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Review (First)






   Sreeman Mishu Barua's MY WILL OF FREEDOM, a book of contemporary secular poetry, is  published by RAKA BOOKS INTERNATIONAL, which is based in Birmingham, England, a city that teems with interculturality & the promise of better things to come.


   From the very beginning, the poet's aim is to revive the earth with humanity, certainly a huge task, even for a poet wielding the magic wand of inner images that stake out a secular consciousness freed from time, place and circumstance of the world today, or a future in the making.


   The poet's wish is to -


'stand true in nature...'

and to revisit the far reaches of the self

' essential God'.


   Certainly, this could be everybodys wish; but wishes are sometimes graves where we  bury our confusion & human culpabilities.


    Mishu escapes this prison, the prison of being caught in the act (or art) of naming what he would wish against:


'...those who spit in the same bowl they eat from'.


   It is a large undertaking.

   The poet, wrestles with the phenomenon of those who in taking their lives and the lives of others would seek to make a point about their feelings of dispossession, of being dispossessed by events, history and political circumstances, and the use of the human body as a bomb sanctioned by God (by whatever name) as the chalice of Gods will and a ticket to heaven bypassing the waiting rooms of ordinary expectations; those who, unlike Bhuddist monks setting fire to themselves in Saigon during the Vietnam War as a burning point against the conflict (while being people-friendly in restricting the gasoline to themselves), make no distinction between the innocent, the accused, the guilty & the unaccustomed. Who believe there is no shame in making everyone fair game in the name of righting the wrongs of the world in the hustle of human rights at the expense of good manners.


'...What is the point of saving these fanatics?

For they spit in the same bowl they eat from,

The ghost that will give nothing to them

They keep dearest to their hearts...'


   Of course, this is difficult poetry in difficult times in a world awash in ghosts.


The answer perhaps  - especially if one is from Bangladesh, or Asia, or the Middle East, or anywhere else in this shrinking village, is to resist the temptation to feel responsible for strength-less, impotent cowards.


    And who or what is a poet?

   Or poetry?


   Firstly, contradiction and chaos are art forms residing between lines of the most harmless-seeming poem.

   And a poet is one who investigates his place in the making of the world and himself. Being, underlined, is the tradition beyond poetics, Aristotlean or otherwise; and alone furthers the truth,  - whether epic or personal.


   In the midst of reviewing this book I asked Mishu therefore, via e.mail, whether the tradition of the poet is different in Bangladesh from, say, England, or America?.


   "I wish to believe", he replied, "that poets the world over talk with the same language!...... Although I have not met many poets in the UK who are willing to focus on social problems, moreover the basic anomalies of the remote world, I believe that belonging to the developed world a British or American poet must take up the issues of the developing world. The way I see it, the poet from a developing country has a tremendous limitation in this respect, he or she is unable to experience (though willing) the social structures and formation of society in the developed world, let alone write about it........That is, unfortunately, poet or no poet, we are all caged within our small material worlds.


There are smaller communities in south-east Asia where writing poetry is a means of living, where they create wonderful poems by mouth and give them tone; and where they live a very minimal life, a more ascetic life........Unfortunately, the charm of the modern world is killing them.


  ...In Chittagong, where I am coming from, every year, all the poetry groups get together to recite poems a whole night until the sun comes out to declare the first day of the new year!"


   The poet would wish for people everywhere to put a higher (and perhaps highest) value on life instead of becoming incensed & outraged by belief  which, cripples the will to human bonding & leads the heart astray in anonymous rage, forgetting that


'we human beings are the only,

unlimited powerful -



   which is not to say that there is no God  -  only an abused deity whose defilement is practiced in His name; and the God Mishu the poet cherishes in these poems is the God of Gods where humanity is the only religion, and,


'if you come to know that

there are other religions except humanity -

you are a topmost brute.'


   So, he challenges,


'Are you a human being?'


   Rising with ones internal spirit and turning ones back on blind belief  -   into self-enrichment and toasting the divinity within.


   He wants God to intervene, to have Him/ Her put a hand to liberate those who would scarcely believe they are in need of this healing.


   This is the work (book) of a poet in the midst of his public. These images are as lurid as news of the day  - as he speaks to his God, not the totally all-less God. God of fulfillment.   God of Gods.  Of God imagined. Of man imagining himself as being able to imagine God and transcend the holy scriptures of caring.


'...the more he glorifies God in imagination,

the more he himself becomes miserable.'


  That may be so,


'Yet men need much transformation

in order to become true human beings...'


   The poet is seeking the light inside; the light he found inherent in himself.


   So, is this a time for poetry?

   Does anything matter?

   Mishu would think so  - and would also agree that everything matters.


   And the poet in him calls upon God to step forward & right the wrongs of the world.


'...If as the Creator Father

You do not see our devastation,

go to hell -  go to hell -

What are you doing so near to us orphans?'


   The poet is involved, and encased, in a meditation on belief, expectations, responsibility and despair; a perusal of the sanctity of belief and its abuse, at once the omnipresence of God and his culpability, and God abuse, the abuse routines of man acting in His name and creating havoc where before only nature had wielded the axe of thundering oblivion, where, as in so many parts today, expectations can be depended on only as fantasies and responsibility for human life, human values are is blinkered out by anything considered the greater good & more important than human suffering, where despair too is routine stress and never outside the poetics of what is classic in the poets cry for sanity & response to the inviolability of the human condition from both God and man.


'O Joyful, hold our sorrows, if You can.'


   The poet is everyman.


    It is not just a question that God giveth and must therefore to be allowed to take at will, even ones will of freedom.


   It's a question rather of naming, of dismantling the metaphor of silence and removing oneself from the hidingplace of words, and freeing the self from both imaginary God & being the imagination of God; and embracing secularity beyond the appetites of the moment while even the naming of being named as God would not transcend the pain:


'Yet men need much transformation

in order to become true human beings...'


and language too, the name and the need to rename and rechart and the need to invest human communication with the magic of simplicity as a weapon against common slaughter and disrespect for life and our times.


   The poet calls upon God to account for his stewardship and to not seek a hiding place in forms, histories & the lines on the face of mis-reason.


  Sreeman Mishu Barua asserts the right to think independently, as Birmingham Poet Laureate Roi Kwabena emphasizes in his Introduction.


   This poet deserves the golden sunshine.

   Destination is journey. MY WILL OF FREEDOM is spirit.


  Sreeman Mishu Barua asserts that life is more important than theory, rage, or the philosophy of revenge. And so too the reader confronted by the possibilities of interpretation and the longings of the soul.



Lennox Raphael/03