“Viva la Poesia!” Ahmed Tahsin Shams reads Sudeep Sen’s stunning new anthology

Sudeep Sen“I will read to you, read to you from / this book of forthcoming, this / text in variations: / an index to ask / of what / you meant to answer, but / then was gone like a breath / or a hope. / Before there was any of this, / there was you.”

—Richard Blanco, ‘Envoi’

Words woven carefully as poetry in the hands of skilled poets — a universal language that moves you. Words that swim across the air, over the seas, crossing man made boundaries, words curated by Sudeep Sen, one of the most renowned and celebrated contemporary international poets and poetry scholars. The poets’ bouquet of words is revealed in World English Poetry, a new anthology of contemporary English-language poets around the globe, selected and edited by Sudeep Sen, published by Bengal Publications at the Dhaka Lit Fest recently.

Sen writes in the preface, “sharing the spine of this book, you have the Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky and other bilingual poets like Jayanta Mahapatra and K Satchidanandan, formalists like Vikram Seth and Glyn Maxwell, the fifth US Presidential Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco, narrative lyric poet like Kwame Dawes, an experimental L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet like Charles Bernstein, and a galaxy of celebrated international poets along with exciting cutting-edge contemporary voices.”

Sen’s democratic far-sightedness shines through in this diverse selection of transnational global poetry, an anthology that unites a varied span of world cultures. Sen explains, “The poets’ provenance is centrifugally expansive — they come from all corners of the world, places as diverse as the Philippines, Singapore, Russia, Iran, India, Bangladesh, WEP Screen ShotPakistan, Sri Lanka, St Lucia, Jamaica, Guyana, Ghana, Greece, Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, Canada, Australia, UK, USA, and more. There are poets who write formal verse, experimental poetry, prose poems, free verse, and in a variety of other forms.”

Speaking about the poems, Sen says, “The poems are intellectually stringent, beautifully chiseled, many wonderfully oral, and pitch-perfect”.  The themes themselves are varied, “They engage with history, politics, society, science, and emotions of love, loss, grief and more — poems that are public and private, universal and personal. The language is simultaneously measured, formal, understated, raucous, and forceful, but always with a lyric quality of fine tonal cadence and carefully calibrated register.”

This book is the first of its kind from South Asia and shows the promise of finding a place among the finest poetry anthologies compiled anywhere. This weighty wonderfully curated anthology, comprising 85 poets from almost every corner of the world, will take more pages to be reviewed properly at length. This is just a taster, and it is a compilation worth savouring. He who sets his sail in the cosmos of poetry, will have to set his anchor in this remarkable and stellar, World English Poetry.

Slider Photograph taken from Penduline Press

About author

Ahmed Tahsin Shams
Ahmed Tahsin Shams 3 posts

Ahmed Tahsin Shams, born in Dhaka, completed his B.A and M.A from the Department of English, University of Dhaka. Besides being a Lecturer at the Department of English in Notre Dame University Bangladesh, Shams simultaneously works with The Daily Observer as Sub-editor of two literary pages -- Literature and Book Review (Weekend Observer). He is also working with fortnightly journal titled Monitor as Feature Editor. Shams works with Channel-i as English Subtitle Translator (International Film Desk, Impress Telefilm Ltd.) As Shams did his major in English Literature, he is efficiently indulged into creative writing and critical literary & cultural theories. He is the author of the books Theo 101, a collection of poems published by Antivirus Publication (Liverpool, England) in 2015, Cultural Columns: Traffic of Truth published by Utso Prokashan (Bangladesh) in 2015. At present, Shams is the Director of Avant-garde Productions, and framed an audio-visual feature film titled A Tale of Night-Flowers, shorts titled ‘Pigland’, and ‘No More Tales…’ Shams wrote numerous television fiction scripts in Bangladesh, and directed telefilm Shunner Abritti (The Sound of Silence), aired on Channel-i, produced a visual fiction Pracheer, aired on ATN Bangla. Moreover, he is the script writer of visual fiction titled Bodhon, aired on Bangladesh Television and Andore Alo, aired on SATV. Shams is also the co-writer of an Indian visual fiction Female in Frame (Kolkata, India).

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