Category Archives: Book reviews

Aju Mukhopadhyay’s Selected Poems by Dr. Dalip Khetrapal

4th Vol, No 1 (April 2017)

Aju Mukhopadhyay’s Selected Poems by Dr. Dalip Khetrapal

Whenever I go through Contemporary Vibes, I often come across a poem of Aju Mukhopadhyay, distinct in tone and tenor, lucid in expression and weighty in thought and meaning and so has the distinction of being among those few modest poets who are though unique in every sense of the word, excessive humility propels them to keep themselves in low-profile.

It is not for nothing that Aju has won some prestigious awards for his poetry both in India and abroad. He has eight books of poems in English and two in Bengali to his credit. His poems have been published in 24 anthologies that include an anthology of poems from India as well as from Australia titled: ‘Poetic connections and The Dance of the Peacock’, published in Canada. Despite occupying an exalted position in the esteemed Indian and foreign journals, websites and e-zines, in anthologies of contemporary world haiku and also of Modern English Tanka, his poems find a significant place in the ‘Best Poems Encyclopedia’, Poetas Del Mundo (Spanish), World Poetry Yearbook, World poetry Society, World Haiku Anthology, Margutte (Italian), Sketchbook(US), Syndic Literary journal (US) are only some magazines and journals, though more could be mentioned.

It is only after making great strides in the field of poetry that Aju has sent me his  latest anthology titled, ‘Time Whispers In My Ear’ for review. After going through the anthology I found that it is thought- provoking and educative as it has enhanced my own knowledge at least of geography and history. Beneath the poet’s simplicity of expression one gets to see ideas and thoughts that are universal and that clinch the wise, the philosopher and the intelligentsia—all alike. It is a style that is transparent like a clear, still or flowing stream through which its bottom could be easily seen.

Some prominent features whereby I’m struck by the anthology are:  nature, pictorial quality, lyrical melody, psychological perception, highlights of corrupt scenario, moral philosophy and a strong sense of justice. However, almost all poems are shot through and through with the strong element of humanism, compassion, love and hope. As a champion of the underdog, the poet directly and sometimes indirectly conveys his deep concern for the poor, the weak and the downtrodden. Through the anthology the poet has expressed his discontentment, anguish and dissatisfaction, sometimes implicitly and sometimes explicitly with the ailing, corrupt and seemingly irredeemable system. It seems that I would be able to illustrate the poet’s thoughts and feelings effectively, more precisely and clearly only through vital quotations from his anthology.

The highly pictorial nature poem, ‘Time Whispers in my Ear’ (p.11) also assumes a psycho-philosophical form as it progresses. In this, natural movements in nature are silhouetted against time, presenting exquisite Keatsian pictorial quality and sensuousness that are reflected in the lines like: ‘susurrus over the vast undulating grass/tumbling of water….cracking of billy meandering streams/flowing of molten lava down the ravine/spewing of ash…..spread of forest fire….spreading rapidly with the wind….rains…rolling of water bodies….seeds sprouting, trees growing and dying…..sibilation of nature’s shifting phase;/nature is at work…in every pore and cell…..’Such keen and intense perception of nature quite aptly and naturally seeps into the poet’s sub-conscious mind wherefrom instantly generates psycho-philosophical ideas vented metaphorically: ‘time whispers in my ear/that with nature it flows with all its belonging/to the events forthcoming/while consciousness keeps its progress in everything/constantly rolling towards the future…..that past never sits in its forlorn chair/but leaves its essence for assimilation….that the ethos of the bygone ages, their zeitgeist/can never be recovered by any strategist’. This fluid philosophical perception gets intensified by modifying and upgrading Blake’s highly popular imaginative verse with sharper insight: ‘To see the world in a grain of sand’. For Aju, ‘the world may be seen in the grain of sand/but the flow of sand is constant;/infinity may be guessed in the palm of hand/but it cannot be gripped by any standard;/time whispers in my ear/that everything passes on forever.’

‘The Day is Lost In The Shimmering Twilight’(p.50) is a didactic poem replete with various objects of nature and derives its strength from its well-knit, metaphorical and highly picturesque qualities. Its lyrical beauty is further enhanced by a strong sense of natural justice, imparting to the gist of the poem a rather logical and universal meaning: ‘The opaque and dark evening sky/without a particular hue, defy/the reign of the Sun as it goes to set/and pulls the erstwhile bright warm day straight/into its mysterious unfathomable womb. These metaphorical lines have been aptly brought vis-a-vis ‘those who rise up with renewed oomph/at the prospect of devouring the evening young…..sink eventually into its hazy darkness….’ Likewise, ‘….those who never look at the hieroglyphs/of the evening sky in obscure light/pulling the day into its hold aright/and the majority of sheep/who never realize that the day…..is kept at bay/to be lost forever into the unknown fold…live the useless life of ignoramus…..condemned like a Sisyphus. The image of Sisyphus reinforces the effect of the comparison. Sisyphus was a cruel king of Corinth who offended Zeus and so was condemned to roll a huge boulder up a hill in Hades forever only to roll it down on nearing the top again. How a day is born to die in no time is explicated metaphysically by the ‘holocaust of time’ with exquisite poetic dexterity. ‘The day in the shimmering twilight/in its ever hopeful flight/into the mysterious womb of time/never to be reborn after melting of the time.’

The poet also views nature in all its mysteries and complexities. The unique and mystifying nature of Nature is vindicated through the poem, ‘Bumblebee Bamboozles’ (P.106). With his keen observation the poet discovers how a bumblebee violates the aerodynamic laws and bewilders even scientists by moving swiftly with light wingspan while carrying ‘its heavy body weight’. He finally concludes the poem rather wisely by hinting intelligently at the very abstruse nature of Nature:’ ….there are laws beyond assumption/More wonderment at every step beyond our horizon,/Nature has more in store/To shock the recalcitrant science’. Through picture making quality the poet at times, perceives nature from a philosophic angle as ‘At the river bank’ (p. 97) evinces. Through his picture-making quality, the poet presents a vivid picture of stillness and calm that has been silhouetted against the movement and din of life which also marks the philosophy of a chosen area of the poem: ‘And quiet flows the river/without a ripple or shiver/trees stand windless/not even a whiff in space/no leaf shakes, no sound,/fishes are sleeping…halts at the bank of the river….’

The poet’s heart often unconsciously goes out to the suffering, uprooted and agonized humanity, revealing his profound sense of justice, humanity, love, compassion, empathy, sympathy, anxiety and concern for the entire suffering mankind. ’In Reasonable support of the Hazara people’ (p.55), the poet’s sensitive soul could hear the anguished cries of the Hazaras, ‘a distinct ethnic group’ of Central Asian Afghanistan, ‘….relocated in other countries due to persecution and fear/though they’ve every right to live in their land as live the others.’ He first speaks of natural justice, ‘all living beings are born with equal birth rights/to be taken care of by the Mother Earth/none has the right to dwarf or cull others/unless it is Nature’s spontaneous action…..’Finding the helpless Hazaras, hapless with no help conceivable from any corner of the earth, he exhorts his fellow poets and humanity in general to relieve their wretched condition and alleviate their agony: ‘It is the voice of the Poets, voice of Peace, voice of Love /for the Hazara people, appealing to all who have been/so far persecuting them, appealing to all humans throughout/the globe to put a stop to it mainly because we’re humans……Rise up brothers to …..embrace brothers/be humane, not just dogs.’ To reinforce this idea the same theme is however, taken up in ‘The Uncivilized’ (p.61) wherein ‘Uigher, a nomadic pastoral tribe/of Turkish origin in Xinjiang,/ find it difficult to survive/squeezed out by the Han Chinese…to kill theTibetan culture, depopulate, destabilize/the peaceful Tibetan Buddhist race……’Further, ‘Creating tourism and villa in the land of Jarawas/leads to the extinction of the aboriginals’.

Man’s greed and loot that traverse from sea to earth and thence, to heaven, is all brazenly ceaseless. Natural reserves, like oil, coal, gold, minerals and all woodland treasures are plundered inducing ecological disaster first and its wrath, later. Horrific and unabashed tales of loot and pillage, sometimes even in the name of God and religion, could be witnessed in all ages. Infusing poetic beauties into his bitter satire and irony,the poet explicates his expansive idea satirically thus: ‘Wherever minerals, oil or woodland treasures are found/men run to acquire the wealth profound/extinguishing the pristine flora and fauna/and the indigenous people, Nature bound,/in Amazonian, Peruvian forests, hilly belts in India/in Indonesia, Philippines, Canada and Africa,/Moving into galaxies, to the north and south poles/plundering the reserves of the earth and heaven—feel victorious, but the soil they stand on shifts/for their pollutive role in human lives— civilized people are the most uncivilized.’

In ‘The Adivasi’(p.62) man’s greed, cruelty, selfishness, deceitfulness and exploitation are graphically elucidated : ‘…greed/ For gold flashing in their eyes, swooped with guns/And swords like human hawks on unknown land… Columbus with Bahama Arawaks/And other tribes of Caribbean islands,/Cortes in Peru with the Incus,/The English settlers in America/With many tribes including the Pequots/And with many others in Australia/Following James Cook’s visit in the year/1770, so savagely/Behaved with all the unarmed innocent Adivasis of the foreign lands who welcomed them,/That made them ride the rough roller coaster/ To embrace certain death and devastation/ Original Americans were pushed/ From eastern Atlantic to the western/Pacific for burial in the ocean. ’Most tragically,’ All such indigenous human beings/Who were so devastated, sold and killed/Were cultured and civilized, lived fulfilled’. Despite the painful and shameful fact that ‘over the corpses of tribes wealth’ was ‘made/In socialist, capitalist countries, it becomes a farce when some misguided terrorists shine…’ even today. And it is deeply pathetic that the Adivasis are not lauded though they displayed unexampled determination and strength of will by not yielding to the callous invaders even after being threatened, converted and brainwashed. Further, advasis being the ‘first born on earth’, are the most original inhabitants, it would be totally absurd to ‘ogle at jarawas,/Oldest Andamanese, like the beast in cage’. It is also ridiculous, rather a ‘puffed up farce’ to declare ‘International Day of/World’s indigenous people’ by the highest/World-body…’leading globalization to become a rather permanent ‘stain on human glory’. The long thought-provoking poem finally ends with the externalization of the poet’s deep sense of justice supplemented by a bit of relevant counseling. He affirms that if the aboriginals were to be removed, it should have been done with their consent and they ‘must be compensated/Be aware man, awake; Honor Nature/To be honored by it, to live better’. ‘Fall of a Habitat’(p.107) is another moving poem that explicates how man has shattered the joys and dreams of ‘lion-tailed Macaque’, ’giant Malabar squirrels’, ‘nilgiri  langurs’ by usurping their natural habitat. Instead of sharing their habitat, mankind, consisting of ‘adventurous, profit monger and corrupt’, rape and ravish ‘nature they live’ as ‘coffee, tea, rubber and minerals have stolen men’s hearts’. The evil in modern man is thus, sketched tellingly and effectively with certain historical facts and instances by the poet through many poems.

The poet, however, does not remain focused on the darker aspects of life for, for him, every cloud has a silver lining. ‘A Woman Savior of Mankind’ (p.13), is a beautiful, but pathetic poem based on the sacrifice of a 22 year old café-worker who ‘rising to the occasion’ saved ‘…children and half-dead sea farers’ when the South Korean boat drowned. The poet becomes most lyrical while expressing her act of sacrifice: ‘Igniter of the sacrificial fire/With the fire glowing within her;/Inspired by the Divine will and bliss/She lives in man’s heart for her selfless sacrifice.’ Sacrifice, humanity and best human values comprise the essence of the poem, proving how hope is still alive and perceptible in this hopeless world. In ‘Hope’ (p.47) the poet rests his entire poem on hope ‘even amid terrorism and destruction’. He confidently asserts: ‘ a hope growing within/that catastrophe will not happen’. In ‘Nuclear the Evil Force’ (p.84), after describing the after effects of atom bomb, the poet instills a sense of hopefulness among humans by stressing how ‘Karma may be uplifted by human wisdom/To defeat the evils of life like nuclear fission/To keep high the flag of freedom’. In ‘Nelson Mandela…Victory’ (p.14), sublime values, relentless human struggle and all humanitarian traits are displayed most spontaneously by Nelson Mandela, the former president of Africa and the Noble Prize winner for peace. For a great freedom fighter, an ambassador of social peace, a strong man with iron will, 27 years of ‘jail was nothing to him’ whose ‘patience and perseverance with persistent resolution/were the basis of his lifelong struggle…he was unconquerable….’ His death in 2013 at the age of 95 sparked mourning around the globe.

Again in the midst of rampant corruption and evil, the poet discovers great humanitarian souls like ‘Sri Aurobindo’ (41) who ‘…was a lotus born in mud, away from the mundane scene’, yet ‘the cascading Supramental light…touching the sky kept its foot on earth fixed’. It is the divine perception of the poet itself that enables him to see how God sits in the body of his seer poet whose face reveals ‘the eternity…Out of intense love for men he sat away from eternity’. But, all the same, the poet does not lose sight of ‘Small fries in shallow water and surface gazers/were lost in his fathomless water.’ The poet further illustrated his positive traits in ‘A complete human being’(p.44) to underline how he evolves certain qualities to enable himself to serve the cause of suffering humanity: ‘The inner being pushed him from one to the other theme/He was a poet, revolutionary, yogi, journalist, writer and thinker…’ Likewise, in ‘Buddha Purnima’ (18), the poet delineates Lord Buddha’s ‘sympathetic attitude’, his ‘benevolence’, message of ‘love and peace; desire-less boon’ that touch ‘our soul/is not an enigma’. The poet’s eulogy of all these icons is not only appropriate, but also commendable. He could foresee a beacon of hope even where there is pitch-darkness which also vindicates his bi-focal vision.

A philosophically moralistic poem, ‘Pray that you Play your Part Best’ (p.33) has a lot to teach to mankind. The poet stresses how humans are mortal and how death equalizes all, ‘but blinded by pride’ men ‘do not see the beyond’. Further, ‘the world would not have progressed without death.’ As a deist he wisely goes on to say ‘If you cannot admit God, do not explain it away in Nature’s way’ and like an innocent child ‘pray that you can play the part best as you are assigned’. By implication the poet means that one should conduct oneself well without allowing one’s moral certitude to collapse. Corollary to this is ‘United in Camp-fire’ (p.34) that elucidates unity, harmony, peace, love and universal brotherhood. The poet explicates the oneness of humanity lyrically, symbolically and picturesquely: ‘we live in camps, united in camp-fire/for the world is a field of our sojourn divided in camps….’The poet finally advises us to shed ‘pride, domination or diplomacy’ and ‘embrace all with pure love/for that is the only sovereign unity’.

Some poems of Aju are also infused with deep human psychology, he at times, project the inner workings of the sub-conscious mind. In ‘Invisibly with me’ (p.24) memories of idle days with certain variations—sweet, bitter and sour creep up on the poet’s psyche while taking tea. The poet lyrically expresses his thoughts that meet his heart ‘in various ways/flowing over me, through me/coming out of the doors of the body and behave ‘differently at different times… nature changes seasonally, endearingly, roughly, lovingly…presence constantly….’ ‘Invisible yet perceptible’ (p.23) is infused with subtle psychology covering a wide range of human existence and activities with present, past and future, all merging into one: ‘Age is pushing them with feet/as they try to rise from the subconscious deep/the relationship, physical vital mental/heterosexual or asexual or obscure camaraderie/ passionate quagmire from the oblivious memory….’ ‘Inwardness’ is also written in almost the same vein, fusing present, past and future into one, covering a broad spectrum of activities and bringing many layers of consciousness into play ‘…Of time past in bitter-sweet taste/In erotic sense, with pain or pleasure/Fear of the unknown, hope for the future,/Alone yet in company….’

The anthology, hence, is the most explicit manifestation of the psyche of the poet. Doubtless, Aju carries a fertile and vibrant psyche that  brims over with ideas, feelings and thoughts that are sometimes weird, sometimes brilliant, sometimes abstruse, sometimes mystical, sometimes deep, sometimes rational, sometimes fanciful, sometimes psychological and sometimes philosophical. The anthology also covers almost all gamut of human thoughts and emotions and serves as a sumptuous mental and emotional food for the entire literati all over the world; posterity will also surely remember him as a great poet.

 

 

Work Cited

Time Whispers in my Ear. Aju Mukhopadhyay. Lucknow: Online Gatha. 2015. Paperback.

 

Songs of a Dissident: Echoing the Strong Voice of Protest

3rd Vol , No 2 (August 2016)

Songs of a Dissident: Echoing the Strong Voice of Protest

Songs of a Dissident is a wonderful olio of protest poems by Scotts Thomas Outlar who has vented out his ‘Shock and Awe’, his anger and indignation at the cruel activities being carried out in the world. Happenings around him in his milieu seem to have far-reaching impact on him. His poems are born out of his sensibility, nurtured and matured, in the gloomy atmosphere of his time.  A rebel poet, yet of compassion and universal outlook, Outlar out-shadows the grey thoughts of the nefarious people whose evil intentions always keep looming large over the process of maintaining the global peace and harmony. All the poems of this collection, woven well, deal with grave issues – Government corruption, the dealings of the Federal Reserve and international banking, having the will to overcome problems with strength of character and consciousness, sense of empowering the individuals. They present vignettes of human life passing through myriads of trajectories and penumbras of modern complex experiences, sweet and bitter, abrupt changes in and collapses of order, political and social, moral and cultural and personal disappointment of the poet and his agony.

Of all the major problems of the world, nuclear proliferation is a subject of concern. Nuclear weapons, if misused, might cause havoc to the world in general and humanity in particular. The poet is well aware of the devastating impact of nuclear technology. In the very first poem “Trump Hand”, the poet arrests our attention to and makes us alert against the pernicious repercussion of wars, civil or nuclear, impending or imminent. The war in the name of expansion of power and strength leads us nowhere but to the grave. Saddened by such negative motive of war-monger countries, he makes us feel the deadening impact –

            .……………….bombs
            dropped
            from all of the war
            props
            poisonous and poised to hiss
            with a snake’s tongue
            venom on the fang drips

He has depicted the heart-wrenching, eerie scene caused by the devastation of the war, in the following lines taken from the same poem-

           A river of fire
            in a ring around the city

            ……………many lives
            lost
            from all of the lies
            cast
            carelessly and callously
            with spiteful intentions

Ecological concerns can be witnessed in his poetry. Wars have affected everything. Their bad effect is palpable in our life. Even nature is not spared. Let us see here-

            The trumpet march to war is sounded

            A prepackaged agenda in the form of a siren

            lulling the ships off the sea

            to bum-rush the desert shores

            and strip the land of all its worth

      while sucking at the tit of Mother Nature until she’s bone dry

            Can you hear the silent cries

            of a million slaughtered innocents?

The poet is a man of strong zeal and enthusiasm, imbued with sense of hope and optimism. He voices his angst and protests against the ‘spiteful intentions’ of the world mad with power and at the same time he wants those relegated to abyss to rise up again to their feet to cope with the perpetrative forces of the world. In spite of the mass destruction, loss of lives and properties, the victims must not lose their hope because

            at the brink of a New Age
            sipping freely from the full well
            raining Love from the constellation
            with a song from the spheres
            about the cycles of time
            The wheels, they spin
            The gears, they turn
            The dust drifts away
            as the Phoenix flows out from the ash

His poetry bears out his revolutionary instinct. Socialistic and revolutionary urges, with satiric undertones mark most of his poems. He is disillusioned with the world, as he feels frustrated, cheated and betrayed in the lurid game of power politics. A note of bitterness and pessimism can be felt in the poem “Absolute Zero”-

            I am a bled dry bone

            whose marrow has been wasted

            with no remorse

            nor empathy

            to spare for this skeleton world –

            I write a eulogy

            as a death wish

            for all hope and salvation –

Political aggression in hand in glove with corporate sectors, social injustice, scientific and technological advancement are some of the remarkable happenings that have misbalanced the proper Order. Growing sense of capitalism has baffled and confused the people. Humanistic concern is on the wane, dignity of man is pushed to its nadir. However, the poet believes in revolutionary optimism. With his optimistic zeal, he wishes to bring about big transformation in his society. His poem “Sucked Dry” has his hope of survival in the tides of turbulent times-

            The bloody valley of silicon wants its cut of lithium

            Don’t pull the plug until they’re done

            the War Machine is having fun

            they pulled the wool over everyone                    

            to fleece the herd on every front

            and now we’re all victims to the violence of a New World Order

            as our desperate heart diligently fights to keep the hope alive

            day after day after day after day after…

His poetry is laced with bitter and severe criticism and irony. His comments are direct and explicit. He is very critical of communal strife among people in the name of caste, creed and community and bigotry as is happening around the globe. He makes scathing assault on the political system headed by “Fat Cat Politician / perched atop the congregation” and the money monger ‘Jackal’ of the corporate world, ‘snake oil salesmen’ with ‘Vials full of drugs’. In “Venom Laced Jackal Fangs”,

he depicts a scaring picture of such people and their evil intentions-

            Propaganda laced with venom           

            sent out from corporate jackals

            Saliva drips from fangs

            they can taste the next victim

The people have to realise their dignity, goodness and indestructibility of their inner strength. They have to muster courage and cope with the divisive forces. The lines grabbed from the poem “One Foot in front of the Other”, a very exhorting poem, are reflective of determination, resolution, faith in oneself, confidence, encouraging attitude they must adopt and exercise till the last drop of blood-

            What you can do

            is what you must do

            and what you shall do

            with this very day

            and every day after

            until the work is complete

            and your soul can lay down to sleep.

In the poem “Feudal Futility”, he expresses his awe and sock at the people who take interest in the news about ‘Royal family / of this or that European country’, Kings and Queens/and Princes and Princesses/and Royal courts and henchmen / and mafia and control freaks / and psychopaths and elitists / and governments and bureaucrats    / and law enforcers and pigs’ who have oppressed, suppressed and tortured the common people for axing their grinds. He expresses his surprise –

            and yet, still,

            the mass man, the common man,

            the mean man, the nothing man,

            clamors for a comeback

            of their oppressor.

‘Sacrificial Lambs’ is another poem of growing resentment and protest. He compares the common people to ‘Lambs’, symbolic of innocence, mute, submissive, negligence etc to be sacrificed at the altar of royal interest and greed. They lay down their lives for

            for their King and Queen

            and Bishop and Rook

            and Knight

He is not glorifying their sacrifices. Rather in reaction and disgust, he is taking them to task. All the controlling forces from political social, religious to the authoritarian have been bitterly satirized and exposed to the world.

“Apocalyptic Eagle” is a symbolic and metaphorical poem which goes a long way in bringing home the point of view of the poet. The symbol of this imaginary creature stands for all the oppressing forces of the world. The picturesque imagery of the ‘Eagle in the sky’ appears tearing into ‘the fabric of creation’. He describes it

            It has two wings that symbolize

            the false paradigm

            of a political structure

            meant to pull the wool

            over the eyes

            of those who are already blind.

He further describes it as It is ‘kin to both the vultures/and the serpents’

            It has no compassion nor empathy

            for its victims; in fact,

            it rather enjoys drinking the blood

            from the spilt vein of a martyr middle class..

In his poem “National Amnesia” , he has raised some national issues, including the ‘national anthem’ , ‘especially the brutal, nasty, hard-hitting, / hard-edged, gladiator style contests‘ with troops facing each other for war. His poetic self is very critical and disapproving of any sort of war in the name of nationalism. What he wants is the peace, prosperity of the country and that is possible only when the middle class of people prosper and do better in their life. He believes in total uplift of bourgeois section of society.

“Late Onset Puberty” has juxtaposition of his ideas well expressed with a wonderful distinction between two types of the people – oppressed and the oppressor, developed and the underdeveloped. Hitting hard at ‘American pop culture’, he is sad at heart that most of the people have become self-centric with vested interest. Lack of unity with collective responsibility and consciousness leaves major problems unresolved. There is no place for such individualistic attitude of the people in the penumbra of his poetic world. He very seriously explains-

            The difference between

            the winners and the losers

            is that the winners

            use adversity to become stronger

            while the losers

            cower at the altar of their oppressors.

            The difference between

            the evolved and the regressive

            is that the evolved

            use their power to scale the mountain

            while the regressive

            hang out at the base sucking thumbs.

Cultural and moral downfall of the Americans has also bothered the poet. To see this degeneration of the people, he unlocks his deepened sense of agonised feeling and desperation. In “Reboot in the Blood” he puts a question mark on America, calling it a country of dullards indulged in drinks. He validates the sole reason for the generational digression with sarcasm and bitter irony-

            Maybe because

            of all the barley beer

            that expands the guts

            and numbs the minds –

            all the wheat parasites

            that bring consciousness

            crashing down

            in a tired heap.

Political upsurge, social injustice, economic depression, unemployment, woes and suffering of the poor, their misery and wretchedness and other affairs and events find realistic portrayal in his poetry. In the poem “Feeding the Beast” he expresses his disappointment at countless problems his country is faced with. He speaks out openly-

            Terrorism, torture, hackers, racism, war,

            gossip, meaningless trivia, self-important

            politicians yapping their gums, a broken

            economy, unemployment, etc. –

            and you know what?

            I kind of like it.

He doesn’t like torture, lies, back-stabbing, murder, rape, emotional hurt, cheat, deceit, unemployment, hacking and whacking, dirty politics , torture and gimmicks by CIA agents which have defamed his country.  With his revolting attitude, he wants the people to

            Disassemble all the machines and factories;

            let it all collapse in a mushroom cloud.

            No worries, it’ll all come back around

            and build up again

            in the next cycle.

He believes that when corruptions are galore, the country is no more. It has to collapse. Thinking of the myriads of problems he becomes prophetic. He remarks in his poem ‘The Days Are Numbered’-

           The Kingdom will collapse

            when the winds of chaos blow

            up from the sea

            across the water with the tide

            pulled in by the moon

            as it does a Blood Dance in the sky

            to rattle the bones

            of the Beast

            after its Empire has been cut off at the throat 

           

In the poem ‘The Good Old Golden Rule” he gets suggestive and protesting when he asks the people to

 

            Remove the fangs,

            suck out the venom,

            shed the skin and

            slay the snake

            in order to demystify the dragon.

Because ‘The system run by the sold out sycophants of Satan’. He is fed up with distrust, political opportunitism, sinister manoeuvre against the authority and domination. He comes up with an idea to put an end to this entire chaotic situation. He expresses that ‘The simplest solution is to just pull the plug’ on all chaos. He also suggests-

 

           Love that which is Good with violent passion.

            Hate that which is Evil with an equal fervor.

            Carry both a sword and a rose.

            A flower of peace for those who choose life.

            A blade in the guts for the liars;

            cast their bones in the fire.

 

“Money Trail” best sumps up the poet’s thoughts and idea. It has all the themes of his poetry put together in this very poem dealing with ‘fall collapse’, ‘controlled demolition’, ‘national security blackouts’,  ‘whitewash investigations’, ‘Machiavellian tactics’, ‘Bush/Bin Laden connections’, ‘Halliburton’, ‘Black Water’, ‘Saudi influence’, ‘The Federal Reserve’.

Another beautiful poem is “It’s a Power Thing” which makes a comparison between two types of people out to control- money and mind- respectively. Here, the poet is successful in exposing the brain -washing game of the so-called authority

In the poem ‘Decision Time’ he motivates the people that time has come ‘Big decisions must now be made’. He further encourages them

 

The last poem of the anthology is ‘Artificial Dye’ in which the poet expresses his stand with explanation and clarification. Though he is a poet of protest and resentment, he doesn’t lose his temper. Expecting a ‘Revelation’, ‘Renaissance’, ‘Revolution’ what he does is point to take note of-

 

            I do not show anger.

            I do not lose my cool.

            I simply go inward

            and calmly, quietly, and methodically

            grind one tooth against another,

            creating a sharp fang

            that one day will bite

            with a fury never before seen or heard;

            and it will be glorious.

His reactive thoughts coalesces into positive vision of a ‘New Age’ where Atlantis will be reborn, all the  chaos  will be pushed at the alpha point, omega order will be restored and he and his people will have a country of their choice. With the hollowness of capitalistic, political and corporate order of the times exposed, he, now has a sanguine vision of a better nation grounded on social equability and equanimity.

In the final analysis of Scott Thomas Outlar’s poetry, it would be no exaggeration to pronounce that he is a rebel- humane-liberal-progressive poet. His poetry is vibrant with a sense of social consciousness. Humanistic concerns are quite palpable. His poetry is an expression of his intense dissatisfaction with the present day system of America and his strong protesting voice against it. It also bears the Marxist standpoint and leanings. His poetry is animated with social consciousness and imbued with political and corporate resentment. In his poetry he has represented the bourgeois section of the people. The language is very effective and simple. Imagery is evocative and stirring.”Songs of a Dissident” deserves wider range of readership the world over.

Happy reading!

 

Reviewed By Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar .He is a review editor ofbh Asian Signature.

 

The Broken Boat

The Broken Boat

Nitin Soni’s The Broken Boat is a collection of 35 new poems. boatKnown as ‘The Curly Poet’ and honored with the title of ‘Most Popular’ (at Delhi University), Nitin is a poet, storyteller, script writer and social worker who feels the pulse of the people in streets and countryside. Dr. Sukrita Paul Kumar, Poet, Critic & Academician has rightly called him ‘a budding poet who is bound to blossom and flower‘. The Broken Boat ferries away to the shore the fragmented sensibility of the weaker sections of society grappled with a variety of issues – social, moral, personal, familial- ranging from poverty, racism, hunger, identity, frustration in love, failure of the system to gender inequality, and woman’s plight. He has tackled all this issue with a touch of social and political realism. Some poems are lamentation over the loss of ethical and moral, human values. The poet also cries out (at) the dehumanized and devitalized nature of man in modern times. Agonized sensibility of woman has found a hyped-up demonstration in Nitin’s poetry which is concerned more with modern man and pressing problems around him. True, ‘this is a sentimental ride which reflects our society.’

Nitin Soni is a humanistic poet with cosmopolitan outlook. Humanism is the crux of his thought and philosophy.His poetry is a universal appeal for creating a ‘harmonious world of virtue’. He cries out in his poem “Such Are Wounds” :

            My wounds are human
            Humanity is wounded!

            I can’t describe the scratches inside
            Are in a variety of giggles
            And masks.

His love for humanity and sympathy for the beggarly people gets reflected in the followings lines taken from the poem “ Do you Know”:

            Wear a cap of humanity

            I call it ‘Love’, not charity!

Nitin is a poet of love and romance. Wonderful image of romance and love is  well depicted in his poetry. He, in the poem ” Do You Know”,  avers :

            I have seen a bridge

            At her lips;

            Where I stand in peace,

            And transfer joyful glances

            Into her eyes; nothing left behind!

Most of his poems in this collection are woman-centric. His sympathy with woman is recurring themes of his poetry. He is saddened to see the plight of woman in society. The treatment meted out to her is appalling and demoralizing. Killing of a girl child is a social stigma on the face of humanity. “Womb-to-Tomb” a poignant poem that presents a pathetic condition of a womb that meets its tomb even before it sees lights of the day-

            Blessed soul in womb

            A boon for the human race

            Her future, pre-decided

            A bane for the human race!

The poet conveys the sad saga of an unborn girl child through his sensitive poem “Say No to ‘Abortion’” Which unmasks our misogynistic attitude:

            The unripe fruits of my dreaming world

            Waving hands to the cruel skull

            Discoloured, abandoned, and aborted I am!

            Farewell to the world full of colors…

His poetry is in fact a universal appeal for uplifting her uplift and overall betterment. He vehemently criticizes the killing of girl child. At the same time in the poem dedicated to “To A Girl”, he also highlights the killer instinct of woman to rise up like a phoenix:

            Punch me I have a heart
            Hit me I am not the last
            Blow me out and I will light up again
            Throw me out I will not complain.

Woman may be an ‘innocent creature’ who can dance ‘gleefully on melodious songs’, with no words but ‘the pain and agony’. However, she is a woman of substance who can fight all odds of life with great aplomb. That’s why the poets reproduces her proclamations and firm determination in his poem “She Speaks Tears”:

            I want to fight adversity. I want to stand tall.

            With determination.

            Confidence. Will-power. I won’t give up…

The poet in him is vocal about while seeking honor and basic rights to be bestowed on her. Some of such poems are – Blind Girl, Womb-to- Tomb, To a Girl,  Oh, Ugly Woman, Poor Mother, Black Woman, Even She, I saw her in my eyes, She Speaks Tears, Laali, etc.

He is a poet of minute observation of life around. He finds so many things that either please him or dishearten him to such an extent that he takes up his poem and express wistful or pleasing thoughts and ideas. He selects his poetic stuff from common scenes of activities. Of such social observations captured in his poetry, man-woman relationship amply arrests our attention. He presents a very common picture of a family rooted in traditional customs where woman is very docile, meek, and submissive. However, the male attitude is questionable. “Man And Woman” is a bitter poem which lays bare everything including lecherous longing of man:

            She always

            Licked

            The dust

            From my feet.

            And I always sucked

            The breasts

            I had been provided

            To feed.

            I was a man

            She was a woman. Indeed!

In another poem “Even She”, he presents a loveless side of man’s heart and mind where lustful obsessions have taken a permanent root for the satisfaction of his carnal desires. He takes the side of a ‘whore’ and brings to light the lustful attitude of man:

            As soon as she made an attempt to flee away,

            She saw a bunch of people looking at her with stones in

            hand, and condoms at the edge of their lustful lips!

Woman is mother. Her motherly ethos is what makes her complete that supplements the cycle of humanity- a continuum of creation. Her children are her world. She can sacrifice her life for their sake, not to talk of selling her body. She has to adjust herself between marital and sexual responsibilities. The poet has thrown sufficient light on the darker side and the plight of a prostitute who has to take of her customers and children alike. He makes us peep into her life which is like ‘an old dying and defeated boat’:

             I knew she sells her body

             And- shuts the door

             To his lustful desire-

             Always present

             And naked on the floor

The poet criticizes all those men who regard woman as an object of desire. His resentment and antagonistic attitude to such men can be witnessed in lines of ‘Oh, Ugly Woman!” which contains the elements of womanhood that makes her greater than any other creations of God. The poet’s weapon of circumlocution for making fun of man is superb:

            Oh men

            Go ahead

            Keep mocking at these

            Ugly women.

He holds religion responsible for the sad plight of woman and takes religious community to task. With a very witty and gritty of expression, he tries to make fun of ‘religious scholars’ who make a great hue and cry over a trivial pertaining to woman. The triviality of this issue is expressed in the following lines of the poem “Of Religious Scarf”:

            That black scarf,

            Her identity,

            Her pride,

            Her religion,

            Exposed…

            By the window

In his poetry, he depicts a very sad picture of woman in distress. His poem “Poverty’ is such a serious documentation of sad end of a woman’s life. She is sexually, physically and emotionally exploited and subjected to prolonged tortures and then brutally killed. He cries out-

            Hungry body

            Wounded Soul

            Digging earth

            She is no more…

The questions of so-called scholars as to ‘who took off your scarf?’ and whoever will be killed’, meets an eye opener when the girl replies that it was the window who had taken off her scarf.

Going through his poems, it is evident that his poetry is also the expression of intense resentment against the social and political system of the country. He feels that the systems devised for the uplift of the common people fail to bring smiles on their faces. The lack of proper channelization of providing succor to the poor people is eating into the vitals of the democracy.

            She was loved

            Yet she was raped

            Her dreams shattered by

            Those beasts

            Who molested humanity, love, affection, brotherhood, sisterhood

            And celebrated wickedness

In the same poem he makes fun of the concept of “Incredible India”. He is critical and satirical of the moribund system prevailing in India. He leaves us baffled with the question put to-

            How can I be proud to be an Indian?

            Is India safe? Is India great? Or is it “Incredible India?”

            Nonsense! It’s not “Incredible India”

            It’s a place where you can rape innocent girls

In his poetry, there is mixture of sense of loss and sudden realization. He makes a wonderful juxtaposition between romantic fantasies and reality. Apprehension in love is well reflected. He as a lover seems to be under constant fear, fear of losing his beloved to some other person.

            I face reality

            And find myself all alone

            feeling lonely,

            I hide in a corner

            As someone approaches to destroy me

            By taking her away. (Dusk and Dust pg 48)

However, realization dawns to him in the long last and he comes to terms with the reality and this is what leads to the positive and sanguine conclusion of the poem “Dusk and Dust”. He gives a noble dimension and orientation to his love. He shifts his focus from the physical beauty and love to the metaphysics of love. He feels the companion of his soul along the insightful journey of his life. With inspiring succor so mustered, he feels ecstatic as he is ‘going to meet my creator!

His poetry is replete with description of incest relationships with Electra and Oedipus complexes that shock him to such an extent that he scathingly lambasts the vain manliness of the lecherous people. The people, black sheep of society, are indeed loathingly disgrace to mankind. His personal feelings and observations find a vent-out in the poem “And Golden Apples” that deals with the relationships between his father and mother:

            Too much pathos in my mother’s face

            And too much lust in my father’s eyes

            Who, after mouthing the simple

            Breasts of his better half, came

            In to taste the apples

            I was growing up with.

            Such a disgrace

            To mankind.        

His poetry also contains melancholic and poignant strains. Patches of pessimism are palpable in some of his poems. He is saddened to see that ‘Scholars of medicines’ have ‘ruptured frailty’. ‘Feelings of bereavement’ surge in the atmosphere of festivity as “lovers celebrate the death of love’. In the poem “Strange Lover”, he laments death of love –

            I am a bird of the new age,

            Freedom I have earned well

            Emotions and devotions have not paid off well

            As my love is down into a grave  

However, he adds a very unique dimension to his bereavement. Since in the celebration of his love’s death, his tears are not welcomed, he gets philosophical and brings about idiosyncrasies of reconciliation when he accepts-

            Death of love is a way to freedom

In short, Nitin’s The Broken Boat is a poetic endeavor to sail through quagmire of social and familial evils, with observation and realization, irony and satire, furrowing the world with feministic perspectives either side, leaving behind the foams and tides for the readers of poetry to get a feel of his feelings and intensity of emotions. Human predicament, utter negligence of the individuals, isolation and alienation of the self, perversion, nerve- shattering experience, minute observation of life etc find a realistic treatment in his poetry, mostly compressed in a feminine voice and that is very unique of his writings.

In his poetry, he is not only ‘romancing with poetry in fluffy notions of love’ but also puts forth glaring social issues with great compassion and sensibility. Addressing the social problems is of prime concern for him. The system has failed to come up to the expectation of the people. Hence he has lambasted the system for its failure. The Broken Boat is punched with satire, irony and severe resentment and indignation, love being the motivating stimulation for rowing on the river of his thoughts and intense feeling. He wants to zero in on the positive ideology of social and global harmony and symmetry and comprehensive values of morality and ethics and of course, humanity. He has succeeded in echoing his voice around the globe for ushering in the internal utopia of purity of heart, love and relations and external world of global fraternity and harmony. His poems show sense of loss, new age dilemma and reflections, dejection, despondency and disillusionment of modern ways and approaches to love. On the other hand, they also articulate realization of reality evading romantic fantasies, and apprehension of and fear of losing love. He has dealt with all this with great panache and elegance. The following lines from the poem “Farewell to Rumors” best describe his poetry as sensible, sensitive and realistic reflection of human existence with its upheavals as it has

            a mirror of impracticality

            A shadow of blind-reality

            The time roars higher,

            Stating: the chaos was to those who live in chaos.

“The Broken Boat” is sure to lead the readers to explore the layers of consciousness after sailing through the quagmire of myriads of social and moral evils, and personal and impersonal depravities and abnormalities.

Happy reading!

Book Reviewed by —-Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar.He is a Review Editor10801644_10204637325948678_9145761407248314636_n of Asian Signature.

 

A Place for Your Ghost Animals

The Disorder of Things: A Review of Kushal Poddar’s A Place for kpYour Ghost Animals (Colorado Springs: Ripple Effect Publishing LLC, 2015)and Understanding the Neighborhood (Melbourne: Blank Rune Press, 2015) by Dr. Amit Shankar Saha

Michel Foucault in the first chapter of his book The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences describes at length Diego Velasquez’s painting Las Meninas. He explains how the artist has brought the focus by juxtaposing various elements depicted in the scene, including the usage of the mirror and the reflection cast on it. The fulcrum, the punctum and the hint of a narrative all come alive in the painting. A hundred or so pages later Foucault writes about how true writing began:

True writing began when the attempt was made to represent, no longer the thing itself, but one of its constituent elements, or one of the circumstances that habitually attend it, or gain some other thing that it resembles. These three methods produced three techniques: the curiological writing of the Egyptians – the crudest of the three – which employs ‘the principal circumstance of a subject in lieu of the whole’ (a bow for a battle, a ladder for a siege); then the ‘tropal’ hieroglyphics – somewhat more perfected – which employ some notable circumstance (since God is all-powerful he knows everything and sees all that men do: he is therefore represented by an eye); finally, symbolic writing, which makes use of more of less concealed resemblances (the rising sun is expressed by the head of a crocodile whose round eyes are just level with the surface of the water). We can recognize here the three great figures of rhetoric: synecdoche, metonymy, catachresis.

Although writing is very different from painting, at a certain point in the history of civilizations they were the same. The development of language brought an end to figurative representation in writing and led it to the path of linguistic tradition. But the deep-seated homology between painting and writing is sometimes depicted in poetry. Kushal Poddar’s writing has such a primitivism and yet they are utterly modern. It is the coexistence of contradictions that make Poddar’s work poetry. Cleanth Brooks in “The Language of Paradox” writes that “paradoxes spring from the very nature of the poet’s language” and quotes T. S. Eliot on poetry: “that perpetual slight alteration of language, words perpetually juxtaposed in new and sudden combinations.” This is the hallmark of modernity and Kushal Poddar’s poetry is seeped in it: a poem of his is titled “Violent Calm”, poems begin with sentences and phrases like “Bleed the trees, branches”, “The sharks fall into lazy deaths”, poems end with the phrases like “serve me/ my sleep”, “numbing satisfaction”, or in the middle of a poem a combination occurs like the lines“A grain of salt rubs/ its soul on my eyes.” But what comes out from all of these, quite prominently, is the imagist aspect of Poddar’s poems for he paints with words what Velasquez did with strokes in Las Meninas. Take for example Poddar’s short poem “Stairs” from his book A Place for Your Ghost Animals,where a brilliant display of light and shadow occurs, created through words and where the visual and the lexical combine in a harmony of its own:

                        These stairs have

                        vertical dark sides

                        parallels of light

                        and two unseen angles

                        where they meet

                        and discuss our feet.

Poddar first depicts the vertical dark sides and then brings in the parallels of light, which are both visual as well as verbal because the readers too are in the dark until they are made aware of the picture that is gradually being revealed. Yet, the picture that is revealed is not an unqualified one but given configurations through words “vertical” and “parallels.” Once the image is established in the mind of the reader, immediately a paradox is created of something that is being made aware of but not visually revealed: “two unseen angles.” It creates suspense, which is utilized is the last couplet where the light and the dark meet to “discuss our feet.” The fulcrum of the poem occurs after the first four lines and the focus pivots on to “our feet.” The imagery is very visual depicting two people standing unseen at the stairs but the punctum is deliberately kept outside the frame of view since we don’t know what is being transpired between the two. Yet there is a hint of a narrative even in this staccato imagery. The very word “feet” resounds of “fate.” The word association is not of anything other than mere sound, which is the peculiar characteristic of poetry. It almost makes us read “unseen” as “unknown” – the unknown fate of two people standing on the stairs. Kushal Poddar’s poems yield effortlessly to the language of painting.

Poddar always starts with an image in his mind which he transfers into the mind of the readers through words that reveal apparently concealed resemblances. This imagist aspect of his poetry is evident in almost all of his poems. Often modernists are accused of distorting reality but the modernism that Poddar displays in his poems is a matter of perspective and subtly mediated by emotions. Even though poetry has imagist qualities, it does not find analogy with painting because a painting can be perceived at once as a whole but a poem cannot be read all the lines at the same time. Poetry, or for that matter any form of literature, reveals gradually, as one goes further into reading it. Thus it is more comparable to music, which has this akin characteristic. But what if the canvas is not a flat one? The topography of Poddar’s canvas is not flat but, rather, a globular one. Poddar paints his word pictures on a round urn, which on turning reveals gradually with a latent surprise at every turn. Let us take one more example of Poddar’s poems, this time from his book Understanding the Neighborhood, “Reading In-between.”

                        This must be about your mother,

                        I say reading a sad piece.

                        No, the poet shakes his head, I

                        wrote about the day I first

                        visited the circus. I nod.

                        The same thing. A lioness

                        leaps through a flaming ring into

                        my mind. They kept her hungry

                        all day, promised to let her see

                        her cub after she marvels

                        at this trick, and they whispered

                        in my ear – Be her cub, she won’t

                        know the difference. This, a sad

                        song, I say. No, about

                        a fun day, says the poet.

Every line of this poem reveals something new, constantly surprising the reader. It seems the conversation between the narrator and the poet in the poem is done in anticipation of the reader’s emotional response and modifying the perceptions at every turn. The poem talks about a poem within the poem, which the narrator assumes to be about the poet’s mother. Immediately this is negated by giving a picture of a circus. But as soon as the reader eases into a different perception, the idea of the mother is again brought back in the form of the lioness. An emotion of pathos is expressed regarding the lion but there is a further twist when it is revealed that the poet is asked to be her cub. Thereby the emotion is shifted and heightened at the same time. The reader’s feelings of sadness is anticipated and put in the words of the narrator but then the poet again gives a satirical twist by mentioning it to be a fun day and not a sad one. It almost veers on the side of bathos but with a sense of acute irony. This too is a visual poem with the imagery of the lioness leaping through the flame into none other than the reader’s mind. And there is musicality too in the usage of the words “sad”, “day”, “say”, etc. The question that naturally arises is whether this is Poddar’s trick or art? Sartre has said that poets have the capacity to perceive things in their bare particularity. John Foster in his book The Nature of Perception says that “our perceptual contact with things in the physical world becomes direct at the point where there is no further perceptual mediation within the physical domain.” It is the raw sensation of sights and sounds, called qualia, which Poddar has the ability to perceive directly without any intermediary. Jean-Francois Lyotard has called “modern the art which devotes its ‘little technical expertise’ … to present the fact that the unpresentable exists.” Poddar’s ability is that technical expertise. By making visible what was conceivably invisible is what makes Poddar’s poetry a work of modern art.

Kushal Poddar’s poems very often create enigmas and leave the readers in a state of flux, in a state of multiplicity of possibilities and sometimes in a shock of recognition. In “The Invertebrate” he writes about a moth:

                        I shall release you, moth. I shall

                        stand on my peeling-away porch

                        and see you wave back. Oh such joy.

                        Can I afford to bear it? Your

                        freedom depends on the answer.

He leaves the poem open-ended and introduces a degree of undecidability in the mind of the reader after speaking of “joy”and raising the spirit because he transfers his state of mind into the mind of the reader without giving any access to finality. The reader is kept in a suspended state, in a somber mood, in a moment of flux. In poems like “About the Black Cat” and “The Prismic” he shows us things that apparently do not exist. In the former poem there is no black cat and yet the entire scene becomes a black cat. In the latter poem he pictures an imaginary and yet a tangible triangle formed by the lover, the winter outside and the glass. His imagery is inventive – “spikes of rain on your head”, “nails of water on your feet” – and yet not difficult to perceive once pointed out. He does not philosophize but only rarely in a way that a magician does with a sleight of his hand. “The Faithful Faithless” is a prime example of that. Sometimes he comes with a wry humor as in “The Old Goat.” Sometimes he is sensuous as in “Moaning a Prayer.” It is not only his technique that is inventive but equally his diction: “fossick”, “gloaming”, “nolition”, “friable”, “maws”form the vocabulary of his tangential thinking. Sometimes he comes with such inventiveness, which by virtue of being applied in a particular manner skirts away from being banal and stand out as a literary device: “a tractor/ rests on a bag of hybrid seeds” (“Fields”). Images of the dog, the cat, the lover, the shark, the mother, the father, the brother, the neighbor, and others populate his poems. These imageries are very much impressionistic like transitory mental manifestations. His refined ability to concatenate words in a particular order that brings out a hidden meaning is exceptional. His poems are both personal as well as social but never any one strand leaves its subterranean lair. His poems arouse a synesthetic response from the readers because they appeal to the senses at an awkward angle. He can call the borrowed sugar from a neighbor’s house, can make auto lights yelp, can cause songs to tumble and roll and can pour good luck in a madman’s ear. He can make poems speak to your eyes. He brings about a disorder in things and then shows you the hidden order of beauty.

 Kushal Poddar: Born in a warm corner of India, a lone child kp1 brought up with his shadow mates, Kushal Poddar (1977- ) began writing verse at the age of six. He adopted his second tongue as the language to dream on. Widely published in several countries; prestigious anthologies include Men In The Company of Women, Penn International MK, Van Gogh’s Ear; been featured amongst the poets for the month December by Tupelo Press, Vine Leaves Literary Journal’s Best of 2014 and in various radio programs in Canada and USA; and collaborated with photographers for an exhibition in Venice and with performers for several audio publications. He once gave this answer to a question posed in an interview- “This morning a stranger on his seat next to mine in a public bus pointed out toward the sky and asked, ‘Does not the blue look like a child in a cradle?’This is the role of poetry in our society. Poetry is a tool to arrest the vast beyond within the canvas of personal experience. To limit the limitless so our thirst and longing for it remains unquenched. And hence I write.”He presently lives in Kolkata and writes poetry, fiction and scripts for short films when not engaged in his day job as a lawyer in the Calcutta High Court. He has previously authored a collection of poems titled The Circus Came to My Island.

Dr. Amit Shankar Saha, is a researcher,am1 reviewer, editor, story writer and a poet. In a previous avatar he was also a guest lecturer. His love for literature led him to obtain a PhD in English from Calcutta University. His research articles have appeared in anthologies and journals internationally such as those published from Purdue University (USA), Drew University (USA), Bordeaux University (France), etc. His short stories and poems have been published in books and periodicals both in India and abroad. He is also the co-founder and coordinator of Rhythm Divine Poets group. His website is http://sites.google.com/site/amitshankarsaha and he blogs at http://amitss6.blogspot.com

”The shimmer of the “Shimmering chimes”

 

”The shimmer of the “Shimmering chimes”

Maaya Dev is one of the major contemplative voices of modern India.maya dav She is an eminent, erudite poetess who has the international recognition when it comes to poetry and the book under review is her very debut Anthology.

“The holy dawn dreams

Somewhere with the yawns of the universe

Let me unfold to a new day

Let the sunflower kiss the sun

To welcome the shimmer of the “Shimmering chimes”

                                                                                    ~SHAMSHER~

  These were the verses that got scribbled as soon as i grabbed the book “shimmering chimes” and looked at its cover page. The contemplative, soothing, magnificent cover page in itself is asking sheer poetic brilliance to manifest. It can be a vital source of perennial flow of springs in the garden of poems, planted by soulful poets-The most sensitive of human being. The title shimmering chimes goes as deep in the labyrinth of heart as the sun’s rays falling on the sea. The hallmark to leave an imprint in the reader’s heart was obvious even without unfurling the glossy pages ahead. But then the wheel had to move on ….

Again, the very next page was boldly emblazoned shimmering chimes as though if signing over with one’s own poetic fervor and zeal to keep up the continuum.

Chivalry and humility can well be seen with the dedication that the poetess have made

I dedicate this book to’

Entire Uni-verse’

…because of which this book is seeing light”.

She have reflected the modesty of Indian culture, of her soil, of her being and it’s then that Sanskrit verse of hitopadesa see’s the light-  in act, in discipline ,in one’s culture through her verses

विद्या ददाति विनयं विनयाद्याति पात्रताम्

पात्रत्वाद्धनमाप्नोति धनाद्धर्मं ततः सुखम्

After the dedication, the impressive foreword that can leave readers at awestruck is written by two notable prolific dignitaries (Ravi Subramanian & Dr. Santosh Bakaya) of our time.  (P.no 7-15)

Author too spoke from her desk speaking about the book vehemently, of different aspects and connectivity with readers. She has deeply expressed her gratitude to one and all.

This volume of sixty poems is circumscribed uniquely in its own way not to be labeled and goes simply beyond few words of reviewing. It’s something which needs a meditative approach to get into its soul. There can’t be any taxonomy wherein the poetess work can be defined as it swirled, danced and prophesized vehemently with an unperturbed flow like one’s own breath. The sheer poetic brilliance and aura that leaves no space other than wondering, pondering, praising, enjoying, feeling is commendable.

As an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna her very first poem “Hare Krishna” (p.no 25) reflects and leaves an imprint of her undying love and faith towards Krishna or in a broader domain her spirituality that fills the void of space and time that maps anything and everything. I can’t stop myself from citing something that concretes my aforesaid and her poetic prowess along with her undying love towards Krishna.

“There I see you! I see me!

Ah! I see me in you!

Hare Krishna!!”

There is no element of separation between the divine Krishna and an immaculate soul. Krishna my lord (p.no 60), Sat Chit Ananda – Bliss (p.no 62) further reinforce her own love towards Krishna and in a broader domain a cosmic whisper. All these poems weren’t merely spiritual poems solely but somewhere they have the power to take the readers on to a cosmic journey through revelation of meta-physical concepts, co-relation and ramification of self through these verses. Divine transformation (p.no 65) implicitly intrigues us of acquiescence as of Shrimad Bhagwad Gita Saar.

She says “Sometimes how much I love to let myself,

Plunge into the abyss of your bluish oceanic love,

Where I swim in the ecstatic bliss of unknown joy. “ 

 Moving further is the enlightenment of one’s own journey as a seeker wherein in-depth revelation of seeker and self is unveiled. The metamorphoses of self as a seeker seeking SELF can well be seen in the “Beacon of Enlightenment (P.NO 26)”. The flow and picturesque of the verses itself is soothing and enlightening.

The theory of Feminism and of its different contextual perspectives have always been the core and soul of many a poets, researchers and scholars. Author Maaya dev have captivated the essence of mysticism of a woman and no wonder she have embossed it with the title “A Living Enigma” (P.no 27). She have articulated woman as a mystery, as a beauty, as supremacy, and so on and forth in a stupendous way.

The spirit and esteem of being a woman and for a woman is well running into the nerve and verve of poetess and in her verses. The vibe in this poem is in itself meticulously exhibiting her poetic prowess and her spirit.

 A peep into her own verse from “A living Enigma”

“Her veil is mystic, demure,

Concealing rhythm of all seasons.

Woman’s love is perennial

Her emotions volatile, ajar. “

A Poet’s heart is his/ her poems as its not only craftsmanship but living of (in) or for those moments again and again or as some longings. What a conceiving Birth of a poem ” (p.no 28) which speaks of piousness and integrity of poetic aura wherein poetess considers  her work as alive as she herself .  

Romanticism or precisely and purely spiritual romanticism coupled with and integrated with the depth of contemplation, introspection are the base wherein some beautiful poems are weaved majestically. “Beloved soul “(P.no 93), “what if?” (91), “A beautiful journey(p.no 69) are some of them. She is well aware of the the power of ‘shunya’ and there she says:

“Beloved soul….

We revel in the nothingness to merge as whole

We coalesce in perfect unison

To stay beyond as lovely twin souls.”

 A deeper perspective of what it takes to be a poet can well be seen with an unfathomable depth and poetic divertissement. Though the poems are crafted on different echelon, some soft, silky and light, other richly textured, intense and adroitly composed but all are in corroboration of the author’s integrated thoughts of being a poet. Yes, it’s not easy to be a poet, as it’s far beyond just weaving of words. In fact, its self-actualization and self-realization and all these have been well put forth by the author.  “Poetic Glance” (p.no 90),”Unwritten poetry” (P.no 81), “Twinkle Twinkle my little poems “(P.no 79),”World of words” (P.no 77) are some such poems which speaks immeasurably the quest, trajectory, feelings and sentiments attached with being a poet, with one’s own words and of course, the deeper revelation of its beauty and power to unfold the secrecy of life and existential. Her love towards word can be witnessed from the poem world of words (p.no 78) where she coalesce with the world of words and penned down

“World with words- A world of Illuminations!

World without words – An eerie of grave silence!

Oh Words! I bow in front of thee! “  .

At some point while going through all her poems on a communal basis, somewhere I felt it as to be another discipline, another poetic allied dimension to the discipline of ‘ontology’. She was unveiling of herself, of her being, of her flow and somewhere was reaching to the dominion beyond, where she and her verses were in perfect coalesce . Throughout the book her whisper of emotions, sentiments and feelings were seeking, signifying, soothing and were taking different leaps and bounds of different height. There is scaling, de-scaling, rhythm, beats, nodes and somewhere all these are resonating to form rainbows riveted in words. She was into some kind of introspection, meditation, contemplation and with some sense of immortal flow to merge up self with divine flow. Dripping with divinity, wrapped with emotions, punched with her prowess she was baffling into her own world.

“Beyond my reach

Lay a world of dreams

My arms fall short                  {“Beyond, P.no 88}

Yet they try to reach

To grab those glitters”

What good is of poetry, if it’s not felt and if it’s without any soulful purposes? And arguably, with convictions she has tried to fill all the bases upon which poetry stands in a reflective and broader way, if it intends to serve any serious purposes at all, objectives other than enjoyment or entertainment. Her clarion call as a poetess can well be dissected with the poem “Ability beyond Disability (P.no 33), few more Rejections (P.no 35), Symbol of Transition (P.no 71), Humdrum of that green valley (p.no 73) and Womb’s doomsday (P.no 75). As an illustration of her heartfelt and compassionate writing, let me recap her own verses,

“In its volatile firth,

‘Able is labeled as disabled’.

Though the destined journey can’t be impeded  

When ability beyond disability reigns “

And again she says

“As a phoenix risen from hopeless life

They sail through invisible wings with a will “.

{Ability beyond Disability}

Her verses are refreshing, soothing breezes that have somewhere a healing power too. The above poem is a great tribute to all those special kids of Almighty.

On the façade of living as a writer and facing rejections she has wonderfully weaved a magical poem.

She says:

“On the eternity of time

A writer lives enliven moments.

He lives alone listening

to the chimes of his own ode.               

Daily he carves for pet statuette

Out of his poetic strokes.

So, one day he swirls like Rumi

In euphoric ecstasy.”

  {Few more rejections}

 Impermanence is the only permanence in this world. The different streams and flow in our journey takes different transitions and strides. Her vivid capture on transitions is well marked in her heartfelt poem “Symbol of transition “

“This heart wrenching glimpse

Sought my attention in a weird way

When I saw him clutching something unusual

It devours my curiosity to dig the unknown,

What he is so possessive and scared of loosing?  

Yes I saw! It is a medallion he held so closely

That unveils his glorious past even in shabby state.”

(Symbol of transition, P.no 71)

 Nature remains the most prominent, protruding and fascinating theme of almost all the poet since time immemorial. There is no degree of doubt that nature beguiles her.   Poetess Maaya Dev seems to be euphorically in dalliance with nature and with the same spirit and zeal as of the nature’s poet William words worth.  ‘Rendezvous with nature’, ‘Oasis’, ‘Autumn Moon’ are some few picks from the spectral domain of nature which captivates and somewhere have the power to carry the readers to feel the bliss of nature.

Apart from all the fancy amalgam of a poet’s imagination, she also has the sublimity towards society, nation and mankind. ‘A Plight of mother India’ speaks in volumes of the vastness that she feels for Mother India.

With a lucid, compelling and powerful vocabulary this book has enough of food for thoughts. There is a deeper analytical meditative touch to all the poems and I will be leaving further for the reader’s to have their own opinion on the ground.

I will love to wrap the review of this wonderful book with book’s own blurb that precisely and aptly describes the book in totality.

“Shimmering Chimes is an outcome of dreams that we all dream solemnly and each poem is pebbles collected from the shore of imaginations, experiences, feelings, spirituality, love and almost what all encompasses life. The book is seeking, soothing, symbolizing, synthesizing, singing, shining, shivering, surviving, and synapse between shimmering and chimes.”

   Shimmering chimes by Maaya Dev

“Maaya Dev’s debut Anthology –‘Shimmering Chimes’ is a potpourri of priceless poems of different shades and colors. Sprawling with ontology, spirituality, philosophy, meta-physics, patriotism this book traverses and smells the petrichor of soil, the extravaganza of nature and is in dalliance with Author’s dream of acquiescence.  As a debut anthology it won’t be any hyperbole, if I dare say with conviction that ‘This book is a tour de force’ “.

Rating: 5/5

Shimmering Chimes /poetry collection/Maaya dev/Authorspress, New Delhi, Sep 2015/ISBN 978-93-5207-110-4/Pages 93/RS 195/$10

 Recommendations: “This book shouldn’t be missed at any cost.”

Thank you all for your patience full reading.

Book reviewed by: Shamsher Singh   ( An engineer, poet, critic, Reviewer )

Dr. P.K.Padhy’s Songs of Love: Romantic Celebration of Life

3rd Vol , No1 (January2016)

Dr. P.K.Padhy’s Songs of Love: Romantic Celebration of Life
Dr. P.K.Padhy’s Songs of Love is a beautiful collection of love poems dealing songs-of-love-400x400-imadhhzhwmzpjcmgwith different aspects of human love, intense romance and profound philosophy of life. Awarded by international bodies such as Poet bay (USA) and the Writers Guild of India,Pravat Kumar Padhy, professionally a Petroleum Geologist, is a significant poetic signature with his presence in the contemporary scene of haiku writings. As a poet he is highly published both nationally and internationally. Thanks to the style of his writings, he has been accorded international recognition. All the poems contained in this book are emotionally engaging, fascinating and exhilarating and they brilliantly capture human emotions in all its shades. Beatrice van de Vis, Editor, The Four Seasons of the Haiku, from UK has rightly commented- “P K Padhy’s Songs of Love is an epic celebration of love and life, leading the reader on a lyrical and memorable journey through the cycles of life.” Dr Padhy himself reveals-

We walk down
The garden of life
Reminiscing
The poetic sublime.
Wind whispers
All the songs
Of our poetic flight.
Our journey
Is an extension
Of the boundless voyage.
However, in the present anthology he appeases our heart, touches the emotional strings that make a melody of romance and songs of tender love filling life with joy and happiness. Simplicity of expression and its presentation is another feather added to it. The poet derives pleasure in the celebration of life, even though faced with myriads of challenges. In the very first poem ‘Songs of Love- A Celebration”, he himself introduces it

Wings of aspiration
Muse the music of shyness
Collecting vibrations of
Meandering rhymes.
Our amazed maiden meet
Manuscripts sonnets of
Different verse
Back in our mind.

The poet is emotionally so matured, romantically pure and metaphysically insightful that he paints love with rainbow of his feelings ennobled by trajectory of experiences and truthful realization He describes love in newer light and drapes his thoughts of love with the emotional refinement. The melodious rhythm of life lies in fantastic flow of love-

Our love is a ceaseless
Melodious celebration,
Our love is the lamp
And we are its brightness,
Our love is a song
And we are its rhythm..

Sensuousness is an important aspect of Padhy’s poetry. Exploration of sensuous realm of life through the purgatory process of love or love making is quite palpable in his poems of love. He lets us peep into the secret chamber where love culminates into an inexplicable unification of soul on the ecstatic bed of life. He reveals-

I sink myself
Below your neckline
And inner self silently.
You surrender
At sea-bed near the shore
Under the roaring tides.
Passionately we search
Each other closing our eyes.
Intensity of passion along the journey of love is very important to carry on a romantic life. The poet takes great care to intensify the feelings of heart to such extent that bodies entwined lose their sense of physical existence and souls locked inside witness the vast ocean of pleasure and floods of lights of eternity. In consummation of love, he recovers himself by realizing the sacred purpose of the creation, and for that matter procreation-
In your cosmic love
I search the
Cause of the creation
And wish
I could discover
Adam and Eve.

Romantic imagination is yet another characteristics of Padhy’s poetry.Like Romantics, he takes flight into the vast realm of fancy and fantasies and captures the experience of soaring aloft with his beloved. In this journey, he befriends clouds, hill tops , birds etc.

I take you
To different peaks,
Like birds
You wish to fly
Over the hills
And beyond
The bounds of the sky.
We sketch differently
To measure the love
And it is still deep enough
When you glance
From the top.

His thoughts on love, romance, longing and yearning shift from physical plains to metaphysical zenith. ‘I’ and ‘you’ become ‘ We’ through the sincere journey. The gradual evolution of self and soul provides a spiritual and metaphysical dimension to his poetry. Inner progression transgresses the materialistic aspect of passion and herein lies the universal appeal of his poems. Let us see here –
The warmth rejoice
Of the sacred celebration
Carries
The nostalgic memories
And reaches out to the sun
Of a new bright light.
In the open
Ecstasy quaintness sky,
On the cosmic path,
We continue to walk
With the evolutionary smile.
Realizing the perennial significance of love and melody in life the poet croons out melody of soul in the valley of life. All those in love, in the loving embrace of lovers get a beautiful feel of it as their life is filled with joy and pleasure, soothing comforts and peace. The poet romantically captures those moments as sweet memories and also get us feel and realize the unflinching power and healing impact of love-

Memories are preserved
In the tiny pebbles
Of the meandering flows.
Songs of love scintillate
On the colourful edge
Of the living span.
The caring warmth
Of our creation
Nurture us to rest
In the evening hours.

Togetherness in life, facilitated by love helps the people to tide over all the troubles of life. Love sprouts hope and with this weapon they succeed in beautifying their life. That’s why the poet himself reveals-

Life is a wave
Of joy and sorrow.
Harmonically it swings
In the high and low.
I collect the grains of hope
By the side
Of the completeness
And wish
The waves of our creation
Would breathe the zest of life
For the longest time.

Love is eternal and beyond the clutch of Time. Despite passing ages, the feeling of love is always there and this is what finds an apparent treatment in the following lines impregnated with metaphoric excellence and the poetic skills.

Time transgresses
Over wealthy age.
Lamp of love
Still continues to burn
Behind the eagerness
Of perennial urge.

In a nutshell, Dr. P.K.Padhy’s Songs of Love sprinkles some spontaneous, sensuous, sonorous and sweet showers of love and romance on the loving and affable readers of love poetry. The poet has taken special care to portray Love in its varied hues, with acme of intensity and passion, with rainbow of feelings and emotions, in view of its perennial significance in life. The language and diction is quite remarkable for its simplicity and clarity of expression. Apt usage of metaphors and other poetic devices lends extra beauty to this extra-ordinary, lyrical and wonderful casket of love poems.

Happy reading!
Writers Workshop, Calcutta 2012
Poet- P. K. Padhy
ISBN 978-93-5045-029

Reviewed By Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar .

Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar is a review editor of Asian Signature.10801644_10204637325948678_9145761407248314636_n

Rashmi Jain’s Kaleidoscopic Visions

Rashmi Jain’s Kaleidoscopic Visions

Kaleidoscopic Visions is a collection of 31 innocent and beautiful poems by Kaleidoscopic Visions Rashmi Jain cover pageRashmi Jain who is a Research Scholar, Department of English and MEL, University of Allahabad. She is an emerging and promising poetess, one of the feminine voices. With this book of poems, she has made a bold, brave and brilliant beginning of her poetic writings. In this debut anthology she explores, the kaleidoscopic experience of life. Memories, childhood, mother, soul, love, nature, role of woman, dreams and hope, dowry, life and God, socialism and humanism etc are the major themes of her poetry. It showcases “weird and varied moods of life” with “amalgam of ideas and expressions”
.
Rashmi Jain’s poetry is poetry of life, of joy, and celebration. In the very first poem “Memories’, Rashmi Jain expresses her celebration of life “With lots of memories”. She gives a glimpse of life with its fleeting passage of time. Her craving for the beautiful life is well reflected in the following lines-

Turning over the pages,
I found the glimpse of life
A life which is spent and gone,
A life I crave for and mourn
A life that is colourful in its essence, efflorescence.
“Childhood” is another beautiful poem expressing her exultation over the lovely and lively celebration beautiful, precious moments of live as well captured during her childhood days with all the pranks and naughty acts, fighting with siblings, for some candies etc. She opines that the days so spent are unforgettable as they have the innocence of childhood that paves way for the vitality of youth and in times of old age they revitalize our life and enjoy much and more. She unravels the undying idea of enjoying each and every moment of life within the limits of time available with us-

Unforgettable precious moments of life, rapidly flies
Capture them somewhere in the corner of heart
Unlock them in lonely hours
To relive it, and
Revitalize life once again. (Childhood)
Rashmi Jain is a poet of keen and minute observation. She takes into account even the small things of life, in and around. There is a penetrating observation of life with her romantic perspective on love . She talks about soul and mate and their unification for inner journey for bring about a sense of complete being in the poem “Soulmate” :

Soul shows purity and mate gives direction to life
Soulmate together makes one finite, to survive in
its own lifestyle

Since Rashmi Jain a woman, she is well aware of the plight of woman in male-dominated society. With some social concerns veering around woman, she sees to it that woman’s condition improves. Though woman is believed to be a source of joy, comfort and sustenance, yet the poetic heart of the poet is aggrieved at the sad plight of woman and her status in society. Her feminine sensibility is at its best when she gives a poignant portrayal of woman in distress. “Changing Role of Women” presents poignant and deplorable condition of woman. Despite ‘Designed as semi divine/Worhipped as Mandakini, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Kali/ But her position is still deplorable off papers, Crushed and crippled as tissue papers “

Calling her the second sex just shows the subaltern attitude
No one can deny that she is Almighty’s masterpiece.
His masterpiece! with unique qualities.
It’s true! It’s true! It’s damn true that women role is
changing through centuries.
It’s changing…

She is also a poetess off reactionary and revolutionary zeal. As a poet of revolt and revolutions, she expresses her socio-political concerns in her poems. She accord due importance to the concepts of ‘catharsis’ and ‘purgation’, being the crux of thoughts on literary analysis. She arrests our attention:

But inspires the collective unconscious
It’s a purgatory fire, with
Catharsis as its true production
Revolutions brings regeneration
It might be social, political or mythical
Largely depends on integration
It leads to new formulations,
amidst the turbulent evocations. (Revolutions)

Hers is poetry of hope and determination, of sanguine attitude to human life. She sparks and splints a hope of light in the darkness of despair and disappointment in the frustrated heart of humanity. Her positive words mesmerize the readers and exhort them to resort to the right and virtuous path of life, despite all the inevitable hurdles human life is faced with. “Paths to Follow” is one such an inspiring and motivation poem –

Yet I am ready to walk on the path of mankind
Twilight doesn’t matter,
As I know there is always a hope of light

She further reiterates the same theme in her poem “Hope” that hope does wonder in bringing about the realization of true self. The following lines are the outcome of her profound brooding over the positivity of hope and its significance-

The adventurist attitude
A unique blend of emotions, visions, and reflections
Exists in the inner temple of human body
Feel and it retrieves
Deep in heart it always resides, like a pearl
Pure, colourless yet,
Colourful and bright.
Illuminous, extraordinary,
A faith in god
A note of confidence
A blessing in disguise
Hope: a magical expression.

One of the most distinguished features of Rashmi Jain’s poetry is the realistic depiction of social and familial reality of contemporary times. There is a note of bitterness in her description. She is socially alive to the myriads of social issues. She touches upon some of them in her poetry. Dowry is one such a grave issue with its diabolical repercussion on a woman’s life. This monstrous dowry system has taken our society under its strong grip and hold. It is a social stigma for the Indian society. The verbal description of the victimized bride is poignant, heart-rending and nerve-shattering. In “Say ‘No’ to Dowry” she laments-

Marriages are made in heaven
So why this heaven turned to hell?
The brides hopes are dumped into well
Her dreams are broken and shattered.

Hence, she as a poet of exhortation with a strong message urges all of us-

Listen! To the inner voice
Say no to dowry.
Just imagine a future without girls,
How the generations will survive without her
She is the real future
The true source of life-spring.

Ecological concerns of the poet also find beautiful expression in her poetry. One such poem on nature is “Nature” where she speaks at length for the preservation of trees and all that. As she is of poetic sensibility, she is saddened to see the exploitation of nature. Like Romantic poets, she also believes that nature sustains and maintains mankind and humanity. Both of them have inseparable rapport with each other. She highlights the dual aspects of nature- constructive and destructive forces:

Beware! Beware! There is still time to be aware
Support nature to survive
And in return it provides aid to humanity,
At every step of life
So, listen! to the call of
Nature! Nature! Nature! (Nature)

Some of her poems contain her metaphysical broodings and philosophical speculations over life, death, mysteries and eternal concept of Time. She is of the view that time teaches us all the eternal lessons of human life in due course. Life is full of surprises and uncertainties, several hidden topsy-turvy, bouncy and wavy waves and tides of troubles. However, what man is supposed to do is keep marching on and on with smiling face and courage in heart. Her idealism lies in this very idea as reflected in her poem “O Life! O Life!”
Time the master key of life
Unfolds all the mysteries of life.
O Life! Don’t be weird
O Life! Be an asset and bring some cheer.
She holds her own philosophy of life. She believes in the continuous flow of time and life with confidence and courage “ a supreme eye is always following and keeping vigilance”;

Life is to travel on
Continuous and unending
Full of mazes, crosswords and jigsaw puzzles.
Puzzles remained unsolved,
Mysterious mazes and unending path;
Life is to move on, to keep up the pace
Life is a race which is hard to trace
Life unfolds the mysteries, evolutions and revolutions. (Life is to Travel on…)

The same theme of life is also carried forward in yet another poem “Whenever”-

Life is full of music, vision and contradictions
Still the serenity of love, life and lust always lingers
Witness the softness of life
With an attitude full of positive vibes
Enduring, emancipating and energetic.
Rashmi Jain’s poetry also presents a world of dreams with varied hues and scintillating sparkles. Her perception and conception, and perspectives on dreams is awesome. “Dreams” is a fantastic articulation of the poet’s ideas about dreams that colour different poetic moods-

Dreams are full of colours
Half true and half manipulation
Dreams the innate wisdom
Beliefs, visions and re-visions
Dreams are like flying kites
Which drives one to the unexplored territories
To explore, and
Turn dreams into reality. (Dreams)

“Butterfly” is poetry of metaphor that’s exhibits the play of free will. She compares a girl with this beautiful creature and makes contrasts in terms of freedom enjoyed. In the case of women or girls, freedom is confined and limited. She calls for total freedom for girls as the butterfly enjoys-

Don’t kill a life, let her survive
The world is beautiful,
Let her fly.
The vibrant colours she scatters around,
The aroma of happiness their presence fills in the ambiance
O butterfly! O butterfly!
Wherever you go,
Let me assist you to the world you fly

She writes ‘A Letter to God” requesting Him to take avatar and redeem life, safeguard humanity and dispel darkness from the world. Global vision of peace, fraternity, prosperity is well reflected in this apt poem. She highlights-

The omnipotent force,
The creator, preserver and the destroyer of the universe
The trinity,
Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and
Lakshmi, Kali, Saraswati
Goddess of wealth, death and wisdom.
As a poet of love, Rashmi Jain wonderfully touches upon multifaceted aspects of love. Love is tender, intense and intimate feeling of human life. It makes life enjoyable, pleasurable and humane and intensifies the longing to cherish more and more- the love-filled moments of life. To the poet, love is; transcendental’, ‘an emotion of delight ‘’’an infatuation’, ‘a magical enchantment’, ‘ a flame of passion’, ‘yearning’ , ‘ deed of worship”. In fact, it is encompassing everything soft and tender. Love is a comprehensive word which means many things to many but for her-

True love is an eternal love
With the spiritual self or the universal self.
Love beautifies life and life gets its beauty from love and both form a beautiful and soothing realm for soul to rest on with joy and peace. Her concept of beauty reminds one of Keatsian concept of beauty. Beauty

The world is endowed with magnificence of beauty
————————————————————-
Old age has beauty of experience.

Rashmi Jain is also a poet of humanism and humanity. There is a preponderance of humanistic sense in her poems. Her humanistic approach to life is quite remarkable. It is this characteristics of her poetry that her creativity wears a global and cosmopolitan vision- her central poetic concern. Humanity forms a greater theme in her poetry. Topical and contemporary issues find an excellent articulation in her poems calling for global peace and love. She is saddened to see the brutalities of fanaticism, brutal killings of the innocent in the global strife, in the name of caste, creed and sects, the ego clashes among people. Hence, she calls upon to inculcate the human values for safeguarding humanity and the feeling of brotherhood all over the world. She questions-

Why people fight every time
Sometimes on name of religion, custom
Sometimes the cause is ego and pride
Humanity is the greatest need of time.

Her poetry is a beautiful portrayal of mother who is an apostle of humanity and the primordial seed of creation. She sings gloey of mother in her poem called ”Mother”. She calls her “Beautiful, bounteous and divine/ God’s grace to mankind/ The originator of life,/ Who nourishes and nurtures humankind”. To the poet, mother is “The embodiment of love,/ The symbol of sacrifice,/ The fountain of inspiration”. Her subjectivity is well reflected in the wonderful lines of the said poem. She expresses her indebtedness to her mother for what she has done to her. However, she is scared and very much apprehensive-

But I wonder and fear the future without mothers,
As increasing number of female feticide scare me. (Mother)

Rashmi Jain’s poetry is ‘soft flowing emotions’,’ Imaginative or realistic’,’ Sketched, framed and presented infront of the world’. Her poems are both aspects of meanings- connotations and denotations. They embody her ‘inner feeling and thoughts’,’ Like pearl in an oyster shell,’ ‘Collected and stringed together like/A necklace.’ She reveals the true purport of poetry-

Poetry is like rain
Comes spontaneously and uninterrupted,
full of emotions and imagination.
Poetry gives soothing effect
to heart and soul.
Poetry a gift in disguise
To pour out and quench one’s desire. (Poetry)

In view of the foregoing discussion and analysis, we see that Rashmi Jani’s Kaleidoscopic Visions deals with a rich variety of themes as resorted to in her poems, in varying shades of intensity. All her poems are honest, innocent, candid and sincere expression, though weighty with thoughts, of her childlike heart. Grammatical errors such as “When the mother lull me lullabies’ (page 13), Soulmate are the abiding force of one’s life/ Making one feel complete of its kind (14), Shadows that speedens and flickers (page 15), The winds blows and revolts/ The waves rolls and revolts (17) The winds blows and revolt/ The waves rolls and revolt (page 18) The shadows of life//The mysteries of skies/Makes me aware why do I survive (19), It doesn’t leaves one alone (20), Dark Lady do exist (21) could have been averted and avoided. The proper pruning, linguistically semantically and stylistically, could have been done for proper presentation of poetic thoughts and vision, for proper clarity of thoughts and expressions.

However, the best part of her poetry is that her poems are far away from romantic fantasies, and extravagance of sentiments. They are simple and spontaneous and not only convey the message to embrace love and life, accord due respect and honor to woman and humanity but also call upon us to contribute to growth of global peace, amenity and fraternity.

BHASKARANAND JHA BHASKAR10801644_10204637325948678_9145761407248314636_n is a review editor of Asian Signature.

NIGHT SKY BETWEEN THE STARS

USHA KISHORE :NIGHT SKY BETWEEN THE STARS

Book Reviewed by Asra Mamnoon
Usha Kishore Night Sky Between the Stars Poetry Collection Allahabad: Cyberwit India, 25 January 2015 ISBN 978-81-8253-566-4 Pages 110 | Rs 200

A Star in All Its Radiance
Manifesting her concerns over Indian womanhood, the Indian born Britishn writer, Usha Kishore smiles at us with another anthology of beautifully carved verses, Night Sky Between the Stars. The fierce femininity of Draupadi, the virtue and silent strength of Sita, the devotion of Mira and the loyalty of Gandhari: Kishore has magically rendered the many facets of a woman into poetry. After having carved a niche with her debut collection of poems, On Manannan’s Isle, Kishore’s second outing, Night Sky Between the Stars can indeed be a very rewarding intellectual and fulfilling experience for lovers of poetry. Night Sky Between the Stars is a sea change from the postcolonial palette of language, culture and identity of On Manannan’s Isle towards a more feminist discourse, drawing on Indian mythology and Sanskrit verse.
With a cover photo of the epitome of woman power, Goddess Durga, the book catches one’s eye in no time and with every turn of a leaf,Kishore’s poems give voice to Indian women who have long since been silenced under masculine supremacy. One realizes that the idolization of women in Indian culture is perhaps a myth and their marginalization in the present era is solely a continuation of the past. Though the poet draws heavily from ancient Sanskrit lore, myths and legends, she does not celebratory in her stance; instead, her poems are reactionary, which shake the very roots of Indian values. In keeping with the Indian tradition, Kishore begins with the Gayatri mantra, the mother of all Vedas and challenges the lack of patriarchal acknowledgement to chant those mantras which had been solely reserved for men.
The collection includes poems which deplore the excessive humiliation faced by several women in Hindu mythology. “Draupadi” is a poem of boundless emotions of a highly self-respecting wife of the Pandavas, who put her integrity at stake in a game of dice. Her pleadings to Lord Krishna are extremely heart rending-
Honour the piece of my torn sari that once bound your bleeding hand Clothe me from eternity to eternity and save womanhood from ruin,for a tale to be told until the end of time.
(“Draupadi”,25)

Not often have we heard queen Gandhari’s dejection at her own fate of being shorn of her physical vision and also of her inability to stand against her blind husband and unjust sons. One can hear Gandhari’s own voice through the poet in this eponymous poem. Kishore also speaks of Indian wedding rituals which have bound women in their knots, since times immemorial. The poem, “The Henna Ceremony”, is about the feelings of a bride-to-be who is to marry a man whom she has met for only a couple of hours-
……….Before my henna fades,my husband would fly away and I would watch the colour dulling in my palms, wait for my visa and pray to the eternal bride for a land of dreams.
(“The Henna Ceremony”,21)
The idea that the universe operates on the unity of Purusha and Prakriti or the male and the female energy lies at the heart of Indian philosophy. In the event of this balance being disturbed, everything goes awry. Kishore lays emphasis on this balance and of the equality between men and women. Her feminism is quite distinct-
My ecriture feminine does not chain itself to lamp posts or wander around, waving placards, shouting in loud voices. It is more subtle;
(“L’Ecriture Feminine et Indienne”,75)
The title poem, “Night Sky Between the Stars” is an epitome of that Female Force which extends itself to time and space and declares-
I am she-cosmic soul, dark warrior, fecund earth, making love to the sky… ……………………. I am no goddess, I am a woman, birthing gods, like bubbles in the sea;
(“Night Sky Between the Stars”,45)
Through the poem “Five Virgins”, Kishore invokes the Pancha Kanya hymn from Indian epics. There is a footnote to this poem, stating that the recital of this Sanskrit hymn can redeem sinners. How ironic!
Kishore’s diasporic bipolarity finds expression in poems such as “Writing in Exile”. This one would remind the readers of Nissim Ezekiel’s poem, “An Exile”, as Kishore finds herself unable to pass a day ‘without thoughts of home’. “Translated Woman”, also a personal favourite, is another poem, bringing out the poet’s existential angst-
My insides are a tug of war between East and West, Who keep their trysts in darkness;
(“Translated Woman”,71)
Poems such as these sprout postcolonial displacement and nostalgia for home and hearth. To talk of Kishore’s poetic diction, she creates a kind of diasporic Indian English tinged with a Western seasoning by using words from languages such as French. Like many contemporary Indian diaspora writers in English, Kishore plays with words and uses the English language in her own unique way.
The longest poem in the book, Ode to the Monsoons, is exquisitely romantic and rich in beautiful imagery. It makes one delve into the evanescence of a beautiful dream as Kishore finds herself reminiscent of Indian monsoons ‘in exiled tears’. The book contains a section entitled ‘Prerna Poems’, a part of the poet’s Ekphrastic project,‘Prerna’, in association with Sandhya Arvind, an artist of Madhubani and Warli paintings. These depict traditions practised by Indian women: “Palaghata”, “Lagna Chauk” and “Radha to Krishna” to name a few. Furthermore, in the section entitled ‘Gendered Yearnings’, Kishore takes inspiration from the passionate palette of the renowned Indian painter, Raja Ravi Varma. Kishore has captured the many moods of Indian womanhood in all its sensuality, in her own poetic hue. Poems such as “Ahalya” and “Descent of Ganga” are sure to wring a poetic heart.
Kishore’s poetry has a confessional note attached to it, much like the feminist proclamations of Kamala Das. The all-encompassing ‘I’ manifests in poems such as “Translated Woman” as the poet confesses of keeping ‘liaisons with many tongues’. Kishore speaks not just for herself but for the entire womanhood. This theme may not be new to an avid reader but it is its amalgamation with Sanskrit verse, Indian mythical figures and a native consciousness, which gives an entirely new freshness to contemporary poetry. This is what makes Kishore’s poetry unique and innovative and makes it one of the brightest stars in a sky with many stars of diasporic writings. It won’t be justifiable to consider it a drawback, but this poetic anthology is more suitable for an informed audience. Though the collection is meant for a global readership, one is expected to have a good enough idea of Indian culture and mythology in order to appreciate and draw out more pleasure from these extremely beautiful verses.
Night Sky Between the Stars, a book of some 109 poems, concludes with the very inspirational, “Tired of Being Coy”. It is an epitome of Usha Kishore’s L’Écriture Feminine et Indienne, where one can hear the echoes of many subjugated women saying, ‘No more’. Kudos to Kishore for such an enlightening gift to her readers. Feed your brains with this one, for it will leave you richer while making yo look forward to another poetic endeavour by the exalting poet that Kishore is.

Book Reviewed by  Asra Mamnoon.she is currently pursuing her Masters in English from Universityas of Lucknow, Lucknow. Born and brought up in Lucknow,she is a voracious reader along with having a wanderlust. She has diverse interests in reading and apart from Literature, Philosophy is where her interests lie. She also likes to write randomly on anything which makes her think.She wishes to be a Professor in English and share with others what she has learnt from her subject and life.

Nabina Das’s Into the Migrant City

2nd Vol No 1 (July 2015)

Nabina Das’s Into the Migrant City
Reviewed by- Bhaskaranand  Jha  Bhaskar(Review Editor of Asian signature)

Into the Migrant City is a debut anthology of Nabina Das, a nomad poet with 11748644_10206430468176113_2092572722_nno home and hearth at a fixed place. A wonderful collection of 55 poems spread across three sections- Tracks to the Inner City, Beaten Shape and the concluding section Work in Progress, the anthology is ‘a true flaneur in an extended sense’ with a peephole into the female psyche, a wandering and wondrous travail from ‘border to border and city to city’ as she herself reveals in the book. Widely traveled and well read, Nabina Das is one of the strongest feminine voices of contemporary times. A true lover, of humanity, animals, beautiful places of the world and possessive of passion for tours; she is gifted with a universal outlook.

With a wide range of topics and themes tackled with ease, Into the Migrant City is a literary evolution of Nabina Das into a conscious poetess with three phenomenal phases of feminine consciousness that have shaped and refined her poetic sensibility well manifested through her poetic writings of high excellence. The first section entitled as Tracks to the Inner City consists of poems dealing with outward realities of life that have made her explore deep into her own inner world.

As a poetic diarist, she records the experiences and feelings, realization and observations made while traveling far and wide. Her poetic self moulds the beautiful, bitter, wrenching feelings and strong emotions into pearls of poetry. She takes us, readers on an inner and outer journey of our mind and heart to explore the resultants of strong emotions she seems to have deposited in her female consciousness. She is a migrant with’ grit and grime spirit and rhyme too . This is how she seems to be describing herself in the titular poem’ Into the migrant city’ replete with autobiographical elements.

Though she calls herself ‘an urban nomad’, yet she recalls the root of her family trailing to East Pakistan and becomes nostalgic and sad at heart recalling the mass devastation at the time of migrations –

They have dreams of where the dead speak aloud
They now laud bringing water and history in saved brass jars
From a Dera Ghazi Khan of lonely broken doors left ajar
(Dera Ghazi Khan, 1925)

Her poetry is a beautiful tapestry of thoughts where she drips some reflective drops of her concerns and anxieties towards the plight, outside and inside –

We were inside
a night where
owls sharpened our
verbs of anxiety
skunks clawed at rising
codas of breaths ( After the Show )

The poet is a modern nomad. She travels far and wide and broadens the horizon of her experience, enhancing overall awareness. Migrations at the time of partitions of the country seem to have wounded her soul and the pain she feels as such reminds of the troubled times spent by the people affected by the devastations. She gives a heart wrenching description of the ‘baby face’

‘snuggled with the leather
of the dappled beast
that bleated with heat
of a summer dumped
from the rooftop
of a refugee colony
where milk was gold.(Sonepat, 1980)

She is a poetess with milk of human kindness. Her love for the animals and birds is pervasive throughout her poetry. The twittering soul, caged in her flutters and poetry gets wings, and she soars aloft in the vast firmament of life. Her love for birds, animals and insects is evident from her poems. ‘Crow’, ‘owl’, ’hens’, ‘china’, ‘sparrows’, ’ducks’, ’pigeon’, ‘yak’, ‘fish’, ‘rooster’ are some examples frequently used in the poems. She is pained to see the cold attitude of the people towards the mute living beings like sea gulls-

Nagged by chilly winds we
spot darkness under seagulls’
wings. Hey are now still, stoned
with the torpor of fading siren chimes. (The sea near Battery Park, New York)

The word-pictures she draws in her poetry evoke feelings of disgusts at the bloodshed stooped to in contemporary times. Her poem ‘Redness’ is a metaphorical expression of her take on with such sinister acts-

blood squirting from slashed-up necks
headless chickens scattered in an ungainly race
backwards, forward, again back.

And hence she is not able to restrain herself from making caustic remarks on their attitude as they have lost their ‘ tongues’, ‘attitude piled under the redness of shame/peripheral to storms, deaths, news of constant ruse.’ With the realization of this fact, she remarks intellectually-

‘ a colour doesn’t need a name’.

She is a conscious poet of tours and travels. She harbors in her heart ‘a secret wish’ to ‘find home’ for herself. Measuring length and breadth of the world is not the sole objective of the subjective self and this realization is evident in her poems. With the fulfillment of what she wants to enjoy in the world, she finally intends to get back to her own destination. At first she wants ‘to walk, stare at the local train’s segmented grace, the river mist. However, her sole desire is to find a restive place – home. Hence, she is ‘dreaming the shadow of a home.’ She expresses-

I also want to twist all my wishes, before they wriggle out
Flutter, turn into irreverent sparrows on green iron rails
Sometimes, I want to walk from Camden to find home.
(Walking home from Camden)

The poet’s sense of historical perspective on major phenomena in the world is outstandingly reflected with profuse emotions. The gory chapters of history traumatize the poet to such an extent that she comes up with beautiful poems to purge her emotions through the process of catharsis. Some poems reveal this true sense of hers. A very touching description of a man from ‘rag wearing villages of Bengal’ is a testimony to this fact-

….. he saw
The inside of his thigh a Martian
Blotch. A bullet. A red-hot cave of
History lessons the land still hides.

In another poem ‘Sem(a)ntics’ she defines history in a romantic way through a beautiful metaphor –

History is
A lover never loved or known.

Further, she flutters the wings of her consciousness and soars aloft. We can find wonderful expression of her ecstatic soul here-

‘ a cloud rising from my hair, my chest, my histories and lovely words’

Some of her poems deal with the themes of love, lust and desire that arrest our attention with the appealing sensuousness presented through scintillating metaphors and imagery. Consummation of love, separation in love, lovemaking , dumping, divine love,, romantic – all aspects of love have been beautifully portrayed in her poems but in a different way. She makes a caustic remark at one place-

love and kingdom is a game.

In her poems, she also makes caustic remarks at the lasciviousness of men who keep staring at girls’ or women’s ‘bulbous yet soft’ ‘orbs held firm by tight green bodices’ through realistic imagery. She further remarks-

………… Nature still provides an old widow
Things of seamless lust, she blurted almost rakishly (Notes to Her Lover; Undated)

She very realistically portrays ‘time of lust’-

We kiss in a living shadow
Away from the dead
Body lying gently
In the front yard. (Death and Else)

However, we find in her poetry a fantastic glorification of divine love that she professes to her beloved compared as krishna-

The blue god was my lover
Till I turned thirteen
I discovered then men
Made a goddess of me. (Notes to Her Lover; Undated)

Her poetry is a beacon of light, love, hope, faith, revolt, dreams, peace. Paying tribute to Sukanta Bhattacharya, a great poet known for his ‘tone of rebellion and social change’, she expresses her fondness of his poetry as his poetry is ‘full of seeds that planted hope, to never die or with’ and she regards poetry ‘ a mail runner for our faith to brim over’.

She is a socio-conscious poet. Her poetry is a strong protest against social injustice and poverty that have gripped the poor sections of our society. Social realism finds an excellent articulation with heart wrenching portraiture of their plight that gets intensified and artistically heightened with vivid rib tickling imagery. Her word pictures present society as it is.

When wars are done
When hunger searches for a shelter called arms.
It’s boot sounds
Tectonic in core
Drawing lines on maps as they shudder and split. (Bric-a-Brac)

Metaphoric expressions of sensuousness and sensuality add evocative power to her poetry. The intense and passionate passages of her life open up with great vivacity in her poetry, of ‘lust words ’like ‘ a scythe around the neck of our desires’. Like Kamala Das, she reveals with no inhibition’ the silken route to course through our deposited nights’. With ‘dusks and sweats of shredded loves’, she goes on-

Oh these hands still go mining
Into my woman-
Pit
Sweet jelly and warm on finger
Tips
Once up on my coffee breats
They mottle, oh so fast.

And

A naked bird-head in
A fist holding a fork.
Drop it-lick those fingers
(Thirteen Ways of Looking at Your Hands)

Her poetry is soaked in Indianness- Indian ethos and values. Despite being nomadic in life styles, she makes oft-occurring references to rites and rituals, spirituality and other cultural aspects of life in our country. Her socio-cultural awareness is well reflected in her poems dealing with homage for forefathers, the ancestors or theme of salvation, or with Buddhists’ ways of life, or delineating the astounding natural beauty of the rural landscape. She innocently and openly remarks-

ancestors they say hover disguised as
birds and animals- on the lawn, on garden boughs. (Finding Foremothers)

Her keen observation of the countryside ways of life, beliefs can be observed in the following lines that present the rural landscape-

The sweetened tomato chutney on
my banana-leaf plate seeping away like blood
dark red blood of aunts, wives
bho cooked and cleaned, sucked
blood from cuts, bore kids and bled till
they stopped, bled in their hearts when widowed and denied.
(Finding Foremothers)

In her poetry we also find the preponderance of spiritual elements. She not only speaks for women’s freedom but also talks about salvation of soul, and over all development of ‘Buddha’s children’. She believes in ‘Streams are known to be clean’, and ‘sparkling source of unanimity’. She has unflinching faith in the eternal source of energy-

I am connected to a stream
Originating from a spring of ubiquitous freedom
* **
It was a purifying rite
To wrap streams around our bodies
Whether in birth or death:
Moksha either way. (Releasing Rites by Water)

Nabina Das’s poems are droplets of thoughts, flowing subtly, on myriads of issues of life and the world around- the life she has lived and the world she is living in. Candid expression, honest confession, searing satire, multitudes of views on life, philosophy, social attitude, migration, basics of roots, sympathy for the poor, love for the animal world and protests against the social set- ups, intense cerebration over the human existence are the hallmarks of her poetry. Like a true feminist she raises some issues, national and international, of feminism, some issues of serious concern. Some of her poems are a veiled protest.

Worth reading for the readers with cosmopolitan outlook and loving heart!

 

Vihang A. Naik’s City Times and Other Poems

2nd Vol ,No1 ( July 2015)

Vihang A. Naik’s City Times and Other Poems
Reviewed by- Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar(Review Editor of Asian signature)

City Times & Other Poems is a wonderful compilation of new and selected11124202_10206430446935582_239440310_n poems of Vihang A Naik, a reward winning contemporary poet writing in English. It is remarkable for his poetic quality and distinctive style. Naik is a great poet of great repute, ‘widely published and anthologised’. Till date, he has to his credit, including the present anthology City Times and Other Poems (1993), three other significant collections of poems: Poetry Manifesto: New & Selected Poems (2010) and Jeevangeet (Gujarati Poems published in 2001) and Making A Poem (2004). Furthermore, he is an outstanding translator at the same time. He is a tech-savvy; hence he has succeeded in getting the flavour and beauty of his poetry closer to the world. The poems in the present collection are beautiful, thoughtful and spontaneous reflections of his experiences he mustered from time to time. They are innermost expressions of varied and vivid moods of the poet. Precision of language – brevity of expressions used in pouring out his thoughts and ideas – is a variegated feather added to his cap. Unlimited in range and variety, his poetry deals with manifold musings on the mundane.

City Times & Other Poems has precisely been divided into six sections- ‘Love Song of a Journeyman’, ‘Mirrored Men’, ‘The Path of Wisdom’, ‘Self Portrait’, ‘At The Shore’ and ‘City Times. Each section, except ‘Self Portrait’ contains seven poems.

The anthology begins with the subjective glow with eloquent beauty of love in the poem ‘ Your beholding’. Like a ‘journeyman’, he sings his love song all along his inner journey with the romanticism at its best-

I’d then begun
to hear wings
in empty spaces.
A song
in the desert
of my heart.
A first journey.

In the age of globalisation materialism takes a stride. He feels saddened and disheartened to see the sad plight of the contemporary times gripped with the notion and objectivity of physical pleasure. He depicts the realistic picture-

the world
shrinks within
the boundaries
of flesh (the world)

He is a conscious poet of ecological awareness. It goes without saying that pollution has defiled the beautiful landscape of the country. The hectic life styles of the people have turned from bad to worse. People are quite indifferent to the glorious past of the city they are living in. There is lack of ecological consciousness in them. Such people, lost in the tangled ways and means of life, “grapple for meaning /in the traffic of noses. His ‘City Voice’ poignantly describes this alarming situation-

…. signal lights
In crowded smoke
An old man coughs
The illness
Of his age

The smoke pollutions seem to have blurred their vision as “There is humming of vehicles. The city mumbles”. However, the poet is confident and optimistic enough to regain the healthy environment because “The roots won’t die.” Many of such poems are reflective of his ecological concerns. His apprehension can be realized in the following lines bringing to the fore the futility of city life-

in the noises
of a city
whose streets
lead you nowhere (how long)

In “Midnight City”, he expresses his helplessness that he feels in the city built of “the cry /of stones and streets”, littered with “dry skeletons” lying in “the grave of slumber”.

questioning the real
and the unreal
the night helps
none
search/the key lost...

‘Self Portrait’ sums up the essence of the poet’s quest for realising the ultimate reality of life. His focus shifts from the outward observation to the inner realisation. He stresses inner travelogue to the worldly migration for no purpose. According to the poet real purpose of life is to turn inward and evolve introspective approach-

I
wake up
to see; my
Self (Self Portrait)

Modern man forgetting the sole purpose , seems to have lost into the world of flesh. Physical gratification of his desires has made him go astray from the right path. He has very beautifully described the desire of human beings through the use of ‘octopus’ as a metaphor.

the octopus
of desire
stirs
arteries and veins
tears flesh apart
feeding upon fire
swallowing air (desire)

Indian landscape with all its beauty, impurity and pollutions gets reflected through his poetry. His wonderful presentation of the things of life sometimes fills us with great pride, with joy and other times the plight of the country and the countryside, including the towns and cities, stings our consciousness. Beauty and ugliness go hand in hand. The poet has a keen tab on the transformation of romantic and divine love into perversion. He makes a satiric comment on such love that is much more poisonous. The love sans loyalty and fidelity, even if it is enchanting and beguiling, is useless. He remarks-

.. the skin
of beauty
instinct poses
forget the venom
of fangs (Pleasure)

His poetry deals with the harsh, stern and stark realism of life with a sense of futility, pain and sorrow. In some of his poems , he has expressed this social reality and changing colours of the social beings through the outstandingly apt use of metaphors – insects and reptiles like chameleon, spiders, serpent, octopus etc. His sense of disillusionment, just like Elitots’, is reflected here in the following lines-

you find yourself
strange in the fog
of knowledge
enter the world
of deception
be cheated
cheat yourself
see things
with double eyes (after innocence)

His sense of futility of life is further reflected in his poem entitles ‘bears a meaningless mask’ that is a universal appeal to the people to let the light remove the glaring darkness from heart and the world-

.…. open
the door of his heart
where the darkness lies.
A room of mere
Nothingness

The plight of the people faced with the scorching heat of life pains him to a considerable extent. Rain of peace and thunders of hope still elude us. The poem is expressive of his environmental concerns. He feels that life in a city is troublesome now-a-days. The city is mad with irrationality. It is a poignant commentary on the tragedy- “countless deaths/ in countless eyes.” His ‘a broken song’ is a “horrific cracks” in the wall of human habitat. He pathetically recalls-

memory still
the mugging parrot
cute companion
who died
by the sun’s
scorching fireballs (a broken song)

All the poems in this wonderful collection are fascinatingly appealing, profoundly reflective, and emotionally enduring. He speaks of his own observation of modern metropolitan life- insipid modern man, and his surroundings. He satirises the follies and foibles of the times. If he sings songs of love and experiences of the world, describing all the vicissitudes in the human life with a thinking mind and a feeling heart with empathy and compassion, he also throws sufficient light on ‘mirrored’ personality of the people with various facets. He tries to find out some meaningful purpose from human existence in some way or the other. In this poetic endeavour he turns philosophically suggestive and morally instructive, showing ‘The Path of Wisdom’. He warns- Listen! Death Knocks’ only to steer the people in the right direction to the path of virtues, shunning away all the gross ‘ desire’, ‘pleasure’ that they have fallen into due to ‘ illusion’.

In short, Vihang A. Naik’s City Times & Other Poems is the rudimentary framework of poetic vision and stunning creation, wonderful expressions of his meandering musings on all aspects of life.. Love, longing, socio-political concerns, philosophy of life, spiritual, personal, impersonal aspects of life, his personal experiences, his deep musings and reflections find a great expression in his poetry. Apart from relevant themes as stated above, the technique of the poet deserves a special mention. His style is remarkable for the apt use of striking imagery and captivating metaphors. Truly, symbols, paradoxes, metaphors, shortened and extended, sensuous and sensual images, structures of the poems, beginning of the poetic lines, use of capital letters at some places etc. are very unique of his style that spontaneously engages our attention to the poems for their emotional, visual and aesthetic effects. Precision of the language, economy of words, different eye-catching forms and imagery with visual and non-visual, concrete or subtle content as a whole are the hallmarks of Vihang A. Naik as a poet.