WHO IS THE GREATEST LIVING POET?

Sushmita Gupta, painter, mother, teacher, wife, was born in Kolkata. She grew up in Bhilai, a Russian-Indian steel township in central eastern India, with perpendicular roads, and large trees which flowered during the summer and became fragrant at night. She presently lives in Oman.

She is proof that the sensitive female soul is the essence of poetry.  She reconciles the elements of the universe.

Her online site, Sushness supplies a much better view of her tasteful and prolific output.

Here on Scarriet we offer only a few poor, inflamed arguments in favor of her (the best arguments contain fire) and two of her poems.

She reminds us of Shelley, who embraced primary elements of psychology and nature.

Nor is she afraid to offer wisdom, in the ancient sense.

American poets—after Poe—a sophisticated lot, tend to be suspicious of wisdom—their excellence lies in quirky and difficult points of view.  The school of Bishop/Lowell, for instance.  Auden, perhaps, was the last poet in English who made a real attempt to sound wise.

The Bold And The Peaceful

I rushed.
It was bright.
It was crazy.
A tornado full of life.

The unpredictability!
The speed!
The danger!
My bold streak drew me to it.

I rushed across the field,
To be carried and caressed
By a tornado.

Almost there,
I stopped.
The peace within me,
Made a terrible mismatch.

The bold and the peaceful.
That is me.

In this minor poem by Sushmita Gupta, which resembles the minor poems of Shelley, we are struck by emotion, clarity, and psychological truth—the poem carries us away with its energy and immediacy—exactly like a tornado; the poem delivers its expressiveness without fuss, and because there’s no fuss, the reader is engaged; there is no hesitation, pretense, or straining after the right little details. The poem has the rigor of religion, the flow of the poem has an epic force and size, which permits the whole of the emotional expression to make itself felt. A child could understand the poem, and this is part of its appeal, and yet its subtlety is profound. The poem’s movement is psychologically astute. The key line in the poem is “I rushed across the field” and here is all the remarkable imagery we need. The very balance of the poem threatens to break it apart.  The duality is not a cancelling one, but in a brilliantly ironic way, the very source of the poem’s fury.

Sushmita Gupta is the greatest living poet.

Fame, as we all know, is based on hearsay—the T shirt is an extremely popular piece of clothing, but its popularity is not up for discussion, nor can it be mitigated by academic debate.

None can say what a great T-shirt is—it is the simple design of the T-shirt—invisible, ubiquitous—which is the “great” thing; the great poem is not akin to a great T-shirt, obviously; but the great poem achieves an excellence similar to the invisible, ubiquitous reality of the T-shirt as it exists in the practical world of clothes.

We should make it clear that Sushmita Gupta is the last person in the world who would make the claim that she is a “great” poet, much less the “greatest living poet.” She is too busy enjoying life, which includes writing poems, to ever worry about such a thing; she writes for friends, which is the practice of most poets—famous, or not.

She is humble and gracious—Scarriet makes this “great” claim on her behalf, without her knowledge, for pedagogical purposes only. We call her “great” only to advertise our own critical taste in poems written in English, which we have long developed and maintained. It ultimately doesn’t matter what a poet thinks, or whether their life circumstances justify the content of their poetry; we care, and only hope our readers care, for the poetry.

Judging poetry today is hindered by two things.

First: poetry criticism is hobbled by the cant which supposes that poetry has no relation to a made object with a clear design. “Poetry is not a T-shirt!”  Yes, true.

But indeed the poem—which belongs to life, and not to a rarefied, non-place, swirling about in a haze of intellectualized assumptions—is, like a T-shirt, a made object with a clear design.

Intellectual pedantry—which seeks to dazzle, without making sense—disagrees with the common sense premise that poetry is a “made object with a clear design,” and this pedantry wildly expands to assert that the more a poem is unlike a “made object with a clear design,” the better it is.

And so authority becomes not just partially perverted, but completely perverted. This is common in rhetorical pursuits, such as poetry, literary criticism, or politics—where rhetoric itself separates people, even though all people, in almost all cases, want the same things.

This is the first thing: on dubious authority, a poem is not recognized as a poem.

Second: although an appreciation of poetry will always exist among people who wear T-shirts, the process by which poetry is “officially” recognized is in the hands of the well-placed, academic, few—who devotedly pursue the error we just outlined.  This is especially the case, since the teaching of poetry was replaced, in mid-20th century America, by the college writing program apparatus, in which ambitious individuals transformed themselves from poets seeking fame into poetry teachers seeking fame, ensuring critical, philosophical confusion on one hand, and the precise kinds of unfortunate divisiveness and calculating hierarchy, often seen in politics, on the other—with the emptiness we would expect.

“Who is Sushmita Gupta?”

To the ambitious and well-positioned who ask this indignantly, we have no response.

Sushmita Gupta has neither bought into the expertise-cant of razzle-dazzle, formless, unclear poetry, nor has she ambitiously clambered her way into the maze of the creative writing industry.

Now obviously, this article, featuring two Sushmita Gupta poems, will not reveal to our readers what a real poem is, or any such nonsense—our argument above is not to be taken as a definition of poetry, but only a glimpse into what informs our own particular taste, out of which arises our judgment—that Sushmita Gupta’s poetry is deserving of lofty notice and serious recognition.

We spoke earlier of the importance of a poem’s formal design. Every poet should properly, and naturally, have a specific design on the reader—these two “designs” are nothing without the other—the poem’s visible, formal properties on one hand, and the poet’s invisible, emotional, and social intention, on the other. The more these match, the more successful the poem.

When we first had the pleasure of reading “His Words,” by Sushmita Gupta, we felt an emotional kick, and we were pleased at how seemingly without effort the emotional kick was administered. Only after reading the poem, again, with a critical eye, did we recognize its formal perfection.

The poem contains six stanzas. In stanzas two through five, the first part of each stanza is concerned with what “he” does to “her.”

The final line of these four stanzas reveals, progressively, the result of what he does to her.

We see effect on her, and also the effect of her—as when an image, such as “petal” is used.

The result of the last line of each of these stanzas is also her words, the poet’s, on “his words”—his words and her words contend within the poem, in an unspoken manner.

Sushmita Gupta’s poem, “His Words,” is more than a poem vindicating itself. The poem transcends its own poetic rhetoric in its final line—even as it remains securely within the arc of the poem.

It could be argued that the poet, in her final accusation—as a poet—is accusing herself, though this is not explicit.  There is meaning within meaning—within the poem, and one final possible meaning—outside the poem itself.

Nothing is left out, nothing more is needed—and every part of the poem belongs to every other part, as well as to the whole.  The measured perfection and ease, is breathtaking—even as the subject itself is a dramatic whirlwind.

~~~~~~~~~~

His Words

He chose
Each word,
With utmost care.
He strung
The sentences
Into lyrical poetry.

His writings
Touched her,
Like she was
The most beautiful.

His writings
Caressed her,
Like she was
A fragrant being.

His writings
Stroked her,
Like she was
A tender petal.

And she felt,
Being carried,
Over the threshold,
And pledged herself to him.

Only,
He did not know
She lived.

 

 

 

21 Comments

  1. Mr. Woo said,

    August 2, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Regarding “His Words”— Now that’s an end to a poem. Heartbreaking. A truly remarkable poem.

    • Manisha Patel said,

      August 3, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      Well deserved review. Sushmita’s poems bring out so many life’s parallel, I love the highs and lows of human emotions,they feel so real,love the drama she creates. A true artist who has come into her own.- Manisha Patel.

  2. April 5, 2018 at 2:07 am

    I was just poking around again on this site and I found this. Again, I enjoy your treatise but wonder if you’re reading the same poems that I am. This poet is nothing like Shelley. Gupta could be any teenage writer on any number of modern poetry websites, and Shelley is a master of the form. I know you say she only “reminds” you of the poet, but still, that’s absurd, if you don’t mind me saying.

    I’d love to see a more thorough breakdown. Compare and contrast two of the poems from both authors, and explain why you think they’re similar. If you want.

  3. thomasbrady said,

    April 5, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Pop,

    Imagine a pyramid.

    The bottom contains the moral force of the poet. In the middle is the organizing power of the poet, and finally, in the narrow top we have the flourishes and embellishments of the poet.
    I think many imagine the pyramid differently, and believe marvelous amoral tricks in poetry are the base of the pyramid.

    • April 5, 2018 at 2:24 pm

      Okay, but isn’t the stuff at the top of the pyramid what we love about poetry? Anyone could write “He chose each word with [the] utmost care.” See, even here, when I install the missing “the” it instantly improves the line by making it more melodic. Gupta should know that.

      Look, I don’t mean to pick on Gupta (I love saying that name), she’s a competent writer, but her exposition is unremarkable despite the “moral force.” Whatever that is.

      If I were to argue FOR Gupta, I would say she’s trying to utilize the less-is-more school of composition. I’m thinking Hemingway, Warhol and the like. If one thinks of her work in this way the moral force element becomes more coherent. Fewer tricks equal abundant morality equals contentment.

  4. thomasbrady said,

    April 5, 2018 at 11:42 am

    In Sushmita Gupta’s poem, “His Words,” we have moral force, a clear organization, and the poetry tricks are sufficient. True, Shelley is more acrobatic and cunning in his verse. Shelley dominates in the upper portion of the pyramid. Most poets either lack organizing skill or moral force. There’s no pyramid to them at all. Sort of a puddle.

  5. thomasbrady said,

    April 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Take any lyric poem by Shelley. It has one theme. A moral theme.

  6. Steve Glickman said,

    May 31, 2019 at 3:57 am

    I am TheWorldsGreatestLivingPoet.com!

  7. Kered koorbatsae said,

    February 27, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    If this really is Britain’s greatest living poet then i must be blind deaf and profoundly stupid just who are the littary critics who obviously are in the wrong profession try comedy

    • February 28, 2020 at 2:45 am

      Comedy requires intelligence.

    • thomasbrady said,

      February 28, 2020 at 12:54 pm

      Kered, I hear you. No critical or philosophical view of poetry has any respect or staying power. Name one. The most famous is Plato’s: keep poetry away from my Republic. Or Aristotle’s, which makes material recommendations every modern rejects. And the moderns have no respected critical theories. Do you have any? So if I say this poet produces poetry as emotional product with order and taste, who are you to object?

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        February 28, 2020 at 5:05 pm

        Beautifully stated though of course I do recognize, nobody asked me. But I say it anyway.

  8. maryangeladouglas said,

    February 28, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    FOR RAY BRADBURY IN HIS IMMEMORIAL CENTENNIAL YEAR

    in the centennial year of your fire balloon, Life!, over an

    horizon invisible drifting

    in the year of the twining of green leaves over the avenues

    still o Waukegan:

    the census of shadows librarian-hushed

    the dawns of summers made more heavenly on earth

    by your prescient absence, Ray we remember

    not only the stories but that they came from you

    infused with eternal sunniness even in dungeons or up on

    treeless Mars where we must be if we be at all the green

    mornings ourselves or in many storied Araby or,

    or carnival crowned, enamoured of

    the baked bread aromas of home or the zig zag electric

    loveliness, that Feeling: young or old, Chaplinesque, a trifle

    whimsical after the manner of Pickwick or

    with Icarus enthroned far from the green-blue, the troubling

    seas

    to be the first one up

    to see the stars and street light diminishments.

    there is no diminishment though you can’t count time by

    dandelions anymore by the vintage year stored.

    but we can

    when we read you still. and when,

    treading on the mystical lawns.

    we dream on.

    mary angela douglas 28 february 2020

  9. maryangeladouglas said,

    February 28, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Have great mercy on Bradbury TG. Remember that he loved Poe. Probably more than many. And remembered him with ENTHUSIASM.
    RB still remains my favorite writer of stories and novellas. And this really is his centennial year. I dont know why I put this poem and comment here on this particular thread except I think you dont mind a short Poe intermission anywhere. Even from a short person.

  10. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 3, 2020 at 9:13 am

    SWANS’ TALE VARIATION

    based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Wild Swans…

    I had a myth I followed for awhile

    the nettle weaving, muted tongue

    to save my brothers from the spell of

    once upon turned sour that turned them into

    swans upon the hour in doomed perpetual flight

    with barely a pinpoint haven to alight on

    thus my hands, my heart were scarred

    and all my dreams marred with their infinite cries for release

    who released not me.

    sometimes the road runs out and there’s no more walking then

    when all is water

    save with Christ’s hand

    over the innundated land we used to know so well.

    mary angela douglas 3 march 2020

  11. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 4, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    my poem birds fly from empty nests

    dear Lord and if Thou thinkest best

    let them fly to the Poetry Tree

    where they sing only, all for Thee

    sing all for Thee.

    strained gold is the track of the world to fame

    naming no names that cant be named.

    buying and selling and buying again

    coveting, wondering who will win.

    and who has won today.

    I see no contest and feel it so

    let everything softly be written in snow

    and then drift away

    before I hear my leased songs pray

    oh for a kingdom where we rule.

    beauty in even the least degree

    beauty that flies to only Thee

    must ever beside You always be.

    must always be.

    this is my plea.

    mary angela douglas 4 march 2020

  12. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 4, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    POOR PEOPLE ARE FODDER

    poor people are fodder.

    sometimes they make those rich who “serve” them.

    or at least, reasonably comfortable.

    professors win acclaim

    for taking away their names

    and compiling statistics from them.

    conferences are held

    by those who think it’s swell

    to only commend themselves

    and never the ones suffering through.

    but God sees through it all.

    through every backroom wall.

    through every deal that’s made

    to put them in the shade

    or way way way out of town

    or simply not around.

    and then, to garner praise.

    mary angela douglas 4 march 2020
    Crystal Towers Public Housing
    Winston Salem, NC

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      March 7, 2020 at 3:46 pm

      assessing the assessors I cried out

      how is it everything they hear is turn about

      so my courage is named fear

      and all I think about just disappears

      into their black stars void as if they alone thought of it

      until oh God I wonder where you are

      have they taken you captive too and all divinity.

      and in a nest of lies I can’t find any clue

      what is it that they do what say

      unraveling everything I know was true

      when I told them in the first place and from You

      ditching the testimony like a ransacked soul

      they forge on in forging woe

      and what I said with angels for witnesses

      is swallowed up so they may seize the loving cup

      coopt the Grail.

      they cry justice meaning something else

      and make a jail of the least bright thing

      and as wolves fly. to the sheep.

      the sun is cut out of the sky. the moon’s asleep.

      and I watch them from the corner of my eye run

      with everything I tried in rags of gold

      to let them know’ or for the sake of innocents, behold.

      mary angela douglas 7 march 2020

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        March 7, 2020 at 4:07 pm

        the chic of ‘the revolution; passes me by

        also, the machinery of state.

        in tatters I go on

        knowing at least, that God is real

        and has seen all this before.

        somewhere still I know

        what’s real sitting in my room

        envying the clouds their

        space and distance, quietude

        heals everything.the etudes of Spring.

        but the news goes on wherever it will.

        and all the throngs dreaming a borrowed dream that fails.

        I bury my head

        in the Song of your wing.

        mary angela douglas 7 march 2020

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      March 8, 2020 at 11:47 am

      SHELL

      I thought I deciphered the meaning of faces

      until in sudden twilight I discovered behind certain of them

      a falling away of masks, and behind them, more masks

      so that I couldnt ask each one the same question and be

      answered truly. The masks talked at once loudly disputing

      whatever chance remark I made

      and worked upon me such a sorrow that I

      lost all praise for the evening

      for the pink ridge at daylight.

      thus have I come back to the land from a sea of derision shaken.

      unsure of the moorings.

      like a child with a shell to her ear

      listening for the voice of God alone.

      mary angela douglas 8 march 2020

  13. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 5, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    GETTING OUT OF THE RUINS WHILE IT’S STILL DARK

    getting out of the ruins while it’s still dark

    we fed our last sweet crumbs to the moonlit birds

    this is the last of the cherries I said

    when I was speaking in the colour red

    and telling times by twos.

    what did you learn in school

    I learned tea set rules, to model in clay and

    how to be somewhere else all day

    and that the pelting of words

    felt like sleet coming down, stray marbles

    thrown at the visionary weddings

    the sudden quizzes, quizzical;

    fractions, sweetly the conjugations of llorar.

    even with aprils sweeping through the yard

    this is the last of the dreams my star; I said to you,

    be careful with it.

    mary angela douglas 5 march 2020


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