The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

Poetry Review: Yuyu, the wandering poet

 

Yuyu, the wandering poet

Yuyutsu Sharma: Nine New York Poems. A Prelude to A Blizzard In My Bones. New York Poems

Nirala Publications, New Delhi, 2014

Yuyutsu Sharma: Space Cake Amsterdam & Other Poems from Europe and America

Nirala Publications, New Delhi, 2014

Poetry Review by Agnes Marton

Published in issue 39 of The Ofi Press

 

Yuyu is Mona Lisa’s hallucinatory lover, saying Namaste (‘I salute the soul of God that is within you’) (Mona Lisa Drunk). A shaman “chewing Tesco’s vegpledges” on the Tube (Miles on the Tube). A cityhopper who is not at all a tourist, who is at home everywhere, exploring urban fields through his Himalayan gaze. The master of observation, of detail, of compassion.

Half the year, Yuyutsu Sharma leads creative writing workshops at American universities and performs his poems all over the world, but then he returns to Nepal and India.

Yuyu’s New York poems are full of collisions and intersections, and his verse itself is also multicultural, with echoes of sounds and rhythms of the city:

“Meager, skimpy, bloodless,

punching the city’s famed roaches

my legs clanging, wheeling mantras

of angry and drunken avatars,

my breaths measuring menus

of Fast Food takeaways

like curses of the demented

on shaky subway tracks”

(The Scream, Subway Avatars)

 

and fractions of the everyday sightseeing of an expat:

“The day you stop taking the free

Staten Island Ferry to click a perfect shot

of the Statue of Liberty,

or stop visiting Times Square at night

and forget to find a way out of its labyrinth (…)

You are a New Yorker.”

(You are a New Yorker)

 

It’s glorious contemporary urban poetry where sometimes traces of pastoral elegy can be found, sometimes magic realism, sometimes the individual’s concerns of global matters, sometimes eroticism, sometimes the mythology of Sufi saints… Most often all of these together in harmony.

The collection ‘Space Cake Amsterdam’ is more like a series of colourful snapshots (of museums, of cafés, of castles), without any superficiality, on the contrary, time to time reaching the profound. Yuyu calls himself a “shaking frame” (Temple, London); inherits his role as a writer and he can accomplish it through his wandering (“Someone left a pen / on the palpable table of my travels”). In De Zuarte Ruiter Café he (“you man from the Himalayas”) is asked whether he can stop ghosts of relatives slipping into dreams, whether he can explain nightmares.

“I knew they wished me to wear

a shaman’s feathered crown for my head     

and dance round and round for several centuries

to avenge the atrocities of the male Buddhas

in the corridors of history for them.”

 

He depicts naked, noble, leopard‑like, shiny dances (Ruigoord) and talks about remembering long‑ago admired lovers (Look‑alike, Galway), about the uncanny language of husbands (Frankfurt), and about parrots flying out of the zoo to the city to sing (what else?) the song of survival (Heidelberg, Danke!).

Both books are beautifully designed, with elegant bookmarks. I received them from India by post. When opening the envelope, the first thing I noticed was the spicy scent coming out of the pages. Then I started reading and couldn’t stop.