Boom of publishing industry in recent years and mushrooming of dot com websites has given poetry enough space to get published. And poetry of all genres has not only found a forum but also lent it a “voice” that’s articulate and pronounced, while traditional publishing houses have woefully lagged behind the literary scene. They have shifted their attention more to fiction and non-fiction than to poetry which, according their estimation is not viable and marketable. But some of the publishing houses though are newly established have taken over the old publishing houses, and boldly publish whatever comes their way. One such publishing venture is Notion Press that has gone on record publications of poetry.
Karanam Rao’s anthology of poems, So Many Freedoms needs much critical attention not only for its thematic gravitas but also for its bold adventurism for experimentation. Making the maximum use of the verse libre, the poet regales in the free flow of emotion that ranges from the bald, matter-of-fact realities to the innuendos of metaphysical ideas. For instance in the poem “Alone”, there are ruminations on the facticity of life. Deprived of sleep, in the dark, seamless night, the poet thinks of metaphysical reality. “Alone, / in the seamless night/ caught like a sinner/in the act of sinning.”, and ends up with a ballast of emotional feeling “The day breaks/ with a heavy thud/ “and the poet subjects himself to “purgatorial cleansing” having been enforced to carry his private hell into it. Such is the inundation that one gets to experience.
Some of the poems like “Another Country “and “In Chicago”, the poet articulates his disgust with, and angst against, the culture that denies him intimacy of living togetherness since “it erected impregnable walls” against accommodating the other cultures. The poems are acerbic, bordering on unrelieved cynicism looking towards a cosmopolitan culture that is both inclusive and comprehensive. As an academic, Karanam Rao seems to have inherited both American and Indian traditions of writing, while the sensibility is rooted in the native Indian tradition. The style and syntax that are rather free and resilient go to show the heavy influence of contemporary American poetry. The easy, flowing syntax of thought and conceptual brilliance bear Eliotesque stamp even as the tone that remains caustic and abrasive. For instance, the poem “In Chicago “amply testifies the impact of the western tradition.
Similarly, in another of his poem “Freedom”, which is short and pithy, he evokes the spirit of “freedom” which is the coda of the entire oeuvre. It is this unfettered freedom that becomes the “tone of voice”of the entire collection of poems. But there are a few typos and errors in composition which could have been avoided had the anthology been scrupulously edited. Otherwise, it is a happy addition to the corpus of Indo-English poetry.
Paul Mohan Roy has Ph.D. from Madurai Kamraj University. As a writer, poetic indulgence and meticulousness in handling emotions can very well be called his forte. The flair he has for story-telling, while taking care not to miss even the smallest detail makes these creative pieces a joy for readers who crave fiction.
Title: Shades of Love and other Stories from India
Author: Paul Mohan Roy
Publisher: Notion Press, Chennai
Published Year: 2013
Number of pages: 256
Genre: Short Stories Collection
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