kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context
Finishing Line Press (September 22, 2017)
Paperback: 42 pages
Cover art: Carol Radsprecher
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An assured and powerful collection of articulated mourning and controlled rage for those silenced in acts of conflict. Debasis Mukhopadhyay exhumes the shadowlands and places the lives that cast them firmly into the light to be witnessed as they should through testaments of poetry. What impressed me most about these poems was the courage to experiment different forms through a stark mnemonic style of vivid imagery and a much-needed social conscience for these dark times. An impressive and courageous suite of poems and prose by a writer who has a strong ability to blend narrative into form so the poems are felt raw and all the harder hitting for it.
–Antony Owen, author of Margaret Thatcher’s Museum
The poems in Debasis Mukhopadhyay’s new chapbook, kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context, seamlessly interweave the most apparently irreconcilable materials of contemporary poetry: the horror of global injustice with the improbable persistence of beauty. These powerful poems manage to address a reality in which the continuing reign of bombs, shrapnel, bullets, and drones, coexists with the inspiration of Lorca, Ginsberg, Kafka, Beckett, and Van Gogh, beetroots and hummingbirds, moonlight and music. Braided into the relentless horror of Mukhopadhyay’s blunt and inescapable images is an ethereal lyricism in which “the night is your wool of time your doom your womb of lilac . . . hankering for the warm breath of the stars / through the rips of a sultry sky.” Ultimately, it is the demonstrated persistence of this beauty which assures the reader of this chapbook that somehow, we still “have a right to be optimistic about the world.”
–Susan Lewis, editor and publisher of Posit, author of Heisenberg’s Salon and This Visit
In this collection, Debasis Mukhopadhyay takes us inside bodies—bones, blood, skulls, chests—sometimes figuratively, but more often literally with bullets and bombs, coffins and graves. Mukhopadhyay invokes Godot and Van Gogh as he uses surreal image-scapes to examine violence around the globe, from historical events in Cuba, Spain, and Germany to present-day violence in Syria, Pakistan, and the United States. Mukhopadhyay writes, “i could see History was wrought beneath the frippery of dovetailed blueprints of gratuitous violence,” but even so, he also writes, “yes i have a right to be optimistic about the world.”
–Katie Manning, Author of Tasty Other and The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman
Review on Finishing Line Press:
Debasis Mukhopadhyay’s “kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context” takes you to an intense gliding sort of experience in a different continuum, guaranteed; you can connect easy with its homely surrealism, and the very refined/rarefied imagery which leaves an indelible mark on your mind. And there is this very Janus like feel to his works: the two faces of Abstract and the Immediate, the Sublime and the Ordinary, which will leave you hauntingly high, making you turn the pages for more. One of the most subtle aspects of his poetics is; the nicely experimented forms in expression, which holds duality of “experience and its expression” in an organic unity of a continuous whole. “still buried in the foxholes” is one of my favorites from the collection, where he writes: “/ your hairline / the mended hem around your tabula rasa curling up in the final bluing /”
Here the writer starts with a mundane reference, but his experience swells like a wave, and proliferates deeper recess of his soul to create a stunning abstraction, nothing less stimulating than a painting or a song. And the prolific turbulence within “Lorca’s body will never be found”, where an array of emotions is on display; feeding on each other through a magnificent non-linearity, to yield an unchanging pattern of haunting beatitude. Here are the few lines from the poem, i have never lifted my head from the lullabies / to hear the cowbells the gypsy bells the queer bells the refugee bells / are you ready / the gong now swirling aroar through the synaptic cleft in my rodent brain / amen i said rising from the muddy banks of a fiction of puritanical discretion / pressing creases into Donald Trump’s cloak
which reminds me of a mathematical object called Lorenz Attractor, a highly ordered pattern dictated by chaotic boundary conditions. I remember reading “a zebra I want to write a zebra” (one of the poems in the book) few months back in a literary magazine, and when I read it again in the book, I realized that poem is permanently etched on my sub-conscious. And that is the prowess and greatness of Mr. Mukhopadhyay’s poetry; a highly original contemporary literary voice, which has found it debut outlet in the form of “kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context” through Finishing Line Press for us to savor.
Review on Goodreads:
When I opened “kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context” I was thrust into a surrealistic world in which I could not quite get my bearings. There were bombs, spines, skulls, skies full of bizarre lights. The first line of the opening (and title) poem identifies the collection’s theme: “yes I am that old trombonist who sees death / dangling in every bird.” Mukhopadhyay’s language includes odd juxtapositions. Sometimes he separates clauses with a slanted line. His images are rapid-fire, beautiful, creative, but shattered, harsh, such as: “theoretical tulips blubbing inside a cylindrical / museum of war,” “starry night traveling past a mortuary,” “with a puckered smile i play highlife in tuba.”
Then I realized I was in Syria in the middle of an air strike, I was giving birth in Aleppo, I was a Pakistani model being killed in the name of my brother’s honor. After reading through the first few poems I began to think of each poem as a gift–a gift of understanding and experience that cut through my privilege and led me into a tiny square of knowing.
As the selection of poems continued I noticed the extraordinary tenderness underlying each. Our encounters with horror and violence are personalized. We meet individuals–Lorca, an unnamed young woman in hospice, and Jose Maria, reviewing his life and loves, relentlessly drawn back to Birobidzhan: “the train keeps coming back / crawling through your eye sockets / like dreams you wish / scooped out of your skull.”
Mukhopadhyay has a spectacular command of language and theme. His vision is unsparing, but he has not lost hope. This is a strong collection. I recommend it to all who enjoy poetry.
– -Review by Peggy Turnbull, Goodreads, December 8, 2017
Reviews on Amazon:
By Heath Brougher, December 6, 2017
I was blown away by this book. I don’t think it’s just one of the best books of the year. I think it’s one of the best books I’ve EVER read. Debasis Mukhopadhyay has the ability to push the envelope of literature and play around with words without losing the pith, the heart, of whatever topic he may be commenting on. He writes in an innovate and extremely fearless way. Each poem is unique unto itself and even when you do think he may just be playing around with words, he blindsides you with a poignant comment about the state of humanity. This is the way a True poet writes! AMAZING BOOK!!
By Sheila Jacob, January 8, 2018
Debasis is a poet who has never been afraid to trust his imagination. In this first collection it takes him and the reader to dark, disturbing places redeemed by the compassion of his vision. He addresses contemporary issues with startling,vivid imagery, as in “the narrow skull of Aylan Kurdu : “marbles/all mistaken for stars/bucking the seas/mistaken for skies/blue seven-knot skies/that my narrow skull/keep swallowing”. There’s also the stunning “menos tu vientre” about a child(named Amel or Hope) born in Aleppo in 2015 with a piece of shrapnel in her forehead and, my favourite, “watching is harder than asphyxiation”, written in memory of Quandel Baloch. “i was asleep & dreaming under my skin/just like a gul-e-nargis/lashing the sky/no gravity no teetering yet no wings/just your big paws brother mine” Buy the collection and let Debasis’s words take you where they will. Bon voyage.
By Cathryn A. Shea, February 4, 2018
In his debut collection from Finishing Line Press, Debasis Mukhopadhyay balances the horrors of our times with the world’s underlying beauty. The language and imagery is heart-rending and imbued with love for humanity. The poems within are expertly crafted and rich with sound and thought.
By Magdalena, March 4, 2018
“Kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context” is a beautiful written collection of poems about human suffering. I usually avoid reading about the mind boggling oppression and violence in the world. Debasis Mukhopadhyay has presented a difficult subject by juxtaposing it with beauty and lyrical images/words. I recently saw Ai Weiwei’s documentary on refugees, the Human Flow, putting a human face on displaced people and the suffering they bear. Debasis has done something similar with this collection of poems, helping us look at human suffering by navigating and lifting us through the pain with his poetry.