A REVIEW of Prose Poems: Biblio Alpha (Saad Ali)
By Ejaz Rahim (MA in English)
Sitara-i-Imtiaz for Literature, Poet & Author (PAK)
In this essay, I wish to examine his latest work in the perspective of continuity and change. I believe the present volume reflects the poet's development as a thinking individual as well as a literary craftsman. I see elements of intellectual and poetic growth which I believe need to be highlighted.
The very first poem in Part I is titled 'Transition' in which the poet makes a significant announcement: "I'm finished with the choir of the metaphysical and I've begun the symphony of the physical." Thought is still important as "the mother of inventions" ("The Message"), but the language of abstractions is no longer allowed to shape the substance of poetic discourse: "I'm done with allowing metaphors and allegories taking liberty with me"; and "I'm done with imitating myself ... ." The mellower vision I speak about is best conveyed in the poem titled "The Hanuman Langur," which, in my opinion, is also "the human langur," continually hanging, switching, migrating and immigrating from one realm of experience and thought to another in search of significance.
There is an important caution found in the text against "excess." The Pen and the Tablet in this poem are symbols of a deeper and higher experience the poet is heir to. One of the finest poems in the volume titled "Poet and Poetry" speaks of a poet's unique role in seeking meaning equally in nature and people, and of making sense of "oxymorons," "juxtapositions" and "amalgamations" of life's experiences. The centrality of experience melding memory and aesthetic sensibility is delicately expressed in the poem called "Self-Portrait" where the poet's early infatuation in Kashmir is described as a landmark in his "pilgrimage to Self." It results not in highbrow philosophical abstractions but in a marvellous blend of everyday emotion and poetry, blending the feelings of loss and joy.
This book marks a milestone in Saad Ali's intellectual and artistic development. It reflects a transition from the universe of abstractions to the world of the concrete. It coruscates with wit and imagination, irony and satire, as well as compassion and humanism. It continues to reflect his forte for reflection and meditation, and transcends beyond to capturing the undulations of human existence. These poems have been conceived in a spirit of joyfulness and a profound sense of fulfilment. I have no doubt that Saad Ali's verse will be a source of joy and fulfilment to all serious connoisseurs of poetry.