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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”
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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.

Lahiri speaks in silence

1st Vol, No1 (Dec 2013)

BOOK REVIEW: Lahiri speaks in silence

thumb_4270Silent Steps
Author: Gopal Lahiri
Binding: Paperback
Page count: 79
ISBN: 978-8182531970
Publisher: Cyberwit.net
Pub. Date: 2010
Reviewed by: Dr. Kiriti Sengupta, Calcutta.

I have seen critics quoting varied definitions of poetry whilst reviewing poetry books. Many of them tend to hypothesize poetry in a different light, which is exclusively their own. I have often wondered: What is the exact purpose of defining poetry? Until now I have not found a single definition which is universally accepted. Hence, mentioning the definition of poetry in the review bears no additional importance. As I was personally requested by the author to critique the poetry anthology Silent Steps, I made my conditions visibly clear. My first and foremost condition was: I will not just highlight its positive sides, if I find something that pains me being a reader I will quote it as well. The author of the said book, Gopal Lahiri was more than willing to have my honest and straight views. Let me start with this poetry collection now.

Silent Steps was published in the year 2010 by Cyberwit.net. The book has no formal introduction written by the poet himself, nor has there been any foreword by a guest author. The cover seriously lacks a professional touch, and does not gel smooth with the title of the book. The price has been set on a higher side given the number of pages the book carries. These were my initial reactions as I tried to turn the pages in order to taste the poetry contained in the said anthology. Silent Steps carries seventy neatly composed poems by the seasoned poet, Gopal Lahiri. I will share excerpts of the selected few that I found extremely invigorating:

My dear readers, what exactly do you expect from a poetry book, or from a poet to be precise ? I am aware that expectations may vary from a reader to another reader. Expectations are obviously on a higher side if the reader happens to be a poet him/herself. But, from a general perspective a poet is expected to deliver finer nuances of the worldly existence. Even if the poet attempts to deliver something that has a supernatural presence, the readers try to locate their imaginative sphere within the poetic rendition. The fact remains: poets rarely receive their due recognition. I have seen quite a few poets who consider them being looked down upon by the rest of the literary world. Lahiri murmured, he was probably ‘In Exile’ as he wrote:

“No one looks at me
As if I am not worth it.
Not even a cursory glance
That may put smile in my lips
While trampling grass and tearing flower
The cold looks and the wicked smile
Pierce through the flesh and bone
In every hour, in every minute
In the street, in the movie hall
In the crowded lane, in the park
The eyes filled with hatred and sarcasm
Take the light out of my life…”

Lahiri stayed honest to his observations as a general human. In ‘All that I have seen’ he wrote concisely what only poets can successfully deliver on behalf of the population:

“As I come back again and again
To my words, to my mind’s closet
The emotion flows into every pore
Cleanse the endless sins that committed.
Should I turn away from life?
………………………………….
Let the flame of fire spreads far and wide
Let the starlight oozes into my own world.”

Like other individuals a poet has the right to air his/her desires. Lahiri has put up his wants remarkably:

“I want to value
The gift of freedom
To delight in
The face of winsome.

I want to visit
The untutored path
Show in time of need
The meanings of love.

………………………..
………………………..

I want to address
What I feel inside
Not the shame and fear
The beauty of life.”

Lahiri wanted to traverse the untutored path. He wished to walk anywhere, and everywhere. As a poet and as an artiste he invited his fellow mates:

“… A breeze of love blowing
Open your arms to welcome all
To inhale the smell of spring
To walk anywhere everywhere.”

A poet’s love to the civilization can, hopefully, be termed universal. Poets ceaselessly love the components of the earth, of the existence as a whole! Lahiri’s rendition mesmerized me actually. Dear readers, come on, face his endless love to all concerned:

“I do not love birds I do not love bees
I do not love clouds I do not love trees

I ask the little bird
Am I so cruel?
The bird gives her food from the beak
And fly away.

I ask the tiny bee
Am I so selfish?
The bee hums a sweet song to my ears
And move away

I ask the cloud
Am I so wicked?
The rain clouds gather in a moment
And drench my body.

I ask the tree
Am I so indifferent?
The tree shakes his head to shed leaves
And the breeze sooths my soul.

Come on all the birds Come on all the bees
I love you all I love you all.

Come on all the clouds Come on all the trees
I love you all I love you all.”

Gopal Lahiri is indeed a seasoned poet who minds his words. He has demonstrated an adorable style of writing English poetry in Silent Steps. His words were simple yet elegant, his expressions were transparent yet so intrinsic! Lahiri evidently made his way to the hearts of the readers:

“…Before I reach you
Give me some more time
From your heart.”

I don’t know if Silent Steps is available in any leading book store across the country. Not all the readers feel safe to buy books from the virtual chains. It is now the responsibility of the publisher to distribute the anthology amongst all viable retailers. A poetry collection of such caliber should never go unnoticed. Silent Steps is truly a collector’s edition; not only for the poetry lovers, but it is indeed appealing to the general readers of literature.

Silent Days : Poems by jaydeep Sarangi

BOOK REVIEW: 1st Vol, No1 (Dec 2013)

Silent Days : Poems by jaydeep Sarangi.
Cyberwit.net , Allahabad . (2013 )    download
P.b.68pp.
ISBN : 978-81-8253-396-7.
Price Rs.200/-
By Dr Pradip Kr Patra,(ASSAM)

  • Silent Days is all about memorable days, sweet moment or otherwise the author’s yearning for the best moment of life. It is quite clear that for the poet the present moment is not as good as the past. But he doesn’t moan over. He gives the impression that the past is as concrete as anything. It is as real as the present. In one of the poems, ‘Flight’, the poet compares the state of being in ‘flight’ with the ‘rock’. It is that status of soaring high which is important, not the lifelessness the rock. For the poet, greater is the pleasure of going above ‘stagnant knowledge’. The poet’s covert yearning for knowledge in democratic spirit is discernible. As a sequel to the said poem, ‘The Guest’ is one of the important poems in this anthology. In a casual manner Sarangi tells the story of time. Through the poem, he tells the story of the individuals who are usually scared of the time moving very fast. Implicitly, the poet expresses the fear of his thoughts having taking him altogether in a different direction because of the acceleration of time . Time may be a big factor responsible for change. But, it is not that time castrates everything. Sarangi has certain moments of life which time cannot erase. ‘The Red Soil Allure’ is one such poem that brings a turning point in the life of the poet. For him, ‘the red soil’ is drenched in emotion. It is the emotion of a son towards the mother that trickles down. The poet has a conflict within himself: of nature and spontaneity in one hand and the process of being civilized on the other. The nature and culture conflict is very prominently portrayed in ‘Missed Calls’. Sarangi compares and contrasts busy and hectic life in one hand with that of the innocence of his child who like the grown-ups doesn’t hanker after anything other than colour pencils. The poet also points out the desire both of grown-ups and children. The desires of children are so simple, whereas that of gown-ups so complex. By choosing the title, ‘Missed Calls’ ( of the poet’s child ) the author rather hints at his own yearning for innocence.
  • In ‘I’m on your Side’, the poet elaborately depicts what he has portrayed rather implicitly in ‘The Red Soil Allure’. Here is the celebration of tribal village life. The poet’s sophisticated self goes spontaneously back to ‘red soil’, ‘of herbs numberless’, ‘earthen cottage’, ‘cool shade’, ‘small river’, ‘windy past’ and ‘rains’ etc. With heart and soul, he remains in such natural ambience.
  • As he proceeds, the poet appears to have matured in course of time. In ‘Growing Old with Time’ he acquires greater experiences of life. He has realized what actually time is. He has also had the realization that time is a great leveller: years of isolation and stagnation may end surprisingly. Hence, he justifies the title of the poem, ‘Growing Old with Time’.
  • It is not just the experiences and realization of life , the poet rather moves towards freedom, not just physical, but also spiritual, the yearning of which even on the part of a prisoner can contribute to the making of history as it is reflected in the poem, ‘Small Rivers of the Mind’.
  • The title poem, ‘Silent Days’, in a way, is all about the convictions of life. Days keep passing in a sequential manner. It is not possible to cut the sequence of life. Life is holistic. Bypassing a small portion means disrupting the whole. What we consider to be old has its repercussion upon the new. Hence, it is not just the poem, ‘Silent Days’, but also the collection of poems entitled, Silent Days reflects not only the poet’s way of looking at the world, colouring it with wisdom, but also gradual development of his own self. It makes a good reading which will have a positive impact up on the readers and energize their thought process.