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Teen poet comes of age

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Eesha Kumar with her book. (Arnab Mondal)

At nine, she knew she wanted to be a writer. At 19, she has launched her first book, a collection of poems written at age 14 to 18. Meet Eesha Kumar, for whom “every sight I saw and every sound I heard” changed her vision and the way she sees the world.

It was a “blessing” for Eesha, a student of Lady Shri Ram College, to have Amit Chaudhuri launch her book, Random Access Memory. Each of the poems is a coming-of-age tale.

Chaudhuri thanked Eesha’s parents for letting her take up poetry and not forcing her to pursue economics instead. “When I read the author’s note, I noticed that Eesha could write. I say that as a compliment I don’t pay writers very often. Eesha, as we read her in the book, was still in an apprentice period but it is a wonderful apprenticeship and within this she has created some lovely poems. Like A Paper is my favourite poem from the book. Eesha has a grasp over the language and uses it well. I have a feeling she will stay with writing and I hope her dreams keep her going,” he said.

Also present at the launch at Tolly Club were Malabika Sarkar, former vice-chancellor of Presidency University; Ananda Lal, who directs Writers Workshop, which has published the book; and Abha Malik, Eesha’s teacher from Sanskriti School, Delhi.

Explaining how poetry has taken a backseat in Indian society and literature is now all about fiction, Lal said: “I think it is necessary for us to recognise how fragile the existence of poetry is ... Today literature means fiction. Poetry is not about being a bestseller but about how the poet is expressing his/her innermost feelings. It is about a carefully crafted art and that is what Eesha has shown us. There is a running theme through her book, which is actually about the craft of writing poetry. She is writing about the tools of poetry — paper, pen, experience of writing, the time of writing and the place of writing.”

Talking about her former student, Malik said it was “a proud moment” for her. “I have seen her interest in co-curricular activities. She is sincere and innovative. Her poems are her interior world and how she sees the exterior world.”

Eesha’s poetry left Sarkar moved too. “I read the first and it was so gripping that I ended up reading the entire book. I am very impressed by her use of light and colours in her poems and they made me think of the Impressionist painters. I kept thinking of which poet to link her with but at the end I knew it was Eesha Kumar and no one else. She has the ability to stay engaged and disengaged at the same time and that is a blessing for a poet. The poem I liked the most is Like A Paper.”

Beyond margins

Octogenarian quizmaster Ram Mihir Sen has translated fairytales from across the world into Bengali. The compilation, Nanan Desher Nana Ranger Roopkatha (Pritonia, Rs 150), was launched at Starmark last week. It has 20 fairytales from Austria, Denmark, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, the UK and India, 19 of them translated into Bengali for the first time.