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Introduction

Introduction

 

"Who drives my thinking at all times

and snatches my rights to grow free ..."

(from 'Freedom')

 

Scribes are most times misunderstood, long after their lives have expired, their hallowed testimonies embalmed in consecrated shrines. This collection offers a porthole of opportunity.

 

"...there is no such blended matter or non-matter.

In fury or fanaticism...

...all the energy you spend is entirely yours."

(From 'To people')

 

It is always an honour to communicate. Thus meeting someone new makes sometimes pleasurable the experience. In case of an individual being introduced as a poet or one purporting to be one is another matter. Even the average reader would at once assume the posture of an enquirer. In case of most writers, they often express disdain, measured disinterest or a whiff of enthralment.

 

Sreeman Mishu Barua the man is unpretentious. His dignified silence deafened my eager ears. His politeness disarmed me. Our conversations as I recall since our first meeting have on occasions been brief but deep, cheerful and full of promise. I must confess more than mere interest in his literary pursuits, rather more so in his socio-cultural outlook. Mishu's unique heritage keeps me intrigued, while the efforts of his predecessors and his eloquent 'English language' confounded me farther. Often we engaged in 'lingua shifting' punctuated with facial expressions framed by dancing palms.

 

For me, poetry regardless of origin should not shirk responsibility. As a friend and elder writer recently confined: "There is no place to hide behind the finger". Yet somehow, Mishu is beyond such cowardly intentions. He goes a distance farther...

 

"...I see a Goddish illusion in front,

the only hindrance mountain in my way to eternity...

...I lift my right foot for that mountain's chest !"

(From 'Footstep')

 

I admit admiration for such courage, a daring from which many still cringe. How many writers today are willing and able to confront abnormalities in schemes of day-to-day consequential existence ... better still as cocoons of the matrix. This poetry dissects apparitions with subtle lexis.

 

Mishu hints to a better understanding of our evolution as beings on this planet. Any willing to contest my last reference to ' Evolution', be forewarned this has absolutely nothing to do with 'Darwin's half-backed theory'. It's more to do with recent reliable reports of DNA mutations occurring to all that exist on the planet including the plants, the people, the animals and insects, even the very diseases and viruses that threaten or plague us all. Actually many noted scientists are admitting to this phenomenon as you read.

 

Though Mishu may or may not agree with my last statement, I am convinced that he is in tune with all that is occurring in these special times. For instance the unfair treatment of indigenous peoples [including his own in Bangladesh] are becoming better known as news travels faster via the Internet. So I embrace Mishu: the poet as a 'voice of reason' that transcends the vague meandering of western literary critics.

 

This collection represents a departure from the victim syndrome. The poet asserts the right to think independently arriving at a conclusion which should empower readers everywhere. We who read this work are privileged but reading it in 'English' are deprived. For this is not his mother-tongue. What have we lost in translation. Yet such statements as:

 

"...to me hermaphrodites are humans as well..."

(From 'In a strange country')

 

"Dance with rock ye gods

Dance with rock Allah...play..."

(From 'Party')

 

contrapose the very names we use in reverence. What must these verses sound like read aloud by the poet or by any native speaker? We are not trailing in the wake of absurdity - the celebrated 'daring/ rather braying' novelist (whose name i will not mention) did stretched the cosy limits incurring the wrath of 'Islamic demi-gods' to the acclaim of biased critics... grossing the takings at the bookshops as publishers bare their fangs.

 

Mishu is more complicated. He is a writer born in little known indigenous people who are still coming to terms with hurried absorption into what many of us boast of as 'post-modern' or 'civilisation'. This modernity or rather the mass disorder that masquerades as progress, unashamedly accepts the annihilation and marginalisation of millions due to their place of birth. Today exclusion remains a fixation when 'values' or 'peoples' don't fit. However, this poetry pretends no innocence and is therefore best placed to discuss matters of such pertinence.

 

So who are these Gods who -

 

"play with human dice and compete

in gambling with each other..."

(From 'Party')

 

"...who separates me by religion...

...loathingly I stamp on his face and disown such society."

(From 'Freedom')

 

Mishu steps into the circle with dignity... his humility illuminates these words. Let us all honestly read... listening as he weaves these testimonies.

 

"For whom shall i go to war this time ?

The one who will put me down as Brutus -

what is the meaning in starting a war by his side ?

those who will reap my heart from its ribs,

look how quietly now are seated down

along with their religious swords around me.

Go tell the collaborators in each tent,

Gulam Hussains must not break my heart."

(From 'Consolation')

 

The poet remains the peacemaker, the harbinger of great tidings.

 

- Dr. Roi Ankhkara Kwabena;

Birmingham Poet Laureate.

07/11/2002.