt in the higher circles of the literati. The bad name that poetry is stigmatised with is because of the proliferation of bad poets, an ill spread by the agency of social media, perhaps. Also, we have now instant poetry and flash fiction. These are jokes, of course. Because all you are trying to do is to be catchy, to cater to the flies teeming in the market with their all too brief attention spans.

In 2017, slam poetry made its strong presence felt in Indian metros. Do you think it’s here to stay?
Performance helps the reception of poetry. But performance could also be at the expense of poetry. I remember a lady with whom I shared a stage, reading utter drivel but in a most rousing way. The audience, especially women, was bowled over. Yet the poetry itself was just rhetoric. Slam poetry is here to stay; it’d be great if it does not slam poetry. I see the future of poetry closely associated with the internet. Podcasts, for example. But I am not sure if that takes away from the experience of hearing a good poet read his lines in real life.

Poetry finds few takers today. Is there a lack of mainstream publishers willing to publish poetry, a dwindling number of readers willing to buy it, or few bookshops ready to stock books of poetry?
At the risk of sounding contradictory, I believe there’s a rise in the audience. There is in fact a return of sorts. But very few publishers realise it. Bookshops tend not to store poetry collections simply because very few poets get media attention. The general fever is fiction and, now, non-fiction. Which is why I believe poetry would be written in a state of helplessness.

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