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Subaltern

Cut my body to pieces and kill my only child,
I’ll not stop believing that this order
Thrives on murder and prostitution.
The glass houses of the bourgeoisie are
stained;
Stones cannot break them.
There is a sad and silent way I walk evening
after evening,
The smell of death is among the
abandoned poor
Enclosed in lightless spaces of the city.
Their beauty is that of stars on milky white
nights;
Resilience gives them fiery exuberance
They are endowed with power to look back;
They seem dead to glossy eyes of
bourgeoisie.
They live not in spite of themselves
But because they know
They are owners of streets on the move,
They are owners of history,
Their tales will be told for all times to come.

on Streets that Smell of Dying Roses

...the book that many younger authors have
tried to write and failed — one that disassembles language, narrative and structure, throwing them all into a molten semantic stream. Understanding, falling into, and melding with the flow of this stream one of the more enjoyable literary experiences I’ve had in recent years. A comparison to Joyce’s Ulysses seems apt.... On the strength of this work, Prakash Kona seems poised for greatness.

Charles Allen Wyman
The Absinthe Literary Review

...an experimental work of the highest order

Mad Hatter’s Review

Prakash Kona Conjurer of nights (2012)

Conjurer of nights is Prakash Kona’s British poetry debut, following two previous collections published in his native India, a plethora of nonfiction, and two novels, including his critically acclaimed, stream-of-consciousness Streets that Smell of Dying Roses (2003). A true polymath – novelist, poet, scholar, polemicist – Kona has a richly cultivated concept of his own poetics which, in his words, ‘falls under the rubric of ‘alternate discourses’’. Prime among his heartfelt foci are the material and immaterial travails of the universal ‘underdog’, the social outcast, all those who subsist in poverty in the age of capitalist ‘plenty’. Kona’s perception of the poor transcends the steeply shelved recesses of the fifth varna of the Hindu caste system: his is a macro social conscience, a philanthropic scope sans frontieres. The plight of the world’s poor inspire some sublimely beatific tropes: ‘the bodies of the poor resist the thought of dying,/ Their souls occupied to limits’; ‘my love is a dishrag that serves/ The most and must be discarded as untouchable’.

Kona-Prakash_Conjurer_cover

ISBN 978-1-906742-51-5

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Kona’s is a spiritual politic, a ‘dialectical immaterialism’, or ‘proletarian soteriology’ (‘bourgeoisie’ is a recurring leitmotiv). Like Gorky, he knows it is possible to believe in both the body- and the soul-politic, to fuse the earthly Salvationism of Marxism with the spiritual Salvationism of religion (capitalism being the true ‘opium of the masses’) — a sort of ‘karmic Marxism’. But Kona is no ideologue: he is wary of ideologies’ propensities to exclude. Above all, he is an all-inclusive, unconditional humanitarian.

There is an expressive effusiveness in his translucent verse; even a ‘visionary’ quality that conveys a sense of poet as avatar, akin to the Western Romantic perception of poets as ‘mediums of the Muse’. All this is conveyed through a mystically tinctured, mantra-like lyricism. Kona is able to clasp the macrocosm in the aphorism; some poems are aphorismic patchworks, reminiscent of Buddhist tracts, the Bhagavad Gita, the prophetic works of Blake, and the poetic discourse of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra: ‘God is a flower that does not smell, a street where no one lives’; ‘What I desire is the shape of a face/ that knows my fingers’; ‘formalities are a nuisance to the saint’; ‘Death forgives in a way that life never does’; ‘Aging ... has made me no more assertive than a wasp’; ‘To revel in schizophrenia of head mocking the heart’. Nature is rapturous and punishing, as in the Eliotesque ‘Spring is criminal filling the rose with fragrances’. There is a thanatotic (death-centred) schemata, a mortal vertigo, an almost anti-preoccupation with posthumous existence, or personal extinction, absence, and being remembered: ‘I don’t care to be remembered as a name’; ‘The silence that releases me of the wish to be remembered’; ‘every birthday a celebration of death’; ‘I belabour posthumously to discover the source of being/ outside the ennui of beds’; ‘You don’t need a name in order to be dead’.

Kona’s vision is of a classless world, ‘an order where no one goes/ to bed on an empty stomach’; a dialectic built on compassion. He has confabulated a highly distinctive cosmic outlook from a cross-fertilization of influences: Marxism, Hermetics, the all-inclusive Varnashrama dharma of Sri Ramakrishna and Gandhi, as well as Saint Francis of Assisi and the ‘Thomist’ ideas drawn from the theology of Aquinas. Kona’s parabolic poetry constitutes something beyond what its author calls ‘the possibility of “Prakash Kona”’: Conjurer of nights marks Kona’s illuminative arrival.

Kona-Prakash_author

Prakash Kona (b. 14 July, 1967) is an Indian novelist, essayist, poet and theorist. He completed his doctoral studies with a comparative study of Chomsky, Derrida and Wittgenstein at the University of Mississippi. He lives in Hyderbad, India, where he is an Associate Professor at the Department of English Literature at the English and Foreign Languages University.

Kona is the author of Nunc Stans (nonfiction; 2009), the novels Pearls of an Unstrung Necklace (New York, 2005) and the experimental Streets that Smell of Dying Roses (New York, 2003), and the poetry collection Words on Lips of a Stranger (Writer’s Workshop, Calcutta, 2006).

His areas of interest include
Marxism (with emphasis on Gramsci and Rosa Luxemburg), the history of Anarchism, avant-garde poetry, Third World Resistance writing, autobiography as a form of fiction, peasant cultures, Eastern and Western Philosophy, Feminist theory, working class and marginalised subcultures, revolutionary art forms, and polemical cinema.

Kona’s polemics, prose and cinematic monographs have appeared in The Recusant, Countercurrents, Offscreen,
Bright Lights Film Journal and
the Mad Hatter’s Review. He is a regular contributor to The Sociological Imagination.
(sociologicalimagination.org).

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