Editorial | TSC Special Issue- 11 new poets | Amrit Ghosal

Credits : Amrit Ghosal

The curious thing with creative pursuits is that if you do not push the boundaries of expression, you collect slime. Soon enough, the standing waters of rhetoric begin to decay and no amount of congratulatory echo-chambers can manage to contain the bad news: the trick has gotten old.

Usually, poetry written in any age is unique in terms of subject-matter, tone and style. It evolves with every passing generation, by giving words to unprecedented anxieties, hopes and longings. The gifted voices of every generation build upon the works of their predecessors and most importantly, add insights of their own, providing contemporary relevance.

 Ironically,  the new form of expression soon becomes  a sort of formula to set words to. Only a few are able to push the envelope in the any sense.  Suddenly, everybody starts to write Formula Poems and everybody is happy! To this I say- Fine! Do whatever you want. Follow the formula as much as you want! Be safe in your little cocoon of predictable identity and expression! It is your ignorance of what art can do, of how all-encompassing  it is.

Soon enough, a market begins to grow around the new scene.  Books, readings, festivals and so forth; but as we all know, there is no big money in poetry.

However, political situations change, new social contingencies arise, the young folks start getting impatient and the old ways just do not cut it any longer. Everything looks stale, blunt, far removed from reality.

As the urban upper-middle class’ post- liberalization wet dream of the new millennium begins to flake away like paint from a crumbling wall, the new-found nightmare of disillusionment, broken hearts and muffled screams of alienation proceeds to inform and reshape poetry entirely. However, this awakening does not occur in the hardened ways of Formula Poems.  When, if at all, was creative expression expanded into new spaces by artists who were afraid of losing their reputations?

With such thoughts in mind, this edition of the Sunflower Collective is publishing fresh voices in English poetry in India. The poems collected here do not seek approval or try to fit in. They exist simply because they had to be written. These are testimonials to the fact that the Inside and the Outside  are blending into a paranoia of invasion. The doorstep is an illusion when all spaces have been encroached by the political and social unrest of our times.

Back in the day God died, then died the man/woman. Politics died about three decades ago and now people say that we have reached the age of Post-Truth as we stare into the debris collected from history: plastic, blood and arid land. A nuclear apocalypse seems more popular in the collective imagination as the fate of humanity than structural changes in human affairs – for example, the need for privileged communities to share the spoils with lesser-endowed ones. When the hope for truth is abandoned, disaffection sets in. Where is the ground beneath our feet now?

Metaphysical speculations seem redundant because we face unimaginable ecological destruction, nuclear threats, continuous wars and death-battles between communities.As these battle cries ring across the television sets and WhatsApp messages, a Baudrillardian phantasmagoria of confusion spreads its wings and talons. You grapple in the dark sea of (non)-(mis)-information. No wonder disillusionment is an inheritance our generation has to bear with. What faith can one have any more in any part of the present political spectrum? Yet the absurdity of it all is that there are many who are full of the Yeatsean “passionate intensity”. Guns and swords and Molotov cocktails are brandished in the streets of major capitals of the Western and Eastern worlds every other day. As Bukowski had foreseen, this is a time of open and unpunished murders on the streets. Educational system has crumbled under a systemic dismantling of progressive policies and the academicians are pushed to self-preservation with their backs against the wall. The rest adjust themselves and turn into torturous snobs. Through it all the "vast lamb of the middle class" winces in pain and smiles in hypocrisy.

In this severely debilitating condition of alienation arising out of our inability to connect whole-heartedly with any political alternative, we look towards poetry. However, we do not want poetry that toes the line of Opportunism as a culture. We do not want poems replete with with the same old images and diction. Most importantly, we do not want poems that play safe to build a career in the age of the commercialized consciousness.

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