In this room, the poems come and go

Poems by Sarabjeet Garcha Section curated by Ranjit Hoskote Photograph­s by Chirodeep Chaudhuri


Poems by Sarabjeet Garcha Section curated by Ranjit Hoskote Photos by Chirodeep Chaudhuri

To write a poem is to manage stresses and balances, develop a structure held together by contrary forces such as the gravitatio­nal drag of the language as common currency and the lift of the language as re-invented and re-calibrated by the individual poet. The beams of the individual lines, the slabs of stanzas, and the columns of assonance, off-rhyme and anaphora hold the structure that is the poem together. To read a poem is to apply variable loads to each part of the text, to test its capacity to bend, bear up, distribute pressure, and push back against the voice that would occupy it.

This month, we present a suite of poems by Sarabjeet Garcha, bilingual poet in English and Hindi, translator from several languages, and publisher of poetry under his imprint Copper Coin. Garcha invests himself very fully in the ethos and materialit­y of lived-in interiors, whether the home or the school, each encrypted with childhood memory and the shamanic magic of toys that are animated by spirits and can affect world events. And how far is distance, really, to the poet-persona who craves solitude when among people yet craves the presence of the loved one when he is in seclusion? On climbing to the summit of his seclusion, he finds, with only minimal surprise, that the person who lives in a hut there and welcomes him is the person who lives in the room next to his. Garcha’s poems can pivot delicately around the shifting valencies of words. Take ‘station’, for instance, in a poem crafted as a meditation on the train journey as an escape to a place of retreat and anonymity. It could mean a staging point in a railway journey, a pause for rest, a cup of tea in a kulhad and a samosa. Or it could mean one of multiple channels on an old-fashioned radio, each bringing into our living rooms the thrum and texture of a distant city on a distant continent, the cadences of an aurally composed globe. Sarabjeet Garcha mediates, with a deceptive simplicity, between the near and the far, linking these opposites with pledges of friendship that can redeem us from the guile and stratagems of our everyday survival kit and restore us, however momentaril­y, to the “shimmer/ of a childhood morning”.

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