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What does a Poet do in Summer?
|by Sunil Sharma|
This Summer and That Summer: Poems by Sanjeev Sethi, Bloomsbury: New Delhi, 2015, ISBN: 978-93-85436-70-3, pp 53, Rs. 199/-
Summers can be uncomfortable in the tropics. Body slows down and lot of perspiration due to the oppressive heat. Climate change has made the summer worst months of the year. Not an ideal season for work and best for escape plans for exotic places for holidaying. But some creative folks like Sanjeev Sethi - a Mumbai-based poet writing in Indian English and much admired for his linguistic/lyrical skills - the hot season becomes an appropriate occasion to meditate on the existential nature of summer itself. It provides a philosophical context for an alert mind to interrogate and introspect the human condition in lyrical form that tells us a great deal about the state of contemporary society and culture.
The concluding statement truthfully captures the general apathy and dearth of fellow feelings among the citizens poignantly. Through the everyday image of a pigeon - rendered homeless by human settlements and intensive expansion of city sprawls by razing the tree cover and hills, and, thus, forced to nest in the narrow window-sills of the costly high-rises - Sanjeev bares the urban soul in its basic ugliness. The loss of feelings is a great loss but as a collective, we have stopped caring for both the feathery and human beings or for that matter, other issues affecting the planet and its population. Such a resultant moral paralysis can be fatal for the growth of humans.
The lines above point out a world of individualism heading towards nuclear catastrophe and nihilism of a different kind. The way he swings from one image to another, creating a taut poetic universe, gliding from one word to another in a inspired frenzy and juxtaposing nuclear warfare, net-bombardment with the music of a soloist and ethos of individualism in this creative mélange is -well, just breathtaking!
The above lines deliberately mix the roach, other insects, repellents and the past in a curious manner, producing a ludicrous effect on the recipient’s consciousness by the strangeness of this writing device. A pesticide for the past? Why is it needed? Why to obliterate the past? Will a time come when humans, like insects, will be killed by an insecticide? Are not bombs enough already for annihilation? Is tech anti-human?
Well, the poem is the best reminder of toxic times we live in. A pathological desire for the creation of the perpetual Other; the subliminal violence in us; the hatred and strife of a media society - it is scary scenario for all. The poet becomes a prophet here: Unless we purge our own pus, we will not remain healthy participants in the developing human drama around and cannot prevent it from turning into an epic-level tragedy. Be it Paris, Beirut or Mumbai, the reality of mindless violence, the consequent inflicted emotional and physical wounds and bloody mayhem have all become a recurring nightmare, with a sickening regularity. A healing touch is needed urgently in such a mad world. Artists like Sanjeev Sethi provide that touch of sanity through theraptic art. This Summer and that Summer is a journey into the darkness - and finding redemption through voluntary acts of well-meaning activists-citizens-artists.
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12/14/2015 15:02 PM
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