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Assignation - Sharanya Manivannan

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

I first met Sharanya Manivannan and her poems at the Prakriti Poetry festival 2017 where we were both reading poetry, and her book of poetry - ‘The Altar of The Only World’ - was being launched. I read that work - a writing into mythologies- in one sitting, soon after. I dug out some impressions and lines that stayed with me from that experience. This is from the response shared with the poet: 'to love is to lose, to learn the art of afterlife' … 'I stepped across the line. That's how I made it mine' … You have given breath to the fire of those who transgress…I look at your chiaroscuro narrative of movement within silence, and receding only to rise, as a language with which to talk to the gods. But with irreverence, and the wild, shameless syntax of desire. I’m thrilled to be sharing a poem chosen by Sharanya for Poetly today, with the poet’s commentary accompanying it.

Poet's commentary: I wrote this poem almost a decade ago, in 2011, and it was published soon after I wrote it in an online magazine called Red Poppy Review that has since vanished into the ether (if the interwebs contain this element too). I was in a thrilling, vexing time in my life, a time when I was having the experiences that influenced my short story collection "The High Priestess Never Marries", and distilling them into words even as they happened. When I wrote this poem, I thought it bristled with the powerplay I was experiencing in certain entanglements of mine. Then, a friend told me that he thought it was an angry poem. This is what I see in it now, too, with the distance of time. An anger that is shot through with a pain that expresses itself as disdain, as audacity. I should say "was", but that's not quite right: a poem crystallises a moment, a relationship, an essence. "Assignation" is caught in that crossfire and those crosswires, always. I read it; I remember. What can I tell you except that I regret nothing, not even my recording of events?

Sharanya Manivannan's books of fiction, poetry and children's literature include The Queen of Jasmine Country, The High Priestess Never Marries, Witchcraft, The Altar of the Only World and The Ammuchi Puchi.

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