The Reciting Pens
Author: Kiriti Sengupta
Publisher: Inner Child Press Limited (USA)
Price Rs. 270/- (INR)
Reviewed by: Subhoday Dasgupta [A.P.C. College, Calcutta University]
The book is based on interviews of three poets, taken by the author Kiriti Sengupta who claims in his preface that he has kept the sentences mostly as they were uttered by the poets themselves.
This work is in fact a journey through the ‘inward eyes’ of three poets with three different frames of mind. Kiriti Sengupta found it a difficult task to accommodate different time frames of these three poets. But then the job was challenging and enriching too. “Reciting Pens” is not just a collection of interviews. The book is in fact a project on poetry as a genre with three case studies. Kiriti has also painstakingly translated few poems of all three poets in this project. He has realized that each language has some unique features in language, culture and nuances which is extremely difficult to be translated to any after language. In the introduction of the book the author expresses his concern for the acute dearth of efficient translators in Bengali poetry. This according to Kiriti, is one of the reasons why most of the English-Speaking readers are not aware of the rich heritage of Bengali poetry.
W.F.Lantry, noted American poet from the United States laments in the foreword of this book “…we don’t know enough about contemporary Bengali poets, and we should. Yes, we all love Tagore, and may be we have read a little of Kazi Nazrul Islam, if we’ve been lucky, we have sampled Shanka Ghosh.”
The first contributor to Kiriti’s project Joya Mitra an accomplished Bengali author and also a social and political activist. However, Joya Mitra herself would rather call herself “…merely a student of this society”. Actively engaged in the Naxalite movement that broke out in West Bengal in 1970’s and consequently imprisoned for four and one half years Joya started writing poems quite early in her life. She finds no contradiction in a person being a poet and a revolutionary at the same time.
Kiriti’s next poet in the project Ranadeb Dasupta too is a believer of Marxist ideology. In Ranadeb’s opinion writing poems is an exercise which is nothing but catching and penning down the “waves and rays of running life and surroundings” that continuously enters the mind of the poet and get refracted with various colours. Though a communist by conviction Ranadeb thinks that a poet is essentially lonely. The poetic soul should withstand the pain of injuries sustained in the journey of life. This pain in the long run attains wisdom.
Suddhasattya Ghsoh is the last but not the least among the three poets included in this case study by Kiriti. Suddhasattya, also like two other poets, has strong association with leftist politics. He hails from a family which suffered a lot for having fought for the cause of the have not’s. No wonder in his early poetic career he was influenced by Bengali poet Sukanta Bhattacharya who is noted for his poems on social reality especially on the perspective of the exploited people. Later however, Jibananda had been a major influence on Suddhasattya. This influence was so immense that at one point of time he realized that he must evolve his own style and content free from the influence of other poets. He gradually developed a style of his own with his mastery of words.
Going through the pages of this book where three noted Bengali poets are speaking their minds is definitely a pleasant experience. Kiriti in this project has blazed a new trend in research on contemporary Bengali poetry. An added attraction is translations of few selected poems of all three poets.