11 May, 2021

Pure Silence, Like A Solitary Petal

Sudeep Sen traverses in this new compendium a range of poetic influences, cultures and concerns, yet retains a consistency of style and sensibility

Pure Silence, Like A Solitary Petal

When the Nepal earthquake hit, The London Magazine carried a Haiku by poet Sudeep Sen on the tragedy: Gods came tumbling down/ in Bhaktapur. Everest/ churned—snow, debris, death.

The haiku is not in the present collection, but it captures something of the talents of a poet who is rapidly becoming the best-known Indian poetic voice of his generation working in English. It was written quickly, published within days of the quake: the sort of command performance one expects from a poet laureate. It is short, effective, evocative. There is no elaborate drawing out of imagery, no dazzling turns of phrase. Sen is spare, understated, deceptively simple in his clarity.

These qualities are apparent through the nearly four hundred pages of Fractals, his most comprehensive volume of poetry, incorporating most of his successful work since 1980 (despite his disarmingly youthful appearance, Sen has 35 years of published poems behind him). Take, for instance, these lines from Prayer Flag: No one is here, except for a woman/ staring far away,/ wrapped...

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