Saturday, September 3, 2022

UPCOMING PRATIK'S SPECIAL SOUTH ASIAN ISSUE HIGHLIGHT : RUKMINI BHAYA NAIR'S "Quartet"

 

RUKMINI BHAYA NAIR

Quartet




 

I. Hindu

 

Washed floors glow like children

Wiped clean after a muddy tackle

 

Earth-torn, weary, Sita rattles  

Her way through the job, a queen

 

A lotus poised on emerald sheen

Broken-stemmed mother, bent over  

 

Work, and girl-births, rebirths

She sweeps away the Ramayana -

 

Easy as rubbish, and not half so real.

 

 

II. Muslim

 

Perfect single-breasted dome

And four minaret phalluses, which   

Woman is more adored, and more

Restricted? This is Allah’s door.

 

Salma knows she cannot enter 

Woman within concealing burqua

Ignorant of Koran and Kaaba

Many prohibitions bind her.  

 

No and no and no, a jointed arc,

But, one night, she wraps the dark  

Round bundled child and bad naseeb 

And walks away. The id moon sparkles!  

 

 

III  Buddhist

 

I had thought to leave this space

Blank

For those women who do not speak

But the gesture stinks! It is twee

 

Surely nothing can be more weak

Than comfort parasitic on sorrow

My sister Shakti

Frail sparrow, flaps about, chatters, is free

 

And Shanti? She cleaves the narrow

Universe in two. This space is hers

Not she in it

For all my precious, bourgeois wit 

 

I dare not leave that blank unfilled 

Because Gekkutsu Sei, Southern Sung      

Has scratched

With a thirteenth century quill -

 

I set down the emerald lamp

                                                                             Take it up – exhaustless

                                                                             Once lit

                                                                            A sister is a sister.

 

IV Christian

 

Who is Sylvia? what is she

that all her swains adore her?

 

Plath is not in the poetry trade

Gentle, moronic, retrograde

 

Harakiri warrior, she disembowels

Deft as mishima - fetch the towels!

 

When the mess has been cleaned up

Gouged from the page is a pin-up -  

 

Everyone’s Best Woman.

 

 

Rukmini Bhaya Nair is Professor Emerita of Linguistics and English at IIT Delhi, received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and was awarded a second honorary doctorate by the University of Antwerp in 2006 for her work on narrative theory. Her earlier poetry collections, all with Penguin India, are: The Hyoid Bone (1992); The Ayodhya Cantos (1999); and Yellow Hibiscus (2004). A fourth volume, titled Shataka, is being published later in 2021 (Speaking Tiger Press). Nair’s first novel, Mad Girl's Love Song (Harper Collins, 2013), was placed on the ten-book final list for the DSC Prize. Often called “the first postmodern poet in Indian English”, she does research for the same reasons that she writes poetry – to discover the possibilities and limits of language.

  

 

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

PRATIK'S LA ISSUE SPECIAL : AMERICAN POET & ARTIST DENNIS MCGONAGLE'S "Disaster in Paradise"

 

DENNIS MCGONAGLE

 

Disaster in Paradise 



Dogs hear it first. That awful rumbling sound

Coming from deep down underground

You think you feel a shudder and

You hope it was just the wind

Or maybe a large truck

On the next block

 

The kitchen is rattling

Like a flivver with a busted tie rod

The rattling gets louder and turns into a roar

Then all of the dishes fall to the floor

The house is hopping up and down

Like a sugared up five-year-old

On a backyard trampoline

 

There’s a tidal wave in the swimming pool

Sidewalk moving like a roller coaster

The street splits down the middle

Like cheap jeans on a fat guy

Uprooted trees moan as they

Begin their slow motion fall

 

Here in SoCal, we’ve got it made

No twisters or ice storms

No hurricanes or snow

The Rose Parade is on TV and

America is watching

Nothing but sunshine

 

But we do have to suffer

A quake now and then,

The end of the world

As we know it

 

I take a walk uptown

And all of the chimneys have fallen down

Rows of buildings like sandcastles

Washed away by a wave

Shattered glass storefronts wrapped in yellow tape

 

 


Dennis Mcgonagle
earned an MFA Degree from Cal State Long Beach in studio art in 2004. He is best known for his urban landscapes and street murals. Each of his paintings is a poem about color. McGonagle has recently added poetry to his creative output. His poems have been published in River’s Voice, the literary magazine for Rio Hondo College. 



 

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Monday, July 4, 2022

PRATIK HIGHLIGHT: SLOVAK POET DANA PODRACKA'S POEM, "Pure Thought"

 

DANA PODRACKA

 

Pure Thought

 


At that same moment to plunge faces in the lake,

from two liquid palms

baptize each other with pure thought

 

I would follow you even to death

And beyond

 

Pure thought is a white church on a green meadow

and a fresco of the Last Supper inside

 

It leaks through walls, leaks through stained glass, leaks through the blood

when trembling serves a Solemn Mass

 

It resembles the golden vessel

that was used at Christmastime

 

Once the lid was lifted,

arcing vapours showed the way to Damascus

 

Come, we’ve been invited to build a transparent cathedral

 

A circle of skulls demands

that we mature to the work that is proper         

 

Come, the corn ears have plunged in the light of pure thought,

they go weak at the knees from love

 

Even to death

And beyond              

 

Translated from the Slovak by John Minahane

 

 

Dana Podracká studied psychology at Comenius U. A poet and essayist, she also writes for children. Her 1st book, Moon Lover, won the 1981 Ivan Krasko Prize. She has published 13 collections of poetry, most recently Paternoster (2018). Her essays focus on collective injuries, the philosophy of survival and symbols. She is interested in the metaphysical space of the soul.  Winner of the Hilary Tham Poetry prize and Mark Linenthal Award,

 

 

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Friday, June 10, 2022

PRATIK'S CURRENT ISSUE SPECIAL: MARIÁN PAUER ON LUKA BRASE’S ART

 

MARIÁN PAUER

Wings of his Heart

A Review of Luka Brase’s Art

 


One day, LUKA BRASE took a deep breath and knocked firmly on the door of the secret chamber. The squeaking door revealed hidden dreams and airships, unfulfilled loves and desires for beauty, wings of butterflies and rainfalls, which had not yet fallen, but were about to descend. ... He entered the room where people go to dream with their eyes wide open and so did a career of devotion and growth begin.


When Luka paints his dreams, a confident line crosses the canvas and pulsates in the rhythm of his heartbeat. In a moment, the line climbs up steeply, then rushes down into a free fall, changes its course and turns right only to twirl left the next second. One line replaces the other, but neither of them drowns in the sea of the drawing. There is always enough space for both the rural landscape and the skyscrapers of the big city, for a sense of belonging and loneliness. Figures dance, spinning their daily wheel of fortune, which sometimes creaks, and it might even break, but once it is repaired, it will again embark on its endless quest through the cradle to the cross. You can either join that enchanting dance, or just watch from aside, listen in silent astonishment and follow the painter’s hand. The hand of a creator who cannot contain everything within his own being, who must share himself, to the last piece of his substance. He carries an endless number of paintings inside him and he can only ease the eternal unrest within by ceaseless work. For Luka, canvas, line, color, shape – they create a world in which he can tell his truth, be himself. For art is formed as love: always pushed to its limit, without relying on someone else’s help.

 


On the last pages of his previous book – LUKA BRASE Art on The Way Vol. 2 – Luka described himself, as a storyteller born as “a point in a line”, as “a drawing child…”

In Amsterdam, after visiting the van Gogh Museum, I kept in mind, that the Dutch painter was as well an all-time passenger on the way to station NOWHERE. Subconsciously, I have made a parallel with the eternal traveler Luka, but with a significant difference - on his journeys, he knows exactly where he is going and why he chooses the main streams, not the side paths. There haven’t actually been any sideways on his routes so far. So how to better characterize this eternally traveling artist? I wanted to write a painter, but he is also a glassmaker, or more precisely a painter painting on glass, and a photographer who enters photographs without knocking. He confidently paints his visions on acts of young women or lets two little birds fly into a snapshot of New York buzzing with people to remind the big city of nature’s delicateness. He strives to become one with light and paints it on evening silhouettes of buildings. He stores his dreams in tapestries, so that he can then enchant and light up the walls that build a home.

Music plays from the core of Luka’s paintings. With incredible ease, he sways with details inside his pictures. He loves the freedom of the canvas and encapsulates it with the precision of a watchmaker. All one has to do is watch and listen carefully. Through thy heart.

When you are looking at Luka Brase’s images through your heart, maybe one of the rainfalls, which had not yet fallen, will begin to descend. He may also wipe clear the dreams and unfulfilled desires, which have been covered in the dust of oblivion over time. Maybe a stream of further feelings and ideas will run through your mind. Maybe ...

 


To add a quote from Luka’s verses: ... “me a drawing child ... / awakening, discovering… liveliness / stories of love and hate / sadness and happiness / day and night / anywhere ... anytime / storyline through my eyes / into my hands / drawings ... wings of my heart / creating visual diaries: / The world in frames of my soul.”

Storyteller. A point in a line. Drawing child. An adult man who can still look at the world through a child’s eyes. Pure and undistorted. He dreams the dreams of beauty, of the infinite universe of the human soul. Our precious friend Dejan Mansfeld-Rupnik perfectly illustrates it when he quotes the worldly renowned artist Paul Klee: “A drawing is simply a line going for a walk” and adds that if you have grown up in the mountains, like Luka has in his beloved region of Orava near Dolný Kubín, you know for sure that going for a walk can also result in taking a long journey. And whenever Luka sees that artistic line, which has departed on an incredible journey through the fullness of life and love, it leaves him in silent amazement.

Nothing better and more beautiful is there left to be said and written. And so, I end here, because only Luka Brase himself can outdo his work by entering the secret chamber again. Carried by the wings of his heart towards an infinity of images.

 

Translated and edited by Zuzka Labska and Stefani Draganova

 


Luka Brase was born in 1983 in Czechoslovakia. He studied art at the Academy of Arts in Slovakia.

He has done 30 solo exhibitions in Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Hungary, Switzerland, Czech Republic, USA – New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, China – Shanghai and Beijing. 18 group participations in the Netherlands, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ireland, France among them important show in Künstlerhaus Wien, Afordable art fair Amsterdam, Accessible art fair Bratislava and Cite Internationale Des Arts in Paris.

His art is a part of the permanent collection in the Museum of Art – SUPEC Shanghai, China. His works belong to private collections in many countries in the world. He is the founder of project Art on the way and represented by DE Galerie in Den Haag, Netherlands and Artgogo gallery in Shanghai, China.

Luka Brase works and lives across Europe.


Marián Pauer /75/ has devoted more than four decades to professional photography as a historian, a theorist, and author of 31 publications, a curator of many exhibitions and a member of juries for international exhibitions and salons in Slovakia and abroad. He is author of several monographs, screenplays for television documentaries and radio shows.


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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

PRATIK LA ISSUE SPECIAL : KEVIN DURKIN'S "Meditation"

 

KEVIN DURKIN

Meditation   

 


Cross-legged, eyes closed. Your thumbs and fingers touch.

Silent, one word repeats in your mind’s clutch.

 

You note each heartbeat, slow each breath you take,

as shoulders tingle and your strained knees ache.

 

Your thoughts keep swirling, water down a sink.

What do you think of when you should not think?

 

 

 

Winner of the 2015 Frost Farm Prize, Kevin Durkin has published in Poetry, New Criterion, Yale Review and the anthologies Poetry Daily, Able Muse Anthology, Irresistible Sonnets, and Measure for Measure. Finishing Line Press published his chapbook, Los Angeles in Fog, in 2013. Currently a managing editor at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, he resides with his wife and two daughters in Santa Monica.

 

 

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Monday, June 6, 2022

FROM PRATIK'S ARCHIVES : IRISH POET GERARD BEIRNE's POEM, " Vision of the Other World"

 

GERARD BEIRNE

 

Vision of the Other World

(Inspired by the works of don Francisco de Quevedo)

 


Astrologers, alchemists, crack-brained fools.

Petty-foggers cutting thongs out of other men’s leather,

 

boring their noses with hot irons, biting their nails to the quick.

Gawdy coxcombs and hob-nailed boots, scythes and sheep-hooks.

 

Contented cuckolds with pincers, crane-bills, scissors, saws.

Bare-necked women and all sorts of gee-gaws.

 

Jilts, cheats, picklocks, trepanners, tooth-drawers

picking a quarrel with their gums. Rooks and jackdaws,

 

sons of whores, crook-fingered and baker-legged, cramp-jawed

knaves and fools with their tongues steeped in oil.

 

Catch-poled blockheads.

The bones I speak of are dead.

 

Gerard Beirne teaches on the BA Writing and Literature Program, IT Sligo. He has published two collections of poetry and four books of fiction. He has been shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award,  the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, and the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards. 

 

 


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Friday, June 3, 2022

Pratik Highlight : JOSÉ GARCÍA OBRERO reviews Cuban American poet Víctor Rodríguez' Núñez's "linverse [2016-1979]"

 

 

Book Review

 

JOSÉ GARCÍA OBRERO

 

Marco Polo’s Dilemma

 

 


 

After reading this anthology, which accounts for a long, fruitful poetic calling, we might imagine Víctor Rodríguez Núñez (Havana, 1955) as a, “clockmaker’s hunch-backed apprentice” with a loupe in one eye, alone in his room late at night. There, he carefully places each word, each image, each enjambment, in the artifact of the poem, in order to provoke a certain strangeness in readers, making them delve into reality. We might also imagine the house where the watchmaker’s room is as being anywhere, more fixed in the sky than in a specific space, since the occupant is uprooted, a foreigner. Of course, the mihrab of this particular mosque is oriented towards Cuba.

Rodríguez Núñez grew up in Cayama, a village in Sancti Spíritus province, in the center of the Caribbean island. He is a descendant of Galician immigrants, class-conscious peasants and workers. There were no books in his house, as he says, “not even the Bible.” Self-taught and nourished by authors who would later set him on his poetic path, he began writing under the influence of Federico García Lorca, who taught him that poetry is thinking through images and rhythmic discourse. From the Peruvian César Vallejo, he took the idea that poetry is opposed to all ideology and, from the Mexican José Emilio Pacheco, that the poet must be trained as an intellectual. Among Cubans, Eliseo Diego offered up the texture of his verses, and Fayad Jamís, a visual depth.

The early period of Rodríguez Núñez’s poetry, spanning from 1979 to 2000 and six books, is marked by an openness to the universal, like “Marco Polo’s Dilemma”: “I’ve seen something of the world / and it only deepens my sorrow / nothing belongs to me.” More than once the poetic subject refers to himself as “the foreigner.” Ultimately, nothing human is alien to the poetic subject, and therefore nothing is alien to his poetry. This becomes evident in superb poems, so varied in their themes, like “The Captain” or “Madrid Nocturne.” Inspiration comes from a neighborhood soccer game, like in “Bogotano”, or from a tiny neutron, as in “Praise for the Neutrino.”



Up until 2000, Rodríguez Núñez’s books revolve around what has been referred to as conversational poetry. Soon, this way of understanding the poem became a prison, where he felt forced to define a signifier and a signified. The search to break with this model led him to organic poetry. It consists of writing without any preconceived idea, letting thought flow halfway between reason and the unconscious, though never becoming automatic writing. The author defines this poetics as the search first for poetry and then for the poem.

The change of course is fully materialized beginning with the two books that make up Midnight Minutes. They constitute one long poem, a torrent of images, divided into fourteen parts, where “just one night explains the world.” Here,, the night is a propitious, fertile terrain for the poet, as Spanish poetic tradition has demonstrated ever since San Juan de la Cruz’s “Dark night of the soul.”Yet, the limits of Romanticism are crossed, and the poetic subject declares, “I work to earn the night,” revealing the underside of the orderly life that forces us to earn a living. “Thirteen” stresses this idea:

          I’m one of those who die eight hours a day

              and are reborn in you

              I escape the case

              take off my fluorescent tag

              You’re alienation undressing

              your back is never turned

              At your breast I converge with the others

              in the same murmur

                                         I’m no longer merchandise

              only use value

Definitions of the night abound and the poem concludes: “Night’s made by all / of us the day’s put down.” The night becomes identification with freedom, poetry, the universe. And it comes naturally to politics: “There won’t be revolution / if we don’t let the night speak.”

The search for organic writing coincides with an awareness of the place from which the poet writes. Rodríguez Núñez lived in Cuba until 1988, and later resided in Colombia, Nicaragua, and the United States. This objective distance from the island has meant a subjective approach, as reflected in those verses by José Ángel Valente that say: “Leaving was the only way to stay forever.” Our poet not only writes “from Cuba,” he specifically writes “from Cayama,” a place where he became aware of the world; the origin.

In the United States, aided by contact with both another reality and a different language, he became aware of his otherness, but only in so far as it is a rejection of borders: “The development of an identity always goes through two stages: first, the awareness of difference; second, the awareness of identification. In my poetry I try to make identification prevail over differentiation, and to banish the perverse ideology of nationalism.” This notion is developed in different ways in books as tasks, reverses, thaw, and from a red barn.

With departures, the collection that won the coveted Loewe Prize, Spain’s most important award for an unpublished book of poetry, and which opens this anthology organized in reverse, Rodríguez Núñez returns to his native Havana, to nostalgia, understood in its etymological sense: to remember with pain. Exile is palpable, but paradoxically “the foreigner” gives way to “the compatriot of clouds,” a symbol of a space that belongs to no one and everyone. What comes to the fore is a notion that only the unnameable, the inapprehensible, is worthwhile, and that, perhaps, ultimately, the poet gives himself up to that pursuit because with it he frees himself from perfection, and thus achieves everything else, the pure beat of life.

Rodríguez Núñez’s work has been called “Spanish-American irrationalism” and “magical realism,” labels that the author qualifies: “Relinquishing realism does not mean turning your back on reality, but representing it with greater depth. . . What I have always sought, although at first I didn’t call it that, is a dialogical poetry. A lyric that rejects solipsism.” In his poetry, he gets his readers to experience estrangement, which leads them to see the world as they had not seen it before. To do this, he makes use of complexity, inconclusiveness, and darkness as reflections of our time.

In sum, Rodríguez Núñez understands his poetry as an elevated form of humanism: “I believe in poetry because it is the one thing that capitalism has not been able to turn into commodity, because it is a cardinal instrument of resistance against dominant dehumanization.” At the beginning of this review I evoke the poem “Nights,” where an image appears, a verse, that runs through this great Cuban poet’s entire oeuvre: “I am / if I may / a clockmaker’s hunch-backed apprentice / facing the broken mainspring of this world.” These poems, although torrential, are not automatic; they are tamed by the intellectual will and this is reflected in their verses: “The poem isn’t /a vessel adrift / horizon shipwrecked.”

 

linverse [2016-1979].

By Víctor Rodríguez Núñez.

Edited and translated by Katherine M. Hedeen.                                                          

Mumbai: Poetrywala, 2019.

 

 

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