Another Word for It by Mohan Rana

Featuring: Mohan Rana, Lucy Rosenstein, Bernard O’Donoghue

Mohan Rana’s deep engagement with the notion of memory is inflected by his complex relationship with India: the country of his birth, his childhood and the language of his poetry, but which is now beyond his everyday geography. But rather than sinking into the sands of nostalgia, his work crafts a complex relationship with memory and time. Poems like ‘After Midnight’ and ‘As the Past Approaches’ address his notion of time, in which the future is a past we have yet to experience.

The tension between memory and oblivion, the acute awareness of the transient nature of life (‘To the Lost Children’, ‘The Colour of Rain’), together with the irrepressible urge to seek the truth of existence and to recognise the unexpected nature of ‘the ordinary’, creates a sense of restlessness which is central to Mohan Rana’s poetry. Indeed, in ‘Did You Hear It Too?’, ‘your restlessness’ is the protagonist of the poem itself.

Mohan Rana’s poetic sensibility is that of a traveller. It is the journey that engages him, not just the destination, since he prefers to take ‘the road that leads nowhere’ (‘Not What the Words...’). Like one of his most famous predecessors, the founder of modernism in Hindi poetry, Agyeya, Mohan Rana is ‘not even a traveller, but a seeker of a path’. Perhaps this is the secret behind the popularity of his poetry: it takes his readers on a journey of discovery that frees us of received meanings and reveals the extraordinary in the everyday.​

By Lucy Rosenstein from her introduction to PTC's Mohan Rana Chapbook