22 October, 2020

Let Slip The Ecstatic

Too timid yet. A volume of poems that strain against their own restrictive form, restless to break free into larger terrain.

Let Slip The Ecstatic

That Penguin India after years has brought out a volume of Indian English poetry is gratifying, and I opened Posthumous Poems (a misleading title, for Surendran is quite alive) with hopeful curiosity. The poems don't disappoint " they are clearly good, thematically tough " but they refuse to strike high notes. Perhaps this results from their restlessness, of which the poet may be unaware, with their own, to me, uneasy minimalism. The poems constantly wish for a larger terrain, but they remain held in check by an even-tempered manner. Surendran, aesthetically, is not a risk-taker. Thus, despite his temperamental control, and his felicities of tone, I am unable to fall in love with these poems. 

I will elaborate: 

Prepositional phrases of the 'unbearable lightness of being ' sort crop up throughout. In a language like Urdu, and I suspect other Indian languages, such phrases work near invisibly. But in English they may remain inert. In Posthumous Poems, they seem merely decorative; they don't push the lines into inevitable discoveries. For...



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