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Ambika Ananth
Diorama of Three Diaries
Ambika Ananth



Book Review

Sonnet Mondal
Diorama of Three Diaries
(Collection of Poems)
New DelhiAuthors Press. 2011.
ISBN 978-81-7273-613-2
Pp 151.  Price Rs 200.

Unfolding new worlds

“Sonnet Mondal’s poetry anthology Diorama of Three Diaries has created a new face to the world of poetry. His simple and direct style has reformed the traditional way of composition which has brought him even more close to poetry loving readers. His poems shining as diamonds with many rays penetrate darkness,” says Dr Maurus Young, President of World Academy of Arts, Culture & World Congress of Poets, on the blurb of the collection.

With a befitting Foreword by Maria Cristina Azcona and an inspiring Introduction by Candice James, this is a collection of 138 poems, occasionally illustrated by photos. 

Sonnet Mondal is one of the prominent young Indian English poets who is much discussed and appreciated in the field of International poetry.  He seems to be stretching his wings successfully to reach an untouched poetic horizon, with his poetic outpour. He is a widely published poet. Sonnet is the first Indian to bag the ‘Azsacra International Poetry Award’ sponsored from Russia, and is a pioneer of the 21 line fusion Sonnets.

‘The poet is a part and at once apart from the world around him,’ it is said, and one finds such a quality in Mondal’s work. We find more of modern ethos than the classic romantic sensibility in his poems.  He seems to live the experience intensely and then polish it to versify. His innermost self comes out to fuse with external reality, to create poetry. One finds a constant shaping of his thoughts, a perceptible growth in his creative urge.

His poetry supports the socio-philosophical dialectic with its concrete image play. As a poet, he is anchored in real world sometimes and floats freely in the imaginative firmament sometimes. The existential anxiety which creative persons sometimes feel is also palpable in a few poems. For example, ‘Hungry Beaks.’

With his wide exposure to the world and with an awareness required for a passionate poet, his thoughts lean more towards the contemporary and form into wise and attractive poems. We do not see the regular, normative poems but those which are different, those which do not fall in line with conformity. This is a truly welcome feature, because poetry needs to unfold new worlds, it must emerge fresh and attractive. 

Legs and Floor (p 28)

Legs squabble beneath desks
Hang as roots from chairs
Torn and rich shoes
Fallen beneath
Skin sees no difference
Projector blazes in front
Vainly trying to hypnotize
The legs with maps
Nation peers through it
Waiting for the legs to hold floors 

‘Seduced in Sunderbans’ is a poem rapturously delightful and beautiful, which gives a comprehensive vision of the beauty of nature. This is a haunting word-picture adroitly painted by the poet.

‘Make me flow’ is a poem with a photo by Sonnet. Though the photo per se does not argue a connection, it ratifies the content to the real. There are a few more poem-photo combinations in the book. It is not that only great things, but trivial things too matter greatly to him to weave a poetic tapestry.

To juxtapose two different images and to tie them with a poetic thread successfully, the poet must be sensitively dexterous; Sonnet does exactly that in the poem ‘Through cracks and wrinkles.’ ‘My Mother’s garden’ is another example of such poetic nimbleness, bringing reality and poetry into play.

Sonnet Mondal is a poet strong in contemporary idiom because he seems to know the changing contours of the modern world of poetry.

His individual state of emotion rises up to that of universal in the poem on Japan’s earthquake disaster entitled ‘Japan! Oh Japan!’ The catastrophic situation elevated the poetic, empathetic mind to react, respond by creating poetry showing how pain and calamity form an integral part of human existence , how reality exceeds in intensity than in a world of  imagination. The subject becomes pervasive and the sum of the whole poem exceeds the sum of parts.  Sonnet hits it direct, without any incongruous symbolism, and without confounding readers. His earnestness as a poet seized with sadness comes out beautifully in the poem. I quote here few lines randomly –

The devil crawls beneath roads: air and rhythm from sea
Kicks the tower off to slumber and cracks its legs
With sudden quiver of panic...
Chains it with fatal silence...
……………….
Technology crumbles as thin folded papers
thrown in a fire oven.
No one left to snivel even, for they float like garbage
One with bricks, steel and mud,
Smash against coastal lines
As if myriad fishes dead in oil spills

‘Health, Deity of spotlessness’ has a social message – but the treatment should have been better and more poetic. The poem records the sorry state of affairs of the unhygienic, uncaring ways of the world. A few poems have that ‘feel’ of being ‘thought’ in his mother tongue and later versified into English, because they have the stilted tone.  Bilingual writers/poets face that problem quite often.

When he writes about subjects like home, native land, and love, there is a strong sense of belonging, which accounts for the nostalgic tone, and a profound sign of introspection in one or two poems. ‘High Time’ is a pithy one, less of words and more of inference.

The aesthetically brought out book needs special mention for its quality and impressive presentation.

END

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Issue 44 (Jul-Aug 2012)

Book Reviews
  • Ambika Ananth : Diorama of Three Diaries
  • Atreya Sarma : Crossing the Mirage
  • Atreya Sarma : The Messiah
  • P K Das & N Jena : A Doctor among the Santals