kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context
Finishing Line Press (September 22, 2017)
Paperback: 42 pages
Cover art: Carol Radsprecher
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An assured and powerful collection of articulated mourning and controlled rage for those silenced in acts of conflict. Debasis Mukhopadhyay exhumes the shadowlands and places the lives that cast them firmly into the light to be witnessed as they should through testaments of poetry. What impressed me most about these poems was the courage to experiment different forms through a stark mnemonic style of vivid imagery and a much-needed social conscience for these dark times. An impressive and courageous suite of poems and prose by a writer who has a strong ability to blend narrative into form so the poems are felt raw and all the harder hitting for it.
–Antony Owen, author of Margaret Thatcher’s Museum
The poems in Debasis Mukhopadhyay’s new chapbook, kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context, seamlessly interweave the most apparently irreconcilable materials of contemporary poetry: the horror of global injustice with the improbable persistence of beauty. These powerful poems manage to address a reality in which the continuing reign of bombs, shrapnel, bullets, and drones, coexists with the inspiration of Lorca, Ginsberg, Kafka, Beckett, and Van Gogh, beetroots and hummingbirds, moonlight and music. Braided into the relentless horror of Mukhopadhyay’s blunt and inescapable images is an ethereal lyricism in which “the night is your wool of time your doom your womb of lilac . . . hankering for the warm breath of the stars / through the rips of a sultry sky.” Ultimately, it is the demonstrated persistence of this beauty which assures the reader of this chapbook that somehow, we still “have a right to be optimistic about the world.”
–Susan Lewis, editor and publisher of Posit, author of Heisenberg’s Salon and This Visit
In this collection, Debasis Mukhopadhyay takes us inside bodies—bones, blood, skulls, chests—sometimes figuratively, but more often literally with bullets and bombs, coffins and graves. Mukhopadhyay invokes Godot and Van Gogh as he uses surreal image-scapes to examine violence around the globe, from historical events in Cuba, Spain, and Germany to present-day violence in Syria, Pakistan, and the United States. Mukhopadhyay writes, “i could see History was wrought beneath the frippery of dovetailed blueprints of gratuitous violence,” but even so, he also writes, “yes i have a right to be optimistic about the world.”
–Katie Manning, Author of Tasty Other and The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman
Review on Goodreads:
When I opened “kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context” I was thrust into a surrealistic world in which I could not quite get my bearings. There were bombs, spines, skulls, skies full of bizarre lights. The first line of the opening (and title) poem identifies the collection’s theme: “yes I am that old trombonist who sees death / dangling in every bird.” Mukhopadhyay’s language includes odd juxtapositions. Sometimes he separates clauses with a slanted line. His images are rapid-fire, beautiful, creative, but shattered, harsh, such as: “theoretical tulips blubbing inside a cylindrical / museum of war,” “starry night traveling past a mortuary,” “with a puckered smile i play highlife in tuba.”
Then I realized I was in Syria in the middle of an air strike, I was giving birth in Aleppo, I was a Pakistani model being killed in the name of my brother’s honor. After reading through the first few poems I began to think of each poem as a gift–a gift of understanding and experience that cut through my privilege and led me into a tiny square of knowing.
As the selection of poems continued I noticed the extraordinary tenderness underlying each. Our encounters with horror and violence are personalized. We meet individuals–Lorca, an unnamed young woman in hospice, and Jose Maria, reviewing his life and loves, relentlessly drawn back to Birobidzhan: “the train keeps coming back / crawling through your eye sockets / like dreams you wish / scooped out of your skull.”
Mukhopadhyay has a spectacular command of language and theme. His vision is unsparing, but he has not lost hope. This is a strong collection. I recommend it to all who enjoy poetry.
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