‘Fractious Mind’ depicts plight of subjugation & defiance

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‘Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash,’ by Leonard Cohen was the most assertive thought on my mind as I sat down in reflection after reading ‘Fractious Mind‘ by Perveiz Ali.

Born in the saffron town of Pampore in Kashmir, Perveiz is an educationist by profession and a poet at heart. He pours his feelings both in verse and prose.

Fractious mind, a book of seventy six poems is as diverse in style as in theme. The poet seems to be a man of myriad moods; his poems are as varied in spirit as in style. You will find him lamenting in Limericks, protesting in Haikus or breaking in ecstasy in Sonnets. At times, he depicts his angst in blank verse or gets philosophical in a Ghazal.

The book is a meandering journey through the labyrinth of the poet’s unruly and wayward mind hence apt title Fractious Mind. The prepotent theme though is the conflict-torn Kashmiri experience that brought to my mind the Leonard Cohen quote, for the region is burning and the words in this book of poetry are the ash that spouts out of an anguished poet’s pen. The lexicon is soaked in tears and blood, echoing the cries of children blinded with pellets and the soul stirring cries of mothers of young martyred sons. The book is an addition in the long history of resistance poetry in Kashmir.

Perveiz Ali gives ample time to the readers to let his verses grow on them before delving entirely into the Kashmiri conflict, starting on a lighter note of romanticism in Forget Me Not and Oh My Beloved slowly swiping in subtle shades of feminist poetry in The She, Besides Me stroking in protest through ‘Subjugation…Yet they say we must vote?’ in Vote for Truth and getting into angst against the system. There is no method in it, it is not done in an order, and you might get to read a few philosophical lines in Naked Love.

‘You may say it’s nothing but it will be,
You can’t forget what demons set in your mind.
They prey on your fears and doubts.
My mind plays tricks too ever so often,

before the poet takes a barb at you in, Kashmir Delirium

‘Oh People of Earth! Thankful are we,
For each act of benevolence shown to us.
Your gilded sweet words describing,
The beauty of Kashmir, land and people,’

and then suddenly gives you respite by a soothing love poem in Naked Love

‘Would that we could be truly open,
So open that our demons fraternize!
Let them intermingle in naked glory,
Truly and plainly exposed to each other.’

In short, the poet has woven the anguish, despair and desolation of Kashmir with the soothing threads of yearning, nostalgia and romanticism in an attempt to provide a window into Kashmir, so the reader gets a better understanding of the region and his empathy is evoked.

The poems are diverse in genres, viewpoints and settings, balanced a bit amateurishly but I reminded myself that it’s a debut book, and there’s much hope of improvement in his subsequent work considering this accomplished skilfully in a maiden attempt.

My personal choice in Poetry has always been light verse as I read poems mainly for recreation and for stress-busting, so Wordsworth’s nature poems and Keats’s sensual imagery appeals me more. In the light of my choice, my favourite verses in this book are,

‘Would that we could be truly open,
So open that our demons fraternize!
Let them intermingle in naked glory,
Truly and plainly exposed to each other, (Naked Love)

‘Can I call you my body?
As miles apart, I bleed from a cut,
One you experienced whilst cooking,
My body forever linked to yours,’ (My Valued Muse)

‘Oh, to finally truly accomplish
The courage to court you,
Even if only for a fleeting moment,
A memory to cherish forever!
My hope for tomorrow,
My reason to tread on,
My reason to see tomorrow,
The hope of union!’ (You)

Literature has the capability of invoking essential humanity in us, especially in the troubled world that we are living in, it’s pre-eminent. I felt this book implored the empathy in me that was hardened by the constant exposure to the images of torn-apart families from Syria, atrocities in Burma or repression in Kashmir. By pulling together a number of poems, the poet has simply helped literature do what it’s meant to.

Through syllables, beats and rhythms, he has depicted the plight of a region subjugated for decades, the feelings and predicaments of its people. It must be read to perceive how submission becomes defiance, and how the hands that row the Shikaras are forced to pelt stones in an act of self-defence, when one grows up in the shadows of Kalashnikovs.


Book: Fractious Mind

Genre: Poetry

Author: Perveiz Ali

Publisher: Global Fraternity of Poets

Year of Publication: 2018

ISBN: 978-93-83755-51-6

Pages: 90

Price: ₹240 / $16

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