Book Reviews

Sunil Sharma's Golden Cacti

Golden Cacti  by Sunil Sharma. Gnosis, New Delhi.2012,Rs.100/=, Pp 97
Sunil Sharma, the sensitive poet from the suburb of Mumbai, produces remarkable poetry from the everyday realities experienced in an Indian megapolis in a unique way, revealing a gentle empathy and sensibility for the contradictions of urban existence in a city where - like other Asian cities - poverty and wealth stare into each other's eyes. The title itself is intriguing. "It is celebration of life and poetry in most adverse circumstances - like golden cacti that blooms in a harsh climate," says the poet in an e-mail, summing up the general mood of these poems that move fast like the city of Mumbai and its extended suburbs. It is a slice of life from lived Mumbai in all its complexities and glaring contradictions. Mumbai is powered by dreams and aspirations of its people and they find hope and dignity in most sub-human conditions, especially the poor and the slum residents, thus making the place a hive of activity and energy. Golden Cacti is a paean sung to human spirit triumphing over the odds and soaring in the blue expanse above, unhindered. His lines can be very effective;  they can easily evoke the ‘crisp layers of the unconscious’ and surprise a reader with a rare gift of cadence and artistic elegance:

“Metro mornings, two diverse Indias collide—
The semi-clad men, women and kids
Rush with pots and buckets(.)”
 ( ‘Two Indian Metros’,P.34)

The poetic self of  Sunil Sharma  generates meaning out of dry and  prosaic terrains of  life’s  daily acts where imagination defamiliarises a familiar subject and conjures up more mysteries. Most of his poems  are collage of ideas effortlessly streaming from lived moments of creative  zeal.Therefore, Patricia Prime of New Zealand is right when she claims the book as “ tour de force.”

Sunil Sharma is a leading story teller with a rare capacity to attract his readers. There is an indomitable gusto that invites a reader or a sensitive mind to his flash fiction, short story and poetry. He is so different from the common run of writers, I’m amazed!
There is a rare  sweet touch of simplicity and lucidity that mark  his poetic idioms subtle where the corpus is an inviting discourse. His control over language is like a competent master and the wordsmith:

“Poetry for peace,
For harmony—
That be the agenda
For us (.)”
( ‘Poetry Calling’, p.35)

His usage of lexicon  and idiom add flavor to his artistic trajectory. In a way, he is a welcome shock to a traditional reader and acts as a magician:

“You rush
For another new battle of
The hostile world.”
(‘When in Love’, P.75)

His unorthodox syntax adds life and spice to his poetic articulation.He reminds me the style of great T.S.Eliot. It captures the essence of split selves of a modern man in a world of wasteland:

Go on
Erecting unseen
(‘The Strange Walls’,p.18)

The above quoted lines are characteristic of modern syndrome  of boredom and numbness where individuals are separated by human-built walls. The poet compares a modern metro man as a ‘living fossil’; devoid of sentiments and finer  sensibilities. He broods over it again and again and with  vivid images from different sources and creates  poetic condition characterized by perception of one's environment as dull, monotonous , and lacking in proper spirit.

Sunil Sharma talks about  two different but related forms of fragmentation: external fragmentation and internal fragmentation. His poetic voice is loud and it points at the morbid part of life, and society(‘ugly mass’)  suffering from cancer. For a poet, there is always a door of hope in the midst of  dark terrains of life’s daily acts and Sunil Sharma predicts that with his delicate poetry. He announces, “ A volcano or an iceberg,/A poet always erupts--/ In words!”( ‘A Poet’,p.25)
By virtue of  his urban Indian ethos, nuances  and linguistic mileage  that reflect various facets of life make  Sunil Sharma essentially postcolonial writer. Golden Cacti  is a significant addition to poetry in English by  Indian writers and it deserves accolade worldwide.


More by :  Prof. Jaydeep Sarangi

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Views: 3386      Comments: 3

Comment Well, such a healthy critique made me order this book. I guess, that would make out to be helpful for aspiring poets. EXPECTATIONS!

Simrat S. Tinna
29-Nov-2013 01:28 AM

Comment Heard about Dr Sunil Sharma from Dr Sarangi when I was a student.I would like to work on his works as a scholar now .This review is a reading wonder! Liked it.

14-May-2013 13:08 PM

Comment If great poet/critic Jaydeep deigns to review your modest work and Boloji approves its publication, it becomes double honour for any writer.
Grateful to both.
Your words are so IMPORTANT to me.
---Sunil Sharma

14-May-2013 10:54 AM

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