Sunday, April 16, 2017

Yuyutsu Sharma Reading from Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems at LA Times Festival of Books

Yuyutsu Sharma Reading from Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems at LA Times Festival of Books

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

APRIL 22 – 23, 2017 | USC CAMPUs
Sunday, April 23 • 4:40pm – 5:00pm
 Yuyutsu Sharma, Reading from ‘Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems’
avatar for Yuyutsu Sharma

Yuyutsu Sharma

recipient of fellowships and grants from The Rockefeller Foundation, Ireland Literature Exchange & The Institute for the | Translation of Hebrew Literature, is a distinguished Himalayan poet. Currently Visiting Poet at Columbia University, Sharma has published ten poetry collections and just finished a memoir on Nepal earthquakes, “Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems.” Half the year, he travels and reads all over the world but… Read More →

Sunday April 23, 2017 4:40pm – 5:00pm
Poetry Stage, Signing Area 5

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Yuyutsu Sharma’s Blue Light Press San Francisco Reading and Workshop

Blue Light Press proudly presents…
Yuyutsu Sharma, beloved Poet from Nepal
for an intimate evening of poetry and storiesSaturday, April 29, 2017 – 7:00 p.m.
Think Round Fine Arts
2140 Bush Street, Suite 1B, San Francisco CA 94115
(It’s between Fillmore and Webster. Gallery entrance is on the driveway.
Street parking, or park in the garage at Japantown, which is close to the gallery.)Sweet and savory potluck after the reading.
Yuyutsu’s books include A Blizzard in My Bones: New York Poems,
Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems, Space Cake Amsterdam & Other poems from Europe and America.

Also that day…
Poetry Workshop with Yuyutsu Sharma
Celebrating the Himalayas, Touching the Soul of God in Your Own Sacred Place with ideas about writing, poems, stories and writing prompts.
Saturday, April 29, 2017 – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For information, send an email to
The workshop is in San Francisco, in the Outer Sunset.

Amity University Interview after receiving Honorary Professorship

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Yuyutsu Sharma’s upcoming April/ May 2017 readings: New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco

Thursday, April 6, at 7 pm to 9 pm The Red Room Reading Series: Yuyutsu Sharma with Ailish Hopper, Philip McLaren and Sheila Kohler, Hosted by The New York Writers Workshop, 85 E 4th St 3rd Floor, New York, New York 10003 The NYWW Red Room Reading Series takes place on the first Thursday of every month, Host : Tim Tomlinson

April 19, 2017 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM The Global Poets Series: Yuyutsu Sharma reading with Sholeh Wolpe, Lewisohn Hall GS Student Lounge, Third Floor, 2970 Broadway, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027The Global Poets Series is a celebration through poetry of our diverse global community at Columbia, and is co-sponsored by the School of General Studies, the International Students and Scholars Office, the School of the Arts, and Columbia College. Hosted by David Austell

Sunday, April 23 • 4:40 pm Yuyutsu Sharma, Reading from ‘Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems’ at LA Times Festival of Books University of Southern California, University Park Campus, Los Angeles, CA 90089

Saturday, April 29, 7 pm: Blue Light at Think Round Series. Yuyutsu Sharma reads poetry at Think Round Fine Arts, 2140 Bush Street, Suite 1B, San Francisco CA 94115 (between Fillmore and Webster. Gallery entrance is on the driveway. (Street parking, or you can park in the garage at Japantown, which is close to the gallery.)

Saturday, April 29, 7 pm: 10 am to 4 pm: Workshop with Yuyutsu Sharma at “The Pink Palace” — home to Diane Frank & Erik Levins People interested from your list can send me an email:

Sunday, May 7 at 3 pm at Molloy College presents Yuyutsu Sharma and Contributors to Nassau County Poet Laureate Review, Vol. IV in the Reception Room, Hosted by Barbara Novack Writer-in-Residence, Molloy College 1000 Hempstead Avenue P.O. Box 5002 Rockville Centre, NY 11571-5002 516.323.3273

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Wonderful Review of Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems in Annapurna Post by young poet, Arun Budhathoki

Book Review: Quaking Cantos – Nepal Earthquake Poems

Arun Budhathoki Friday, Apr 07, 2017  0 1232 reads

International poet Sharma depicts the agony of the 2015 earthquake in moving, electric verses


As I received the book in a cozy restaurant at Tinkune, Kathmandu, I knew it was going to be an intriguing read. The title per se threw a challenge to me- how would I respond and interpret the poems with the fact that at the time of the Quakes I was out of the country, studying in North America?

That’s exactly what the international poet Yuyutsu Sharma’s Quaking cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems accomplishes. The book succeeds in capturing the horrific events, screaming emotions and conjuring heart-wrenching visuals and recording the tremors of the earthquake in the explosive verses that will treasure the memory of the loss and lament for the coming generations.

The poetry collection consisting of 23 poems has been divided into three parts: a) I do not generally cry b) Seven Things that Caused the Quakes and c) Epilogue: A Song of Extinguished Hearths. The first Section contains eleven poems but before the poems, the earthquake photos taken by Nepali photographer, Prashant Shrestha and the poet himself ignite a peculiar gloom in the readers’ heart. The prelude per se points at the devastating event that Nepal suffered. The first section unfurls the saga of loss and lament in the very first poem, ‘Twisted Galaxies’: My bed shakes /as I prepare to reclaim/… icons of /our loss and lament.

The poet captures and laments Mother Nature’s wrath and talks laconically about a man’s run for life: “His frantic move/ to rush out of the edifice/his mad dash/ to leap out of the canopy/hammer fell,/ missing his headpiece…” The drama of humanity is exposed in the second poem as well where a person’s desire to escape in a desperate rush to flee from a natural disaster portrayed graphically.

The first chapter exhibits the central theme of humanity—humans desire to live and escape death. However, death is cruel and cold. In ‘Glint’ the poet utters a cry: “In Nawalparasi his home in the Low Lands/his wounded feet shackled in chains/buried beneath a fatal weight that/silenced the last glint of life.”

The poet makes a stark comparison between mother earth’s wrath and the love of a mother in ‘Nipple’: “The earth/ opened up/ her jaws/ and five more/The kiss/ of Death as a baby crawls/ on the cold/ chest/ of earth/ looking for/ his dead /mother’s/ nipple.” He has succinctly captured the sadness and sorrows of the fateful event. The picture he has created in his character’s move is disturbing to the stomach, making one cry over the loss of lives.

In another poem, “I do not generally cry” a Nepalese man’s character of breaking down in spite of his claims of not crying in life ever strike deep in one’s heart. Interestingly, one of the poems ‘Cosmic Sleep’ narrates a real story about the collapse of a building where Nepali Christians had gathered to worship. The pastor urged the converts to not panic or run out of the building as the earth shook vehemently. Sadly, the house on the fifth floor collapsed and the pastor along with other 40 devotees perished that day. Even the Gods could not save them from the rage of mother earth. Not only houses in Kathmandu, in Bhaktapur, Dolakha, and Gorkha people faced the similar fate. The misery of people multiplied. And the poet ends the Section writing about a lamb brought from far away in ‘Quake Relief’:

“I noticed him first –

a lamb brought
from afar, from a distant hill range…

a lamb
tethered to an electric pole

in a Kathmandu back street
shrieking like a helpless hillside baby…

a brutal tug
in the voice box that could

pull a tiny river
of fresh blood out

of my own mouth.

The last poem of the first Section eerily displays how agents of human compassion can turn human beings into helpless victims or sacrificial lambs to lynch money out of their misery. Nepal even today reels from corruption and we have a million stories about the misdeeds of the living raising fortunes in the names of the dead ones.

The second Segment also consists of eleven poems and begins with a faint note: “Out from the cities /famished from/ the obstruction of/ light, air, water,/ fire, fuel, justice/I reached the deserted /crossroads at Pandu Chok/ and took a solitary path/akin to/ a faint forgotten/ note ringing /from my own heart/ in this sun-baked paradise.” The poet’s journey in the post-earthquake timeline is almost apocalyptic where a hero rises to capture melancholic stories. Not all is lost and not every verse should be sad. I’ve known Yuyutsu personally, who is also my mentor and editor, and we had often discussed if it’s possible to write happy poems in the times of calamity. ‘The Baby that became a Devi’ illustrates the point:

“Nine-month old baby
miraculously survived
as the crumbling tin-roofed
double storey mud house collapsed.”

The miraculous baby mentioned in this verse is still alive like a miracle. Almost like hopes of those who perished during disasters. However, mother earth was gravely upset and she changed her side in sleep another time, killing many people. In ‘A Burning Sun’ a mother succumbs to death as she goes into her small shack to get a bottle of oil  to massage the baby lying in the sunny courtyard. The poet then talks about his walk around Kathmandu and reveals  prophesy of his family deity, Guru Gorakh Nath: “Now wherever you go /you will conquer/ and rule the hearts /of the people you meet/ along your travels around the globe.”

Moreover, the poet begins to see his world shaking—the earth’s movement is erratic. And his focus shifts to a house on the edge of the river: “The River has flooded nearly spilling onto the dried up riverbed. The house on its edge beyond the fields stay half-sunken/her private sanctuary of silence away from the noise of her children and grandchildren to light a lamp in the name of her long lost husband.” The misery doesn’t end and he paints Gundu village where people are weaving garlands of immortality. There are other cities like Bhaktapur who faced indignation from the mother earth. ‘Bhaktapur’ touches a reader’s heart:

“Dust floats
In the nostrils
Of this satellite
City of serenity…
Now a flattened
Bat’s carcass…
Spooled book
Of light and lightning…”

Bhaktapur like several other cities has turned into a giant graveyard. The poet here is quick to metaphorically describe the moving earth as the quaking uterus: “a brutal blow that came crashing from the depths of earth’s quaking uterus.”

In the final poem ‘Seven Things that Caused the Quakes’ the poet weaves a narrative of seven possible factors that people believe might have caused the quakes: an illicit desire,  the rage of a goddess as he saw lust in the eyes of a king, breaking of Rato Machchendranath chariot,  a Sherpa finding a  Silokpa horse in a forest, the killing of a white serpent by impudent young kids, the killing of holy cow by the Brahmins and movement of the sacred bull as it eases the balance the ball of the earth balanced the tip of its horn.

This marvelous poem sums up the whole book, giving an insight into Yuyutsu’s creative world of myth and reality. It also gives us a broader view of human greed and hunger to possess. Yuyutsu delves deep into the Himalayan mind and produces powerful and enigmatic verse.

In ‘Epilogue’ the poet has a final message:

“the ruins of sunken
lives of the civilians
along the banks of Sutluj
where once Alexander roamed
and then one day
resolved to return only
to the kiss of spidery legs
of his grand dream
quaking like
the calamity of a Quake…”

Yuyutsu Sharma is a world renowned poet, popularly known as the Himalayan poet due to his works on the Nepal Himalayas. The book, Quaking Cantos – Nepal Earthquake Poems has immortalized the tragic event and captured the bitter memories of the Himalayan on a grand scale. This is a Himalayan elegy that will continue to haunt the coming generations. The poems will be engraved on the minds of the Nepalese public as well as his readers he has earned worldwide, making his message loud and clear, and magic of his craft alive in the centuries to come.

  • Quaking Cantos – Nepal Earthquake Poems (Nirala, NRs 395) Distributed in Nepal by White Lotus Bookshop, Kupondole, Kathmandu or check online at Amazon or Flipcart.

Arun Budhathoki is a Senior Correspondent with Anna Note.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Eternal Snow Photos

Collecting photos and posters of my readings from my archives and old laptops for the upcoming anthology, Eternal Snow, is more exhausting than actual traveling I did in the past decade: Chicago. Frankfurt, The Hague, Milan, Amsterdam, Stuttgart, Bremen, Brussels, Antwerp, Paris, London, Bristol, Dublin, Sligo, Galway, Belfast, Ljubljana, Maribor, Madrid, Cordoba, New York, Chicago, Toronto,Trois-Rivières, Montreal, New Found land, Buenos Aires, Granada, Urumqi, Ottawa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Sacramento, LA, San Francisco, Berkeley, Grand Junction, Telluride, Aspen, Denver, Taos, Key West, Daytona, New Hampshire, and many more

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Pascale Petit poem on Annapurnas to appear in Yuyutsu Sharma's upcoming Eternal Snow Anthology

Just received distinguished British Poet Pascale Petit's poem, "Machapuchere (Fishtail Mountain)" inspired by our trek in the Annapurnas for Eternal Snow Anthology due in March...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Yuyutsu Sharma's upcoming Reading at Sahitya Academi (Indian National Academy of Letters, New Delhi)

Announcement of upcoming Reading at Sahitya Academi (Indian National Academy of Letters, New Delhi) on Feb 24, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

A poem from Yuyutsu Sharma's Eternal Snow by Nabina Das

Quataquatantankua : A Poem & A Trek With the Buddhist Bard By Nabina Das

The Quataquatantankua

"The pigeons strutting freely in your courtyard\
 coo like exhausted porters
climbing the mule paths in the singing gorges. 
Their guttural quataquatantankua --
they seem to be using human language,
a kind of hushed speech that robbers might use."
 -- "Little Paradise Lodge"  Annapurna Poems

Emeralded into the crevices of words
our roads emerge with coffee and brine
to fan out far towards a city a peak, a town --
each an odd-eyed rooster in one-legged patience.
I see one losing its blue
in the smear of newsprint
another being pocketed
by hands that grope --
grope my soft tissues
beneath the skin of gauze
but the ones bunched deep
inside my throat go untouched!
So, I can gurgle: "Quataquatantankua, Quataquatantankua, Quataquatantankua."
Ramro chha, ramro chha, ramro chha? And the reply bubbles
up in the foothill methane:
All is good, nothing's amiss
where gods sleep; we keep awake to sharpen our verbs in the dawn.

A Trek with the Buddha Bard
Reading Annapurna Poems

Yuyutsu RD Sharma’s face is like a mountain terrain, when the earth emerges in the gods’ peaks after a flash flood or when a river has receded after the monsoon’s regal fury. I noticed this as soon as I sat down opposite to him in the surprisingly sparsely populated Barista coffee shop in New Delhi’s fashionable Khan Market shopping area. Poet of the Himalayas, Yuyutsu’s greeting resounded almost true in what he wrote in “In the Mountains”: Fragile my eyeglasses/ fragile and foreign/I take them off; /There’s a speck of a scar in them. //On the mule path /I take them off /to face the green /stretch of mountains /beneath the saddle of Annapurnas.

Well, almost true, because he didn’t wear eyeglasses at our meeting! His dark irises reflected the green he writes about and the twining paths he sees better without his educated eyeglasses. And since we met to chat – we didn’t waste time to get on first-name terms – the discussion rightfully turned quickly to his meditative collection Annapurna Poems, a Nirala Series book published in 2008 and reprinted several times since.

On that sweltering summer evening, leafing through the Annapurna poems brought in a sudden whiff of cool mountain air. Musical and reflective. Indeed, Yuyutsu’s poetic tenor is pretty much that of a bard, his voice that treks higher and higher into the wild beautiful upper Himalaya bringing alive the smile of the Buddha and the semiotics of the region’s everlasting gods and goddesses, the Yeti and other resident animals, the soulful rivers, and the ice-kissed rain. True, Yuyutsu laments the loss of a familiar landscape he witnessed prior to political trouble fanning out across Nepal. But his enthusiasm is very much rooted to the peoples’ grasp of their own surrounding, the Nepal that is home to communities and creeds, whether he sees them in the backdrop of the Maoist insurgency or that of a defunct monarchy.

On the level of language, this poetry takes us straight into the heart of the mountain country, Nepal’s unique ethos and the nature that entertains both snowy seasons and hidden eternal gardens. The mule paths, the ‘leech-greasy’ forests, the spells under which the mountain people live and tell fantastic tales, the ‘magnificent daggers of snow’, all build up a world where nature is more than just a phenomenon. It is a companion to the poet and his perception. The cognitive faculty of the poet and the reader works in tandem in recognizing the many layers of meanings unfolded in each aspect of “Annapurna Poems”, exactly like the different layers of the snow. The permafrost is made of the century-old legends and tales on which have grown new fables and events.

Yuyutsu is a poet of expressions as he traverses a train of simplicity. He does not twist language in any show of wizardry. He believes in words and sentences, as they are known and heard in the Himalayan reality, to take him along the mountain journey to rediscover the known nomenclature and trusted actions. All he does is re-paint the scenes of Annapurna in unique details and from surprising angles. Like little Tibetan thangkas. In these scenes, he tells us about those place names that ring out the jeweled eco-system of a mountain town or village as familiar as our recurrent dreams. With him, we walk the salt tracks, the gorge trails and visit Birethanti. Ghorepani, Gandrung, Tadapani, Lake Fewa, and many such tongue-trilling spots. For him, Hillside roosters/Punctual, announcing the dawn //are known elements. If sometimes they might appear delightfully alien to our practiced eyes: Possessing floral /Faces of riverside birds

They still draw us into the world of Annapurna like ice drops in the cracks (Yuyutsu himself says in the foreword of the book that his poems exist in each crack of this magnanimous mountain world).

Even in this pristine surrounding something troubles the poet who watches the spray of the white surf: on greasy crotches /of huge mossy rocks //started singing … coughing out /the cacophony of cruel cities

In Yuyutsu’s poetry one might like to find the Blake-ian dilemma of having to dividing the human soul between Nature and its sufferance, mingle her own fate and existences with that of gods, the Yeti and shamans, and the myriad mysterious of Shangri-La, where imageries take fantastic shapes and have their own sensual and sensuous existence (River: Morning)
… each time I come /to her deafening banks //to gleam my dreams /over the plump flanks of her warm body … and a wrinkle appears /across the shriveled leaf of my life.

However, he is not merely a romantic poet. What comes across is his deep admiration for the Annapurna region as a system tied to the rest of the world – those parts of the world where he is a traveler of a different kind, giving talks and workshops, reading his published work and attending literary events. In the context of these ‘worldly’ acts where he attributes his own poetry having the “otherworldly” and “archival” quality, he is very much a realist. The book’s first section, “Little Paradise Lodge”, is an account of Nepal and Annapurna’s past and present. Interestingly, ‘lodge’ appears to be a pun on ‘lost’ as if he was talking about a ‘little paradise lost’. To me the poems in this section are very much a ‘lost and found’ affair.

On the other hand, quite prominently, his Eliotesque sarcasm for the modern city life and the external influences on his much loved landscape of rains and snows adorn the images he paints in “Rains”: … This summer they held me up /In the deserts of their skyscrapers. … my face in the dark /feeling tips of snow sacred fishtails of Machapuchchare.

In “Mules” too, their ringing bells are but ‘beating notes of a slavery modernism brings’. While mapping the ‘bloodthirsty mule paths around the glacial of Annapurna’, Yuyutsu watches: cartons of Iceberg, mineral water bottles, /solar heaters, Chinese tiles, tin cans, carom boards //sacks of rice /and iodized salt from the plains of Nepal Terai. … human and mule lives meet

Rain, river, snow, singing gorges and brooks rule the landscape of Annapurna Poems. The romance is palpable between the poet and his subject, almost Sufi in character, ‘madness’ being one of its virtues. Yuyutsu is in complete enchantment of his terrain as a lover is and this love’s longing is realized in a woman’s physical quest (A Lonely Brook): a lonely woman /waits for a stranger to come //and burst
the ice frozen between her thighs //to make a flame
of her cold sleep…

Conversation with the river (River) is a personal history, a sequel to the secret rendezvous with the beloved and is artistically lusty. Between your decisions
/and my flickering lamps /the river mad /you, you poet, you bastard, go away!

With Yuyutsu we travel to Ghandrung where a ‘young girl of the scarlet shawl waits/for the colorful procession/of mules carrying cartons of Tuberg beer to pass’ or to Ghorepani, all the while delightfully apprehensive or even curious if a Yeti was following ‘your trail in the desolate mountains’.

Among these portraits resembling eternity’s passing of time in the mountain world, we empathize with the pain in the poets voice (Fish): Wives wait the final winter /of my rot, opening up /the greed /of their slithering fish /I return to a poem /I postponed decades ago /to touch the mating serpents /slithering on the tip of illicit door /called death.

The book’s second section “Glacier” takes this sentiment to a crescendo as one feels literally like climbing heights with titles like Kala Patthar, Gauri Shankar, Summit and The Buddhist Flag Flutters and looking below with a rooster’s eye view at the fields, the forests and the (once) playful courtyards with their brass bells. The overture continues with the third part “Sister Everest”, a pithy and less descriptive section. In that, the latter is highly evocative. If the first sections read like an ethereal ‘inward’ trek through the upper Himalayan terrain, this section readies us for the fourth one – “The Annapurna Man” – rooted more in the poet’s ‘outward’ experiences. A very brief section, it spews more pain than pleasure. To some extent, I came out of the book through this section with a sense of abrupt termination, as if Yuyutsu’s pain had to invite a quick clinical surgery. For this, the poetry in this section seems disjointed from the book’s original spirit.

Especially, I felt “Silence” is too much of rumination, too personal and reads more like purgation than poetry. The best piece in this section is “Space Cake, Amsterdam”, a witty poem combining introspection and observation by ‘this man from Kathmandu’ (one may well imagine, the rest of our chat that evening centered around that one fantastic experience Yuyutsu recounted to me). The air-conditioned air at that Barista throbbed at my mirth on reading and re-reading the line – ‘whatever happens, you can always make a comeback’!

NABINA DAS is a poet and fiction writer currently based in Hyderabad. She teaches Creative Writing and has won several writing awards and grants at home and abroad while being published widely. Her poetry has been translated into Assamese, Bengali, Hindi and Croatian