Searing images of a city whose shutter speeds are so furiously fast that its people often miss the picture a hyper-real presentation of the psychosis of power fraught recollections of life in the shadow of death-- this collection of new and selected poems by one of India's best known poets reveals in glittering glimpses a burnished and varied landscape. The words in these verses are contained but barely. And it is this unrelenting tension between the words and the worlds they seek to shape that lends the poems a rare tensile quality.
The new poems here principally fall into three cycles: Bombay Ruhnama and Catafalque. The Bombay poems set their sights on the metaphors at work in the city's low life with an eye to the cruel pathos rather than the polemics of whole dire worlds that we tend to speed past at traffic lights. Ruhnama which means Book of the Spirit in Persian veers away from the external world of grime and hard-won battles of survival to explore the ways in which the exercise of power can become an end in itself. This verbally tangential series then gives way to an autumnal sequence of thirty poems which are the more effective for being autobiographical: Surendran's father Pavanan a writer in Malayalam was laid low in the last years of his life by Alzheimer's. The son spent days and nights at his father's bedside watching as first memories then life itself surrendered to the inevitable.
Also included in this collection are Surendran's celebrated short verses from Posthumous Poems which describe the story of a broken relationship in a brilliant synthesis of sadness and humour.