I am constantly falling in and out of love with Kathmandu. Sometimes, I get blinded by the dust-induced anger. Other times, I am in awe at the warm smiles of strangers around me. But, American scholar of anthropology, Benjamin Linder's Beyond the Creeping Light made me fall in love with the city, madly and deeply.
The book features a foreword by Dr. Abhi Subedi. He provides high praises for Linder's observations and style of writing. He writes, "The poems say what several visiting creative scholars and poets earlier appear to have not been able to say." Regardless of how true these words are, they are still not enough; no word can capture the beauty of this piece of art.
I would describe myself as a picky person; I am very particular about what I consume. It was not out of the blue that I was wary about this book. And then, I read one poem. I was so awestruck that I needed a moment; I had to close the book; my eyebrows were raised in astonishment.
Although these poems were written from 2015 to 2017, when Linder was conducting research for his PhD, he first visited Nepal in 2008. The research looks into the connection between globalization, urban space, and cultural transformation. Likewise, Linder's poetry explores Nepali culture, as well as the musings of the Nepali people.
Due to his background in anthropology, the imagery in this book is rich; the words he uses are so ethereal and simultaneously relatable. Lines that have stuck with me are the first two lines of the third stanza of ‘She Became the City’. He writes, "The streets become veins/ pumping motorbikes through mandala blood." There is also the first stanza of ‘Holi Lights’, where Linder writes, "Tie-dye tikka rains/ from those rooftops/ where children play Poseidon."
There are so many more lines that I love, lines that make me pause and sigh, because I have no words to describe how insane it is that everything is written so exquisitely. I am, in the most straightforward words, in love with this book. Beyond the Creeping Light has become one of my favorite pieces of literature, and perhaps it will be the same for you. This 58-page book will leave you wishing there were more poems.