The Revelation is standing at the door.
Prose poetry, for some, is a form without a home, a form at the threshold of mutually exclusive modes of writing. It’s a mongrel form, best kept separated from its pure-bred parents.
If this is the case, the prose poems gathered here in Pragya Suman’s first collection amount to a whole litter of wild prodigies, scratching at the door, determined to be let in. They are endearing in their strangeness, yet the wildness in their eyes is a window to the uncomfortable uncanny. These are eyes which see right through you to the whole stars of infinity, before a single blink fixes them on the twitching energy in your skull and spine. Homeless, perhaps, but not lost; these are works which will dog your footprints and howl on the front step when you’re trying to sleep.
Inevitably, sooner or later, you’ll open the door a crack – you’re only human, after all – and in they’ll rush with their swords and crows, Hitler’s moustache, their impossible juxtapositions, and bricks of butterflies tumbling out of nowhere. And all over those neat preconceptions about prose and poetry – not to mention those tidy categorisations of divine and degenerate – Suman’s words are leaving … footprints in the strokes of each startling image. Owls are sipping cold coffee, Van Gogh is waiting for his lover, and a close relative dies in the night.
After reading (and rereading) this collection, you may not be sure where you are or where you have been – this is what prose poetry does so well – but at your side you will have a dog made of butter. A mongrel? Maybe, but it will surely be more faithful than the gaudy show dogs of verse and narrative from which it came.
And what’s that shadowy form scraping at the boundary?
Go and look!
Prof Oz Hardwick
Leeds Trinity University (UK)
I have really enjoyed reading Photonic Postcard. I especially liked the complex and beguiling play of ideas and images and the imaginative way Pragya uses the Prose Poem form.
Professor of Writing and Head of International Poetry Studies Institute
I love Photonic Postcard . There are so many poems I love in it --my favourite is “Mother’s Postcard” it’s beautifully crafted. I am so thrilled she is raising the profile of prose poetry in India.
Professor of writing and Literature
I very much enjoyed the Vincent Van Gogh poems of Photonic Postcard.
Professor of English and Creative Writing
Leeds Trinity University
I did enjoy Photonic Postcard and put it with my collection of volumes that are in a special collection in my college. The Vincent poems were special, I thought—just the right blend of narrative leaps, startling imagery, and intellectual energy. I liked the father poems too, and I especially liked poems like “Dungeon” and “The Black Soul.” Pragya really know how to end a poem. Also, too many prose poems are loaded with meaningless surrealistic imagery and unnecessary magical realist tricks. Her imagery always works toward a purpose.
An American Poet and Novelist
Providence College, USA
The Whispering Language in Pragya Suman Poetry By Anwer Ghani
We have always been dazzled by the beauty of poetry, but since the advent of the prose poem, poetry has become another concept, and language has become more powerful and manifested in clearer forms, and has become the focus of beauty, and the center of creativity.
The prose poem has lavished upon us wonderful worlds of beautiful language, and it is only necessary to focus, contemplate and taste unique in order to see all that magic in the language of prose poetry.
I have dealt realistically with beautiful forms of the language of prose poetry, some of which were insurmountable. By following the language written by the Indian poetess Pragya Suman, I always felt that she was whispering in her rhetoric and words. And this whisper takes many forms and images. It is nice to follow those pictures and forms to see this enrichment in this beautiful color and unique language.
The whispered language appears in Pragya's poetry in many different ways; Some of them depend on words, some of them depend on the meanings, and some of them depend on pictures.
The whispered language is manifested in images that do not tend to sharpness, and many aspects of it are deferred, and the revelation reaches the recipient through reverberations and jolts far from indoctrination, with whisper words and subtle meanings. Every follower of Pragya finds this evident in her writings. We find this clear in a smooth stanza in which she says:
"Autumn is at the door of Vincent and it seems his brush is running in a red river. Red dunes of Mars are heaped up in the horoscope of Vincent and in a fiery mood he would do an adultery."
This highly poetic section contains a group of stylistic elements of the whispered language, but the most prominent of them is the pictorial whisper: ("Autumn is at the door of Vincent/ his brush is running in a red river / Red dunes of Mars are / in a fiery mood he would do an adultery.") This pictorial collection presents a soft and whispering revelation and conveys the idea and the goal to the recipient not through a loud voice and indoctrination, but rather with whispering and quietly inspired, intellectual, and pictorial. It is clear that the poem and other poems focus on a central figure, Vincent, and the symbolic sign in this figure is also whispered. The poetic whisper is a form of expressive symbolism through sentences and images, not through metaphors, and this is a major leap in the concept of poetry that is not accessible only by expressive writing in the prose poem.
In another form, the way in it is the transparent and sensitive thing that proves its state in action and existence and not by direct description, so she says:
" Auvers is red and red, as red poppies are seekers of infinite sleep and petals are still in closed fist. A master stroke of impressionist splutters the infinite cerulean sky. One day petals would kiss a painter's brush."
This form of colored infinity and this is a form of existence that transcends life, eternity and color, it can only be ethereal and subtle, it consists of this in a whispered statement that conveys the idea and purpose to the recipient through this colored representation with a painter's brush.
Notice how this painting was filled with whispering letters, and how the expression in it reached its extent in a colored panel that despite the loudness of the revelation in it, the objects of the picture do not appear except as expressive entities in the painting. Despite the depth of the revelation, it has a gentle expression and a whispering, charming expression.
It is clear that the Pragya's language is unique, with clear terms, meanings and structures that have created a special world for it, and a distinct space based on whispering and gentle revelation.
"Photonic Postcard" by Pragya Suman alternately surprises and beguiles with its plethora of arresting and surreal images such as: 'Vincent dipped his figurative fingers in the earthen bowl as they were sodden in sweat for years'. Her poetry also displays a painter's sensibility in the following startling imagery from the poem, 'I am Covid Positive': '...I saw a shriveled woman sitting in one dimension, her face wrapped in a pestle-white towel'. The freshness and originality of the imagery in "Photonic Postcard" make this book a memorable read.