Poems Lost and Found: Poetry of transition

 
July 03, 2022

“Poems Lost and Found” a recently published poetry collection by Prof. Irfan Afzal can be described as ‘poetry of transition’ from someone who has lived through times when a...

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“Poems Lost and Found” a recently published poetry collection by Prof. Irfan Afzal can be described as ‘poetry of transition’ from someone who has lived through times when a new culture was being born while another took its leave. The people of his generation were the thespians of another play, another setting who, when the curtain was raised after the interval, found themselves in an altogether different mise-en-scène. Very few generations have experienced such a transition and this ‘hybridity’ is a characteristic feature of their being. I can vividly imagine the poet sitting in the quietness of his room, surrounded by the state-of-the-art gadgets, notifications of Facebook and twitter punctuating the syntax of his thoughts. But he is not of this world; he is far away. He is hearing the echoes of thousands of voices coming from “another existence perhaps”. Despite the warning of gods, Orpheus cannot resist to look back upon his Eurydice – the decades of 1980s and 90s:

This ‘cultural nostalgia’ defines the “withinness and beyondness” of this book of poetry. The “echoes from the echoing past” that had been silent for thirty years, “come galloping” upon him and he hears the “clip clop” of the bygone moments that “went early, went away.” The short cut through the railway tracks is transformed into a scenic route through the labyrinths of memory. The track on which he used to walk stopped one day and along with it came to an end that “meaningful meaninglessness” that defines every childhood:

Text alludes to other texts and through this interlinkage we make sense of the world. Irfan Afzal has abundantly utilized this intertextuality and we find a number of references to other works of literature, some explicit others not so. Whether it is Milton’s “Paradise Lost” or Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, a number of literary texts are at his beck and call to weave the fabric of these poems. It’s remarkable how the poet has embedded these foreign allusions to display indigenous sensibilities. His Kurtz of “greed and lust” presides over ‘unspeakable rites’ not in the deep recesses of Congo but in the Indus Valley. The rewriting of “A Sindhi Woman” places her in a scenario in which she is the object of gaze of “stones, garbage, excrement, crumbs of glass.” Another interesting piece is the ekphrastic “Love in the Starry Night” after Van Gogh’s famous painting to illustrate certain subjective impressions pertaining to the aesthetic apprehension.



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