Windows to the Ocean (by Mohineet Kaur Boparai) is being finalized and is available for pre-orders now through Middle Island Press. We are excited about this collection for a few reasons: 1) the sensibilities of her poetry are unique in contrast with the Western mindset; 2) this young poetess amazes me with her wisdom and accomplishments (see her biography here); and 3) she has included her own introduction which is an essay in itself, and so I would like to share it here (having obtained her permission).
Enjoy, and don’t forget to purchase an extra copy of her book for a poetry-loving friend.
Windows to the Ocean Introduction:
Windows to the Ocean begins from hints. Immensity never burdens us. The universe never becomes a weight, because it comes to us in bits and pieces and through windows. What would it be like if we experienced and perceived everything at once? Life is about minuteness, about our minuteness, which ironically makes us moving- we think- to immensity. And yet, in our day to day life, we are aware somewhere, instinctively of our vulnerability and littleness. Life is all about escaping this littleness. When I write poems, I try to get over my minuteness. I try to become immortal. And yet immortality is only cultural. We can never know if we are always already immortal. Thus, poetry in a big way is cultural but tries in a misinformed way to be universal. Not only writing poems, but every kind of human attempt at knowledge is a jostle with our minuteness and an attempt at immensity. In this sense, poetry is like any other occupation. Only, it is not so conscious. There is more serendipity in poetry than in ordinary knowledge. This is what creativity is like. It is sudden, is a stumbling over, a chance meeting, and has a flow like dreams.
This book is an impression of the minuteness that infuses life with meaning through its meaninglessness. Poetry comes from what impresses on the mind and the spirit making it both imaginary and prophetic. Imaginary poetry does not mean that it is limited to the inborn and inherent creativity of one’s self. Prophetic poetry, on the other hand, does not mean that it is merely a communication from without; it can very well come from the prophetic voices that are inside a person’s being and life. The poems in this book are based on the minuteness of day to day life as perceived by limited human perception. In an age which is philosophically scientific, but is becoming philosophically imaginative, I indulge with poetry that is a mix of the two. It is universal in tone and hence speaks to humans in general. On the other hand, the poetry in this collection uses images that are personal and hence also exudes personality of the author in particular. This collection lies somewhere between confession and universality in its extent. Humans in general create the world (that is cultural) to understand the universe. This book, too, is a world. This world is both cultural and pseudo universal because the universe is seen through the microscope of culture and hence is never a firsthand vision. The world is a human creation to understand the universe. Thus all books are a world in themselves. Something is always left out but isn’t the world essentially incomplete?
The frailty of the body, the limitlessness of the soul, the idea of the relation between the body and the soul, but also the reversing of the ordinary notions of both the body and the soul, I found later are some of the movers of poetry in my book. The soul and the body of life come up in accidents. If there were no accidents, we would not know either body or soul. How does the body and soul emerge in life, is the root also of the emergence of poems in this book. The love poems in “I Keep Realizing Love, Dispelling My Own Fears” begin from a personal experience of love, but are not personalized. They move away from the soul, “the body is pulled from the soul” and they open “windows to the ocean” where life began.
This book about the bits and pieces of life ironically seemed complete in its sweep as I walked to each poem. And after writing every poem, the world was suddenly incomplete all over again. This kept the process of writing going. The poems came not because I knew the truth but because I knew nothing about the truth. Every time I was intimidated by a tree in a photograph, an empty cup or even colours, I wrote a poem to record my awe. In these recordings, sometimes, I reached the understanding of the objects and experiences I wrote about, but this understanding was always partial because before I understood the universe, I had to understand the sweep of language and what was in the human and universal unconscious, and hidden from direct view.
My poetry from the first collection has moved to this one in one major way. It has become philosophical rather than merely perceptive of physicality. It has attempted to enter the sphere of the unconscious more consciously. Often the meaning in poetry does not come prior to writing, but after it. When the complete poem, if there is one, is read, it seems that new meanings uncurl and the author’s meaning becomes not ‘the’ meaning but ‘a’ meaning in the several meanings that the poem takes on. A poem is inexplicable and has no edges like the constantly expanding universe that we live in. For the author to contend that the poem has specific meanings according to her and that she knows all the meanings of the poem, would mean an arrogance that surpasses patriarchy and colonialism. Such an author must be thinking that she is Divinity. On the other hand, all humans in their respective professions are nanotechnologists. We are all shoveling some kind of nanotechnology in our lives and trying to reach the immense through the minuteness. Immensity is formed of molecules, oxygen is molecular, and emotional arousal is cellular and molecular in essence. The smallest bone in the human body is the stapes that is in the ear. Catch the poetry, sprinkle it on the grave of the invisible and enter the mirror palace that stands on the end of the world.
Mohineet Kaur Boparai