Thursday, April 20, 2023

Mother's Day Poem from Yuyutsu Sharma's upcoming book, "In Lord's Messy Workplace: New Poems

My misgivings

 Yuyutsu Sharma

Mother’s Day


I don’t have anything

to post on my wall today.


I see them debating

forgotten frontiers of humanity’s walk.


Lysol, Liberty, Languages

lighting lamps, banging plates


pranks to raise demons

from their hidden dungeons.


Mother’s Day.


I don’t have anything

to post today.


Only shady sketch

of my loud betrayals


slowly eating the innards

of my fast-fading body

where the Lord rests,

keeping a rigorous


record of my misgivings.



Saturday, April 1, 2023

Upcoming ALS SINGAPORE LIVE: EPISODE 3 focused on Lost Horoscope


focused on Lost Horoscope moderated by Alka Balain.

#asianliterarysociety #livesession #alssingapore #YuyutuSharma #losthoroscope

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Indian poet CP Surendran on Lost Horoscope by Yuyutsu Sharma


The Lost Horoscope is a longish, Gerontian type of poem; an old man trying to come to grips with his life. The narrator in Yuyutsu Sharma's poem is looking for his horoscope - ‘A scroll of homemade scented paper’. In the process, he realizes that all the predictions that the ‘lanky priest’ made, may have been already lived in a series of ‘monstrous Nostradamus moments.’  

How are these moments suffered or even survived? By means of a phrase. In poem after poem, Yuyutsu Sharma negotiates his experiences in terms of language, the only tool that the poet has: the word is the way out of the world bearing in on him like a tidal wave. 

In Dai, Chengdu, for instance, the overtures, even invasions, of a lady (‘Her eyes shone like blackbirds/in the white nest of her singing face’) are made sensible as attempts to find the name of a relationship that can explain the attraction she feels for the poet.  The poem is a search for a word that resolves the violence of the interactions: Dai, meaning brother. 

Yuyutsu’s poetic persona perceives himself, naturally, as an endangered species. Its sanity and even survival are wholly dependent on words, a means to re-live and make sense of the little catastrophes that the hour hands of the clock tick through. Words and phrases, that eternalize the near-apocalyptic Nostradamus moments. 

Words and phrases that help the narrator to wrap the universe around his eyes; with the verbal shades on, he can gaze deep into the heart of the moment that nearly destroyed him. An accurate word is born when the poet dies a little every time he brings his experience-at first an event, then meaning-to speech. It is in this sense that in these new poems, Yuyutsu Sharma finds his lost horoscope.




C.P. Surendran is a poet, novelist, journalist and screenplay writer. His poetry collections include Gemini II, Posthumous Poems, Canaries on the Moon and Portraits of the Space We Occupy. He is the author of three novels, An Iron Harvest, Lost, Found and most recently, One Love and the Many Lives of Osip B. He divides his time between Bombay and Delhi.

Lost Horoscope & Other New Poems by Yuyutsu Sharma
 ISBN 978-8195781638 pp. 72 Hardcover Rs. 495 

Amazon USA : Amzon UK : Amazon India: Amazon CANADA:

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Her Excellency Ms. Felicity Volk, Australian Ambassador to Nepal at the Kathmandu Launch of Yuyutsu Sharma's Lost Horoscope & Pratik's Special South Asia Issue

"...Yuyu takes my breath away with the unexpected and the new.  He has an unwavering capacity to startle with the perfect image, with his attention to small, revelatory detail and his sly, understated humour, often directed at himself."


Book launch – Yuyutsu Sharma – 18 February

Lost Horoscope/Pratik South Asia Vol 18 No 1-2


Photo by SN Misra

With the words of Yuyu’s own invocation at the beginning of his new volume of poetry, I greet this gathering of book lovers:

“Believe me,

I’m risking my life here

coming out in the open

to sit in Café Mozart

to resume my routine

of pouring sparks

from my tamed sleep

onto the pages of my moleskine

notebook that had remained

blank for more than a year.”

Namaskar distinguished guests, friends and Happy Maha Shivaratri.

I’m delighted to join you to celebrate Yuyutsu Sharma and to thank him for risking his life at the Café Mozart, for resuming his routine with his notebook and for unravelling the vermilion thread of his lost horoscope, inviting us into that most intimate space of birth chart and poet’s heart.

Yuyu, I’m grateful for the honour of speaking for a few minutes at the dual launch of Lost Horoscope and Volume 18 of the journal, Pratik.

I first had the pleasure of meeting Yuyu last year. He appeared in an email having heard that I was a writer as well as diplomat. We began a correspondence that led to a book exchange.  Indeed, Yuyu first manifested physically in my world as a package of books – Annapurna Poems, A Blizzard in my Bones, past editions of Pratik.  He assume the shape that all writers take, namely a universe delivered in the most economical confines of bound pages.

And soon after, Yuyu appeared in the flesh when we had a long lunch at my residence at the Australian Embassy compound.  We talked for hours about books and writing.  I count it as a gift from Nepal that I’ve had the chance to experience this country through the prism of Yuyu’s eye and painted by his hand. 

In addition to crossing paths with Yuyu last year, I also crossed paths with myself - as in the self that is ordained in my stars.

For the first time in my life, thanks to a Nepali artist friend, I had my birth chart drawn up by a priest and read to me by an astrologer who lives in the shadow of Pashupatinath. In a drawer in my Bansbari bedroom, I have a red and gold woven pouch.  Within this is my own ‘scroll of scented homemade paper’, the sort that Yuyu writes of in his titular poem, Lost Horoscope; a ‘crumpled calendar of chaos/ with astral lines and circuitous loops’.

In my case, I went searching in the stars to make sense of a brief, doomed love. It was one in a series of exercises to exorcise the loss. A tarot card reading and numerology by a soothsayer, a Tantric meditation retreat led by an anagarik, Sunil Babu Pant, (not nearly as racy as it might sound to those with a stereotypical western understanding of Tantra). I joined a puja led by a lama at a monastery in Boudhanath, lit butter lamps, and had regular shiatsu massages with a dreadlocked dog whisperer in Budhanilkantha.

As Yuyu writes, I was ‘Humming the prayers drenched in the Monsoon showers/ of the Himalayan valleys/ rolling in the world of spirits and sages.’ But ultimately, my healing sprang from the reliable doctoring of time and distance, the medicine of all peripatetic wanderers.

So, when Lost Horoscope arrived a couple of weeks ago, penned by another peripatetic wanderer, I was reminded of the universe’s love of symmetry and the comfort it takes in overlapping orbits of space and time, something we might call destiny. And I’m so happy that my destiny has overlapped with Yuyu’s here in Kathmandu.

I have welcomed Lost Horoscope as an old friend. Yuyu’s wry pitting of mysticism against the prosaic is deeply familiar to me as a way of viewing the world.

He writes of (quote):

‘a dingy world of my Punjabi town

where God was the only resort’


‘a moldy world of rickety realities

a hyperbole of spirited domes

a medley of omens,

spirits wheeling in and out of our sleep’.

But as much as I might read such observations and think, I love this because I recognise it, because I know it; on page after page Yuyu takes my breath away with the unexpected and the new.  He has an unwavering capacity to startle with the perfect image, with his attention to small, revelatory detail and his sly, understated humour, often directed at himself.

In Dai, Chengdu, we meet a girl named Xio Xio, who asks the writer ‘How old are you?’. We’re told her ‘eyes shone like blackbirds in the white nest of her singing face’, and in her slender waist is ‘a gold-spangled ring with a tiny lotus dangling out of it’.

But romantic possibility dissolves when she dispenses the writer with the delicious flick of her observation regarding his age, ‘You must be Dai then, an elder brother, I was wondering how to address you’.

In "Unstitching a California Poem," a woman tells Yuyu ‘You dress too elegantly to be a poet from Tibet or wherever you say you are from’. She calls him ‘Yoyo’ and, when she asked him to gift her his tie, he ‘looked into her green eyes, and saw wild animals prowling there’ and meekly handed the apparel over.

Yuyu demonstrates an immaculate capacity to weave his personal narrative into the warp of the historical, at once illuminating both.

In Lost Horoscope, he writes:

‘I’ve faint memories of a lanky priest

his small-pox face, his tiny head wrapped up

in a large white starched cotton turban.

Under the light of a marooned sky

we went to his cubicle-shaped shop

along the narrow brick lanes

leading to the main bazaar that

the Muslims of our town/ had left behind in rush,

prior to crossing

the bleeding borders,

almost a decade

before my birth.”

The sweep of Yuyu’s canvas in Lost Horoscope, the richness and piquancy of the tableau of characters to which Yuyu introduces us, including himself at different ages, renders this poem at once epic in its ambition and yet intimate in its invitation into the poet’s private navigation of destiny and memory.

This collection underlines Yuyu’s reputation as one of the region’s foremost poets, ‘The Himalayan Neruda’, as American poet, Mike Graves, puts it. But as we move to the subject of today’s second launch, Volume 18 of Pratik, we are reminded that Yuyu is not just a formidable creator, but a talented and diligent curator.

And so we celebrate his capacity to choreograph both his own work in the Lost Horoscope collection, and the assembled works of others in his careful editing of Pratik. And we are grateful to him that he devotes as much, if not more, effort to discovering and amplifying the voices of other writers, as his own.  His is an uncharacteristic generosity among the writing tribe.

Looking at the extensive list of contributors to the South Asian issue, it is clear that Yuyu has a covening power second to none. And I am honoured to have an excerpt of my first novel, Lightning, included in the collection. I join the South Asian edition as a writer currently based in the region, and with a protagonist in Lightning who is a Pakistani, Ahmed, who has made himself out to be an Afghan to gain asylum in Australia in the early 2000s.

Travelling through the pages of Pratik, has been a miraculous and joyous travelling back in time for me, to my first diplomatic posting in Bangladesh in the early 1990s. Through this issue of Pratik, I have been reacquainted with women I knew at that time: Nasima Sultana, Taslima Nasrin and even Carolyne Wright, their translator from Bengali and herself an accomplished poet who was in Dhaka on a Fulbright scholarship, if I recall correctly, when I was posted there.

So, in addition to feeling grateful to Yuyu for making space for my Ahmed’s story in Pratik, I deeply appreciate that he has reunited me with friends from over thirty years ago. Another Lost Horoscope, rediscovered. Another reminder of the way destiny calls us back to itself whatever detours we might make. Another reminder that, however far we might journey away from a place and its people, we are ultimately travelling back towards them, because we walk the surface of a round earth. Because time, as we know from Yuyu’s Lost Horoscope, is not linear.

This notion of travelling away from home to travel towards it leads to themes in my own writing.  And Yuyu has asked me to read a section from my novel, Lightning, as appears in Pratik.

By way of introduction, my protagonist Ahmed, a Pakistani surgeon, is recounting the story of his journey by boat to Australia as a refugee, only to be incarcerated in a migration detention centre on Christmas Island, off the Australian mainland. Ahmed describes his journey with the camouflage of third person to his companion as they drive through the Australian desert.  He says:

‘The man lost everything when the boat capsized — his photos, his medicine, his money, his clothes, such as they were, and so on. For the first two days after he arrived, he simply lay on the grass outside his quarters in the detention centre. He lay face down on the ground and the grass thatched his forehead and his cheeks. He felt the earth solid beneath his fingers, his wrists, his forearms, his upper arms, his chest, groin, thighs, shins, the tops of his feet, his toes. He breathed in the sand around the roots of the ground cover; he inhaled the dust. He discovered that dust is not the same wherever you are in the world. And that sand is not sand. The fact that the ground smelled unfamiliar was painful to the man, yet he was glad to be attached to something that in its mustiness proclaimed its age and promised not to shift too far, too fast, something that assured him it wouldn’t drown him nor draw him down into its depths. The back of his head was hot with the sun and his neck burned. The soles of his feet too. It hurt him to walk. It hurt him to breathe. It hurt him to be alive.

‘He told the Christmas Island detention centre officials that he was an Afghan and that he had fled religious persecution. The other refugees knew this was not the man’s truth but they also knew that truth wears many guises. If truth were dressed in an Afghan chadri rather than a Pakistani burqa, was it any less the truth under its cloth? If it were fleeing from Islamic fundamentalists in Kabul instead of an equally dangerous threat in Islamabad, was it any less the truth behind the particularities of its fear? The survival instinct teaches you that truth must be supple, pliable. The molecules that comprise it are the same whatever state they take. H2O is H2O, whether liquid, ice or vapour. The words truth uses to describe itself must be allowed some licence, some flexibility. A brittle truth breaks and then its essence is spilled, wasted, lost.’

And this reflection takes me back finally to Yuyutsu’s poetry in his Lost Horoscope collection. Yuyu’s work, like a Bohemian artist’s, embodies the four ideals of truth, beauty, love and freedom. He writes with a raw honesty, supple candour and with great elegance. His opening lines are a perhaps unwitting metaphor for this stance : ‘Believe me, I’m risking my life here, coming out in the open…’

Yuyu takes us with courage and conviction into the ambiguous layers where we are reminded of the mystical and often painful essence of our living. 

And as he races to Café Mozart, hoping to recover what lay in the horoscope he lost decades ago, he helps us, his readers, to rediscover and understand ourselves better, too, as part of the crumpled calendar of chaos where destiny and self-determination intersect.

Thank you. Dhanyabad.

Photo by Bikas Rauniar

Australia’s Ambassador to Nepal, Felicity Volk has published two novels, Lightning (Picador Australia) and Desire Lines, (Hachette Australia). She studied English literature and law at the University of Queensland before joining Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). After diplomatic postings in Bangladesh and Laos, and following the birth of her two daughters, she began writing for publication while continuing to work at DFAT. Volk is recipient of a grant and fellowships from artsACT and the Eleanor Dark Foundation, (Varuna, the Writers’ House). Several of her short stories have won awards. “No place like home,” was a prize-winner in The Australian Women’s Weekly/Penguin Short Story Competition (2006), “Steal it with a kiss” won the Angelo Natoli Short Story Award (FAW National Literary Awards) and “Ite, missa est” (Go, you are sent forth) won the 2013 Carmel Bird Long Story Award. 

Saturday, February 4, 2023

From the Archives : Nabina Das : "A Trek with the Buddha Bard," A review of Yuyutsu Sharma’s ANNAPURNA POEMS: Poems New & Collected, 2008



Nabina Das

A Trek with the Buddha Bard

A review of Yuyutsu Sharma’s ANNAPURNA POEMS: Poems New & Collected, 2008

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.

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’!

Yuyutsu R D Sharma’s website is where one can find recent updates about his work and readings. And he has made a comeback, for he has just released “Space Cake, Amsterdam” from Howling Dog Press (I am yet to have a copy) and is currently working on Pratik, a collection of contemporary Indian poetry, with the renowned Indian-English poet Jayanta Mahapatra.

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" by Yuyutsu RD Sharma; Annapurna Poems, 2008) 


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

benath 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.




Nabina Das lives two lives, shuttling between USA and India. Her poetry and short stories have been published widely in literary journals and anthologies across North America and India. A 2nd prize winner of a recent all-India Poetry Contest organized by HarperCollins-India and Open Space, she is a 2007 Joan Jakobson fiction scholar from Wesleyan Writers’ Conference, and a 2007 Julio Lobo fiction scholar from Lesley Writers’ Conference. An Assistant Metro Editor with The Ithaca Journal, Ithaca, NY, and a journalist and media person in India for about 10 years, she now freelances. An M.A. in Linguistics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, her other interests are theater and music. Formally trained in India classical music, she has performed in radio and TV programs and acted in street theater productions in India. She blogs when not writing.

Friday, February 3, 2023

From the Archives: Yuyutsu Sharma : BOMB Magazine Interview, "Subtext: Kathmandu Poet In New York by Susie DeFord"

Subtext: Kathmandu Poet In New York by Susie DeFord

I became familiar with Yuyutsu RD Sharma’s poetry on his recent long stay in New York to promote his latest collection Space Cake Amsterdam (Howling Dog Press 2009). Space Cake is a beautifully designed book with artwork by the artist Henry Avignon.

I became familiar with Yuyutsu RD Sharma’s poetry on his recent long stay in New York to promote his latest collection Space Cake Amsterdam (Howling Dog Press 2009). Space Cake is a beautifully designed book with artwork by the artist Henry Avignon. In the Beat tradition, the Nepali poet chronicles his travels through Europe and America. Some of his experiences are comical—in the title poem “Space Cake Amsterdam” the poet accidentally eats hash cake in Amsterdam. Some are beautifully imagistic, like “Temple, London,” where he describes seeing a homeless woman at the top of an escalator as if she is “a hillside shrine/ that our goddesses/ always prefer to live on.”

Yuyutsu RD Sharma has published seven previous poetry collections including Annapurna Poems, (Nirala, New Delhi 2008), Everest Failures (White Lotus Book Shop, Kathmandu, 2008) Way To Everest: A Photographic and Poetic Journey to the Foot of Everest, (Epsilonmedia, Germany, 2006) with German photographer Andreas Stimm, and a translation of Irish poet Cathal O’ Searcaigh poetry in Nepali in a bilingual collection entitled Kathmandu: Poems, Selected and New, 2006. He is a recipient of fellowships and grants from The Rockefeller Foundation, Ireland Literature Exchange, Trubar Foundation, amongst others. His works have appeared in Poetry Review, Chanrdrabhaga, Sodobnost, Amsterdam Weekly, and several other magazines. Currently, he edits Pratik, A Magazine of Contemporary Writing and contributes literary columns to Nepal’s leading daily, The Himalayan Times and Newsfront Weekly. He recently published his first novel and a book of his prose writing on the ongoing political turbulence in Nepal entitled Annapurnas and Stains of Blood (Niral Publications 2009).

Susie DeFord What was your first introduction to poetry?

Yuyutsu RD Sharma My first introduction to poetry took place in holy places in India. My father was a devout follower of Naga ascetics and my grandfather’s place, Nakodar, Punjab, where I grew up, had great religious flavor. Our family deity was a serpent spirit, Guga Sian, and my grandpa and I would go to the shrine during the annual festival. On one such visit, I became possessed by the serpent spirit and started crawling around the shrine like a serpent. After the incident, everyone in my family started respecting me as a demigod. But I was going to an English school and felt very upset about what my friends would think of me. They would think, I feared, that I am crazy.

I was also getting acquainted with the Western science and logic and over the years I carefully suppressed the ecstasy. Only later when I grew up, I learned how I had ignored a very spiritual awakening in my life and that the experience was a gift from the gods for me. Only sometimes now the gods visit me and I feel a rush of that frenzied forgotten wind when I write poetry.

SD American poet David Ray, who you met while attending the University of Rajasthan, encouraged you to write and publish your poems. Will you tell us about your relationship with him and how it’s influenced your work?

YRDS Meeting David Ray was a watershed in my life. I was aspiring to be an actor before I met him. But meeting him and working on the special issue of New Letters with him as his assistant made me aware of contemporary Indian as well as American poetry.

David was very humble and kind and unlike other snooty and pedantic professors at the Department of English and taught me what would later become basics of a Western Creative Writing course. We would often meet in the evening and wander in the local streets and university gardens discussing poetry. He introduced me to William Carlos Willaims, e.e. cummings, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Synder, Robert Bly, John Ashbury and other American poets’ works.

His wife poet Judy Ray would often feed me as I had very little money to survive and my friendship with David made me very special on the campus, to the extent of annoying many prudent Indian professors who thought it below their high pedestal to befriend a research scholar in a casual intimate way.

SD Your poems in Space Cake Amsterdam seem very Western-thinking in nature and somewhat reminiscent of the Beats. What are some of the similarities and differences you see in European/ American poetry and Eastern/ Nepali poetry?

YRDS Well, if you go to India not many poets know much about American poetry. But almost every poet is familiar with Whitman and Ginsberg. I recently wrote a column in the Kathmandu Post called “Chasing Ginsberg.” Ginsberg traveled a lot and made friends all over the subcontinent and his use of Mantra as one breath unit format for his poetry is so remarkable. Howl is very well known in the subcontinent and Beats employed Indian devotional traditions to see deliverance from grinding sterility of a Western world obsessed with work and material success.

SD You write a lot of travel poetry. How did you become so interested in travel? What was the big trip you took?

YRDS Many people think I am a big traveler. But it’s not true. I started traveling only a decade ago. I loved my mother so much that I didn’t want to leave her. I always feared something would happen to her the moment I leave the subcontinent and I won’t be able to come in time to help her in case of emergency.

But luck had terrible design in store for me and my mother.

My mother had a stroke and I stayed by her bed for couple of weeks. The doctors said it would take some time, maybe few months for her to recuperate. She had lost her speech and had difficulties in eating. My brother Shakti and I brought her home and started taking care of her. After a while, I decided to go to New Delhi for couple of days and take care of some urgent pending business. Two days after I took a night train and found her on the floor…

The very thing I feared happened. Since then I have been traveling without any fears because you get exactly what you fear the most in life.

SD At your book party at Bowery Poetry recently you talked about having to do a “cleansing ritual” every time you return from your travels to Kathmandu. Will you tell us a bit more about this?

YRDS That was just a joke, I meant my mother would have done it, as she never let me eat any meat and even onions and garlic never entered her kitchen. If you cross an ocean in the Hindu worldview, you lose your caste, that’s why the Hindu kings never ever made any expedition to conquer any world, inviting colonial monsters to ravage innocent populations for centuries.

SD Your book, The Way to Everest is a gorgeous poetry and photography collaboration between you and Andreas Stimm about trekking in Everest. How did you two meet and decide to collaborate on this project?

YRDS Well, Andreas and I met at Frankfurt Book Fair. He came with his girlfriend to my stall and asked me to sign The Lake Fewa & a Horse and sought permission to use some of the poems for his photo exhibition in Stuttgart. Later he asked if he could use the poems in his book on Annapurnas. I had no idea what the book will be like.

Later when I was in Heidelberg doing a workshop at South Asian Institute that Andreas came to my friend Professor Christopher Emmrich’s residence and he showed me the book.

I was overwhelmed by his stunningly superb gift. This was so special and I have never seen a book of poetry like this. Andreas is an amazing photographer and truly cultured European and works in black and white panoramic format only. Now we are doing a trilogy on the Himalayas, bringing together Everest, Annapurnas and Helambu in one big 700 page book that will be first of its kind: a poetry/picture book on the Himalayas..

SD You edit Pratik magazine and translate poems from several languages and are very active in the Nepali literary scene. Who are some Nepali writers you’d like to see get more attention internationally for their work and why?

YRDS Pratik is a very historic literary journal. It was published in Nepali by very significant poets for many decades and later in 1990, I revamped it and started editing it in English. We have done several special issues and introduced almost all the significant writers of the Indian subcontinent with a focus on Nepal. We also recently published special British and Dutch issues with British poet Pascale Petit and Dutch poet Harry Zevenbergen.

I know you won’t believe it but it’s true that everyone in Nepal is a poet. Nepal has vibrant literary scenario and poetry and politics have always remained inseparable in Nepal. Poets have protested against despotic rulers and helped in ushering democracy in Nepal. One great Nepali poet I have translated is Gopal Prasad Rima. He was very much instrumental in bringing down the downfall of oligarchic Rana regime and later when the democracy came, he was ignored until his death. I am working on a full length book of his poems.

SD Your bio says you have “completed his first novel and a book of his prose writing on the ongoing political turbulence in Nepal entitled, Annapurnas and Stains of Blood is due 2010. Will you tell us more about these projects?

YRDS Yes, Annapurnas and Stains of Blood came out just this year. I got a copy in New York. The book deals with my readings of the political turmoil as an average citizen or as a poet. I have been contributing columns to The Himalayan Times and The Kathmandu Post for a decade now and the books also uses some of my best known columns.

I have also been working on this novel and am looking for a literary agent to publish it in the West. The novel deals with life of an individual in a failed nation, and how he comes in terms with his own failures in a nation that’s constantly reeling under endless cycle of political turbulence. I hope you will see it soon.

You can find out more about Space Cake Amsterdam at Howling Dog Press.