“… a beautiful book, at turns tender, wry, and heartbreaking.”

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Turn Up the Heat: New Poems by Ruth Danon ISBN: 978-81-957816-4-5 pp84 2023

American poet Ruth Danon hates and fears the cold in all its forms – literal, metaphorical, external, internal.  In Turn Up the Heat she ventures into the chill and explores as well as its problematic opposite. In poems that range widely in form and style and that travel through place and time, Danon introduces us to St. Anthony, who stole fire from the devil and heated the icy desert, and heretic and genius Giordano Bruno, whose prescient astronomical vision led him led him to be burned at the stake. As she moves from Renaissance Italy to modern Sardinia and frosty upstate New York, from the desert to the domestic, Danon’s peregrinations occur within the context of our own times—of a planet grown increasingly hot, a pandemic as cruel as an inquisition, of hotheaded and often coldhearted politics of America, as she contends with personal loneliness, isolation, guilt, and longing. How, she asks us, can we make and find the fire that warms, sustains, and illumines us?

Turn Up the Heat is a beautiful book, at turns tender, wry, and heartbreaking. Whether she’s writing about growing older, or the challenges of domesticity, or the fickleness of the English language, Ruth Danon has created a hymn to our complex present and our anxious, unknowable future. These poems altered me as I was reading them, and they are going to continue to stay with me for a very long time.
— Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, author of American Estrangement

In her stark and truly remarkable new book, Turn Up the Heat, Ruth Danon reveals just how much is on edge, from the vast, incremental movements of time, space, and the weather to the tiniest fragile tendril or thread. These poems quite sensitively contend with damage, scarring, alarms, ruins, and forces that threaten relationships, desires, and life itself—including the icy threat of aging. Yet, there is mitigation – the happy swerve of an unexpected cat in the continuum. In her book Danon conjures stillness and rest in contrast to disquiet. In this the poet is aided by the occult powers of Giordano Bruno and St. Anthony of Egypt, bringing light and warmth to the physical and emotional desert she describes. A wondrous collection.
—Stephen Massimilla, author of Frank Dark

Ruth Danon’s Turn Up the Heat is elegiac, edgy, and disquieting. The book takes its main threads from St. Anthony, the saint of lost things, and from Giordano Bruno, who was burned alive for believing in a heliocentric solar system. In articulating a new language to think about losses—in the form of feeling coldness and the cold—Danon takes on aging, the notion of freedom, the idea of bodily autonomy, and the physicality of the self-made real. This is a serious and effective book.
—Sean Singer, author of Today in the Taxi

Ruth Danon is a poet keenly aware of the way we construct and destroy the world through language. Like a child playing the Freudian game of fort-da, or the artist Louise Bourgeois “undoing, redoing,” she gives us visions of life stripped down, of moon without sun, then lights small, red heaters. Time and again, wry, and even tragic resignation (“In this desert I give up”) leads surprisingly, often humorously, to an oasis in the quotidian, as in the recurrent image of golden butter gracing dry bread. Collapse actually becomes resurrection: in humble yet fierce, cockeyed and clearsighted celebrations of resilience, the speaker “refuse[s] tragedy . . . easing [her] self into some sort of human compassion,” and the little cat, her sometime avatar, stops the anxious licking that’s laid her bare. Because the poet does not shy from nakedness, darkness and cold, broken glass and ancient graves, Turn Up the Heat earns its epiphanies. You close this visionary book with a sense that things destroyed can also be put back together, that a fine and canny calibration of light in relation to dark may not rescue the planet but could save our souls.
—Natania Rosenfeld, author of The Blue Bed

A work of subtle resistance, Ruth Danon’s Turn Up the Heat is a poetic pilgrimage that travels through the heart of uncertainty to compassionate acceptance of one’s internal universe, the world, and its mysterious ways. Whether addressing a need to not be afraid – of the cold, death, the death of the Earth, or running out of butter – it’s the speaker’s willingness to let herself turn silver and amazed that makes these poems insist and burn. Just as burning is a form of yearning – and yearning akin to ache – Turn Up the Heat, is infused with a wisdom and deep humility that invites you to make do with what you have while staying open to surprise.
— Tina Cane, author of Body of Work and Year of the Murder Hornet

Ruth Danon’s Turn Up the Heat is a collection of delectable equivocations, of cerebral, soul-searching poems, buzzing with enticing details ranging from a “two-faced stove,” and “men falling out of beds,” to “white rice, / waiting in a small pot.” Readers will find themselves, off-kilter, led to puzzling things out, wondering if we, too, may have “gambled on the wrong saint” in this life. These are poems of nourishment and exile, of domestic transit, as “so many little earths/orbit the plate /around red radishes that burn the throat.” That burning and the poet’s fear of cold are recurring tropes, one as fierce and penetrating as Robert Frost’s fire and ice. And when the poet soberly admits her fears, “because my mind is right,” we think of Lowell, with the opposite sentiment. But here, we are chilled, and awed, and awake in the poetry she makes of this awareness, a poetry entirely her own.
— Elaine Sexton, author of Drive

Turn Up the Heat indeed, and learn from this elemental, elegiac collection by Ruth Danon. Follow Danon to a bonfire in Sardegna, which leads to thoughts of the heroic heretic, Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake, and then to our own, contemporary burnings. The heat of desire, the danger of black ice, the sagacity-gathering process of “edging into age.” These poems embody tricks of vision, quick-witted plays on words, “the false and the true, the angel and devil, [standing] equal.” This book burns with hope, as “white branches of birch trees trace bright lines against the oncoming dark.”
— Moira Egan, author of Synæsthesium

Ruth Danon invites us to meet the devil and wonders about the best approach: “will I spit or / will I chew?” What a wild question! She writes poems that reverberate, not zipping up her lines but casting forward and doubling back, pressing hard on each word until our perceptions shift. Her poems in this marvelous collection are dramas of integrity that offer no easy comfort and suggest how even mistakes can be profitable for the spirit. “Yes, I was wanting my own messy future,” she writes. It’s when her poems seem to be especially quiet that you realize she’s imagining how best to sneak up on the devil.
—Lee Upton, author of The Day Every Day Is

For the poet Ruth Danon, “what remains outside of direct perception is a lure of sorts.” And the poems in Turn Up the Heat are themselves lures—dazzlingly structures made of alternating instances of assurance and bewilderment— bidding the reader join in the “hunt for what can’t be seen or known.” And so, we enter a world steeped in metaphysical encounters: “the snow/seemed beyond relief, /clutched in the naked/arms of trees,” “the slow movement of stones/sliding over silt/after we stopped/looking,” “the tree inverted—its branches/become roots.” With the desire to know (and love) “what’s off the edge of the page” comes a certain vulnerability, a “hesitation, /and weariness/in the bones.” But Danon teaches us how to stand “in front of a smudged mirror” fearlessly, she shows us how to become a “student of blush/and rogue streaks in the sky.”
—Barbara Tomash, author of Her Scant State

Ruth Danon is a distinguished American poet and scholar. Her previous books include Word Has It (Nirala Series 2018), Limitless Tiny Boat (BlazeVOX, 2015), Triangulation from a Known Point (North Star Line, 1990), a chapbook, Living with the Fireman (Ziesing Brothers, 1980), and a book of literary criticism, Work in the English Novel (Croom-Helm, 1985), which was reissued by Routledge in 2021. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies including Eternal Snow (Nirala, 2017), Resist Much, Obey Little (Spuyten Duyvil, 2017), Noon: An Anthology of Short Poems (Isobar Press, 2019), CAPS 20 Anthology (CAPS 2020), Stronger than Fear: Poems of Compassion, Empowerment and Social Justice (Cave Moon Press, 2022), and is forthcoming in the Poetry is Bread Anthology (Nirala, 2023).

Her work was selected by Robert Creeley for Best American Poetry, 2002. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Florida Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Post Road, Versal, Mead, BOMB, the Paris Review, Fence, the Boston Review, 3rd Bed, Crayon, 2Horatio, Barrow Street, and many other publications in the U.S. and abroad. Danon has been a fellow at the Ragdale Foundation, the Corporation of Yaddo, the Ora Lerman Foundation, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. For 23 years she taught in the creative and expository writing programs that she directed for The School of Professional Studies at New York University and was founding Director of their Summer Intensive Creative Writing Workshop. Those workshops ran from 1999 to 2016.

She is the founder of LIVE WRITING: A Project for the Reading, Writing, and Performance of Poetry, which has been operating since 2018. Before the pandemic she curated the Spring Street Reading Series for Atlas Studios in Newburgh. In 2021 she was co-curator of the Newburgh Literary Festival in Newburgh, NY and is currently one of the curators for the newly created Beacon LitFest, to be held in June of 2023.
Currently, she lives in Beacon, NY and teaches through LIVE WRITING and New York Writer’s Workshop.

March Release: Word Has It: Poems by distinguished American poet, Ruth Danon

ISBN 81-8250-097-4 2018 Paperback pp 85

Word Has It, by American poet, Ruth Danon takes on the unease that has accompanied the troubling politics that have created so much disturbance in the last few years. The book launches the reader into a journey marked by foreboding and innuendo. In the first section the speaker proceeds on an uneasy path while a character named “Word,” referring to herself in the third person, offers acerbic commentary along the way. In the second section the speaker retreats first into the domestic, then to a deeper interiority in which a journey through the rooms of a house embodies a study of various states of consciousness that lead her to the recognition of her role as a poet. By the end of the second section the speaker in ready to leave the interior space and venture into the third section, where she takes on the daunting poetic task of augury. The foreboding of the first section culminates in the violence that has been hinted at all along.

Ruth Danon gives us one of her most darkly oracular works. . . . .” The poems are acid,ingenious, and unsentimental.
Andrew Levy, editor, Resist Much, Obey Little

. . . Deep and skeptical, natural and magical, melancholic and beautiful, Danon’s oracle makes a truly compelling statement – one to be heeded, one to be savored.                   – Stephen  Massimilla,, author, The Plague Doctor in His Hull Shaped Hat and Cooking with the Muse

Ruth Danon’s extraordinary poems take us directly into states of feeling and perception that are subtle and profound. . . These are necessary poems.                                         –Chase Twichell, author, Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been (winner of Kingsley Tufts Award)

Yuyutsu Sharma’s Upcoming Readings in New York, Massachusetts and Boston

Yuyutsu Sharma is South Asia’s leading poet published by Nirala and Epsilonmedia, Germany with growing International acclaim. He is currently in New York City as a visiting poet at New York University and had several readings in Nicaragua, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Coast. Here is the list of some immediate readings in New York, Massachusetts and Boston…

Friday, April 10, 2015 Yuyutsu Sharma reading at The Grolier Book Shop, Cambridge, The Grolier Book Shop, 6 Plympton Street, Cambridge, , MA 02138, United States (map)http://www.grolierpoetrybookshop.org/

Sunday, April 12, 2015 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm at Salem Athenaeum Dangerous Words—Unexpected Destinations: Yuyu Sharma to read at Salem Athenaeum Library with Maria Bennett, Kristine Doll, Shreejana Sharma & Bill Wolak.
Salem Athenaeum 337 Essex Street, Salem, MA 01970 USA, Free to Public, Contact : Kristine Doll

Thursday, April 16, 6:30 pm, Yuyutsu Sharma reading with Sharon Dolin at New York University, Office of Global Studies in collaboration with NYU-SPS, at 7 E, 12 St. fifth Floor.

Tuesday, April 21, 7:30 to 9:30, Yuyutsu Sharma reading as Special Feature for Poetry Month at Sip It, 64 Rockaway Av, Valley Stream, Long Island, NY 11580 (516) 341-0491 Hosted by Lorraine Conlin

Thursday, April 30,7:30 Christian Wiman and Yuyutsu Ram Dass Sharma: Poetry in the Presence of the Holy, A Poetry Reading and Discussion, at International House, 500 Riverside Drive, Columbia University, New York, 10027, NY Organised by Columbia-ISSO, Columbia Global Poets Series: A poetry reading in collaboration with International House-New York City, and the Columbia School of General Studies.

Yuyutsu Sharma’s Upcoming Colorado and New Mexico Tour!

Yuyutsu Sharma is South Asia’s leading poet published by Nirala with growing International acclaim. He is currently in New York City as a visiting poet at New York University and has several readings coming up in New York, Colorado , New Mexico and West Coast. Here is a list of some immediate readings in Colorado and New Mexico.

(Only Public Readings are listed)

yuyu photo Green

Taos, New Mexico

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014, 6,30 pm, Yuyutsu Sharma : Poet from the Himalayas reading for the first time from his new book on New York City at Copper Moon Gallery, 105, Kit Carson Road, Taos, NM 87571, Phone: (575) 758-8833, www. coppermoongallerytaos.com, info@ coppermoongallerytaos.com, Hosted by Susan Keiser : Open to public, free

Denver, Colorado

Saturday, January 11, 2014: 11:00 am-1.00 pm Meet Yuyutsu Sharma at Society of Nepalese creators. Colorado at 2123 S Waco Street, Aurora, Colorado 80013; Chaired by Mr Padam Biswakarma & Mrs.Kamala Bishwakarma, Hosted by Raju Sitaula: Entrance by Invitation, Phone:7206286313

Thursday, Jan 16, 2014, 7,00 pm, Evoking the Himalayan Muse : Yuyutsu Sharma reading from his new book, Nine New York Poems: A Prelude to A Blizzard in My Bones: New York Poems and Annapurna Poems at Book Bar, 4280 Tennyson Street, Denver, CO 80212. Phone: 720-443-2227; email: info@bookbardenver.com, Webste: http://www.bookbardenver.com , Hosted by Joseph Hutchison: Open to public, free

Friday, January 17, 2014: 7:00 pm A Wonderful Poetry Event: Yuyutsu Sharma reading with Maria Berardi at Glovinsky Gallery 800 w 8th ave, Denver, Colorado 80204; Hosted by Janet Glovinsky: Open to public, Free Email: jglovinsky@yahoo.com
Website: http://glovinskygallery.com

Announcing Paperback edition of David Austell's Little Creek & Other Poems

creek poems paper back

Little Creek & Other Poems
David Austell
ISBN ISBN-81-8250-054-0 2014 Paper pp. 128 Rs.295

David B. Austell is Assistant Vice President and Director of the Office of Global Services at New York University in New York City, where he is also an Associate Professor of International Education in the NYU Steinhardt School (adjunct). David has undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he also completed his Ph.D. in Higher Education focusing on International Education. In 1992, David was a Fulbright grantee in Japan and Korea. The love of poetry grows from deep roots, and in David’s case from his parents: his mother who sent poetry, sacred and secular, to him all through college with her letters, and his father who read Shakespeare and Coleridge to him as a child.

To the Highest Heavens: Poetry of Heights: New York City, The Himalayas, and Mars–Yuyutsu Ram Dass Sharma & David B. Austell

creek poems paper back

To the Highest Heavens:
Poetry of Heights: New York City, The Himalayas, and Mars
Yuyutsu Ram Dass Sharma & David B. Austell

A poetry reading at New York University
International Education Week 2013

Yuyutsu Sharma returns to New York City to read from his new book entitled Nine New York Poems: A Prelude to A Blizzard in My Bones: New York Poems (Nirala 2014)
David Austell will read from the New Revised Paperback edition of his much discussed Little Creek and Other Poems (Nirala, 2014). David will also read from his ambitious forthcoming book, The Tin Man,
to be published by Nirala later in 2014.

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Office of Global Services
516 LaGuardia Place
New York University

Directions: The Office of Global Services (OGS) is located at 561 LaGuardia Place at the corner of West 3rd Street and LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. OGS is directly behind the NYU Bobst Library, and is very close to Washington Square (South). Signage for OGS is visible from LaGuardia Place. Please enter thought the front entrance on the first floor. The building OGS is located in is Washington Square Village Building 1.

New York University
70 Washington Square South, New York, New York 10012
View Map • Get Directions

David B. Austell

David B. Austell is Assistant Vice President and Director of the Office of Global Services at New York University in New York City, where he is also an Associate Professor of International Education in the NYU Steinhardt School (adjunct). David has undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he also completed his Ph.D. in Higher Education focusing on International Education. In 1992, David was a Fulbright grantee in Japan and Korea. The love of poetry grows from deep roots, and in David’s case from his parents: his mother who sent poetry, sacred and secular, to him all through college with her letters, and his father who read Shakespeare and Coleridge to him as a child.

Yuyutsu RD Sharma

Recipient of fellowships and grants from The Rockefeller Foundation, Ireland Literature Exchange, Trubar Foundation, Slovenia, The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature and The Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature, Yuyutsu RD Sharma is a distinguished poet and translator.

He has published nine poetry collections including, Milarepa’s Bones, 33 New Poems, (Nirala, New Delhi 2012), Nepal Trilogy, Photographs and Poetry on Annapurna, Everest, Helambu & Langtang (www.Nepal-Trilogy.de, Epsilonmedia, Karlsruhe, 2010), a 900-page book with renowned German photographer, Andreas Stimm, Space Cake, Amsterdam, & Other Poems from Europe and America, (2009, Indian reprint 2014) and Annapurna Poems, 2008), Reprint, 2012, 14).

Yuyutsu has also brought out a translation of Irish poet Cathal O’ Searcaigh poetry in Nepali in a bilingual collection entitled, Kathmandu: Poems, Selected and New (2006) and a translation of Hebrew poet Ronny Someck’s poetry in Nepali in a bilingual edition, Baghdad, February 1991 & Other Poems. He has translated and edited several anthologies of contemporary Nepali poetry in English and launched a literary movement, Kathya Kayakalpa (Content Metamorphosis) in Nepali poetry.

Two books of his poetry, Poemes de l’ Himalayas (L’Harmattan, Paris) and Poemas de Los Himalayas (Cosmopoeticia, Cordoba, Spain) have appeared in French and Spanish respectively.

Widely traveled author, he has read his works at several prestigious places including The Poetry Café, London, The Seamus Heaney Center for Poetry, Belfast, New York University, New York, The Kring, Amsterdam, P.E.N, Paris, Knox College, Illinois, Whittier College, California, Baruch College, New York, WB Yeats’ Center, Sligo, Gustav Stressemann Institute, Bonn, Rubin Museum, New York, Irish Writers’ Centre, Dublin, The Guardian Newsroom, London, Trois Rivieres Poetry Festival, Quebec, Arnofini, Bristol, Borders, London, Slovenian Book Days, Ljubljana, Royal Society of Dramatic Arts, London, Gunter Grass House, Bremen, Nehru Center, London, March Hare, Newfoundland, Canada, South Bank Center, London, Gannon University, Erie, Frankfurt Book Fair, Frankfurt, Indian International Center, New Delhi, and Villa Serbelloni, Italy.

He has held workshops in creative writing and translation at Queen’s University, Belfast, University of Ottawa and South Asian Institute, Heidelberg University, Germany, University of California, Davis, Sacramento State University, California and New York University, New York.

Yuyutsu’s own work has been translated into German, French, Italian, Slovenian, Hebrew, Spanish and Dutch. He has also published his non-fiction, Annapurnas & Stains of Blood: Life, Travel and Writing a Page of Snow and edits Pratik, A Magazine of Contemporary Writing. He contributes literary columns to Nepal’s leading daily, The Himalayan Times.

Yuyutsu was at the Poetry Parnassus Festival organized to celebrate London Olympics 2012 where he represented Nepal and India. He will visit NYU later this year as Special Visiting Poet and in 2014, Nicaragua as Guest Poet to participate in International Poetry Festival of Granada.

Half the year, he travels and reads all over the world from his works and conducts creative writing workshop at various universities in North America and Europe but goes trekking in the Himalayas when back home.

Announcing Yuyutsu Sharma's Nine New York Poems: A Prelude to A Blizzard in My Bones: New York Poems


‘Yuyutsu Sharma’s new collection is concerned with notions of home and being away in the exotic elsewhere. Home strikes deep, like ‘my grandma / asleep // on a plump / bubble // of a folk song’ but is then flung into the great proper nouns of New York, all detail, all observation and dazzle. The poems are registered at the tips of the eyes then connected with the sense of deep home. That is where the power lies. It emerges through ear and mouth as a kind of cosmopolitan love letter.’
George Szirtes, British Poet, winner of Faber Memorial Prize & T.S. Eliot Prize

‘Yuyutsu Sharma, a Himalayan poet who studied his craft in the United States and on the mule paths of high Himalayas has brought a visionary sensibility to his New York poems. They read like Federico Garcia Lorca having a Hindu dream, or like Allen Ginsberg risen from the dead and howling out a peyote vision for 2013. Their ambition, like Lorca’s in his Poet in New York or like Hart Crane’s in his New York epic, The Bridge, is to write an epic vision of the city–and ultimately of America–in linked lyrics. Here are the Twin Towers flaming like the red tongue of Kali, goddess of destruction, a city like a yellow-eyed demon, Hurricane Sandy burrowing into the island’s groin like a furious porcupine. Sharma is “a shaman…black bag bulging / from magical rainbows, / serpents from an Hindu Heaven, / skull of an abducted female Yeti,” and he casts spells in these strange, visionary, outrageous and magical poems.’
-Tony Barnstone, The Albert Upton Professor and Chair of English Whittier College, Author/Translator of Everyman’s Chinese Erotic Poems
A Blizzard in My Bones, Yuyu’s deeply moving new collection and a remarkable addition to modern urban literature. It is Nepal and Hinduism and Brooklyn and Manhattan and Greenwich Village drawn together in a new Space Cake: Amsterdam; but here the hallucinogen-stoked celebration is amid the concrete and steel heights of Metropolis.
-David Austell, Professor, NYU, author of Little Creek and Other Poems

If Langston Hughes, Federico García Lorca and Frank O’Hara were exhumed to rub their recollections of New York City together over dal and black tea, they might produce a manuscript as rapturous as Yuyutsu Sharma’s love letter to the five boroughs. Infused with the mythology of Sufi saints and Hindu deities, Blizzard Go Delhi is nonetheless utterly contemporary, juxtaposing Duane Reedes and Occupy Wall Streeters alongside Punjabi wheat fields and muscular Halwai-confectioners working over huge cauldrons of oil. Unrepentant in its sensuality, self-assured and visionary, Sharma’s book is an extravagant tour de force that shows us that stepping off the train into New York City is to enter a realm “of wandering winter spirits and wavering speeches…a bedlam vision of a bedroom utopia that tries very hard every night to find a partner of sleep.” Tries, but thankfully for us, fails and instead stays up to channel the manic, long-limbed energy of the city in this memorable and original verbal jazz solo. This book is a poetic triumph.
-Ravi Shankar, Executive Director of Drunken Boat, author of seven books/chapbooks of poetry & co-editor of W.W. Norton & Co.’s Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond

Capacious and wild, offering itself energetically to contrasting continents and sensibilities, Sharma’s ambitious and honest New York collection offers a vivid tribute to Lorca, its presiding muse.
-Annie Finch, winner of Robert Fitzgerald Award and author of Spells: New and Selected Poems

A Blizzard In My Bones is worth the wait. The marriage of eastern angst and western jitters is beautifully realized, both in dreamscapes and in naturalistic description. The sexual suggestiveness is very powerful, as is the evocation of NY place time in all its gritty glory.
-Robert Scotto, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Baruch College, CUNY

What we have here is the pan / promenade of an Annapurnian poet among the sidewalks of New York. With eastern wisdom, Yuyutsu Sharma dissects the modern city’s multifaceted body, and portrays colliding visions where ancestral meets cutting-edge. As a poet of refined lyricism and a flâneur of his age, Sharma revives the wandering poet’s myth and builds powerful images in a high-voltage and emotional language: “In my chest / I can hear a blizzard / carrying a litany / of ravaged whales, a crude commotion / of water / and winds in spacious streets…”
-Mariela Dreyfus, Peruvian poet, author of Pez

Yuyutsu Sharma’s Blizzard in My Bones: New York Poems posits a pair of eyes up in their perch and looking down on the city of New York (and all of America) as they sweep across the pavement and finally settle on bit of muffin left on a table outside of a Starbuck’s. They are poems that look and venture deeply into the mannerisms of a young continent even as they insinuate themselves into a bustling scene. They suspect the “wandering lunatics,” “the basking brown seals,” and the “ceramic cells of Super gurus” stand as markers on this New Found Land, as the eyes behind the poems continue consuming everything on the move.
-Tim Kahl, poet, translator, Sacramento

In A Blizzard in My Bones, Yuyu Sharma reveals the divide that exists inside the professional traveler, who, though he must learn to be at home everywhere, finds he is no longer completely at home anywhere. Invited to ride alongside Sharma’s wanderer, we see from the inside out how he compares his worlds, one to another, trying to make sense of the new ones based on the sense of the old. When the gap remains, however, just wide enough to prevent easy passage back and forth, he is left to wrestle all his concurrent lives into one integrated, harmonious whole, perhaps at the cost of losing “the solemn silence of the sacred sounds
Susan Keiser, Key West scriptwriter and traveler

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

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


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)