Rashid reviews Prartho’s 5th and new poetry book that is being launched today.
“Poetry is not just poetry – it is the Whole descending into the Part.”
Who would have said that? Who else but Osho whose everyday talk is poetry?
It is a joy to wander amongst this collection of poems by Pratho for the very reason that Osho indicates – we keep glimpsing the whole. And that right from the word go in the first poem.
The underwater tug we call ebb tide
the seaweed knows as longing
The lilac we’ve deemed common
is known to the bee as Rapture of the Deep
Pratho has the talent to make words and sentences do more than they can. Thus she entices us into a broader way of looking at the ten thousand things.
In the poem ‘Mirrored Palace’ she reflects on
came first – the quiet depths we humans
have always sensed around us or the matter
scientists have finally brought to light –
the incalculable darknesses that hold it all?
Here in Pratho’s temple we steadily encounter the inner and the outer, the physical and the metaphysical. The trouble is, in this our twenty-first century culture, the poles have shifted so that we have to retrain our brain to sense again the right hemisphere’s vast and iridescent vision compared to the left hemisphere’s prosaic “timepiece, engine, and grid.” Like meditation her poems help us to rebalance and review the two visions. Pratho suggests that this universe is our mirror; it will reflect ourselves back to ourselves, our wonder and our gravitas, our light and our dark.
Just as she incites us to scan larger horizons, so too does she address our hearing. Read aloud to yourself these alliterated words, rhymes and half rhymes….
What does he see in the relentless collapse
of waves, in this splintering of light?
What does he hear between squawking gulls
and the heaving lull of sirens’ sobs against the hull?
He doesn’t answer… his furrowed face
stained green by the sea
Stars drop around us like snow,
sea-salt polishes the spyglass sky
to an impossibly lucid blue.
There’s a poem called ‘The Butterfly Effect’ in which all 23 lines are one sentence, one question, which in turn leaves a significant and existential question mark in this reader’s mind – what are the daily events that, in our unconscious, form and inform us?
There are some everyday haikus (that aren’t technically 3 line, 17 syllable haikus) that are precious observations for all those on the pathless path of awareness.
Nobody remembered to take out the trash
till it fell on me – this downpour of stars
Not one straight limb in the bentwood rocker –
my favorite seat
Beetle in that phosphorescent cloak
have you been visiting
the Northern Lights?
There are roughly 70 poems in this colourful and nutritious walled garden of verse so it is my subjective choice that calls me to transplant some of the poems rather than others into such a review. Here is one whose poetic truthfulness provides me with a year of nourishment.
Matters of Scale
Some days I have the heart
of a hungry ghost – nothing
in this world can fill it.
But each of today’s citizenry
have become so vast
I can’t contain a single one.
Dragonflies and tree frogs, the tiny
blossoms they call shooting stars –
all peer in at me with piercing
Thank you, Pratho, for sharing such treasureable insights.
There is so much courage needed to be a poet; first of all in the submission of feelings and insights dragged from the deep dark cellar of the unconscious to the bright light of public scrutiny and secondly to trust that the warm spoken word that was invented to travel from mouth to ear will survive the passage to black ink on paper, (or pixels on white screen). We, her readers, it seems to me, are enriched, whether we yet know what the poem ‘means.’
In the one called ‘The Unteachable Moment’ Pratho isolates and illuminates the experience of seeing through the eyes of childhood, of innocence; of seeing the world of nature shining, alive, extraordinary and benign. It is perhaps through the vision of a meditator who has found again the open heart and uncluttered perception that such poems can arise.
And only someone who has allowed meditation to permeate their writing can say, in the last verse of a poem permeated with gratitude:
We see it briefly now – we never were
the passenger. Nor are we the ship.
Only this flux and flow, a conjuring –
the oscillation of sunlight on sea.
There’s a lovely poem where Pratho guides us into befriending Uncertainty, whom she calls Mystery’s love child. I wish to direct your attention to its intelligent personification of an emotion we try to keep distant and yet who will actually add to our life’s prosperity. This theme recurs in a another poem ‘A Day’;
You open the day, and look –
a sack of what you’ve always wanted
has been dropped at your door…
There is so much to love and about love in these poems: a tribute to Pablo Neruda, a hymn to sadness that nips at the heels of our happiest days or sits at her table and radiates beauty, a poem to the beauty of rhyming words, to love that steals into everything, to love that allows doing nothing and everything is done, to the wild animals who are our unconscious archetypes and love as a bucket of light that churned with grief.
I remember the story of one poet who previewed the manuscript of a famous poet. He pointed out to the famous poet that he had used the same simile with similar words twice in the volume. The latter had immediately changed the duplication. I cannot find one repeated simile or metaphor in this beautifully crafted volume.
So I end with two small phrases drawn from this temple well of inspiring vitality:
My work is to practice being wind-borne,
to give myself up to the air, to be lifted
on the westerlies and poured back
over the earth, like rain.
…. when my end comes and you sorters
turn to one another to ask, What does she have
in these boxes? Rocks?
All that will be left for you is to smile
Yes! Charaiveti! Charaiveti! – keep going Prartho.
There will be an outdoor celebration under the redwoods, on the official Launch Day today, Saturday, September 23, 2:30 to 4:00 pm at the Redwoods Presbyterian Church, 110 Magnolia Eve in Downtown Larkspur. Music, Food, and Poetry… Free and open to all, with plenty of free parking at the school parking lot across the street.
Prartho is also taking the book on a national tour through late October:
Sept. 30, Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, NY
October 2, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH
October 4, a House Party in South Bend, IN
October 7/8, Austin, TX (Venue TBD)
October 12/13, Sedona, AZ (Venue TBD)
October 15/16, San Diego, CA (Venue TBD)
October 19, Third Thursdays, Sea Ranch, CA
October 28, Corte Madera Town Center, afternoon with the Poetic Pilgrims
On November 13, 8pm Pacific she will be featured guest on the Podcast Rattlecast with Tim Green
Starfall in the Temple
by Prartho Sereno
Blue Light Press, 2023, 108 pages
ISBN-10 : 1421835479
ISBN-13 : 978-1421835471
Available through prarthosereno.com
barnesandnoble.com – thriftbooks.com – waterstones.com – amazon.com