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The Multi-Shell Prison We Live In

The Multi-Shell Prison We Live In
Title of book 'An Anachronous Shower'

As a modern poet, Subhrasankar refuses norms. He is radical against fanatic people. It is easy for him to be sarcastic before religious topics.

By Ashraf Aboul-Yazid

Insha Publications, India, organized an international webinar on “Emergent themes in contemporary literature” and a book release program on StreamYard, 5th December 2021.

Insha Publication, the organizer of this beautiful Webinar cum book-launch program, is run by Anees Ahmed Ansari and his team from TriNagar, New Delhi. The Publication has a wide range of academic and literary books.

“An Anachronous Shower” by Subhrasankar Das is the newest leaf in the crown of Insha Publications. Along with me, the guests who graced the panel of this webinar of unputdownable significance were Mandana Kolahdouz  (Visiting Asst. Professor, IAUT, Iran), Glen Armstrong ( Poet, U.S.A ), Rashmika Mandawala ( Writer, SRILANKA ), Parthasarathi Gupta ( Asst. Professor, Tripura University ), Shyamal Bhattacharya ( Polyglot / Novelist , KOLKATA) and Promila Arora ( Poet / Translator, PANJAB ). The event was wonderfully hosted by Nabanita Sengupta (Writer/ Asst. Professor, Sarsuna College, Kolkata).

Book-Launch- India-WebinarIn the 1st session, after the book was released through an amazing video showing the glimpses of Subhrasankar Das’ literary journey and the new book in an aesthetically appealing manner. Music and animation highlighted themes that the book observed poetically.

The panelists/guests shared their observations/findings/views on “Emergent themes (or trends) in contemporary literature”. The speeches of Prof. Parthasarathi and Mandana Kolahdouz were bright reflections of their knowledge and wisdom that a true lover of literature will not like to skip. Rashmika Mandawala especially talked about three remarkable books of contemporary Sinhala literature. Shyamal Bhattacharya brought in the concern for decaying Nature.

In the 2nd session, the Panelists critically commented on the book or on some poems of ‘An Anachronous Shower’. They highlighted multifaceted aspects of Subhrasankar Das and his poetry while quoting lines from his poems.

Veteran American Poet , Glen Armstrong said, “It strikes me that it is undesirable, if not impossible, to engage that which is primal without engaging that which is personal, a lesson clear throughout the poems in Subhrasankar Das’ new collection, An Anachronous Shower. Consider the title for a moment. What could possibly be as elemental, and at the same time as intimate, as a shower – falling water, a renewal of our naked selves, a secret touch, a storm on the horizon? At first, we protest – How could such a key element of the human experience be ‘anachronous’ out of time, askew? But even planned showers, like poetry, bring unexpected sensations.”

Consider, as well, Das’ poem, “Sex with the Water.” Water is the source of ice, of us, of fossils. Like his mother-sister-lover, the speaker is bodiless, alien, evolving yet absurd. The poem takes the common and makes it strange, takes the primal and makes it new: “He came to know [ ] / the lust for onion.” It urges us to “Go home and wash the soap.” Das, like Neruda, reminds us that there is unmined nuance and magic in the most familiar topics.

In the poem “Democracy,” the poet Subhrasankar Das pokes at those who would undermine the poem’s titular societal aspiration:

The hero has surrendered to the make-up man.

The brand of cigar, the color of tea,

And the costumes!

Das knows that our emperors have no clothes, that the frightening rulers of our Emerald Cities are merely the mechanizations of dreary men behind curtains. His distrust of power is in line with some our most revered counterculture voices from the 1960s: Bly, Brautigan, Ginsberg. That is not to say that this new collection arrives outdated.

“Anachronous,” the author’s own term, is more apt. The sensations and insights here belong to no single decade, even when they acknowledge the here-and-now’s false applause that Dolby digital sound can afford a false prophet. Cell phones here leave their nests to share space with human ears, an event, not unlike poetry itself, at once unfathomable and inevitable.

My paper’s title was “An Anachronous Shower’ by Subhrasankar Das:  The Multi-shell Prison we live in.

It is essential to find a key concept in reading poetry, a key that makes you able to filter words, phrases, themes and thoughts. In “An Anachronous Shower”; a collection of verses by Subhrasankar Das, India, the Key was “Prison”, in his short but evocative poem “Freedom”:

Every time I get freedom,

I discover myself in a prison,

Smaller than the previous one!

As we read, we shall be involved in this world of prison. Even outside reality; “Your dream is prison” as the poet himself phrases in another poem entitled “Initiation”.

Prisons, in Subhrasankar Das’s poems, are not only cages with bars, or jails with unlocked doors. They could be illusions, as well. They could be the thorns that prevent you enjoying watching roses. They could be waves, or layers of an onion, there are always something hidden behind.

By the end we shall be similar to the poet’s bird, having this delusion; “It is difficult to understand, whether the bird has fallen in love with the cage, or the cage is in love with the bird.” The poet’s bird “refuses to leave the cage, and the cage refuses to leave the bird”.

This reminds me with my poem “A Prison”: The dreaming prisoner asks his injustice guard, how could you know you are not my prisoner? Aren’t we separated by the same bars?

Another key to read Subhrasankar Das’s poetry is his passion about nature. He has a full vocabulary book of landscapes, animals, creatures, trees, flowers and plants. He is fond of having a close eye to observe this rich side of our world.

An Anachronous Shower - book - Sindh Courier
Book Launch – Webinar

Finally, as a modern poet, he has to be critic, he refuses norms. He is radical against fanatic people. It is easy for him to be sarcastic before religious topics. Figure of speech could take him to turn his dog into God, or describe holy places as boobs covering the sky. So, I am asking by the end: What is poetic about being unfaithful to anything?

Promila Arora, the veteran Hindi poetess, dug deeper into the poetic world of Subhrasankar Das. She read out some of her favorite poems from the book and shared her experience with the other panelists and the audience. Parthasarathi Gupta pointed at the recurrent theme in Subhrasankar Das’ poetry in his unique introspective fashion.

The webinar also showed the viewers the panorama of literary trends of America, Egypt, Iran, Srilanka , India and the world in general. The guests themselves enjoyed the webinar a lot. The program concluded successfully with a positive note.

The refined version of this webinar will be available on YouTube soon for the students/researchers/inquisitive readers and writers. Till then, you may watch it here:

International webinar on “Emergent themes in contemporary literature”


Ashraf Aboul-Yazid is an eminent Egyptian journalist, poet, novelist, author of about three dozen books and Editor-in-Chief of Silk Road Literature Series.