Published:  12:53 AM, 20 August 2017 Last Update: 12:57 AM, 20 August 2017

The mingling of imagination and experience

The mingling of imagination and experience

Liton Chakraborty Mithun explores the poet's  self-made world of love

American poet Matthew Zapruder in a recent article published in the Paris Review said, "Poetry is a constructed conversation on the frontier of dreaming. It is a mechanism by which the essential state of reverie can be made available to our conscious minds. By means of the poem, we can enter this state of reverie with all our faculties alert and intact. Poems make possible a conscious entry into the preconscious mind, a lucid dreaming."

I cannot agree more. A big number of poems, if not all, are a resource pool of emotional and psychological experiences of the poet. The impassionate poet wrapped up in a plethora of feelings, sensations and meditations puts his inner experience out on page. Reading such poems means taking a mental journey along the pathway of the poet's world of imagination, vision and experience. Liton Wares's 2012 Bengali poetry collection titled Pathor Bhalobasa O Mrittu Kankon (Fossilized Love & Bangle of Death) contains quite a few bright poems that epitomize a solid blending of fantastic imagination and mundane experience.

What strikes me about Liton Wares's poetical prowess is how he plays out emotional dynamics of love life.  He takes a nostalgic spin back to an early life bubbling with romantic memories. He opens the portal to his heart as he says, "Ami medhabi chumo diyechilam / tomar ondho poornimahin chokher patay" (I planted a potent kiss / on the lids of your blind and moonlight-less eyes.).

This sensuous feeling is further reinforced by another romantic experience when he says, "Aj theke tomar hridoy bohon korbe / duti shuddho byatha- / narir gobhir chumbon, pathor bhalobasa." (From today onwards your heart will carry / two pure pains - / a deep kiss from a woman and a fossilized love.). He envisions a stream of light of love pouring down on him as he says, "Phoolguli churmar kore bhangey manusher panjor/ jeno prem jomeche chander jolrong baritey."

(These flowers tear into pieces the ribs of men. / It seems love has amassed on the water-color home of the Moon.). The poet does not stop there. He cherishes the memories of his halcyon days. He goes on to ask his beloved (perhaps, long-lost one), "Tomar ki aar one porey/ gota bazaar ujar korey / smriti sabha.." (Do you recall any more/ the memorial meeting/ (we held) vacating the whole market?). This dredging up of his past life memories shows how nostalgia shapes a big chunk of Liton Wares's poetics.

Love is not the only element constituting the romantic self of the poet. Like any other great romantic poets of any literature, Liton Wares delves deep into the interplay between his vision of life and nature. Nature with all her wealth of scenic beauty, scent, freshness and musicality provides the stimulating background hum to his creative life. It makes an welcome entry into his inner space as he says, "Jokhon batayon bondho ko'rey amar sokol smriti / arhal kortey chai, / tokhon amar grihey nilakash probesh korey/ urbor mati hoye jay.." (When I try to cover up my memories / by shutting the windows, / the blue sky enters my house and turns itself into fertile earth.).

Even memory of his (as well as his persona's) life manifests itself in terms of nature. He goes on to describe memory as "Megher janalar norom tripol / matha nuiye porha tober sajano golap / bhosmo jwolonto shmashaner hridoyabho bhalobasa.." (A soft tarpaulin on the window of clouds, / a decorated rose in a tilted tub, / hearty love out of a burning crematorium..). Moreover, he discovers in a woman all properties and features of nature. He goes on to claim "Prokritir sob saj niyeche nari / Prokritir sob sadh narir mon" (All decors of nature have been appropriated by the women. / All desires of nature constitute a woman's heart. ).

On top of that, nature intrudes into even the surroundings of the poet, and he spins a treasurable image out of the encounter such as "Nirupom bhalobasa nisorgodrishya / bhese uthey bikshubdho ratey pakhir kollol, / banka-chand alokborsho shesh korley / binomro shantir chador feley matal hawa." (Unparallel love flashes on the scene, / so does the chattering of birds in a turbulent night; / as the crescent orbits for a light-year, / the wild wind casts a humble piece of carpet of peace.). It appears that the vast landscape and vista of rural Bangladesh tiptoes into the poet's creative make-up.

It will be unfair to view the persona of the poet Liton Wares as someone living exclusively in the realm of imagination and romanticism. He also encounters everyday life as it is, and responds to it like any other conscious and alert person. Socio-political issues move the poet, and his persona deals with it head-on. In a poem, the speaker gives vent to a common speech given by a typical Bengali patriarchal husband to his basically helpless wife, which is: " ei sondhya ratey ghumas maagi tui/ gotor dichos onyo karo songey/ ghorer dorja bondho keno tor / khanki maagi ektu sobur kor…" (You whore are sleeping in this evening! / Have you slept with any other man? / Why is the door of your room closed? / Wait for a while, you bitch!" This is a picture of typical domestic tension prevailing in many of the Bangladeshi households where violence against women and women's mostly silenced acquiescence is an everyday stuff. However, Wares's persona is politically conscious too.

Against the backdrop of a political crisis in Bangladesh, he expresses his concern: "Bangladesher gonotontro/ Hamilon-er surjoshishu./ Abar shey ki hariye jabey/ jolpai bahinir noler chhnoyay-" (The democracy of Bangladesh / is the sun-child of Hamelin. / Will it vanish again / on the gunpoint of the olive-color force?). In addition, the poet as well his persona sympathizes with the victims of the Nimtali tragedy, a fire incident that burnt alive a number of garment workers. Thus, the practical and conscious in Liton Wares comes into play in his poetic outlet.

However, it is not the case that all is hunky-dory about Liton Wares's debut collection of poems. There are some signs and traces of stage fright. Quite a few expressions cannot make any sense despite repeated readings of them. I think the poet has jammed some unrelated words into these expressions, thus ruining the otherwise potential poems. The poet seems to be carried away by an extra dose of emotions and sentiments. The poet should therefore fine-tune his expressions and be careful about the diction.

A sharper editorial pencil will certainly help improve the overall quality of the book. Despite some sloppiness and weakness, Liton Wares's career-opening collection Pathor Bhalobasa O Mrittu Kankon is an overall success. He handily shows us most of his images in a vivid close-up. Quite a few poems pack a powerful emotional punch, thus turning the volume a joyful read. As a close friend and a relative of late poet Khondakar Ashraf Hossain, Liton Wares has been influenced by him as per as his poetry is concerned. However, I would like to round off the write-up with the very last poem of the volume requesting the poet to follow his own ideas: "Dukkhoguli jukto holey / shobdo diye kobita likho / kobitaguli kabyo holey / hridoy diye bendhey rekho.."(If sorrows join together, / write poems with words./ If poems turn out to be poetry, / frame them within your heart.).  

The reviewer studied English literature at Dhaka University.

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