Apparently, the word ‘creativity’ did not exist in ancient civilisations. It was coined by the English mathematician and philosopher Alfred White Northhead as recently as 1927!
To the ancient civilisations, the ability to create was a gift.
When you encounter, Utsa Seth’s poems, you start accepting the older definition of creativity! Because her gift allows her to tackle serious themes even at a relatively young age.
For instance, when you begin with “Hey, Look at the Cookie” even as you read you are filing it away as an adolescent memory of romance, until you are stopped dead in your tracks by,
“What sounds inside
takes me to task,
with every silver lining
don’t tell me
you don’t see the clouds?
To which I say,
but that isn’t
what the sky is about.”
That’s a surprising ability to see the ground over which all illusion rests, like the TV screen with pixels acting as actors.
Utsa’s poems are permanently embedded in her own reactions to events, which points to a self-aware mind.
In ‘Consensually Weird’ you can see this quality of play between one thought stream and the second overlapping one.
“Everything I want to find can be found
but I don’t want to find,
is too busy being weird”
Sometimes, Utsa returns to tender moments unfurled by quiet insights. Hence in the poignant “I Want to be Three Again”,
“I want to wake up to clothes ironed and folded,
emboldened by prints
that I didn’t choose”
We can safely predict that Utsa will grow from craftswoman to master craftswoman, delighting us with visits to the past and to the future…on paths woven out of a twisting turn of phrase and lyrics of surprise.
Date: 25th September 2021
Kiran Khalap won the Asian Age Indo-UK Short Story writing award in 1995; is the published author of three books of literary fiction (Halfway Up the Mountain, Two Pronouns and a Verb and Black River Run); TEDx speaker on creativity; brand consultant by day and rock climber over weekends