Sonnet Mondal’s poetry invites the reader on a journey that combines intimacy with a simultaneous distance from the self. That is not an easy task, but Mondal does it with great mastery! ‘Karmic Chanting’ integrates language and purpose to establish an experience that the reader can keep as a long-lasting effect, as if the reader was going through a process of spiritual renovation that will help him integrate its own reality with the poetic subject’s observation of the world around him.
The book starts with a very rich imagery, full of symbolic meanings where we are requested to be part of a world of possibilities, with inner feelings interacting with the concrete nature around us: Thoughts in an intercourse / with naked waves / scream of a world lost in lust. (…) pregnant clouds and pensive waves (page 1). Having the metaphor as the vital means of communicating density succinctly, the unrestrained indulgence in sensual pleasure of the naked waves invites us into the poetic subject’s most intimate world. As the yearning for the nature and pursuit for the refined spiritual state, the poet wonders: Dear Nature, I wonder / if I should marry you /or keep you as an escort (p. 2). This is a lyrical collection that often expresses disenchantment by deep wisdom because it will necessarily conduct to an unrequired solitude: There are eyes behind your vision / from which you cannot escape (p. 9); because tears dig deep inside (p. 13).
The book is also a journey of life and death, simultaneously stirring the body and the mind as in the poem Journeying (p. 23), where Life seems a fantastical addiction / as the smell of the finished / seduces you to light another (p. 27). The poem Like a Brick in a Wall (p. 29) is a very interesting synopsis of the poet’s philosophy – how life should pass in inconspicuous ways through the various layers of existence and move on to become just another reawakening: By the time the cement sheds off / I would manage to be a part / of some other wall. This is an idea that can be found in other poems: Those who keep searching for / the meaning of life are not born yet (p. 61).
The inner journey is also a geographical one and that’s how we end up looking at a lake in Ohrid (p. 62) where all my unnamed expectations / have come to life somewhere here /between my eyes and my breath (p. 62).
However, the certainty of the poet’s spiritual identity shouldn’t be taken as haughtiness, since he admits that he doesn’t know everything: I wish there were lessons on / how to regret / how to unite words / and how to embrace / a shooting anxiety (p. 79).
‘Karmic Chanting’ is certainty an emotional map of perceptions but it is also detached from the self and tell us stories about another geographies and social conditions The Homeless (p. 69), The Ragpicker (p. 81), Talaq Talaq Talaq (p. 70) and political commentary Slavery of Flags (p. 14), Nobody Speaks of You, Syria (p. 73), The Soldier in the Moss (p. 75), Snapshots of a Dying Soldier (p. 76), To Syrian Children (p. 78). The author isn’t afraid of touching the sensitive topics of faith and political power, pointing the illogicality of one being held by another: The tentacles of faith / propagate hope to survivors / and the surprise of explosions / dusts it off (p. 82).
Over the pages, the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual are recited in a hypnotic symphony, carrying carries us through the poems-leaves and verses-waves that compose the body of work.
We can follow the Buddhist interactions of the poet with the world, but we also find the poet perplexed by the inexplicable disparity that existed among humanity and rather than blaming the sufferers, the poet decides to observe the crossing path, even when he is not aware of it: Sometimes you cross a road / without knowing / and then you know / it was there (p. 101).
Author: Sonnet Mondal
Publication: Copper Coin, 2018