Sunil Sharma's latest collection of poems, Golden Cacti is a total joy to read. It took me quite a while to finish this book of one hundred pages as I only read a handful of poems each day - I wanted to savour these exquisite morsels to the max.
Many poems brought a tear to my eye, if this was all the poems did that would be absolutely enough. But they are far more than emotionally satisfying - Sharma exposes the human condition on many levels; love relationships, work situations, metro city life in Mumbai (same population as the whole of Australia!) and people's relationships with the world of nature.
Powerful imagery that confronts reality are characteristic of many of Sharma's poems.
"She sits, holds lunch in her thin hands
And eats slowly,
Surrounded by hard stones everywhere.
Morsels swallowed hard
Washed down later with
From a plastic crumpled bottle."
These lines are from the poem Lunch a poem about the "lowly" job of stone breaking in India - the juxtaposition of a peasant's meagre lunch with the brutal, unforgiving hardness of stone is heart rending.
India is undergoing massive transformation on many levels and Sharma is documenting this in his literary works, the present poems include "migrant woes, redundancies, vagabonds, pollution and street children" but most importantly his poems show despite one's dharma love is still possible. This ability to still love in some of the harshest living conditions is testimony to the human spirit and Sharma's poetry celebrates this spirit unconditionally. He "represents a poetic voice whose global outreach and poetics of culture make powerful statements" and in so doing speaks to all human beings not just to those of his native India. In Sharma's hands poetry is alive and well, in fact he is a champion of returning poetry to its former glory and vital importance in all societies. "You can kill the peace-loving poet but not his pacifist thought." (p.73)
This book will appeal to poetry lovers of all persuasions. If you can't visit India Golden Cacti will transport you there through its beautifully crafted poems. The book is available from Amazon if you can't get in your local book store.
Golden Cacti by Sunil Sharma
Gnosis Publishing (an imprint of Authorspress, Delhi) 2012
pp. 97 ISBN: 978-93-81030-23-3