Literary criticism

Book Review: Poetry In The Age of Impurity

By: Sai Diwan

The poet has become a lost voice on the horizon, a cultural presence and prophetic voice we imagine still exists, but is not really near at hand.”

Many have found respite in poetry. Lyrics have indulged, sonnets have intrigued, songs have serenaded. But this is the modern age. Poetry today, lacks that old school charm, and gracefully woven meaning. The Muse seems as divorced from her poet as can be. This is Poetry In The Age of Impurity, as chronicled by Thomas Sanfilip.

age of impurityWith books such as The Art of Anguish, The Killing Sun and By the Hours and the Years to his credit, Sanfilip has contributed to modern literary criticism, and that of poetry in particular. In his latest, Poetry In The Age of Impurity, he laments the lack of importance of poetry in the modern age. The existential dilemma is highlighted, and the poet is accused of playing puppet to society’s demands. Sanfilip stands for the ideals of poetic expression: freedom and creativity. He pins the gateway to resurrection of poetic brilliance on the awareness of freedom, and the embracing of creativity. A poet must be able to break away from the shackles of the ‘misconceptions of his time.’ It is only then that he will achieve organic unity of nature, the ultimate objective of all poetry.

A lot has been said about poetry in the modern age. Many critics have expressed their disappointment about the lack of modern poetry to measure up to the magnificence of the age gone by. But Poetry in The Age of Impurity is not to be classified as one among the many. It goes a step beyond. Sanfilip speaks of the ‘mythos of existence’: the shared oneness of poetry with its poet. ‘Poetic failure is in truth the outer manifestation of our human failure.’ He directs modern poets towards the way out of modern redundancy: being real to the poetic self.

Poetry in The Age of Impurity is a heartfelt piece of writing. Thomas Sanfilip borrows heavily from the philosophy of Heraclitus, and moulds it beautifully into postulations about modern poetry. He has a Hemingwayesque style of writing: long, winding sentences that rope in rich metaphors and symbols. From the macrocosm of society to the microcosm of linguistic elements, it is an enthralling read. The impure age of poetry is in extremis, and a new era will dawn. “We have been pushed to the extreme end and beginning of a new poetic which will eventually correspond to a new age of faith.”

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