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Latest 5 Poems of Dr. Alphonsa John

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    Dr. Alphonsa John's last comments on poems and poets

    • POET: WILFRED JOHN (9/22/2007 10:49:00 AM)

      Wilfred John's collection as one of their picks for the 2007 'Reading the World' program, a three-year-old collaboration between publishers and independent bookstores that seeks to encourage readers to explore works in translation. It was a wise choice: while reading new poems, the reader is not only pulled in, and occasionally transfixed, by Wilfred John's own voice, but also becomes aware of the entire literary tradition. Wilfred John is a sort of literary nexus: in poem after poem he alludes to other major writers, both living and dead. Most readers will need to rely on Johnston's notes to understand the bulk of these references, but Wilfred John would need no guide to our culture, as his own knowledge seems encyclopaedic. The poems contain quotations and references to Shakespeare, they speak of contemporary European politics and the War on Terror; reading Wilfred John, one is ashamed that we have so little knowledge of his world. Either as a work in its own right or as an open door onto a hitherto unknown national literature, new poems is well worth reading.

    • POET: WILFRED JOHN (9/9/2007 10:21:00 AM)

      The poetry of Wilfred John, one of the most authoritative and significant voices in contemporary Indian poetry, is marked by a return to the strong and essential themes of contemporary man: human suffering, the sense of the tragic, war, the meditation on time, the destiny of our world. The intensity of his poetry stems from these themes and is profoundly tied to the ethical tension of his writing; while poetic spirit and philosophical questioning are intertwined. But this depth is reconciled with lightness as well, in a poetry that unites the tragic with the joyful, attention to detail with the most acute introspection, pain with the miraculous suspension of all suffering. And beauty is more intense and radiant the closer it is to the dark root of life. As Wilfred John himself explains in a note to “To those who asked him the difference between being sad and having heart-broken, Nachman answered that being heart-broken was not an obstacle to joy.”

      Far the self-celebrating narcissism of the ego, s poetry seems to spring from an act of removal, almost of sacrifice. “When I write, I withdraw, ” writes Wilfred John, and adds, “I dream of a language that is capable of expressing the self without the intrusiveness of the self (…) A self capable of a glance, capable of listening but with its own glance and ear and its own imperious voice set aside, abandoned.” This exclusion is already evident in a style that is absolutely and extraordinarily free of rhetorical gratification. It is evident as well in the quest for a language that is “anonymous, exact, ” with a rigor that is intimate, like that of a spiritual exercise. It is writing that is essential, yet gentle and impassioned as well. As Franco Loi writes, “it is vigorous and kind, while at the same time as penetrating and persuasive as a voice.”

      The expressive precision of his plain word complies with and corresponds to the object. Its constant point of reference is a bare reality, the landscapes and objects of daily life. This is because the everyday is the only dimension one can feel part of, in which one can search for a vestige of meaning: “Reality is not an enduring thing, it needs our protection. Buildings collapse, entire worlds disappear. Language can from time to time dig a hospitable hole, in which nothing is superfluous, it can put up a perimeter fenced within which things and people can breathe side by side, enjoy the light, and survive.” Poetry as protection from pain, from the violence in the world, from abandonment, and from the insidious danger of silence that constantly threatens to dissolve our precarious reality and the word.

    • POEM: Run Away by WILFRED JOHN (8/13/2007 10:14:00 PM)


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