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Annapurna Poems

June 28, 2012

Book Review of Annapurna Poems by Bhuwan Thapaliya

 

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“Poetry is more than poetry,” somebody once said, and I’ve no reason to disbelieve that worthy sentiment even now. To many, poets are a synonym for crass, unbearable and like a drawn Test Match cricket — time consuming and dull. To a great many more they are cathartic release from the society and are living and breathing phenomenon – life won’t be the same without them.

After all, in many ways, poets are public property. How you choose to use them, how they choose to use you, is a matter of personal taste and speculation.

From the moment you pick up “Annapurna Poems,” a collection of poems by a distinguished poet and translator,Yuyutsu RD Sharma, a recipient of fellowships and grants from The Rockefeller Foundation, Ireland Literary Exchange, The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature and The Foundation for the production and the translation of Dutch Literature you’ll be left one-on-one with a text that stares back at you and makes you ponder on and on. 

His poems represent the truest democracy of a landscape, environment and culture. The characters of the poem jump from the pages and grapple your mind and your inner core with curiosity, thrill and passion. His poem shows that the sword of Damocles is hanging over our future — the darkness of the modern age has been candidly brought before the canvas of time. But the range of excitement and significance his poem holds means that even if you read his poem 100 times, you will find something to make it feel like the first time, all over again. 

Each poem in the book is a work of art that shouldn’t be missed by any reader. Yuyutsu’s poems are warm, lucid and naked – they spark deep human understanding and emotions. Chilean poet Pablo Neruda would have been proud if he were to read Yuyutsu’s work today. Yuyu’s poems are often passionate odes to nature, struggle and love, and he was noted by The Observer as “a mature poet in terms of symbol, diction and style.” Yuyutsu’s pen flows with Annapurna like freshness and unpredictability. With great poignancy, he has shown the Annapurna region as it is and has given a poetic meaning to the Annapurna, now Annapurna isn’t just Annapurna– it is a metaphor of life.

Fragile my eye glasses
fragile and foreign
I take them off;
There’s a speck of a scar in them
On the mule path
I take them off
to face the green
stretch of mountains
beneath the saddle of Annapurnas.

(In the Mountains)

With poems mostly on the Annapurna region, the book has everything and most importantly the book reflects the metamorphosis of a Nepali political and social change. The poet has revealed the secret of the mountains: its freedom and its bliss, its struggle and its conflict with the world and with itself. But at no point in his poems, is the struggle for existence better articulated than in the poem, “Mules.”

On the great Tibetan / salt route they meet me again / old forsaken friend / on their faces / fatigue of a drunken sleep / their lives worn out / their legs twisted, shaking / from carrying / illustrious flags of bleeding ascents.

Yuyutsu doesn’t belong to this brood of poets who writes regularly sitting in a drawing room. He is a widely traveled poet and has read his works at several prestigious places including Poetry Cafe, London, Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Belfast, WB Yeats Centre, Sligo, Irish Writers Centre, Dublin, The Guardian Newsroom, London and had stunned the audience with his dynamic poetry recitals in the U.S., Canada, France and India too. 

The poet’s vision of Annapurna region, a nature at its very best yet on the verge of contamination by the modernity feels consistent with the brisk cadence of his verses. Each line is enclosed within a web of reality and the larger veracity of immaculate metaphysical audacity. To top it off, Yuyutsu gives us a natural, often heartily account of his own efforts as a naturalist poet to preserve the Annapurna Region from congestion and commotion that modernity brings

The book has hope:

Rickety bridge
A lonely heir to my secret world

(Bridge)

Spiritual Realism:

Raised my shaking,
invisible hands
to salute
the great master
Death

(A morning walk)

Socialist Realism:

A hope
that someday I shall sprout
like a tree
on the edge of a remote hillside.

(Glacier)

Aid Paradox:

Defunct development
Agenda of guilty donors
The west’s weird visions
Lusting for an instant purge

(Mules)

Metaphysics:

Dark night
I cannot see the river.
I can only
Hear it thundering rumble.

(River and Night)

Natural Conflict:

Wind would never win
It’s the mist that rules here

(Wind and Mist)

They say poets are moody, and they are dead right. Yuyutsu has a one-track mind and the only vehicle that runs on it is poetry. Together they are always discovering and rhyming things. Yuyu is a proactive poet as he believes in reaching out for something larger rather than waiting for it to come to him. Hence his poems are an examination of the world around him. His poems evoke characters, events, and landscape to a rich use of visual reality and details, which has led to comparisons with the modernist sensibilities of T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf by the critics.

He in a unique poet and he don’t believe in any ism. A Buddhist influence appears in his writings, as does the landscape and the poet’s constant awareness of change. He cannot live the way they live. He lives beyond the confines of the mystery, remote from the womb of his destiny over the landmines of race, caste, religion, history and the nationality in the salubrious garden of the humanity and breathe through the medium of poetry. In his poems is his soul and in that soul, the poem of his life resides with the eternity.

In a literary career spanning over 30 years, he has captured the imagination of readers and has continued to hold it with an unbroken series of achievements. Today, his works has been translated into German, French, Italian, Slovenian, Gaelic, Hebrew, Spanish and Dutch. The Library of Congress has nominated his book of Nepali translations entitled, Roaring Recitals; Five Nepali Poets as Best Book of the year 2001 from Asia under the Program, A world of Books International Perspectives. 

It is always said that poets doesn’t change the course of history — they make their own. This is what Yuyutsu is doing and has done with this wonderful book. Having said so, I still understand that poetry book may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But for fans of the poetry, Yuyutsu Rd Sharma’s stirring new poetry collection, “Annapurna Poems,” will undoubtedly be a huge literary treat. For readers who aren’t typically fans of poems, I cannot help but think that this is the book that will change your minds.

Annapurna Poems: Poems, New and Collected
Author: Yuyutsu RD Sharma
Published by: Nirala Publications, New Delhi

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