New from Subhankar Das: By the Banks of the Ajoy, Jaideb Vanishes into the Blue

Subhankar Das’ new offering of poetry, his collection, By the Banks of the Ajoy, Jaideb Vanishes into the Blue, is a first for Virgogray Press in that it is printed bilingual—in English and Bangla. When Subhankar’s manuscript came across our proverbial desk, we were delighted at the idea of sharing this well-known author’s words and poetry. By the Banks of the Ajoy… did not disappoint. There is a feeling we quite value in poetry, some have described as “the Ah-ha!” moment, it is a moment where you “see through” or your mind begins the penetration of the veil before your eyes. Poetry that does that is important. There were several instances as such found in the pages of this book.

To begin, the poetry collection draws attention to his long prose poem of the same name, a poem inspired by many factors even as writers like Henry Miller and Henry Denander echo through the allusion of Jaideb, the ancient, mythical Bangla poet still celebrated in areas of India today. Like many of the poems in the collection, “By the Banks of the Ajoy, Jaideb Vanishes into the Blue” the poet follows a trail of stream of thought, cut-up, a beatish ripple in the flow of words, subtle and overt wisdoms, and colorful use of imagery that at times touches the reader to pure psychosomaticism (read ”Erosion,” a fettered account of a doctor visit). Longer poems like “Ma” or “A Little More than the River Korkai,” exhibit the poets mastery of poetic language and voice; in fact, the voice of the poet, or the essence of such an entity, is apparent in both pieces, as “Ma” is a semi-sentimental piece, that while taking a backseat from the opening “Focault’s Pendulum,” is still resilient with poetic imagery and cadence:

“ I have preserved the pale ribbon, a tip of which she
 held in her teeth to tie her hair and the memories of those
evenings in a box, so that ants do not eat it up.

Be careful, son
Take care, my son
Stay at peace, my son

I take care and I stay wrong. In outmost care whom would I give
those fountain—cherished days, to take care of? Who will try
and understand the smell of the colorless withered ribbon?

Forget about me; just ponder over the closeness of the two
bodies. Consider those poses and reflexes – the falsity too.
Feel the touch of the soft feet. Just feel the touch of the
fingertips on the burning forehead. Without applied color you
 and empty and a zero.

The poem, “A Little More than the River Korkai” begins with fervor of Romantic Passion, and falls into a facet of poetry most desirable, one which speaks to and of the soul, a touch of the supposed metaphysical regarding predetermined lives and the hidden knowledge, the mystic truth about our existence:

All our deeds were pre-determined
We knew every note about our life, read them before
Since everything was pre-written we completed our task en-route
Now we’ll go to the other room to finish it up, jail the dialogues in blank cassettes
But still the stories of water were never in the notes
Those swirling waters that move with a suppleness of pine trees
Still love was there some parts loved
The rest remained like a blazing rose that I kept touching
The way the winter touches a city, a cigarette and remains like smoke
A borrowed blanket hovers on my shoulder, the same way.

As Jaideb was a mythical poet of Bangla lore, I believe this collection does justice in recalling traditions and bodes well for the continuity of heraldic verse, with a literary beatitude all its own. This collection is also an outstanding introduction to American readers to the work of Subhankar Das, a poet already carving a niche for himself in his homeland of Kolkata, Bengal, India as a purveyor and advocate of underground Bangla poetry and literature.

Notes on Ajoy

A few things linger on the horizon. Aside from my voyage to the pyramids in 6 days (which has me wondering why I hadn’t began a personal blog sooner because 2011 was a very active year and I have no plans for next year), there is much to accomplish in the literary world. Subhankar Das’ By the Banks of Ajoy Jaideb Vanishes into the Blue and the Carcinogenic Poetry 2nd annual print anthology are two publications that will soon see the light of day. The, as promised, return of Suzi Kaplan Olmsted and Justin Blackburn is in sight, as well as the third installment of Nothing. No One. Nowhere. which will also mark the final issue edited by Amelia Hoff. I will be taking the reigns on the fourth issue and may be looking for a future guest editor. 2012 will be a year I hope to open the press up a bit more, or perhaps partner and expand. Since the press’ inception in 2004 and then its re-initiation in 2008, I’ve kept the doors closed to partnerships besides those I forged with the writers and artists I worked on projects with. Anyone who has been around the Internet literary scene probably understands there’s so much to do. The difference for me, however, is Virgogray has never been intended to be limited to the Internet, and in fact, as a publisher of chapbooks and, now books, used the Internet more as a promotional tool than a means of fostering a community and neighborhood. A prime reason why it is easier to catch me at my e-mail address than Facebook or some other social cess. And so, you see I would like to have an editor for for NNN and someone who can run our Facebook account, etc. but there are no funds for that, so use the e-mail address if its really important.

But, I wanted to talk about By the Bank of the Ajoy… it is right around the corner and I am particularly excited because it will be our first bilingual release, in both English and Bangla (translated by Sedushna Majumdar). I am honored to share the work of Subhankar Das, publisher from India who runs an independent bookstore, Shilalipi, in addition to his own independent, lit press– Graffiti Kolkata. Below is a preview page of the book. If you want to read it in English, you’re just gonna have to wait.

Page from By the Banks of the Ajoy, Jaideb Vanishes into the Blue by Subhankar Das. Bilingual publication: English and Bangla.

I have been anticipating this project’s completion for many months. I offer eternal apologies for the wait, but I’m sure all will be pleased with what lies in store. I was first introduced to Subhankar and his work via the Graffiti Kolkata Broadside, a periodical poetry publication with the latest, dynamic indie lit out there. Excited as I am, I shall release full details as they become available. Anyone interested in doing a blurb or review– I’ll gladly send an e-copy via e-mail. Just get in touch. Take care…