Monthly Archives: September 2013

My Editors and I

God has made me an author. It was merely incidental, and I turned out to be an author of a few books. Two of my titles were in Bengali, my native language, and the rest two were in English, an international language commonly used by the people all across the globe. You may have a different take on my observation and an inference, for every single individual is entitled to his/her own version of thought! I am actually a writer, and I will prefer to be referred to only as a writer. One who writes is a writer, and if I adhere to this definition, a poet, a novelist, an essayist, and even a journalist is a writer. The term ‘writer’ includes a wide range of professionals, and an editor, I think, perfectly fits in this broad category of literary workers. In all of my English titles I had the opportunity to work with certain extremely talented editors, who are truly professionals with adequate knowledge of the work they remain associated with. In this article I will write about the editors who took the pain and invested their time towards the production of my books. Before I proceed any further let me confess: I’m an Indian. I had my schooling that encouraged the British style of English, otherwise called the Queen’s English. Most of the Indian schools are equipped with this age-old pattern of teaching English. Incidentally, until now, all of my editors have been Americans, but honestly speaking, they never posed a trouble against my decision towards adhering to this particular style of writing English.

I’ll start with Donald Randolph Martin, a known writer-cum-editor-cum-reviewer, who is popularly known as Don Martin. I worked with Don for my book titled The Unheard I. It was nonfiction with some good amount of poetry in it. Prior to editing my work Don asked me right away, “Do you want to Americanise your work?” My answer was: No. My aim was to popularise Indian nonfiction amongst the Western readers, under the competent guidance of an American editor. Don was the one who edited almost every line which bore punctuation errors. He actually taught me to be careful with punctuations. Don is a man of fewer words, and he started his career as a poetry editor. He remained extremely considerate towards the translated poetry that I included in my book. Although he edited a few lines of the poetry, but that was strictly limited only to the areas of punctuation. I was blessed with a note from his desk, and I included the editor’s note as the front matter of The Unheard I. Don’s words construct his real account of working with me, an Indian author. My heartfelt gratitude to you, dear Don! You taught me the finer nuances of the language and its presentation. Trust me, until now I have not used the word ‘imbibe’ since the moment you gave me a different meaning that is common amongst the Americans! Don, you would be glad to know that copies of the first edition (paperback) of The Unheard I are soon to be exhausted, and I owe my success to you and to Prof. (Dr.) Hulya Yilmaz, Senior Lecturer, College of the Liberal Arts, Penn State, who wrote the exclusive foreword. Another good news here again: the Inner Child Press, limited is on their way to publish the U.S. edition of The Unheard I.

Next in my list is a publisher-writer-editor Stephen L. Wilson. Stephen and I are very good friends, and he is one of my older brothers I have in the U.S. Although we have our share of differences, whenever we worked together we created some thoroughly professional products. It all started with my association with Indies In Action (IIA), a virtual group that is dedicated to support the victims of the natural calamities by producing literary anthologies. Stephen was the chief editor of the international charitable anthology, Twist of Fate (ToF), which carried a few of my submissions. During the making of ToF I got an opportunity to interview other contributors from all across the world. It had truly been an experience of my life time! As Stephen agreed to edit The Reciting Pens, he was curious: “Would you like me to do copy editing or proof editing or both?” I failed to answer readily, for I was not aware of these terms, quite frankly. Stephen made me understand of these things, and remarked: “Never refer my edits as suggestions…this is so unprofessional!” Finally, I came to realise that editors offer/propose edits that are not mere suggestions. Stephen, I am indeed grateful to you for all your hard work, which polished The Reciting Pens. Stephen Wilson not only edited my work, he made me aware of a few lazy words as well, as he urged. A few examples: basically, that, etc. With every movement Stephen made me take special attentions towards the final product, the paperback of The Reciting Pens. Being a Dental Surgeon, who was once engaged in research publications, the word ‘substantivity’ holds great importance! It may not readily be found in the common dictionaries. Substantivity refers to the ability of a material/compound to adhere to the surface of another material. Similarly, I will mark Stephen with a high grade of substantivity with reference to the job called ‘editing.’

If Stephen L Wilson edited and polished The Reciting Pens, it was Kate Lantry who was solely responsible towards the finishing. Kate is the wife of the noted poet W. F. Lantry (Washington, DC), who wrote the fundamental foreword of my book. I was in regular touch with Kate as she was the one who facilitated my interactions with W. F. Lantry. I never planned of Kate as the contributing editor of The Reciting Pens, nor did she want to be acknowledged as one! It was Kate’s spontaneity that she came forward with some valuable edits, which she found important to be implemented. If I remember quickly, Kate was so particular towards a definitive style of presentation, for my anthology was essentially based on the interviews that I held with three published Bengali poets from Calcutta, India. I am so proud of you, Kate! You are the one who worked much towards the stylisation. No amount of appreciation can ever pay for the load of work I had put on you.

My dear friends, fellow authors, and aspiring writers: Please get in touch with Don Martin, Stephen Wilson and Kate Lantry if you are seriously looking forward professional editing of international quality!

Don Martin: https://www.facebook.com/don.martin.969?fref=ts

Stephen Wilson: https://www.facebook.com/StephenLWilson?fref=ts

Kate Lantry: https://www.facebook.com/kate.lantry?fref=ts

 

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Filed under Anthology, Article, Indian Heritage, Interview, Nonfiction, Poet, Reviews, Spiritual, The Unheard I, Twist of Fate, Writer

The Performance: A Review of the poetry book Chords of Life, by Angad Singh Saluja

The Performance

 

Dr. Kiriti Sengupta

Author, and Consultant Dental Surgeon -cum- Demonstrator, Government of West Bengal.

Calcutta, India.

 

 

 Chords of Life, by Angad Singh Saluja

Publisher: Cyberwit

ISBN: 9788182533547 (Second Edition, 2013)

Page count: 76

Book Price: INR 200  //  $15.

 

 Chords of Life is a small volume poetry book by the promising Indian English poet Angad Singh Saluja. The biography of the poet reveals that he enjoys his professional background having passed from one of the distinguished Business schools in India. It also reveals that Angad is serious about promoting his works, and that he is clearly ‘aggressive’ about it. Such a hint may generate fine creases out of irritation on the foreheads of the critics! Many of them find it irrational as the author promotes his/her own books. Honestly speaking, I don’t really mind if it happens. It is high time we broaden our outlook! I personally got introduced to Angad a few backs back on a social networking site. He was, perhaps, on his way to happily announce the release of the second edition of his poetry book, Chords of Life. His declaration was indeed stunning. Poets, worldwide, often complain of the generalized decrease in the number of prospective poetry readers. Aspiring poets are not enough motivated to bring out their works published. In such a serious backdrop, release of the second edition of a poetry book (within a span of a year from its first publication) appeared immensely thought provoking! Yes, Angad was so kind to send in a copy of the paperback straight to my address, although I never promised to write a review of the book.

 Let me share my first impression: As I opened the envelope I found a sleek volume book, stunningly red, and bright. It was certainly a catchy cover that made me fall in love with the overall presentation. The cover has its shares of black and grey, although the element of red is enough, I think, to get into the basic psyche of the concerned poet. Angad is evidently vibrant, to say the least! A small suggestion here: All across the globe book covers are now produced with mat finish for a classy look. I wonder why the publisher preferred to retain the gloss! The first page of Chords of Life carried a small note from the author. It says, “Have loads to learn from you…” This was particularly written for the recipient, which was I. Interesting, isn’t it? Angad was not aware of my profile as he wrote those words, I believe, neither I am that kind of a person who could be referred to as well known. Did Angad strategically position me as his teacher? Was this simply a marketing strategy? I was practically in a fix! The mystery unveiled itself as I quickly read the ‘acknowledgment’ part. Angad wrote, “…At times, when I felt alone and gloomy, I have literally talked to god with some long chatting sessions. He has always been a constant guiding force showing me the direction to sail through the turmoil. The biggest thank to the Divinity for always welcoming me without any questions, expectations and complaints…” Ah! Did I find ‘God’ as god, and ‘divinity’ as Divinity? Any wild guesses, readers? Yes, that is Angad Singh Saluja…quite clearly, simply, distinctly, and remarkably! I can well assume, Angad is truly a spiritual guy, if not religious.

 Before commenting on the poems included in this book, I would very much like to raise a few relevant points to the concerned publisher. Kind attention, Cyberwit: Chords of Life aptly deserves a ‘foreword’ written by some known guest author. Since this is the second edition (and not a reprint of the first one), why didn’t you manage to include a well-written foreword? I hope that you won’t point your fingers at the concerned poet, Angad Singh Saluja. Again, I could not find the name of the editor(s) associated with this anthology. If you have your in-house editors, please, try to include their names, otherwise the anthology, I believe, appears to be an unprofessional production. Some of the poems included in this book bear punctuation errors, which could have been avoided. Having worked with a fine set of international editors, I am well aware of the importance in appointing/ commissioning a professional editor. At all events, the pivotal roles played by the ‘foreword,’ and efficient poetry editors are to be considered with great care!

 Chords of Life includes fifty one thoughtfully composed poems by the poet, Angad Singh Saluja. Here again ‘fifty one’ seems to be the poet’s offering to the almighty Lord with reference to India’s vast lineage of spirituality! Angad has purposefully categorized his renditions under three major chapters: Life and Me, Life and Relations, and Life and Survival. He has tactfully delivered, “…Chords of Life is here to break the myth of people regarding poetry and offer everyone an experience of their life time. The ease of vocabulary, real situations from heart and simplicity in its own sense would make every person witness some chapters of his or her own life through this book….” Angad seemed to be honest with these lines, although I would have preferred if these were written by a guest author in the ‘foreword’ section.

 Chords of Life begins with the poem, ‘Addicted To Fame.’ Dear readers, see how Angad has united the first person singular with the prevailing souls of population…

 

“Reaching back home and seeing the happy family in the frame,

I enjoy the dinner with Movies, Celebrities and Fame.

Lying down on bed and thinking to make some name,

I promise to myself that I would also achieve Happiness, Money and Fame.”

 

As a steady marketing professional Angad may well advance with his promotional plans, yet he has no pretensions at all! He, in fact, hates to feel trapped within mundane urbanity! ‘Do I Pretend’ is not all about the ‘I’ Angad, the poem subtly substantiates our civilization as a whole.

 

“Yes, I do pretend because it is survival.

I feel happy but people scare me

I dream of success but failure bothers me

I try to forgive but old acts irritate me

……………………………………………….

……………………………………………….

If this is called an act of pretending

I am really not guilty of any mending.

I move with caution with a futuristic view

To prevent disappointing anyone and bidding adieu”

 

The stout poet Angad shares tons of his dreams. ‘A Day Would Come’ structurally delivers our dreams; dreams of the youth of our Nation.

 

“A day would come!!

When time would favor me

And all the dreams would come true

When my parents would be proud of me

Not doubting my capabilities anymore

When I will have an identity

That will command respect everywhere

……………………………………………………

……………………………………………………

A day would come!!”

 

As a general human, poet Angad has his share of insecurities. This is evident is the short poem ‘The Question.’ I, as an author, can’t resist myself from quoting the whole of the poem here:

 

“What is written in store for me?

Will time ever change making me glee?

How will I survive life and its harsh realities?

When would people stop acting fake and believing in formalities?

Where can I find someone with whom I will rhyme?

Why does god challenge your ability from time to time?”

 

Dear readers, aren’t these questions we frequently ask to ourselves? Could we plan of constructing a poem out of these questions? Did we ever consider each of the questions was by itself a long poetry? And here lies the crystal success of the poet, Angad Singh Saluja!

We often comment, ‘Promises are made to be broken.’ Angad is no exception here. See how the poet has poured down his heartfelt words, although these are quietly murmured by generations after generations. ‘The Promise’ is indeed a soul-stirring material!

 

“You talked about my friends who came and left

Cursing them for cheating me

Hating all for hurting me

Questioning some for the injustice done to me

………………………………………………..

………………………………………………..

Finally here you are-

Not talking

Not bothered

Not affected

What happened to ‘The Promise’ my sweetheart?”

 

As an integral component of this society Angad projects his concern through the poem ‘World Peace.’ He says,

 

“Terror is a sign of weak and cannot be justified by any reason,

So, it’s our duty to spread the joy of love irrespective of the season.

The journey would be tough and full of challenges beyond control,

Still, we have to fly like a dove spreading peace as our only goal.

And thus, an appeal to all my fellow mates, every young and old

Let’s mark a new beginning of non-violence and peace, still never heard or told.”

 

I am not here to discuss on every poem that has been included in this anthology. I have mentioned only a few, for these, I think, are capable of eliciting the salient tone of Angad Singh Saluja, the poet. His presentations are extremely lucid, and can be understood by the general readers as well. And here lies his success in constructing poetry the way the poet has conceived! Chords of Life is indeed a remarkable anthology of selected poems written by the promising poet Angad Singh Saluja, who has shown an excellent view of his humanly existence!

 

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The Reciting Pens reviewed by Varsha Singh

Well known Poet-Translator-Critic Varsha Singh reviewed The Reciting Pens. Please have a look.

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September 16, 2013 · 10:32 am

The Reciting Pens

I am delighted with my latest publication The Reciting Pens. This book is aimed to project Bengali poetics to the world’s literature, thus, a humble attempt of the union of Bengali poetry with the Western literature. Being the author of this book I find it apt to share a few of the salient features:

1. The Reciting Pens has captured three published Bengali poets from Calcutta, India. They are: Joya Mitra, Ranadeb Dasgupta, and Suddhasatya Ghosh. This is essentially a book based on the interviews I held with them, along with a few of their translated works.

2. The book carries a wonderful ‘foreword’ by the noted poet W. F. Lantry (Washington, DC). It has been a well-researched discourse, actually!

3. The classic cover has been done by the ace designer ( a Masters in Visual Arts) Partha Pratim Das, Calcutta, India.

4. Some beautiful illustrations have been included. They are done and donated by Pritam Ghosh, Assam, India.

5. The Reciting Pens has been jointly edited by Stephen L Wilson (Oregon, U.S.), and Kate Lantry (Washington, DC).

6. Publisher: Inner Child Press, ltd (U.S.A.)

Image:

Grab copies from Pothi, an online Indian book store, which delivers all across the globe: http://pothi.com/pothi/book/kiriti-sengupta-reciting-pens

Foreword by W. F. Lantry (Washington, DC): http://datura.wflantry.com/observing-beauty-even-in-the-smallest-things/

 

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The Unheard I – Reviewed in Muse India

Finally I’m there on Muse India with this remarkable review of my nonfiction book “The Unheard I.” Thanks to Atreya Sarma Uppaluri, senior editor-poet-writer-translator, for his impeccable elaboration!

Two of my poems got special mention: The first is the one which got translated by Gopal Lahiri. And the other translated by Shishir Roy.

Friends, you must not miss this fine literary discourse!

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September 5, 2013 · 3:27 am

The Unheard I – Reviewed

Reviews of my nonfiction book “The Unheard I.”

1. By Prof. Dr. Sunil Sharma, from Bombay, India:

Kiriti Sengupta, when not performing dental procedures on decaying / decayed teeth, loves to compose lines in Bengali and meditate on many issues. Some of these reflections are finding their slow but sure way into the library of a well-read and aware reader − thanks to a mini-book tantalizingly called The Unheard I, a rich collection of pieces with wide-ranging topics from the poetic, spiritual, and mundane to the difficult art of translation.

The 63-page, beautifully-translated and produced book is disorienting to a reading-expectation revolving around traditional modes of writing and production. The book tosses different ideas and strands as lightly as a master chef tosses delicate long noodles and other ingredients in a wok and serves up a rich spread − hot, appealing and delectable.

Kiriti comes up with a rare genre of writing − Yogic poetry that celebrates Indian heritage now globally known for its holistic healing. From dentistry complexities to yogic poetry to a clinical examination of the first person singular I is a demanding task that only multi-talented Kiriti Sengupta − a dental surgeon and predominantly Bengali-language poet − can perform.

The Unheard I is a sincere engagement with some themes of enduring value. It needs to be read and further discussed by well-meaning critics and readers interested in a creative exploration of charity, yogic philosophy and practice and the art and science of translation. Go and grab a copy and then plunge into some serious stuff you will not find in this age of mindless thrillers and commercial pulp fiction.
29-Aug-2013

2. By Prof. Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi, from Calcutta, India:

Dr Kiriti Sengupta’s “The Unheard I” is a reading wonder which unfolds a colourful image gallery of new trend in writing. It’s an enjoyable read even though a reader stumbles at several doors. When the doors are opened with master keys its an inviting discourse. I was fascinated by the interesting mix up of genres in the book. I read again to conceptualise my ideas. Is it a meta nonfiction? Possibilities are wide open. If we go by the present critical nuances the book is an interesting discourse where the author has made some deliberate choices.

It’s about the narrator; about writing and translation from Bengali. An orthodox reader may find the book “shocking”. It moves on! It moves our cerebral cells. Foreword of the book is a key to get into the book. Editor’s Note clearly mentions the idea behind the publication of the book. Don Martin states, “Kiriti was a joy to work with(.)” Joy spills over white pages of the book as we are whisked from one idea to another.

The book has three segments: A Serious ToF; Yogic Poetry; The Indian Heritage and The Translator I. Out of these three parts I personally like the second part where the author has introduced Indian heritage and Yogic poetry. The ideas are not definite but make sense. The author doesn’t try to historicise the traditional heritage. He makes his own selections and enjoys a licence. No reader should form a definite heritage out of this seemingly partial presentation of a tradition handed down generation after generation. It reminds me a modern trend in different parts of the globe where poetry is performance. I’ve attended a few of them in alien shores. It’s again back to our ideological position. Can poems be reflection of a meditative mind? Can poems be circulated and written for facebook community? I think the world is changing fast.There is a new threat for critics, writers and reviewers: requests flood like rivers in monsoon. There are so many types of writings as there are innumerable writers in the world. Life narratives emerge as a potent body of nonfiction. There is no hard and fast rule for its contents. It leaves possibilities open!

“The Unheard I” is a literary proto autobiography of a dental surgeon where the author moves out of his professional world and explores “self- realisations”. Some descriptions are sketchy and short. But there are rooms for improvement in the next updated edition. Writing is an ongoing process. It’s mutual. Both the readers and the author evolve over a period of time. And there is always a proper time for everything. Elegant production of the book adds a separate dimension. We do think that those who have a drive to write nonfiction, and who persist with the genre end up in good writing. Granted, everything is not attractive, but something is really engaging which pulls a reader back to his seat.

There are translations (from Kiriti’s mother tongue) of some poems in the book. Good or bad doesn’t matter. It’s a valuable reflection of a society/culture rich with art. The selection of poets is personal. It can go to any number. I was expecting a logic behind the selection of poems from the vast and encompassing reservoir. It’s about a very rich culture where one should be careful. Translation of a rich culture to the global readers is a serious act. I hope Kiriti has good answers to follow up. I’ll be happy if the book travels well in future. Hope it carries healthy food as baggage.

What I like most of the book is the ending of the book. It prepares us for the next book. Any way, the book promises to be a stable march for a better tomorrow. Happy surgery in words!
1-Sep-2013

3. By Stuart Aken, from England:

This short piece of esoteric literature came my way via contacts on Facebook. The book is divided into three sections: A Serious ToF (Twist of Fate); Yogic Poetry: the Indian Heritage; The Translator ‘I’. So, I think you will realise this is not a work of interest to what might be called the ‘common reader’. It is a scholarly piece that will appeal to those with an interest in poetry, particularly spiritual poetry expressed as literature, as well as those who have a leaning toward or a significant interest in Indian myth and religion.

The Twist of Fate referred to above is an anthology of pieces collected together to present to readers as a way of gathering funds to help those left in distress by the tornado that hit Oklahoma in May 2013. And this first chapter of the book is a presentation of the author’s experiences in contributing to that anthology.

Poetry, let alone Yogic Poetry, is a genre of which I have little experience. My admiration of the craft lies within the bounds of the variety of works produced by the two Dylans (Bob and Thomas). And my knowledge of Indian culture is minimal. So, I found this section both illuminating and confusing. The many references to the Yogic culture were lost on me, but the general sense of spirituality came through.

The Translator ‘I’ deals with the author’s work and attitudes regarding translation as a craft. He is an acknowledged translator of work from Bengali to English. I’m no linguist, but I have always admired the skill that allows those who understand more than one language to translate not just words but meaning. The ability to convey the essence of a piece written in one language when converting it into another is almost magical to me.

So, not a general reader’s book, but a piece of work that will undoubtedly find favour with those interested in the subject matter discussed. It is to those readers that I recommend the book.

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Filed under Indian Heritage, Interview, Nonfiction, Poet, Poetry, Reviews, Spiritual, The Unheard I, Yoga, Yogic Poetry