S Murali, The EastFacing Shop and Other Poems


Poetry from Monfakira, Kolkata
The East-Facing Shop and Other Poems

Murali Sivaramakrishnan is not the kind of poet who assails the reader with shocking images, challenges her to interpret his ambiguous lexical and semantic   games or indulges in pure fantasy at the cost of intelligent reflection on man’s being on earth. His poems are meditations on the states of existence, not only of human beings whose hubris makes him imagine himself as the focal point of the universe and the acme of God’s creation, but of the  of the whole created world  where objects, plants and animals  are by no means casual and peripheral  to an anthropocentric universe, but are organic parts of a wholesome design. The poems in The East Facing Shop are spiritual without being dogmatic, tender without being sentimental, philosophical without being pedantic, communicative without being loud and well-crafted without being clever.

One of the poet’s major concerns is the fate of poetry itself, natural to an age when the art of poetry looks almost impossible, with the rising materialism of a possessive and greedy world and the aggressively profit- seeking careerism promoted by the market on the one hand, and the increasing violence and the cruelty of human beings towards fellow creatures, including trees and beasts, on the other. Theodor Adorno had said, “Poetry is impossible after Auschwitz”, but poetry flowered even in the Nazi gas-chambers and the trenches of global warfare. But things have grown worse now, thanks to man’s irredeemable suicidal instinct: we have put our own species on the list of beings on the verge of extinction. The poet is immensely conscious of this fatal hour that challenges the survival of man as well as of poetry. At times like these poetry becomes prayer; yet we know that poems are not simple prayers. Even a religious poem, as John Berger says in a thoughtful essay, ‘The Hour of Poetry’,  ( Selected Essays ,pp 445-452 ) is not exclusively and uniquely addresssed to God.  Poetry is addressed to language itself. The two senses of originality are united in poetry: of being that which has never occurred before, and of being a return to the origin, the first which engendered everything that followed. “ To put into words is to find the hope that the words will be heard and the events they describe judged. Judged by God or judged by history. Either way the judgement is distant. Yet the language- which is immediate, and which is sometimes wrongly thought of as being only a means offers, obstinately and mysteriously, its own judgement when it is addressed by poetry. This judgement is distinct from that of any moral code, yet it promises, within its acknowledgement of what it has heard, a distinction between good and evil-as though language itself had ben created to preserve just that distinction!…This is why the hour of the furnaces is also the hour of poetry” ( Ibid ).

From Introduction by K Satchidanandan…. Read more

The East-Facing Shop and Other Poems. Kolkata: Monfakira, 2010

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