22 January 2010 saw the launch, at Dayanand College, Ajmer (Rajasthan), India (Fourth Biennial Interdisciplinary International Conference), of two books of poetry by the prolific and distinguished poet Satish Verma, "Another Kurukshetra" and "Footprints in Dark" (both – Ajmer: A.R.A.W.LII Publications, 2010). The first-named has three afterwords, bu Nathaniel Reilly (USA), Andrew Parkin (France, ex Hong Kong and Canada) and myself (France).
Here is an extract from my afterword (pp. 141-42). The full text is at:
For all versed in Indian culture and storytelling, Kurukshetra, the great battlefield of the Mahabharata, is synonymous with warfare, conflict and carnage – and yet also of an ultimately meaningful universe, since it is on the eve of that same battle that Krishna bestows on Arjuna the great philosophical gift that is the Bhagavad Gita; the Gita itself, in its very first sloka, describes Kurukshetra as a dharmakshetra, a ‘sacred field’. The past poems of Satish Verma have walked us through a world of darkness and disintegration, yet have aspired to the light through the poetic process itself. Here in this new collection, as the title warns us, the ambiance grows darker and the groping for redeeming hope will become more urgent. Kurukshetra is no mere name from a mythical past: it is here and now.
The poems delineate a universe of chaos, destruction, civil war and what the poet darkly names as ‘collective guilt’ (…) In Satish Verma’s darkened world, the public sphere is reduced to conflict and killing, while the private and personal has been degraded into cynical exploitation. The official discourse that seeks to justify oppression is mere empty rhetoric, the ‘floral tribute of words’. Man and woman can interact only through bodily gestures that have lost all spiritual meaning: ‘a huge umbrella of hot kisses / dissolving the contaminated beads / of musk, like fever’. Age brings on not wisdom but despair: in the particularly bleak poem ‘Breaking From Past’ the speaker watches his own loveless homecoming: ‘One counts the annual rings of / old trunks … / tasting one’s own decline’.