“When I was young, winter was an inspiration.
It fashioned my dreams, affected my inclination,
Had me yearning for a character pure as snow…”
Perveiz Ali’s book “Fractious Mind” has a tender soul which reflects in lines like the ones above. There are poems that make you feel what the poet is feeling and these are the poems in which Perveiz Ali is in his element in all honesty as a poet. When you read a poem without any fillers, you enjoy the trip a poetic piece takes you on. The pages that hold such poems in “Fractious Mind” are where you want to stay.
Here is another piece which brings out a sense of mist from a poet’s dream that he holds close to his heart:
“What sun is to the blind,
Freedom is to me
A glimpse from afar
To soothe my poor being”
There are some beautifully carved poems in this collection while it also holds some weak poems which border on self-pity, however, the weaker ones get overshadowed by the richer poems that leave lasting impressions on a reader’s mind.
For example, I started reading the poem with title ‘Shikara Ride’ with a lot of expectations, especially since the poet hails from Kashmir and the word Shikara instantly brings an image of dreams floating on the Dal. However generic lines like “The boat handeler is so suave, Calm and experienced, so strong…” pulls down a possibility of an enchanting poem that could have been something else. It’s a poem that is over-written. While reading it, I wanted the poet to stop and leave somethings unsaid so that the imagination of the reader could be teased. However, as a fellow poet, I understand. I have committed similar mistakes in my own first book of poems.
One of the titles ‘Ravings’ brings in a free flow of words that you want to revisit over and over again. The stream of lines brings a natural drizzle of thoughts.
“In the death of darkness
Let me watch
The dance on shore
Of unskilled tears
Up-beating for more
Even the pause between the last two lines is instrumental in adding a certain effect.
‘Eve Emancipation’ is a poem that brings out the suffocation of a Kashmiri resident quite effectively. Through lines like the ones below, Perveiz enables the reader to feel empathy towards the sufferings one endures in the day to day life. This is one of those poems in the book, that knock at doors of conscience of those who want to stay ignorant of others’ pain.
“How can we accept their definition of emancipation?
When it is routine to check bags of teenage girls,
As they are required to pass through security bunkers,
All while making lewd comments with lustful stares,
Walking inch by inch under shade of unseen shadows…”
One of the poems that instantly grew on me due to its strong abstract imagery from the first line starts thus…
“Each night I get thousand cuts
On my bruised pale hands
In cutting the chains of strangulation
I am awarded in days mayhem…”
I will leave the political aspects of this aside as it’s more about perception. Debates generally revolve around meaningless centre points like ‘your pain’ vs ‘my pain’. The bigger picture is completely different, where all of us (Kashmiri People as well as Indian Army men) end up being only a part of a vicious whole, being made to go through our own share of pain. Peace is elusive until we stop looking only through our own windows. However what affects me as a poetry reader are the humane aspects of these poems. As poems in this collection grow darker and more immediate in voice, the reader is able to envision the environment in which the words have sprouted. That’s when you know the long sailing emotions have reached one of the many ports on their long way ahead. And this is one of the many reasons why poetry is one of the most important mediums of expression.
From a technical perspective, poems in the later part of the book grow nuanced as well as stronger than the ones in first half. I would attribute this to the poet’s evolution over the time, though there are still a few poems amongst the later ones too which could have benefitted through a round of editing.
Like a good poetry book, Fractious Mind is a title you would like to leave by your nightstand to savour a random poem when the urge to read strikes, yet hoping that the one you will lay your mind on does justice to your long arduous day.