Nirala Announcements: November Release of A Prelude: Nine New York Poems by Yuyutsu Sharma

Nirala Announcements:

A Prelude: Nine New York Poems by Yuyutsu Sharma

yuyu barnes

Announcing publication of Yuyutsu Sharma’s “Nine New York Poems: A Prelude” in November 2014, Nirala is proud to have an opportunity to show case the best samples from Yuyutsu’s Mega book that the poet plans to promote in his forthcoming North and South American tour…

EL AL: Streets of Manhattan: Yuyutsu Sharma’s Column on New York City

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Streets of Manhattan
Musings on New York’s ability to embrace all
Added At: 2013-09-28 10:46 PM Last Updated At: 2013-09-28 10:46 PM

Fifth Avenue

YUYUTSU RD SHARMA
KATHMANDU:

Your name

like your yogurt kisses

I long to forget

in the boulevards of NYC’s

alphabet avenues

Your kisses

like your cherry mouth

sings Starbucks songs

of winds stirred by flames

of freedom.

(Your Name, A Blizzard in my Bones)

“There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless,” says Simone Beauvoir about the vital bustle the mega city. For over a year, I have been working on the manuscript of my New York poems, entitled, A Blizzard in My Bones. The very energy of the city is electrifying in a special way, making you go back to it, and walk its bistros, boulevards and shores, even when you are away, far, far away.

The first time I went there, I had fortune of living in Greenwich Village where legendary John Lennon “regretted profoundly” that he “was not born in”.

Back home as the Kathmandu Valley rivers swelled from incessant monsoons, I have been walking the suburbs, working long hours in small tea shops over my notes on this city of cities where, in words of Groucho Marx, “Practically everybody … has half a mind to write a book — and does.”

In the winter of 2012, I also had the leisure of walking the numbered streets of Manhattan with my manuscript in mind, hanging out with fellow poets, spending time in art places, libraries and spacious bookstores. Often, I went to share my works at local NYC poetry venues, and read almost everything I could lay my hands on —memoirs, poetry, stories, reports along with all time favourites like Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, Lunch Poems, even recent books on the city, including, Salman Rushdie’s Fury and Deborah Landau’s The Last Usable Hour.

One of the first few books I had read about the city remains Maxim Gorky’s The City of the Yellow Demon. The book had clouded my vision of the city for a long time. Gorky sees New York as a bleak underworld without a glint of happiness, a working class hell. However, landing in New York, I was amazed to find a very different world. What I saw was not a dreary dungeon, but as Salvador Dali pointed out “an Egypt turned inside out. For she erected pyramids of slavery to death, and you erect pyramids of democracy with the vertical organ-pipes of your skyscrapers all meeting at the point of infinity of liberty!”

Another crucial book I found by chance in a Greenwich Village cafe was Federico Garcia Lorca’s Poet in New York City. Again, I had difficulty in dealing with Lorca’s surreal accounts the city emptied of any spirituality, “a city that doesn’t sleep”. Lorca presents the metropolis as a brutal place where every day “they slaughter/four million ducks,/five million hogs,/two thousand pigeons to accommodate the tastes of the dying,/one million cows,/one million lambs,/and two million roosters/that smash the sky to pieces”.

Could I too write on this city in a similar vein? Just because it is customary for poets to be critical of the cities and civilisations? Shall I lash the city that has become a refuge for million nationalities from every corner of the world, including the American people from every State?

Over the years, my stay in New York City had given me different impressions. While working on my take on it, I could see how today the Cold War bias was uncalled for, almost irrational. I could not but celebrate this glorious city’s status as previously I had celebrated the Himalayas. The Himalayas are nature-made and New York man-made, humanity’s triumph. For that is what hopefully in the coming decades humanity would turn into, if it evolves from tribal, narrow visions.
Nyc cityscape
“Make your mark in New York,” wrote Mark Twain, “and you are a made man.” Last year I reached the city a week before the Hurricane Sandy hit the West Coast and a month before notorious New Town massacre. I had expected the worst, the whole island upside down, civilian life disrupted. Due to nasty road expansion work and chaos in my own Himalayan metropolis, I had sore memories seething in my mind. Due to the hurricane, my NYU assignments were postponed for a couple of weeks and I had to prolong my stopover in London.

After a fortnight as I reached the city, I found everything in order. Eager, I looked for the signs the calamity might have caused. Like a child, I ran in the spacious streets of Manhattan and took E Train to Brooklyn. All I got was some stray narratives of the Sandy-hit areas in few poetry readings. So quickly, the Sandy catastrophe had turned into a thing of the past. People talked how there was no electricity for a few days and one of my poet friends said she had to go all the way to affluent Uptown to get a hot cup of coffee.

On my way back on subway past midnight, I went laughing all the way. I had left the Valley where 18 hours of power-cuts has become a norm. Our children have grown up groping in the darkness of a republic-in-the-making that has not been able to find a focus. They have become used to the drone of maddening power generators and the clouds of dusts of hovering over the streets ripped apart and left bleeding like permanent wounds. Day to day civilian suffering along with rampant corruption has left a permanent scar on the face of Nepali polity.

Of course, you expect quick action from a First World nation, one could argue, and there’s nothing to be surprised if things had come back to normal. That’s not the only reason that makes you celebrate the city of the blazing skyline. New York is a place where humanity has evolved. No matter where you come from, you are welcomed there the morning you arrive. All you have to do is imbibe the free spirit of a New Yorker. “One belongs to New York instantly,” discerns Tom Wolfe, “one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”

To the rest of the world, it might seem different. If ever the humanity evolves into a place of ultimate coexistence, that’s what it would look like, a New York. What to talk of Europe and Americas, we know how in our own subcontinent, in cities like Kathmandu, Mumbai or New Delhi, in the inner circles the outsiders are looked upon with suspicion and distrust. Our cities have a long history of ostracising and humiliating outsiders. The literatures in vernacular languages of the subcontinent are full of such tribal assaults of our so-called “barbarous civilisations”. That’s why one wonders, wasn’t it along such lines of logic Walt Whitman had to shout, “Give me such shows — give me the streets of Manhattan!”

Your smile

like your bright eyes

stays calm as stars

over blue Atlantic waters.

Your eyes

like your dolphin heart

beats frantic

in the numbered streets

of Manhattan.

Your heart mind

reading horoscopes

of my life’s withered leaf

aflutter in the dark streets

of your city.

(Your Name, A Blizzard in my Bones)

(The writer can be reached at yuyutsurd@yahoo.com)
NEW yORK

Yuyutsu Sharma’s Five Picks: Republica Daily

Extracts

myrepublica1Sharma’s Five Picks

YUYUTSU R D SHARMA
Republica
I am standing on the crossroads of life. If you want to be a poet, put your house on fire and come with me.
– Kabir, 13th Century Indian Poet

Writing poetry is not an easy task. There are too many sacrifices to be made; too many personal interests have to be abandoned. Kabir himself, who was a very famous poet of his generation, had made many sacrifices to walk that road of poetry.

This particular quote by Kabir stands close to my heart because I find it very relatable. I myself began my journey into poetry by teaching. Later, I discovered that my true passion lay in writing poems, creating a different world with words. Then I quit teaching in 1996 and chose my career as a freelance writer. At the same time, I visited the Annapurna region and that kindled the poet in me. [BREAK]

I realized that teaching is very easy compared to writing poems. Teaching is about living in a world made by someone else while writing poems is a different story. It is about creating a different world altogether. And it is no wonder that not everyone has become great poets, or even writers. It requires a lot of hard work to be a writer and you cannot simply accomplish that feat unless you take risks; unless you prepare yourself for a harsh journey that is certain to follow.

About Sharma
Yuyutsu Ram Das Shama is a widely acclaimed writer based in Nepal. He moved to Nepal at an early age from his hometown Nakodar, Punjab, and now writes in both Nepali and English. He travels all over the world occasionally to read from his works and conducts creative writing workshops at various universities in the United States and Europe. When back home, he goes trekking in the Himalaya where he gains inspiration to pen another creation.
Sharma grew up in a very religious environment which inspired him to read Vedic texts and epics right from a young age. He has published nine poetry collections, including, “Milarepa’s Bones,” “Nepal Trilogy,” “Photographs and Poetry on Annapurna, Everest, Helambu & Langtang” which is a 900-page book with renowned German photographer, Andreas Stimm, “Space Cake,” “Amsterdam & Other Poems from Europe and America,” and “Annapurna Poems.” Also, Sharma’s own work has been translated into German, French, Italian, Slovenian, Hebrew, Spanish and Dutch.

Aamako Sapana by Gopal Prasad Rimal

This poem by Rimal is one of the first free verse poems to be written in Nepali language. This is allegorical to the idea of democracy and freedom that Rimal always stood by.

I particularly like the way he has woven personal stories with national politics. Rimal lived a very violent and vibrant life. This can be pictured vividly in his poems. His poems are original in the sense that they are the fusion of Rimal’s own personal experiences in life and the then political situation of the country. Rimal is truly monumental when it comes to Nepali literature.

Memoirs by Pablo Neruda

This book is an autobiography of the Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda. This book chronicles his journey into becoming a fine poet. His travels, exploits, experiences are all recorded in this book which can be considered a bible for poets.

Neruda lived his life amidst political turmoil in Chile. He was also later a diplomat and a politician. This book is the story of his life from his own words that give an insight into what his life had been like and what led him to become a poet, and later a Nobel laureate.

This book stands close to my heart as I could draw inspiration from him, and his experiences are easily relatable in my life too.

The World Record: International Voices from the Southbank Centre’s Poetry Parnassus Edited by Neil Astley and Anna Selby

This particular book is an anthology of fresh poems from all around the world. In fact, this collection is the result of a world poetry conference held in London last summer to celebrate the London Olympics 2012. I had also participated in that conference representing Nepal, and it had been a wonderful opportunity meeting contemporary poets from all around the world and listen to and read them. Through this anthology, I was able to know a lot about the current poetry scenes in different parts of the world.
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Thrall by Natasha Trethewey

This is also an anthology of poems by the current poet laureate of the United States, Natasha Trethewey. In her poems, Trethewey explores the subject of races and prejudices as they happen in America.

Hers are poems on personal history backed by the making of America at their hearts. Trethewey herself has a mixed parentage. This pushed her to handle such a subject matter in her poems. This is very much close to Rimal’s poems which makes them equally enthralling to me.

In this particular collection, Trethewey has celebrated the union of races and ethnicities in the boiling pot of America. As Nepal is also a country with various races and ethnicities living together, her poems are particularly relatable here.

Garuda & Other Poems of Astral Plains by David B. Austell

This is yet another poetry collection on my list. This anthology contains poems by the New York-based poet, Austell, who is interested in Asian cultures. These poems are inspired by the legends of Garuda as in our Hindu mythology.

Austell has this particular style of writing poems; he writes long poems which are beautifully crafted and flow with perfect ease. The poems in this anthology are no exception.

Austell in his poems in this collection has explored planes higher than the Himalaya. He writes about Mars, and myth. The poems by Austell in this collection are an evocation to divine entities and the celebration of the natural elements that we should take care of.

As told to Ashish Dhakal