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A Complex Weave


Anisur Rahman

BODY LOOM
By M. Athar Tahir
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2006, pp. 91, price not stated.

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 2 February 2008

If poetry reconstructs space, re-configures time, and re-conditions language, M. Athar Tahir’s effort is yet another at doing all these with certain finesse and dexterity.   Tahir takes on his vocation as a poet quite seriously: he is innovative in his thoughts and inventive in his expression. There is a palpable desire writ through the volume to appear and sound different. Even while the conditions around are much the same as ever, he presents them as objects and images as if being recognized, for the first time. It is yet another kind of familiarity that one might experience in reading these poems. We are all subjected to the perennial conditions of our lives and living but poets bring about a difference in how refreshingly they perceive them and how they help us re-configure our own selves. Tahir’s images and objects are neither too far to seek nor too difficult to recognize. This happens because he can identify his word, image, and metaphor and construct his own complexity of meanings. His loom, therefore, is of the larger body—the physical and the non-physical, the abstract and the concrete, the real and the surreal.   Body Loom has human sketches, physical spaces, portraits of pleasure, pain and pining—all very sensitively painted on the big and small canvasses of poems. And while the poems are rooted in clearly identifiable time and space, they also impart a definite sense of belonging and identity to the poet—both as an artist and an individual:   All begins in a drop or dot (Dot), The cocoon of silence spirals inwards (Sound), As insignificant as a pin-point/as irritating as a mote (Oysters), Black stripes on white/like a zebra in motion (Calligraphy), The head he had held in one hand on that/first day, and seen seasons change, would now not/wear the turban of the tribe (Baluch Chief), So he truncated/a subcontinent more than a foothold/for this One-God faith (Partition), Our borders meet where ranges rise (Scroll), A torn bit of night—/litters an interior/with its quick, lit, flight (Bat), What could be more pensive/than the buffaloes/lolling in the village pond (Buffaloes), By what and how is success measured? (Iraq). All these are sensitive renditions of a mood, a condition, a scenario, a predicament, a fine sensitive feeling. The poems stand out as individual perceptions of a reality. Scenes and ...


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