Life’s questions & destiny

By Ananya Guha

Sonnet Mondal’s collection Karmic Chanting true to its title has a meditative poise about it. The poems tend to think, pause and question aspects about life which affect him from the minuscule to social and political happenings. History. In fact, Sonnet’s poems create their own histories, politics and a certain warring with words:
“My mind is heavier than my soul.
What seemed impossible/was always possible” ~ (From Tushar’s Apartment)
There is innately in Sonnet’s poems a tendency to question and philosophise. This brings into his poetry levels of conundrum:
“Sometimes we run into someone/just for once in our lives” ~ (Strange Meetings)
This level of meaning compels the reader to explore it philosophically and not as a commonplace happening. His poems intertwine life and destiny in fortuitous ways: “for the known seems less/and the unknown inside-vast virgin.” ~ (Aperture)
Mondal’s poems are essentially narratives. They explore an internal consciousness.Good examples of this are Grandma and Why. Of course these can be multiplied. Sensory images form a footnote to his poetry where the range is from personal explorations of love to poverty, the triple talaq and happenings in Syria with a sharp poetic focus on the child, leading to pathos.
Intact although there is pathos in some poems the overarching world is philosophy, questioning or self doubt through internal narrative or monologue. The monologue features in his poetry to devise analogous methods of metaphors or conceits:
“When you feel/like being with yourself/more than with others/life seems a piece of fiction” ~ (Being Yourself)
Mondal’s strength lies in a certain felicity of expression and linguistic virtuosity. His craft is that of exploration and self investigation.
The poems adopt a colloquial and conversational tone. His poetic resilience in terms of range of experience is unmistakable. Snapshots Of A Dying Soldier has an esotericism but is a brilliant recreation of the orbit of violence we are in today. Form wise too the poem is experimental. When experimental he is at his best.
The poems of Mondal collide and conflict with several worlds of the personal, inter personal, social, political and contemporary. They contemplate losses and mourn both for the dead and the living. Compassion, orb of both light and darkness. The poet never takes a moral position but an amorality grows out from within the poems into a cadenced combination of history and the present.
One certainly hopes to read more from this young but cerebral poet in the future: “When old leaves fall/trees celebrate the space/for the new”. ~ (Asides).

(The author is an educationist)

Book: Karmic Chanting; Author: Sonnet Mondal; Publisher: Copper Coin; Price: Rs 350

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