Yuyutsu RD Sharma’s Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems
What can a poet do who has planted a foot in each of two worlds, when the earth gives way under one foot? Yuyutsu Sharma has taken up the tools of his craft and expertly begun the process of healing and rebuilding his homeland. In a series of touching outcries, observations, and laments, he bears witness to the ravages of the earthquake in Nepal. But more so, the poems he creates to restore his own balance, help us all understand the fragility of our human condition.
—Dr. David B. Axelrod, Volusia County, Florida, Poet Laureate
There are several things immediately noticeable in Yuyu Sharma’s very powerful Quaking Cantos. The poetic form is fairly unusual (the poems are jagged and rapid fire), and even when you bind the short lines tightly in couplets, this does not relieve the feel of sharp edges. There is a great deal of fractured enjambment, for example The earth/opened up/ her jaws… (from “Nipple”) to the point that the poems themselves seem broken. This is highly successful and effective given the very difficult subject matter. Yuyu’s approach to the challenge of form in the Cantos is that of a master. The anger and grief expressed from poem to poem (and even within poems) pop up very quickly then subside like an aftershock. The reader is then often left with some indelible image: a crying lamb, a grandmother who has just died, a baby searching for the sustenance of a mother’s breast. The poetic form certainly enhances this, but it is the images, which are so electric. These are wonderful, troubling, and moving poems. It must have drained Yuyu to the core to write of such catastrophe.
— Dr. David Austell, Columbia University, New York
“We cannot leave the reconstruction of the damage done by the earthquake to the conservators alone. Yuyutsu Sharma turns the devastation into vivid poetry to humanize the pain and revive the gracious dignified and loving spirit of the Nepali people in a moment of insurmountable grief, preserving the majestic and mystical ambiance of their ancient artifacts.”
—Eckhart Nickel, German novelist & Journalist,
Wasted rubble and cracked-open hearts. Homes, people, and animals destroyed. These rare, raw, and beautiful poems plead with gods and earth in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes in Nepal. This must-read book creates an unbroken bridge to understanding the depths of this crisis.”
— Kathryn Kysar, author of Pretend the World and Dark Lake, chair of creative writing, Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Heartrending and poetic in convoking past and present souls to embrace the essence of spiritual virtue. Beautifully written, my tears fall for all…
—Penny Kline, Poet, Actor, Founding Artistic Director of Ovation Stage, Sacramento, CA
Yuyutsu Sharma’s soulfully written earthquake dispatches emanate poetically from the deepest core of the earth’s movement, in the shape and spirituality of the “cantos” of place, where at one time or another we all find ourselves: mirrored in lake and mountain reflections of space and history—pondering on life and loss, hearts “quaking” in the memories of grounded images, but seeking the path for transcendence. We find this transcendent hope in Yuyutsu’s poetic chronicles–beauteous images in words depicting the passage of time, culture, landscape, and spirit.
—Kathleen D. Gallagher Poet, Senior Lecturer of English at the University of Akron/Wayne College, author, I See Things are Falling, Editor, Eternal Snow: An Anthology of Poems
In their panoramic sweep, headlong rushing catalogues, visionary moments, their courage and compassion, numinous imagery, and beautiful music, Yuyutsu Sharma’ Quaking Cantos are worthy of comparison to “The Sleepers” of Whitman.
These poems will shake the attentive reader like the quakes they witness. In the dramatic immediacy of their confrontation with the cosmos and powers beyond comprehension or control—powers that seem to have gone utterly mad–they recreate the terror and terrible beauty of what Rudolf Otto has called “The Holy.
As one small example of the flood Sharma provides, consider the conclusion of “A Burning Sun”: in which for a moment a woman has left her baby kicking alone, outside playfully at the eye of heaven:
And it hit again,
the second time, right there,
burying her shoulder
deep under a pile
of mud and damp bricks,
leaving her son
bare and howling
in the bleeding eye
of the growling sun.
—Michael Graves, author of Outside St. Jude’s Adam and Cain, Illegal Border Crosser and In Fragility
Reading Yuyutsu´s poetry is to be there with him, at the edge of the abyss, and with tears stained eyes, sing to a new dawn.
—Gorka Lasa Poet, essayist, visual artist and editor. Panama
Quaking Cantos is a tribute to the resilience and tenacity of the mountain folk. The poet, who himself is a victim of the life threatening tremor, has captured the shattering experiences of nature’s wrath. He, who claimed that “I usually do not cry’, also cried when he found the thriving capital city turned into debris…
Reading Quaking Cantos is like reaching to an unknown island where people are left at the mercy of Nature’s wrath, where life and its charms hold no significance. What matters is the big ‘sunya’, and a reminder that there is nothing left on the “shelves of the grocery stores” and things have been “cleared out like meat on his bones
—Dr. Hemanta K Jha, Professor English Literature, Amity University, India