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Inspiring others with his words: Sonnet Mondal, the young bard of India

Reading Sonnet Mondal, technically from Bengal, India but now a global troubadour of love, compassion and hope is like a river drifting slowly into a dreamscape. His words are like hearing the murmur of a stream and charming songstress nightingale in a magical dale on a day of clear sky that dazzles with its stark blueness! The much-loved young Bard of India is the author of eight collections of marvelous poetry published. With a huge list of contributions to international magazines/journals, Sonnet has represented one billion plus Indians and their poetic aspirations in world platforms like the Struga Poetry Evenings, Macedonia and Bridges Poetry Event among others. Shortly, Sonnet will have another feather on his cap, being the only Indian Poet to be featured in the 50th anniversary edition of The Penguin Review which is scheduled for launch at the Youngstown State University, Ohio. The Enchanting Verses Literary review is one of the main contributions of Sonnet to the world through which he has increased the cultural cooperation between many countries by featuring prominent, as well as new contemporary names in the field of poetry in its pages.  
He can easily weave magical circles with simple words and will surely bear the hallmark of great and enduring poetry across the rolling centuries.

Look at these haunting lines by Sonnet from the poem Seduced in the Sunderbans:

Blue above, blue beneath; waters and skies kiss at yonder point.

A thick line stretches with flags of greenery, bold enough
to sustain salty tides, as muddy lands, bronze in sunrays
swathe itself with the poignant carpet of the Ganges.

Boatman swings as if wind itself in the unheard stretches.
Vista lucid enough but not to overcome eyes in the clay.
Death lies behind the muck and life too; they choose to struggle

It is sheer melody whipped up by a careful selection of words; words that energize and animate the space and take on an autonomy of their own. Seduced by the Royal Bengal Tiger, the poem captures something of the mystic aura of William Blake and the immortal lines: Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright, In the forest of the night.

Deep down, Mondal is a humanist, a rare virtue in current poetry world. His heart beats for the hands that sculpt the status of big people through a labour of love hardly recognized:

Sweat tries to swim upwards through the hairs
of a labourer building the statue of the herald
but fails and falls in the soil sucked up by heat,
Vanishes as a struggling animal in quicksand;
Dreams drain and entity turns into fossils as slippers
walk over it.

His weapons are a chisel and spade;
He lifts them to protest but vacuum wailing in the curves
of his muscles make it fall again on the mummified ground;
just to dig, dig the ground for
the Herald's statue must stand firm
or his existence will be buried under its
falling weight...

Toils will evaporate with the smile of the moon
The dawn will hear sounds again-
sounds of iron striking against rocks.
The air waits to weave those sounds 
and strike a twister with them-
Tall enough for the world to see 
bold enough to step over mountains
Clear enough to show the waving hands
begging a day out of slavery.

(poem: Blue-Collar Twister)

It is a moving description of a hard work- iron striking against rocks. How the humble anonymous pairs of calloused hands manually chisel out an image of solid rock, a piece of art is wonderfully conveyed through a series of lines that flow seamless, weaving their own sounds! The drudgery of work, its experience as a ceaseless slavery, its sheer monotony and physicality in creating a figure of heraldry is vividly contrasted by a loving hand itself via this tribute to human labour.

That he is a verbal painter can be amply seen in the following stanza from his poem:  Unusual Shiver in Winter Days

She was a creeping winter
coiling and settling into the wardrobe
of my lined collections
of cassettes and clothes
(Scattered in a bachelor’s room)
Inspiring others with his words: Sonnet Mondal, the young bard of India,sonnet,poetry
You hear the tired words crackle in a master’s grasp here. He innovates and renovates- Sonnet Mondal, the poet of Indian English par excellence using English in an able manner. English- the post-colonial legacy of the departed Raj for an Asian nation still mired in identity-crisis and linguistic thrall to a hegemonic mode of seeing and an instrument of oppression that re-cast the oriental into an image of the pucca occidental through the ideology and praxis of mercantile colonialism gets written back by this inheritor in a curious case of the post- empire children re-writing and re-claiming the old language of control and domination. Mondal, it can be claimed on the basis of his oeuvre, successfully manages to mobilize the internal dynamics and resources of English that even native users cannot do with the same élan and ease. This evidence supports his status as an undisputed weaver of marvelous words; a plumber of depthless depths; measuring of the immeasurable; Sonnet Mondal, the innovator:

A blue lake captures my soul in its
unmeasured, unimaginable depths
where a new world better than lands
survive drinking immortality.

Howling wolves pierce melancholy
and the dropping leaves stuck with
fever of spring bows down
before the majestic stance
of endless sky and waters.

(Two Worlds)

And this dreamy landscape rooted in everyday reality:

The far-flung whistle of the colliery
and of the Calcutta-mail
calls me every day after dinner.
The train’s shrill echo and
rhythmic melody of wheels
form a sublime image of
the girl out of my dreams,
waving and smiling;
screaming and crying;
standing and waiting
just for me amidst grasses,
trees and hedges that wave
in solitude and hope.

(Poem: My Chained Faith)

The poem swings from the real to the poetic in a swift manner. It is a fine evocation of time and place; of remembered past and its present relevance to a longing heart; of dream and waking up; of love and hope amid a gloomy cityscape.

Through his poetry, Sonnet Mondal inspires readers of every generation and locations. Words can destroy. In competent hands, words can uplift and inspire.
With Sonnet Mondal, the young bard of India, English feels liberated of its home origins and finds a rare articulation of a youthful and confident country where it has been embedded for more than two centuries.

Poetry, for me, is a source of inspiration,” says the talented artist-editor, “It must uplift people, especially in these hard times, by talking of the possibility of hope!”

He is doing just that--- an inspiring icon of creativity!

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 28th October 2014.
Dr. Sunil Sharma
Principal at Bharat College, Mumbai and an author.

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