Shadows of the Real, KK Srivastava, Rupa, Pp 136, Rs 195.00
THE “shadows” that KK Srivastava dwells on in his latest anthology of poems are not the ones that are crafted from the rays of the sun; rather they are the creation of the mental effulgence. They are the shadows that dwell only in the labyrinths of the mind. When the contemporary mind looks inwards, the thoughts and events from the misty past, from the mercurial present, and also the projected future, get welded together and start casting the impression of unreal caricatures, fleeting shadows, or of ghostly apparitions. The feeling of timelessness takes root.
In the preface, which is evocatively titled, “Poetry – I love to talk of darkness,” KK Srivastava asks if poets were “Rational Fools.” Immediately he goes on to clarify that the phrase, certainly an oxymoron, came to his mind because, poets seem to be seeking to address ethical issues through their poems, even though they were as helpless as their audience is. It is true that no poem speaks to us as directly as the rising sun or a leaf shaking in the wind; poets revel in being indirect and abstruse. That is why poetry is for lovers, or the rational fools, and not for cryptologists.
You would not expect any kind of archetypal rapture in Srivastava’s poems, his choice of words seem subdued, and in the lines there is kind of intentional lethargy, which inspires you to let your guard down and enter into a rather relaxed frame of mind, until the purport of the lines hits you like a shattering explosion and sets you up in a world of unimagined perspectives and ideas. It would not be wrong to say that Srivastava’s poems are designed to act like a taut spring, which seems quite harmless at first sight, but is capable of springing back with great energy.
We can easily see how these fundamental differences of perspective plays out from these lines in the poem titled, Our Being Us:
We survive in this one-eyed world,
a clash between memory and memories,
You see a thing
and you don’t see a thing,
A child sees the world as a shining sun,
An Old man as collapse of all hopes,
neither being nor becoming
secures us an immunity from
The stanzas are not elegantly indented, but that is because the focus is not on the cadence, it is the ideas that drive Srivastava’s poetry. There is not a sonnet, sestina or villanelle to be found in the book. He is a poet in the plain philosophical style, if there ever was one.
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