Gifts - Manohar Shetty
“Be like a good book, Well thumbed, fraying At the edges and shared By friends. Not Something stowed away Unopened on a lofty Shelf; termites don’t Speak your language.”
These masterfully crafted run-on lines, quoted from Manohar Shetty’s “Full Disclosure” serve as a reminder to the self. A “senior poet” through self admission, Shetty’s career has been marked by spells of surprising activity with a long hiatus birthing little or no poetry followed by 4 collections in 7 years. I am reminded of Poe’s “I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity”- “For the first 15 years or so I barely wrote any poetry. Goa can be such a beguiling place and poetry needs some inner tensions that seek an outlet, a release and restoration of yourself. There was a 16-year gap between my third and fourth books. I can’t quite explain it, but poets often go through these fallow spells. People often tell me that Goa must be an inspiring place to write poetry, but it isn’t, at least not for the kind of poetry I write which has more to do with my own anxieties and relating them to a wider world” His verse often treads the ephemeral line between solitude and the companionship of everyday things. Shetty’s formative years were spent in the company of the Bombay poets and the newness of the emerging idioms of Indian English poetry thrust between informal readings, and new journals, often produced on shoestring budgets and rough, inspired designs and material. His writing is both direct and simple, accessible, without weighty allusions, as if written in the measured, meditative journeys of solitude:
“Now you can time the growth Rate of your toenails or stare Into the jetless, noiseless blue Of the sky or play a timeless Game of chess with yourself.” - from Quarantine Blues Today’s Manohar Shetty poem is from an eclectic selection of love poetry that ranges from Akka Mahadevi to Firaq Gorakhpuri, Kamala Das to Tishani Doshi, Kalidasa to Tagore and Amrita Pritam. While it strolls through some of the usual well-tread paths, the Abhay K edited anthology Great Indian Love Poems uncovers some pearls like this one. Expect more from here!