Forever Meera is a book of poems by noted author-poet and Silhouette Editor Amitava Nag. Piu Mahapatra unveils how she created the artistic and evocative cover.
‘Every day at seven, a diminutive school girl
sporting a pigtail teeming with coconut oil
dripping down her nape, brings a handful of acacia flowers
to him, “Hemingwaaay” she breaks her shrill voice
into a long rhythm before wriggling out
of the evenings, she picks up the old man in her arms,
the man has no eyes but dry pupils
that smell of dead flowers – every night, the old man
becomes the sea’
– Excerpt from the poem, ‘The old man and the sea’
A book is a space where the poems are kept, on the pages, between the covers. The words are printed, and pages are arranged, but the poems, which when written first are hardly so prim and proper. The words get blurred and the ink bleeds. Forever Meera, anthology of poems by Amitava Nag starts with an ‘Old Man’ who sits for four hours in a tea shop till the sea swells and calls him home.
A cover demands to be different with a start like that. A cover which whispers about not what lies between the pages, but what has trickled and seeped from inside the book only to leave an impression on his face. The lines used on the cover are handwritten by the poet himself and when placed on the wet handmade paper, the ‘sea swells’ and the lines soaks in the water only to blur letting, ‘the old man become the sea’.
‘I guess, you know a tree better
every time you open up the timber –
the grave lines deep into memory – the trillion information,
you know a man
lying down on a table with four legs
waiting to be eviscerated,
a man neither adolescent, nor an adult – one,
whose abundance is in the repeated mistakes
in front of a plot of mirrors’
– Excerpt from the poem, ‘The man in me’
There are many layers in the making of a cover, just like poetry.
The thoughts of the poet here are lyrical, and the verse of the poems are free, flowing without any obligation to rhyme. Spontaneous and at times abrupt, the poems are almost ‘handcrafted’, antonym of ‘manufactured’ or ‘synthetic’
The surface, the paper is handmade as well, like Amitava’s poems, earthly and organic. The soft white banana trunk once coarsely chopped, soaked in water are then grinded and pasted to form a raw pulp. The unadulterated and natural pulp is when mixed with water, are ready to be ‘thrown’ as paper. The verb used is literally, ‘thrown’, where the frame screen holds the pulp till the water drains out and then they are ‘thrown’ on a sheet of cloth in a required thickness. What was once a banana trunk transformed to a pristine white surface, waiting for Meera to embossed in layers.
Glue is not required in this technique to ‘stick’ the writing on the surface of paper. They hold each other where the written text is placed on the wet paper and thin layers of pulp is added on the edge of the text for them to ‘bind’ together on their own.
‘The sky above
is blue with love’
– Excerpt from the poem, ‘Wait’
Forever Meera has both rain and sunshine, occasionally overlapping, just like the mood of the poems, oscillating between love and loss, the blue swinging to vibrant gay, and when drops of water sprinkled on the paper, they leave the marks of rain or teardrops, which only the reader can tell.
another drop meets me
piercing like arrows,
the dry within
like a teen love
the insides of
a deserted reservoir.’
– Excerpt from the poem, ‘Reservoir’
Forever Meera, a collection of urban poems of love and loss is intrinsic in its moods. The pain of loss in one poem seamlessly seeps into the joy of finding the lost love in another. The poet, who is also the reader at one point, is on a voyage of his own to rediscovering himself through his own thoughts. Realization is always a long walk. A man lost in his thoughts, strides alone in the midst of rain and cloud with sunrays showing the path.
Different attempts exploring in multiple media are always a rewarding experience for the artist as well. The outcomes are varied and there are always good to have choices!
‘it is cold today,
the fringes of the city
is blue with centuries of privation,
the shores remember only those
who returned – with pride,
I know the feeling of penury
every time a son becomes a father,
where will he go, then?’
– Excerpt from the poem, ‘Where will I go’
The emotions wait
For the traffic signal
You drift away with
the torn advertisement canvas,
there is a drizzle in the city
with the rain –
I close my eyes.
The images fill up
shadows of togetherness
cluttered – this is how
every man trades his solitude.
Wake up Meera – see
how a man
loses his world.
Images and write up by- Piu Mahapatra
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