Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Of Poets and Potters by Srinjay Chakravarti


The wheel begins to move
under your hands.
Slowly at first, then it picks up speed.
Now your thoughts are only lumps of earth,
                                                                   but water
gives you ceramic when poured and blunged.
The spinning rhythm of the disc
draws you into its orbit, and moulds
a gyral form all about its emptiness.
Your fingers are words, and pattern themselves
on concentric curves and enjambed spaces
which, whirling, benumb your careful eye.
A shape, emerging, as imagery gathers
volume and heft in centripetal spin;
its fictile texture hardens with trope.
You have made nothing happen: with this clay
of language which your fingers knead,
you are shaping an essence of life, of being
as its vortex drags you into its madness...

Suddenly, it’s finished. Complete. You lift it up:
in your hands, the vessel is whole. And real.
Its surface is glazed, its colours are in place,
its edges male-hard, its contours lissom.
And each word sparkles
with a joy so beyond all other joys.

Srinjay Chakravarti
 is a 40-year-old freelance journalist, writer, editor, researcher and translator based in Salt Lake City, Kolkata, India. He was educated at St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta and at universities based in Calcutta and New Delhi. University degrees: BSc (Economics honours), MA (English). His literary creative writing, including poetry, short fiction and translations, have appeared in around 100 publications in more than 25 countries.

His first book of poems Occam’s Razor (Writers Workshop, Calcutta: 1994) received the Salt Literary Award from Salt, the Australian literary and publishing organization headed by writer and academic John Kinsella, in 1995. He has won one of the top prizes (US $7,500) in the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Poetry Competition 2007-08.

Srinjay Chakravarti says about this poem:

"This poem was written some 20 years ago, when I myself was around 20 years old. I have been writing poetry and short fiction since my teenage years—my earliest poems were published when I was around 15 years old—and this poem was included in my first book of poems Occam’s Razor (Writers Workshop, Calcutta: 1994). It had also appeared in The New Miscellany (Writers Workshop, Calcutta: 1994). The poem is exegetic of the creative process as I saw it, with the process of writing poetry being compared to the art of making studio ceramics. To that extent it is self-reflexive, and entails a different take on W.H. Auden’s famous (and often misunderstood) dictum that ‘poetry makes nothing happen'."

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