Sunil Sharma – Digging with Seamus Heaney

sunilSunil Sharma is a Mumbai-based, Indian writer who has already published 14 books: four collections of poetry, two of short fiction, one novel, one a critical study of the novel and co-edited six anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award—2012. Recently his poems were published in the UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree.

Digging with Seamus Heaney

And Seamus Heaney says to me, a reader, searching a master for quality, on a lonely Sunday morning in humid May Mumbai:

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

I find the intro intriguing!
Is it a weapon? His squat pen?

I read on the famous poem and walk through a personal history
The digging that connects him with his old man and his old man with his old man.
The manual job connects two generations with a third, on a writing mode, bit reflective, as opposed to the demanding physical activity of digging a land for its fruits.

Then I slide down to the startling end:

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

The tone is prophetic.
The “gun” is missing as a comparison.
Just a declaration about his intention—as a poet searching for subject.

Is there some message hidden?
What elevates this poem?

I dig deeper
And find
The heady mix of the personal, history and memory
Recording subtle changes in thinking and occupations.

Should not a poet dig deeper?
Into the land and its history?
Unearth the swirling memories.
Find connections therein, like him
Document the generational changes.
Heaney does that only
By registering radical changes—
From land farming to urban lifestyles
Based on intellectual labour and mental processes
But rooted in its soil/traditions
And deliver pure artistic visions about Ireland.

Poetry as history
A narrative as a dug-up site
Weaving past, present and future.

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