Book of Prayers
By Dibyajyoti Sarma
Published in July 2018
Available at Amazon.in
Keep your gods to yourself, I have my own,
not locked away in a shiny altar, but free,
like breathing or like the idea of democracy
My god is a nonbeliever, who has
forsaken the pleasures of heaven for this
polluted earth, this rancid existence
He resides within me, and he is not jealous
but joyous, not demanding, but curious,
about our wishes he cannot grant
This book of verse-like fragments revisits the past through a myopic lens of deeply personal experiences, where the poet steps out of his comfort zone and tries on the shoes of the others — summoning lives from myths, histories and imagination, swapping experiences.
Dibyajyoti Sarma looks for his origins in incantatory mythologies. His remembrances are searching, his voice engaging. In sourcing his roots, Sarma appropriates the very elements. This is a poet ever on the lookout to subvert his material. A dangerous writer.
Intuitively conceived in a style which is apologetic, almost, Sarma creates a world which can be traced back to his home in Assam. Laden with symbolist images from his urban city day-to-day-existence, Book of Prayers creates a transmutation of myths and fables and anecdotes, all rolled into one. This is a telegram to the gods — if they are listening.
An entire community seems to be seeking its rightful place in the world of poetry through Book of Prayers. A polyphonic fete, this book invites the readers to at once breathe the native breeze of Assam even as its eclectic range takes us across the globe. Drawing from several cultural resources, Book of Prayers captivates us with its evocative power, dense details, rich allusiveness, and with its pure lyrical strength.
In this collection of intensely personal poems, Sarma has fused the mythology of the Mahabharat and ancient Assam with his personal mythology, taking the reader on a voyage, an adventure, through ages, geographies and memories. This is a landscape of love, loss and longing, where one might encounter flora that seems familiar but often bears startlingly strange fruit. The reader is seduced to eat it, knowing well that they might be infected with melancholia.
Uttaran Das Gupta
Keki Daruwalla writes on Book of Prayers in his column ‘Poetry Wire’ in The Hindu.
Dibyajyoti Sarma is both poet and small-time publisher of beautiful volumes of poetry. His Book of Prayers could be placed in an art gallery. But nowhere does he say that the illustrations are his. The reader is baffled. His poetry is a mix of myth and history. His grandfather returns as a beggar to Nalabari from East Pakistan, with a few gold coins of Queen Victoria tucked in the knot of his dhoti, and tall stories of the wealthy life he had lived. His poems are well grounded in fact and reveal a culture which he displays lovingly and yet subverts dangerously.
Read the complete piece, ‘With rice stems in her hair’ in The Hindu.
Paresh Tiwari reviews Dibyajyoti Sarma’s Book of Prayers for the Nonbeliever in Kitaab.org
Dibyajyoti opens the book with a warning where he candidly owns the reader, when he says – this book is about you, and me. In this one sentence, so seemingly innocent, he establishes a tone of confession – almost as if he and the reader are lovers – and it is this tone of confession that roots the book in a pursuit of truth. With this one line, which isn’t even a poem but a precursor relegated to a page before you dig your teeth into his work, he joins the pantheon of Walt Whitman, striking an intimate relationship with his reader. And we gladly hold his hand.
Read the full review Book review: Book of Prayers for the nonbeliever by Dibyajyoti Sarma at Kitaab.org