The sonnets in Adrian A. Husain’s Italian Window have to do with time.
Time, where the past and all the characters of the past are always brought into the present. They also open a window into the poet’s childhood days in Rome.
Since Adrian, one of the premier poets of the English language in the country, needed no introduction, Salman Qureshi, in conversation with the author during his book’s launch at Liberty Books on Thursday, said that it would be more appropriate to introduce the book instead.
“The book can be described as the Italian chapter in Adrian’s life. It is intense due to his mother’s pain and his own inability to do anything about it,” he said, adding that it was not easy to confront the demons within oneself.
Adding that with examples of poets having already done that, like Sylvia Plath falling into depression and ending her life by putting her head into a gas oven, he was seriously concerned for Adrian after seeing the glimpses into his psyche. “But I needn’t have because whatever the intensity of Adrian’s demons, he controlled it,” he said.
“The book can be described as the Italian chapter in Adrian’s life. It is intense due to his mother’s pain and his own inability to do anything about it.” — Salman Qureshi
“There is use of images, sharp clear images coming one after the other. The sonnets can be described as free-form modern sonnets. With that I invite you to enjoy Italian Window,” he said before inviting the author to speak. Laughingly, Adrian said that he wasn’t Sylvia Plath, thankfully. “But there was a fierce sense driving me to write these sonnets. It was not quite in my hands. I have never felt this kind of inspiration. There were days when I wrote two poems even,” he said.
“Yes,” he said, “the sonnets are about my childhood in Rome. I have revealed many things about that time, things about me and my mother and my father. Still, I also wouldn’t call it my diary as there is also this presence of otherness in there, creating a distance between myself and all else going on, turning me and my parents into characters telling a tale, and turning it all into an art,” he explained.
“I am a classicist but I wanted to create something new and modern,” he added.
“Theses sonnets are poems about poetry. They show the growth of a poet’s mind. It is how my poetry came into being. It is why I became a poet. There is an aesthetic of place in my sonnets, a place flooded by light, wonderful light. But there is also pain and horror and all these combine,” he said.
“It is important for me to speak about my verse so you can read it in the right spirit.”
Originally published in Dawn, March 31st, 2017