Sep 7, 2010

PEX & Poetry

I’ve always been curious about stuff like Process Excellence (PEX), Kaizen, Six Sigma, Black Belt/Green 
Belt, etc. Keep hearing of them and how they drive organizational efficiency. However, I’ve always been a lil skeptical how much of it was hogwash and how much really effective. Anyway, the current organization has these PEX modules on their intranet which you can subscribe to and complete a basic course. Since new things excite me and I didn’t have much on my hands, I decided to subscribe to the online learning course. It’s fairly detailed and gets tedious after a while and leaves folks like me in much the same condition as Columbus when he started on his ocean voyage, full of hope and spirit but badly ill-informed. Anyway, the problem solving parts are good and I now know what a rusty hinge must feel like. i dunno about process excellence but PEX is definitely an excellent tool for gaining some much-needed self insight.

I have always considered myself extremely fast at doing/executing things. This is not so much a virtue as a direct consequence of my chronic impatience.  I talk  fast, walk fast, climb stairs two at a time, cook fast, and looking back, I recall that I was the first one to always submit the answer sheet at every effing examination I ever took in my school years. Alas, no more. Those damn PEX modules have taught me what it feels like to proceed at snail’s, ok make that the Nano’s pace. So far I have only managed to rope in Vivek & the dude has beaten me every time. bah!

When the PEX gets too much, I take a small break; feel I have earned it. I delve into some delicious poetry. If delicious strikes you as a strange adjective, wait till you read her yourself. She evokes the kinesthetic effects of keats, marquez, and lorca. You will simultaneously feel and smell and taste every word as her poetry strums something within you. This is sensual poetry at its best and very few people can do true justice to eroticism. Most Indians anyway have no understanding that eroticism and pornography are totally divorced from each other.

Coming back to Sharanya Manivannan, hers is the voice of your mother and my grandmother and as you read along you get a sense of time repeating itself; there is both a sense of history and the whiff of freshness in her poems. Frankly, I didn’t think too much of her prose, though she’s a regular columnist, but her poetry is something that explodes within you and leaves you, err..umm… shaken and stirred.

As you proceed along her substantial body of work (she’s only 25!) you can identify the pet themes – desire, confident sexuality, death, separation, obsession, death of grandmother. As with the themes, the images and metaphors are often repetitive – blood, violence, animal & food imagery – without being mundane or forced. There is pride in an almost suffocating/obsessive love and the indefatigable passion that accompanies it and the awareness that such closeness must give way to separation (even death is separation.) I especially loved How to Eat a Wolf, Inventories of the Heart, The Mapmaker’s Wife, Banishing, Dream of Burying my grandmother, Rituals for Closure, and First Language. As i read and re-read 1,2 & 3, i felt an old anguish well up from somewhere deep within. This is the pain you feel as you read Eliot, George Herbert, and Emily Dickinson. That is no mean feat. 

As much as I loved her poetry I have two reservations: first, will her readership be restricted (largely) to women? I am not sure how men will respond to her authorship. The reigning deities of lit crit may applaud her but many men will judge her poems in terms of labels – raunchy, audacious, sexy. Her poems are all this and more, much more. It doesn’t help that the little lady is smoking hot and knows it & flaunts it unabashedly!

Second, I wonder how she will mature and will she explore other themes and images and paint diverse canvasses or restrict herself to what she’s doing now. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing ordinary or mundane about her accomplishment, only greedy glut that I am I’d love to see her soar higher and arrange the colors of the rainbow differently. Believe me, with her words, she can.

It is befitting that i take down my old volume of keats tonite. Wasn't he the dude who wrote, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever?" Read SM's poems and you will know how wrong he was. Love between a man and a woman is one of the most beautiful things He could compel and yet its beauty pales like the waxing moon. Such love is fragile, afraid, tentative and we do everything in our power to render it meaningless.   

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