By Bhaswati Ghosh

Wet Radio and Other Poems

Title: Wet Radio and other poems
Author: Goirick Brahmachari
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 18, 2017)
Pages: 148
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If rain is the central motif seeping through Goirick B’s Wet Radio, the poems live up to their task of carrying wetness and drenching the reader with soaking endurance. Like his poems, the poet carries a lot, too – the weight of nostalgia and nonconformity, strains of relationships and a disquiet that refuses to be quelled. In all the different themes Wet Radio explores, the poet’s visceral engagement keeps one hooked to his words.

This very act – of carrying impressions from location to location, both physical and psychical – makes Goirick almost a modern-day itinerant poet/songwriter. His sense of place, especially of Northeast India, is acute; at the same time, his is a poetic spirit that defies the idea of rooting in any one place. This impulse to move, even run, lends his poetry both breadth and passage.

There is gasping pain and seething anger, life-saving love and cynical disillusionment in the poems. The poet often travels back in memory to the Northeast, and in doing so confronts the impossibility of defining identity on the basis of the usual markers of region, religion and language. Consider these lines from ‘Rumour’: “The cave is like any other/only sometimes a Naga would enter/and come out as a Manipuri/Sometimes a Khasi would turn into/a Mizo or, a Bengali, a Bodo,/usually, after every 32 tunnels.”

Goirick plays with the question of identity even more adventurously in ‘Worshipping the Blue Mad Man’, a poem on Charak Puja held in eastern India to worship Shiva. In the poem, he employs a bi-lingual structure, which for those who read both English and Bengali, create a unique sensory and rhythmic experience. The Bengali words occur where they are evidently impossible to render in translation except as approximations, which is how they are presented in the final stanza.

Pain and its many contours has been a favoured subject for poets. Goirick touches the slippery pulse of pain, both physical and invisible, in a number of his poems. He speaks of sadness that’s “not of this earth but born out of the void above,” alluding to a hollowness that could be hard to frame within the conventional context of sanity. In ‘Ache’ he maps the journey of pain and the way it afflicts the mind as “it travels through the body earth./From the head onto the shoulders/From maps to borders/Down to the viscera,/nails Flowing like a stream.”

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By Kanwar Dinesh Singh

dots

Title: joining the dots
Author: Goirick Brahmachari
Publisher: Nivasini Publishers
Pages: 38
Price: Rs 125

 

Recipient of the Muse India-Satish Verma Young Writer Award (2016) and Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize (2016), Goirick Brahmachari is worth mentioning in the new tribe of Indian poets writing in English. He brought out his maiden collection of poems, For the Love of Pork (2016), from Les Editions du Zaporogue. Rich in content and craft, this slim collection of forty-five poems in the Neo-Beat parlance was received well by the critics and lovers of poetry. These poems have propelled him as a writer having maturity and solemn engagement with current social issues and humanity at large.

Goirick Brahmachari’s second chapbook of travel notes and experimental poems, joining the dots, published by Nivasini Publishers, is a significant addition to the genre of travel writing. His poetic eye captures the mystifying curves of the ascending mountains from Bilaspur to Kullu-Manali in Himachal Pradesh during an overnight journey by bus. In a transit from the plains of Punjab and Haryana to the mountain pass of Rohtang, these short poems, one after the other, bring about a newer mis en scène of people and places. Goirick writes in a fairly anti-romantic mode, artfully confronting the idealistic and panegyric outlook of the romantics: “clouds tear the moon apart” (p. 13), “moon melts / over the snow…” (p. 17), “those fat trucks make love to the / lonesome roads” (p. 30) and so on and so forth. His diction, imagery and style mostly verge on the anti-poetic: breaking away from the normal conventions of traditional poetry, carrying deliberate solecisms and omissions of syntax, punctuation and rhyme, besides incorporating anti-sentimental feelings and reactions in poetry. Goirick’s poems are experimental, down-to-earth, hard-headed and now and then purposely pessimistic and sceptical, and they have sufficient material to incense a stern grammarian. All the same they have their own significance and appeal to the contemporary audience.

All the poems along with the title of the book are in the lowercase. Using the lowercase throughout is not altogether new, as many poets have been writing in this mode―following in the tread of the American poet, E. E. Cummings. Even though scholars find this experimentation at odds with the standard orthography of English language and/or merely as a writer’s pretension to create a trademark, many critics have viewed the rebellious use of all-lowercase as an aesthetic conception under poetic license. In the present chapbook, the use of small letters seems to be either the traveller-poet’s need for typing out the poems on a laptop without interrupting the flow of typing by searching for the ‘Shift’ on the keyboard time and again. Or implicitly it may represent the smallness of a journeyer/sojourner in the mighty expanse of the universe, as manifest in the traveller-poet’s tedium of the mountains and “inertia / of hours of travel / on parabolic roads in an ordinary bus” (p. 23).

In joining the dots, there are two sections: “dots” and “letters”. The captions assigned to “dots” are the geographical coordinates, probably to impart precise geographical identity to the places the poet traverses. In this way, the places remain well-defined in memory as well. The “letters” bear the postcodes as titles, probably with a view to recollecting the trail of travels undertaken by the poet in the past. The “dots” present not just idyllic descriptions of nature, but depicture the difficult and demanding life in the hills too:

hills can drain you

and leave you hungry

only to show up

with some ice and a big

round

white moon for free

(p. 14)

Here is a poignant exposé of the winters making human life unpleasantly cold, sluggish and unpredictable in the hills:

snow has painted everything white…

the cold has sketched wrinkles

over our weary, blue faces…

fire takes its own time to burn here

people talk in smoke

(p. 16)

By Neeti Singh

love-of-pork

For the Love of Pork, 2016, by Goirick Brahmachari comes through as a collection of brilliant and ambitious verse that is intensely contemporary, thickly layered and imagistic, and reads like beat poetry as it interrogates on one hand the presence and forms of borders in daily life; and celebrates on the other hand the excesses of modern living with its new-found freedoms that thrill in the flouting of social taboos. Brahmachari, who belongs to a younger line of Indian poets writing in English, draws profusely from his readings and understanding of literature, history, cultural theory, culture and politics. His writing explores the matrix of socio-political and existential issues, as it negotiates at the same time, the paradox of acceptance and irreverence in the lives of the middle class. In terms of poetic style and content, Brahmachari’s is a strong and impressive voice, equipped with both the conviction and the courage that a poet needs to explore new pathways in poetic craft, experience, and creative expression.

Goirick Brahmachari, who is an economics research consultant settled in Delhi, hails from Silchar, Assam. This fact is amply reflected in For the Love of Pork, his first book of poems, which is a collection of forty-five poems that map the poet’s years at home, the pain of borders in the hilly terrain of Assam, and that strange sense of being away from home – free, footloose and available to cosmopolitan lifestyle issues far away in dynamic Delhi. As happens with most cities, the Silchar of his growing up years has decayed and is reduced now, to –

Stinking gutters

of hypocrisy and mediocrity.

Broken roads, of hope once,

of disgust now, ignored

through years of slumber

and laziness, and an age

of rage-less youth.

Your universities

do not speak. (18)