India’s Angry Poet and Other Stories

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India’s Angry Poet and Other Stories

Illustration: Akshita Monga / Arré

“R

age, rage against the dying of the light” goes the famous line from the Dylan Thomas poem that has now become fodder for pop culture. It has been appropriated by Hollywood blockbusters, and if social media is to be believed, adorns a wall in Gujarat as well. Rage and anger can be helpful for inspiration, but they can also be misleading when they become labels, like the ones poet CP Surendran has often found attested to himself. “I am not angry. A lot of people believe so. Maybe it’s my face, always a little judgmental, the stare a little fixed and accusatory. But mostly it is because anger is an easy explanation to dismiss a position,” he says. Titled Available Light, Surendran’s collected poems are evidence that it is time to efface his countenance, the intensity of his face and voice, as the measure of his diction. It is time to look deeper, because where else would a writer be honest except in his poetry?

CP Surendran’s early poetry is laced with the kind of upright immediacy and prickly rebelliousness that can easily be read as despondence, even depression. But it isn’t as if CP has not felt any of it up close, or has grown entirely beyond it. “I feel a sense of resentment against the universe. Let me pare down the magnitude of my hostility: a resentment against humans. It’s a rather peculiar word, resentment. You don’t resent a horse, or a cow (though you have enough reason in this case), or a lion. You only resent a man or a woman. I believe the human project is a bit of a disaster. Why else is the majority of the population living in a state of anxiety and want? We have enough wealth to take care of all, but…” he trails off.

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