Clarity, precision and an undertone of irony have always been the cornerstones of Manohar Shetty’s poetry. In this, his seventh individual collection, Shetty extends the frontiers of his work to tackle political concerns and whisperings of mortality. The poems are replete with his trademark metaphors and similes: the new moon is ‘a thumbnail sketch’; oilslicks washed ashore are like ‘smudged mascara’; a fleeing snake ‘pours itself into a hole’ and grieving eyes well up ‘Like a deserted street / After a sudden shower’.
Along with a cross-examination on the craft of poetry itself, Goa, his adopted home over the past thirty years, is a lingering and evocative presence. Graced by verbal dexterity and subtlety, this is a substantial collection which values lucidity over willful obscurity and accessibility over ponderous complexity. Readers will find a responsive and echoing chord in Morning Light. As Shetty puts it, these poems are ‘A bequest with no return / Address—a piece of paper / Folded close to the heart’.