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  • Dr.Pragya Suman


Updated: Jan 28, 2022

Poem of the Week


An egg hatched and a Polish Lowland Sheepdog, who insisted on telling the most boring story anyone had ever heard, emerged.

After 17 excruciating minutes, he was put down.

Whilst expiring he gave birth to a 17th century Russian streltsy, who was so anxious that he made everyone else in the room feel unbearably awkward.

In 8 minutes, 40 seconds, he was put down too.

As he took his dying breath, a miniature majorette marched out of his mouth, twirling and throwing her baton in the air, whilst whistling an upbeat version of Foreigner's, 'I Want to Know What Love Is'.

The audience was split on this one. So they cut her in half, exterminated one half, but not the other.

Her living half mated with half a semi-professional tap-dancer, whose performance had also divided the gallery, and gave birth to a high-class male escort, who had talons for ears.

The audience found this amusing, but a tad contrived. At that moment the executioner's back opened and a quail flew out. The audience reached for their guns, shot it and spent the rest of the afternoon taking pictures of the corpse.

Vik Shirley

I came to know about Vik Shirley through social media and Beir Bua press/Journal. Her recent book Grotesquerie for the Apocalypse has been published by Beir Bua press, Ireland and my poetries have been also published in Beir Bua Journal. She is associate editor of Mercurius magazine and her poems and writings in the column of Absurd Surreal Sampler are interesting and eye catcher. Vik Shirley is currently studying for a Phd in Dark humor and Surreal at the university of Birmingham.

Spilt is a surreal prose poem and it reminds me of Russel Edson’s prose poems filled with dark humor and absurdity in the fabric of fable.

Prose poetry is like a horizontal box but when I read prose poem Split, it allured me like a lunch box. Just open the lunch box, what do you see? There are so many split segments, for toast, peanut butter, ketchup tomato sauce, and poached egg.

Another sense I felt was that fragmented fables were interlinked in core despite superficial absurdites, and deargements which were sometimes in anthropomorphic form.

We see the absurdity of time as streltsy were the units of Russian firearms from the 16th to the early 18th centuries. Here we see a streltsy is given birth by a Lowland Sheepdog.

In this prose poem succinct stories come in dream-like states and bring many grotesque images.

here we see

  1. thought forwarding without regard to reason

  2. unconscious connections

  3. exploitation of dream imageries

  4. juxtaposition of distant realities.

  5. elements of magic realism to heighten the absurdity.

Surrealism was a movement which gained pace in the 1920 and one of its motto was derangement of all the senses to seek the unknown.

Bio : Vik Shirley's chapbook Corpses (Sublunary Editions) was published in 2020. Her collection The Continued Closure of the Blue Door (HVTN Press), her book of photo-poetry Disrupted Blue and other poems on Polaroid (Hesterglock Press), and her pamphlet Grotesquerie for the Apocalypse (Beir Bua Press) were published in 2021. Her work has appeared in such places as Poetry London, The Rialto, Magma, 3am Magazine, Shearsman and Tentacular. She edits Mercurius magazine's 'Surreal-Absurd', is Associate Editor of Sublunary Editions, and is currently studying for a PhD in Dark Humor and the Surreal at the University of Birmingham.

Balzac and Turkish Coffee

This autumn I am in a country area and I welcome winter in warm hugs around a bonfire. Books, bonfire and coffee are chumming me here. And it all started after coffee as I knew that French writer Honore de Balzac was famous for his coffee drinking. I searched about him recently. So many interesting facts came about his die hard drinking. The man who is one of the founders of the realistic movement, so influential that he inspired Karl Marx to formulate his theory through his realistic characters. And in the end what was the pushing force of his pen? Astonishingly it was coffee at least according to him. He told famously–

“I think coffee is real makers of good words I am famous for”

“One day I will figure out who makes the coffee for me”

“My stomach sound like angry sea in world”

“I drink fifty cups of coffee every day to be the founder of realism in European literature but at what cost?”

But cost was considered very heavy as Balzac died at mere 51 year age. Besides drinking coffee he chewed grounds also and his entrails were damaged severely. He was born in 1799 and died in 1850. It is a famous fact that Balzac consumed 50000 cups of coffee. Is it a real number? Suppose he started to drink at 18 year of age then he drank for thirty three years. Perhaps he engulfed major bulk during the writing period of The human comedy. He was quite fond of Turkish coffee and said orientalists are more expert in coffee making than Europeans. Turkish coffee is more health oriented as beans are pulverized to fine particles. Balzac said tannin is health harming to the coffee connoisseur. In Turkish coffee coffee beans are crushed into a uniform form of molecule which retains the harmful tannins and releases only the aroma.

Turkish coffee is prepared in copper container cezve and it used to be bold, bitter and sweet in taste. An ancient art not praised by only Balzac but UNESCO acknowledges it an integral part of Turkish culture.

It’s making process is brewing in cold or hot water not like espresso coffee where forcefully pressurized steam passes through the coffee ground in an espresso machine (Moka Pot).Balzac loved to grind his beans minutely in the grinder. Gluttony, women and coffee are three trademarks of a great writer Honore de Balzac.

An Indian proverb says “coffee drinkers are filter while tea drinkers are lover”

In that sense Balzac was flirter!

An ancient Turkish proverb defines Turkish coffee as “ black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love”.

In that way Balzac was a lover!

Then what was the real Balzac?

Perhaps a cocktail/hybrid of lover or flirter!

In Light Vein

In India the right to vote and responsibility to democracy has gone so deep to every nook and corner. In the recent village council election (Gram Panchayat) even the rustic draped women used to brag to the contestant for money when contestants came to their door. Democracy is give and take relation. Exchange vote with coin! At the top, coin commerce is complicated but in the simplest short election of a village it is handled in the simplest way –exchanging votes with swear words or coins!

Photo Courtsey : Rightfully owner

Dr Pragya Suman

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