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Poets Printery

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Review of Proprietary Pains published by Poets Printery, South Africa

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Proprietary Pains (PP) is haunting!

The way the old Spanish or the soaring Gothic castles are still haunting for the modern tourists!

Or, the vast Russian steppes in Turgnev, running down to the very rims of the infinity, are for the readers. Or, the majestic Brahamputra of Assam, flowing down across the heart of an ancient land, is for the travellers. Or, the fleeting ruins of a Rajasthani haveli are, as seen in the afternoon sun. Things that refuse to fade from your mind already exposed to info overload. After reading the PP, you get the same feeling. It is like hearing the rustling wind in an empty room of an abandoned colonial-era bungalow set on a hill: It is the sad but redeeming MUSIC of the inner space vacated recently by somebody very dear. As we all remember songs from our childhood and can not erase them from our remembering adult heart, in the same manner, some precious persons/ special moments can never be forgotten. They get enshrined in memory. The PP by Shaleen does that for him and his readers. The young bearded poet mourns his father—an unsung college teacher, in the hinterland of India—in this bouquet of 104 short poems, published from South Africa. The poems come straight from a grieving son and the poet within transforms that personal loss— a family tragedy but a routine thing for others outside the immediate circle—into haunting music and marvelous verbal cadence. It is about remembering an ordinary father, in a celeb-driven age, where the very act of remembrance is Herculean resistance against trivializing mass culture that reduces everything, including art, to trivia and nothingness; where family and values are all dying fast, and, where the human beings and early robust humanism have been all made redundant by the emerging consumerist society. Amnesia is promoted here. Man is superfluous. Only ads, objects, sensations, ephemeral things are made sacred and desirable, crowded out by others competing for your eyeballs. In this universal age of instant gratification and instant replacement, memories of the dead, of the past, personal histories— of a person and nation, are all heroic attempts to retrieve a slice of the slipping past and capturing it in verbal structures of pure harmony and beauty and thereby, resisting the general forgetfulness endemic to nations and groups. Shaleen pays glowing tributes to a father in a minimal, sparse poetic style and transmutes the felt pains into flowing, arching Niagra fall of loss and recovery, in the face of extreme pain, hardships and emotional black-outs. In the process, a son feels orphaned by the parental death but a promising poet is born…cleansed by mourning and finding strength in that personal tragedy, emerging as a true person, down but not out by the slings of misfortune…the stuff of serious art anywhere and occasion for deep meditations on Life. It is also an elegy on patriarchy, now in the throes of crisis everywhere. Broadly, it is about the loss of father figure, an angst felt by us, while growing up. It is about finite that is man and an infinity that is art!

Dr. Sunil Sharma

 

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