Sunday, December 14, 2014

First rays of dawn





Sunil Sharma in his third poetry collection, ‘Mundane My Muse’, places his readers face to face with the truth of life. Given that so much, his poems feel solidarity with those who have suffered as well as a quiet celebration of the peacetime and the nature that is so easily lost, so quickly taken for granted, so undervalued.

In his Foreword, Rob Harle has rightly pointed out In many of Sunil’s poems there is the dichotomy of the haves and the have not’s” and the elegance and beauty of nature contrasted with the crass, ugliness of high-rise concrete jungles. In this substantial collection of poems, eighty in all, we are treated to a delightful smorgasbord of literary gems.’



Sunil Sharma in his preface has said, Poetry is like the first rains over a smoggy town: It washes away all the grime and revives the dormant seedling sand revitalizes the corroded cores of your inner- life.’ He is a clear eyed poet, never shy of telling the truth and his writings are trustworthy as testimony.

 The title of the book ‘Mundane My Muse’ is a gentle understatement of the poet’s creative soul. Remarkably enough, the book seems both local and global. The poet here finds symbols in,

This sleepy afternoon,

In a small fishing village,

Off the beach in SW, Australia,

A breeze slips in,

Blowing a faded rose. (Beach poem)

There is a very thin but discernible kind streak in his poems which is not the same as having a soft heart. Sometimes it has become a recipe for trouble but his observing eye is so restlessly hungry for detail that it can’t confine itself to a single point of view. ‘Finally, poetry is coming face to face with your spiritual truths that refuse to be commodified and reified by a mass culture. It fulfils you and makes you whole,’ the poet remarked once.



Like a few of his poems here, they are so short that your heart asks for more,

Blank

Eyes

Of the

Widowed mother,

Totally

Blank -

Like a

Lonely

Broken

Country road,

On a summer

Night. (Blank)



We are all familiar, if only for a short period, with the unreal seeming world. The tenuousness of the subject is beautifully underlined.

Detritus is scattered around; in fact, the lamp is part of its dreamy calm will give way to a strange image.

The flickering lamp,

A personal statement

Of a believer’s faith,

Emitting a strange luminosity

That beats the electric light! (Flickering Lamp)

And the ultimate luxury is not just enough but a little more timeless emblems of civilization. Some of his poems are brutally elegant. The images refracted through his words are commendably incisive.

Much of the struggles are rooted in its devotion to life; its settings, its long shadows and mirrors and hermetically sealed world. Not that it happens in a bubble, but sometimes lusciously dark yet the poet goes deeper sketching each one’s real self. The poet touches upon a few pressure points which instantly determines the poem’s trajectory with ease and finesse. More impressive is the expertly weighted interplay between words and rhythm.



His words pop into prickly sharp focus and fresh colour and the images go past the reader one after another in a fluid motion- no clich├ęs no exaggeration, each utterly distinct in his own identity, each the potential hero, like the slum boy. The venerable poet has always come out with flying colors when grappling with the reality check.

Four women

Varied age groups

Walking down the

Solitary

Country lane from

The far-off river,

This

Early morning,

Balancing heavy

Five-six

Pots piled up

On each other,

A daily act of gifted

Acrobats. (Acrobats)

An uproariously interesting, the narrative in some of his poems is self-reflective and the poet embodies the salient part. There is nothing negative or cynical, no sense that it will be betrayed by the surroundings. His poems are not of an unusual kind, simply and movingly encapsulates the concept.

In defense of human pursuits and values, thereby not neutralized, he has never gone over the edge. Poetry is always in his bones. It occurs to me that there are numerous times, the poet notes the ambiguity in life and pays close attention to the word usage for illustration. He is capable of touching as well as loving.

In silky shadows that quiver constantly

With every breath of wind,

Thus—

Creating, on this golden afternoon,

A rich world of chiaroscuro.

And then this words heighten the emotion and although a little fretful at the start, the poem effects a magical turn at the end.

Reminded of the famous

Japanese scroll paintings

That turn the bare home walls

Into vibrant

Vivid works of

Immaculate

Art. (A February Afternoon)

The poem begins with silky shadows but creates a rich world of chiaroscuro. The bare home walls testify to an effective style where certainty is more than is claimed.

Works of nature often sparked his imagination,

The Champa in big clusters,

Blooming on the bald tree;

Nature has covered amply

The tree’s shocking bareness; (Adornment)

Or

The graceful bamboos

Awash in the golden hue,

On this bright morning,

Swaying like amazons,

Along the serpentine

Country lane; (Autumn)

This poetry collection is elevated by the same fluent and freewheeling style that’s made Sunil Sharma, an accomplished poet. He has aptly said ‘Poetry is a surviving link with our heroic past, with our mythological memory, with a unique moment when man and god were not yet cruelly split but were real for the other and having a continual dialogue. Like these two plants, it is endangered and becoming exotic’. The words and rhythm of his poems not only delight the ear but refills the mind and body.



After reading the book, we find a voice at the end that echoes with a surge of inner life within our soul. It illustrates the way we pick up threads and move on in a quiet alleyway scaling heights on the way.



This beautifully designed book is definitely a must buy for the avid poetry lovers and I recommend this book strongly enough.

The publisher Authorspress, New Delhi, deserves to be complimented for this noble effort.

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Mundane, My Muse by Sunil Sharma

Authorspress

E-35/103, Jawahar Park

Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-110 092






Saturday, August 23, 2014


Fetch the Sky
Poem Continuous-Reincarnated Expressions, offers English translations of the selected Bengali poems written by the gifted Poet Bibhas Roy Chowdhury. The poetry collection is ably translated in English by Kiriti Sengupta.
In his Foreword, Don Martin has rightly pointed out that ‘Poem Continuous’ is a wonderful introduction to the lush world of Bengali Poetry’. He also mentioned that ‘ Bengali is a beautiful language which gives free reign to a poet, and he can paint his word pictures at will with astounding ferocity and intensity’ but he warned ‘ One particular problem is that meanings in Bengali are conveyed as much through structure and grammar as they are through vocabulary’.
We know about the age-old apprehension, ‘you can’t translate properly a good poem.’ For Kiriti, the turning point in translation comes to read between the lines and he never loses focus. He comes even more determined to find his way to the lucid, distinct form of the contents that reach for the sustained, not momentary.
He understands, ‘Getting into the soul of a poem is undoubtedly the most challenging task for the translator’. Admittedly, Kiriti has realized that from the core of his heart and takes it seriously too. For example, the following lines pack an immense punch,
Look, your kisses fly away to reach the cloud,
And your hug enabled a child to identify a bird (The Debt).
It is the aim of the translator to reconfigure the poems in a way that will convey the spirit of the original without any trappings of the weight and the scale. Kiriti in his note remarked, ‘Roy Chowdhury’s poems are exceptionally easy to read; they sound easy when read but they are extremely difficult to translate into English’. I have read a few of the Bibhas’s poems in Bengali and I cannot but agree with Kiriti.
For Bibhas, it’s a fine line between resonant and insipid and the poet crosses it most of the times with skill and purpose, pointing back to the daily battle with self. In this sense, he reminds us, to confront both its past and ones’ own. And for some people, the leave is freedom. The identity and its complications stem as much for one’s surroundings as from within.
My mother stays far away, all alone
Like the coveted hibiscus flower
Hidden beneath the wild grass (The Poetry of a Hibiscus Flower).
Not too often he uses the weight of the history but underpins that some pivotal things happen in Bengal and what happens has echoes across the time plane and generations. His poems demonstrate the effects of life, they signal the intrusive, intimate viscidness of the struggle. In the core of my heart I nurse the wounded soul
Carefully
Union of the parted Bengal will aid in my recovery (Bhatiali- Song of the Boatmen)
One cannot but agree with Alokeranjan Dasgupta’s keen observations on Bibhas Roy Chowdhury’s works, ‘His poems depict much struggle and crisis, yet these are dream-inducing as we commonly expect from poetry. Bibhas’ poems take us to trance’.
The poet answers himself,
What is poetry?
The blind bird
Was painting
Is nest so deceptive?
On the water body…(The Horizon)
His poems are like flickering sunbeams; teem with enough thoughts on life. Yet in a few instances, he tends to search for a space that possesses the substance and the authority that have let fall away. These intertwined desires to reveal, to listen and to explore are tested in his poems.
No misery
I can easily remember
On our lips
You brought unhesitant
Some crazy sky (Yes)
Given that so much, his poem seems bitter and clunky at times but he ends up with a more powerful, even haunting amalgam of the theme and content. Comfort is not one of the zones you need to be in and for that matter pain is useful.
How can I depart?
His words fail to cease
Better I keep some wound
Beside the coming tune… (The People)
The beauty of the lyricism lingers in ‘Our lovers are only the weather bulletins!’ no matter what you do with it. His poems are not of an unusual kind, simply and movingly encapsulates the concept and Kiriti’s translation is flawless.
I know tears make your love behind blind
you are to speak out, anyway.
Lift your face for once…
I’m not here, my absence…this is the other sky…(Eternal)
Though at great ease with his multitude of voices, the poet often demonstrates the struggle in a suggestive trance,
We, two old mirrors,
Bite each other to die… (Speaking with the Self)
What you are looking at really, more than anything else, is a core identity and the poet has to find a path of his own. Bibhas trusts himself and his poems have a withholding pattern, doling out words in bits and bytes, relying on the readers to construct the whole.
Fetch the sky
Now that the river dries
Suits only me. (The Small Boat)
What apparent for this book, however, is the single-minded efforts of both the poet and the translator that lead to a seamless journey to achieve the goal. In a way, Poetry is meant to be read and heard. We feel a powerful sense of connection at the end. For this, Poem Continuous will surely find a wide reader.
The cover design by Partha Pratim Das is appropriate. This book is a must for your shelf to fill up the empty moments.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Poem Continuous by Bibhas Roy Chowdhury
Translated by Kiriti Sengupta
Published by
Inner Child Press Ltd, U.S.A
Price- INR 130




In and Out
The moon comes in and out of focus
For now though, he is happy
The darkness suffers concussions.

A rehearsal before the mirror
Of multiple faces, of fingernails,
They ends with punches.

He cries, he cries in silence
An antidote to the sterility,
 A page is re- written.

Hope; it comes and goes
Lurching from anger to pain
And things about to get worse.

There will be fire inside simmering
For now the Universe is at peace. 
His eyes are frozen in tears.



Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Soft Sparkle

For all its possibilities and resonances, Ananya Chatterjee’s first poetry collection ‘The Poet and His Valentine’ is a delightful read. The book is visually striking and commendably thought out. In a world that too often tells about fast forward and smart ride, this beautiful collection showcases Ananya’s prowess and talent in no uncertain terms.
Soumitra Chatterjee, the legendary actor and poet, in his appreciative Foreword, has endorsed Ananya’s creative abilities in writing verses. Even our young poet had realized ‘… this was a special gift that I had been endowed with and that I must cherish, nourish and nurture it to the best of my abilities’.
Ananya has not disappointed at the end. Her poems are like Robert Frost’s ‘The rhythmical creation of beauty in words’. In keeping with the philosophy, the themes are truths the readers will relate to, not escape to.
In the stony silence of the night
Her dormant fears are awakened again---
Powered by the absence of light. (Slow Death).

It’s the little parts, little joy, little sorrow of life- these are the things that really do matter in an unending quest for humanity. Ananya’s poems are the emotional fingerprint, more of a tone, a series of moments, that works out well. Even though the contents are simplistic and less appealing at times, she still manages to build those wrenching yet soft poems at will.
That is the way I long for you to come
Like the joy that comes after excruciating pain
Reenter my life at its withering autumn,
And make it feel like spring again. (Autumn Love)

In most of her poems, she becomes herself, something subtly created. Not surprisingly, his poems are exuberant and passionate outpourings with driving, sonorous rhythms and assemblage of shining words.
Glowing under a still-lit nightlight,
She savours the angst of his absence-
While his sponge like intellect is busy
Breathing in the springtime incense; (the Poet And His Valentine)

 Showing what in retrospect seems likes considerable restraints, her poems are like a memory of what it is like growing up and come up like freedom as well as constraints and give us a through soaking.
Perhaps our paths have finally diverged
Yet our souls fail to part
Perhaps our future together, was never meant to be
Yet fond memories keep tugging at my heart. (The Bond)

It is true that love does not always works out well, dry up half way through but drawing on youth, filled up with love and innocence, her poems flesh out boldly at the end.
The memories of his touch, so wild yet tender,
I carry with me, as fresh as ever-
The thought of his lips, fiercely on me
Burns me up still, like fire on wine. (Goodbye Love)

It is apparent that she has something inside that never allows her to give in even when going is no longer endurable.
The night was long but my dream did not stop
As I saw myself warm and safe in your arms. (Fake Reality).

Started writing in earnest and unsullied by the negativism, she maintains a passionate concern for those struggling and cut through the web of deceit and hatred wherever she finds it. Sometimes she delves into heavy themes, shaping them into a framework which is surprisingly poignant. Warmth is her writings other quality.
She’d sing to me, all night long,
Until my soul brimmed with the song.
And then I’d sleep, my fears all gone, (Return Of The Melody)
Sail between the locales, her poems are painting that speaks. The poet believes in simple mantra of unwavering love of peace and harmony. Her world is a place where we readers can go and feel like we are well taken care off.
A shy moon peeps from behind the clouds-
Its glittering image now adorns the sea,
And all of a sudden, the silent night,
Does not appear lonely… (Enlightenment)

Not that vision is hermetically sealed, nor always the poems are thoroughly refined, yet her works give a visual aroma, an esthetic commonality and a lust for life. From toiling in a relative obscurity, she emerges as a powerful voice in the contemporary poetry in such a young age.
My Window caught a glimpse of her shock-marred face
Those eyes emitting hollow pain, naked fear…
I drew the blinds before our eyes could meet
And couldn’t help thinking, “It’s not me out there…” (Inertia)

This neatly designed book is definitely worth a look. The publisher SHAMBHABI, The Third Eye Imprint deserves to be complimented. I wish this book should be in your must-grab-now list. Don’t miss it.
………………………………………………………………………………..
The Poet and his Valentine by Ananya Chatterjee published by
SHAMBHABI
The Third Eye Imprint
Amarabati, Sodepur
Kolkata- 700110
Price- INR 170


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Glass was mine

Scratches Only Are Human
The novelette titled ‘My Glass of Wine’, written by Kiriti Sengupta, reminds me of the apposite remarks of R.L.Stevenson, ‘Wine is bottled poetry’. Be that as it may, Kiriti has chosen to explore the prose and poetry from a dizzyingly different perspective. The rewards can be high; but so can the risks. As Pluto observed, ‘Wine fills the heart with courage’, Kiriti walks on with his treasures of ideas and emotive personal narratives. He sends us also reminders in his Introduction, ‘Always be a poet, even in prose’ (Baudelaire).
Don Martin in his Foreword has rightly pointed out ‘A book of poetry I could easily understand’. He further added ‘One thing to note is the book will be enjoyable for non-Indian readers, just at it will be for the natives’. Natives or non-natives, one can enjoy traversing the path of Kiriti with open eyes and relaxed mind.
A natural writer with a sharp and sympathetic mind, Kiriti has woven his personal anecdotes with aplomb. The book has been arranged in eight chapters. Each chapter barring the last one, sketches impressions of life and the true beauty of these tales lies in their delicate endings preferably in poems, which manage to tie up the loose ends if any and leave almost everyone contented and makes great reading.
No one know I worshipped you
with my flaming heart;
no matter if I had a flower white,
you were to float, and fly
like the passing kite. (The Air)
Here is an author, who understands his readers perhaps better than most contemporary writers and immediately builds a rapport with them. Chapter one traces the path to the world of literature. His thoughts are rooted in reality and his analysis is measured in summing up at the end ‘I think, is all about consumption- more you consume the fuel of your being, better is the outcome!’
Consumed time
Like an infant consuming
Milk; inevitable
It remains,
Killed essence of
The eternal soul; and consumed,
Essentially I remain… (Consumption)
The author finds it interesting, for example, to view Rains through a different lens, perhaps through the eyes of a poet. His lucid prose and lovely poems delights not the ear but the mind and body as well. ‘My ‘rains’ denotes a situation, which makes me feel lost. I mean lost in the crowd, lost in my thoughts, lost in my occupation, lost in my discipline’.
There is both the blissful celebration of contemplative mind and suitable words. Inside the world of his, it may happen that you find his writes are full of ideas and overbearing at times yet he vividly invokes power and delicacy at the end. Here is another sample- He watches life, years and his thoughts embracing it all as in…
My earphone whispers and
Lips glued to the chewing gum.
My glasses moisten
As I find you eyesome.
Is this what they call love? (Vermillion)
Detached at time, Kiriti looks harder at the world with keener eyes.  He spins out real life stories sharpened by his wits and allow us to have a private glimpse of his creative method. Kiriti’s poems are charming and always complemented with an introduction. Sometimes it echoes with loss and shadows as well. ‘I have had my share of setbacks that originated from love and yielded some scratches, which were only human!’
Few beautiful scratches, deep within,
Soft marks, palpable even after months;
No wounds, but tiny scratches brown-
Soothing, mesmerizing in between! (Scratches Only Are Human)
In many ways a personal narrative, he writes in an original voice and his poems capture mosaic and rhymes with truth. Even a letter or a few lines spark his imagination. He likes to refer letters to ‘clips’ of words. I love this tiny creation;
They are siblings;
the older fetches rain, while           
the other burns my train.

They keep on hugging
enticing my hunger and greed. (My Family)
An excellent observer of the surroundings, Kiriti is content to keep it light (as if sipping a glass of wine) with minimum fuss, preferring his tales and anecdotes are rich in memory and valuable even it is explained to the outsider. He advocated ‘Dear readers, let us be name-filled. Let the world realize that we actually hold our names’. It’s a pity that the book ends so quickly!
The cover design by Marut Kashyap is eye-catching and the get up of the book is well-ordered. An accomplished writer like Kiriti needs no introduction and the last chapter ‘what they say’ appears to be redundant. Even the advert at the inside back cover is a big No No.
Keeping in mind- for every glass, for wine inspires us- many glasses will be raised to toast the author. For all those who wish to witness a new wordsmith at work, this book is a must on their reading table.

My Glass of Wine by Kiriti Sengupta
Author’s Empire Publications
New Delhi
Price- Rs 125/-