“The beautiful, passionate bunch of her poems is a testimony to her intense musings and revelations, a kaleidoscope of all the colours of life, a search of her own self in the smouldering embers of singed dreams,” says Manikant Sharma in his review of Lopamudra Banerjee’s book of verses Let the Night Sing.
hum bhatakte hain, kyun bhatakte hain, dasht-o-saharaa mein
Kaisi uljhan hai, kyun yeh uljhan hai?
Ek saaya saa roo’baroo kya hai?
~ Jaan Nisaar Akhtar
(I roam about, why do I roam about/ in the jungles and deserts !
What is this enigma, why is this enigma?
Like an apparition, what is this (that is) in front of me!)
Here with a little Bread beneath the Bough,
A flask of wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise now!
(Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The Second Edition, 1868 by Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883)
Madness is a country
Just round the corner
Whose shores are never lit.
But if you go there
Ferried by despair
The sentries would ask you to strip
At first the clothes, then the flesh
And later of course your bones.
Their only rule is freedom.
Why, they even eat bits of your soul when in hunger.
But when you reach that shore,
That unlit shore.
Do not return, please do not return.
~ Kamala das.
In the FOREWORD to Let The Night Sing, the famous poet, educationist Dr Santosh Bakaya talks of Lopa Banerjee’s poems as poems that “talk in soft tones, render potent punches, scream, bleed and writhe completely shaking up the reader.” The beautiful, passionate bunch of her poems is a testimony to her intense musings and revelations, a kaleidoscope of all the colours of life, a search of her own self in the smouldering embers of singed dreams. The poems in this collection have the tingling of bangles, coolness of green leaves, illusions of frosts, malleability of emotions and the softness of the musings of the larks. These poems convey the wisdom of ages, the wisdom that has been attained after having been scalded by the fiery winds of preoccupations and is dawned as the soft tread of ink on paper.
Why does someone write poetry ?
Mirza Ghalib wrote poetry due to ‘garmi-e-nashat-e-tasavvur’ (due to the heat/excessive happiness caused by his ruminations), Shakespeare wrote because at that time it was traditional, Elizabethans wrote in verse (they mostly wrote in blank verse) which was closer to normal speaking. They mostly wrote in Iambic meter at that time. Lopa Banerjee wrote poems because her feminist self, sometimes as a reaction to the lessons from her girlhood, at other times, as Moonstruck, she feels
“coiled around the shadow
Of this birth, yet again,
My soul gaping, bewildered in blood,
Gushing as it empties, collapses and settles,”
or as she wishes to be extinguished, as in
“Crush me like old dust
between your palms,
Let me burn in silver flames
amid those burning grains”
or due to her sensitivity to the girl children being raped, sexually abused, as in
“Come to me, moon drop, in your clots and blood,……”
Or as a dedication to the infamous Sonagachhi, the red light area of Kolkata or in solidarity with thousands of little girls, forced to be child brides, sacrificed on the altar of ‘marriage’ as in
“A mad creepy stench seeps into me
The night, smelling like litter and raw onions
Perforates my inner core.”
Her canvas of activity is really big.
In the pursuit of writing poetry, sometimes the lithe limbs of the poet pulse, veins overflow with the élan and high spirits as if a treasure is found, at other, the virile face furrows with worries as if the time has stopped. The voyage-ship’s sails droop like that of Santiago’s in The Old Man and the Sea in view of his struggle with a giant Marlin. When the favourable winds blow, the poet starts the voyage again, touching the many shores, sharing the mirth and woes of human beings, a magical world unfolds, depicting how the humane dreams are quashed, how the pain falls drop by drop upon the heart.
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God
And thus, the hypnotising poems of Lopa Banerjee take birth.
Her poems that represent the beauty of the nuggets of her emotions, are the result of her constant ruminations, composed in an adverse atmosphere that was not conducive for writing. The overlapping layers that are found on dissecting her poems enhance the versatility of her poems and represent the concreteness of her resolve. Her poems are attached to the ground with strong foundations. There is an urgent, fiery compulsion to fight with the ever impending beleaguerment to carve out a place for day to day transactions of life.
Lopa Banerjee’s Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant’s Wayward Journey, her debut memoir/nonfiction novel, has already registered her superior artistry and has received Honourable Mention at Los Angeles Book Festival 2017. But this one, though contain her musings in the poetic form; has transcended quality wise, more concrete,” sometimes as a restless sojourner, celebrates the splinters and shards, the broken pieces of life in its continuum,” as Dr. Koshy AV, noted poet and critic, fiction and non fiction puts it beautifully.
One can equally see the shadows of thoughts of Poetess Kamala Das falling obliquely on her writings and poems. When compared grossly, where the scale of candidness and rebelliousness seems to incline towards Kamala Das, for example in her poem “ The Looking Glass”, the literary pursuits and socio-economic transactions, if taken into account, allow the scale to weigh in favour of Lopa Banerjee though her rebelliousness becomes more obtuse and less pronounced.
Lopa Banerjee has come a long way since then.
See the beauty of her verse in her poem Impostors.
“We do not lie when we swoop
From one store to the next, greedily
Savoring aromatic blends to hide that we stink.
We do not lie when seated at posh restaurants,
Lost in the shameless serenading
Of culinary raagas and soft music strumming,
We fumble for words,
Knowing each one, when uttered,
Can act as a dart thrown, an arrow
Ripping out our hearts, so we choose to be mum.”
Or in her title poem Let The Night Sing,
The fangs of the night unfold,
Faint footsteps resound,
Silvery beams of moonlight.
The dark woods,
Dense canopy of trees,
The pitch black,
Skin slicing through
Let the moon stay,
Let us make love
Lopa Banerjee’s poems are the result of a strong synesthesia. These poems originate as visceral earthen images built either from overpowering intensity of longings or from the blood dripping from the unstitched raw wounds. She has experimented with the new forms of poetry writing with the new subjects never touched earlier by other poets. Some of her poems are the result of constant brooding and churning of thoughts arising from the bottomless vessels of pain. Her poems are the searing tapestry that has been thickened and coloured by the beautiful use of language and imagery. These poems are a part of her creative and intellectual identity too.
A must read for a lover of beautiful sentiments and poetry.
More to read about Lopa Banerjee’s Books
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