Category Archives: Poetry

Review: Healing Waters Floating Lamps

Review: Healing Waters Floating Lamps.

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Living Inside by Gopal Lahiri: A Review

Living Inside by Gopal Lahiri: A Review.

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Formal Launch of “Healing Waters Floating Lamps”

I won’t say I’m anxious, I have goosebumps all over! Tomorrow [April 24] a few eminent professionals would speak on my latest book Healing Waters Floating Lamps,Oxford Invite and they would launch the book of verses at Oxford Bookstore Kolkata right at 6 p.m. I’m grateful to Maina Bhagat, Director of Oxford Bookstore, who would inaugurate the event. Among the speakers we have Sharmila Ray, Anjum Katyal, and Saikat Majumdar. As you can understand, conducting an event of book-launch involves much diligence. I’m thankful to Saira Shah Halim who has kindly agreed to moderate the session.

I have received enormous support from my publisher, [Moments Publishers], and the event manager, Ruchhita Kazaria. So friends, do join us and witness a literary session that will certainly feed your passion for honest poetry!

Looking forward your gracious presence…

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My Glass Of Wine reviewed in The Literary Voyage

Kiriti Sengupta’s My Glass of Wine: It was not only the wine, but that the glass was mine.

Published by: Author’s Empire Publications Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2013.

Paperback. Pp 90. Rs.125,

ISBN: 9788192861906

Reviewed by: Indira Shetkar, Associate Professor, Sharnbasveshwar College of Arts, Gulbarga, Karnataka, India.

Kiriti Sengupta’s My Glass of Wine is not only a collection of narratives, but narratives interspersed with poetry. While the narratives lead the readers to poems and provide necessary background to appreciate the poems, the poems, in their turn, illuminate the narratives. From the point of view of form, thus, My Glass of Wine is clearly experimental operating as it does on a border zone though it doesn’t intend to collapse genre distinctions.

The first piece is a hilarious account of the author’s first ‘encounter’ with Bengali literature, eventual journey into the world of literature and, ultimately, the ‘consumption’ of his dream of  becoming an author of literary endeavors. Though his first encounter itself is an instance of a funny misfire, the final consumption is a haunting image – something he could take pride in:

“Consumed time

like an infant consuming

milk; inevitable

it remains.”

And an assertion of faith:

“Killed essence of

The eternal soul; and consumed,

Essentially I remain.” (p.34)

The second  piece recounts a more adventurous phase in which the author, a staunch follower of Belur Mutt traverses into the world of Christianity only to discover the symbolic significance of wine in that religion and the symbolism of red in several religions. The verse that results from the exercise takes us through various associations of wine and red but ends up with a celebration of “Blood Related”

It was not branded, but a homemade

Wine

Intimately divine

I drank it first right after I was spiritually baptized.

……. …… ….

You and I

The Father and Son

the legacy goes on

inevitable – impeccable,

blood relation …” (p.40)

The next piece ‘My Sister’s Bhaiya’ which provides an illustration to the ‘blood relation’ plays on the words like name, fame and game. Though the wordplay appears to be just a play, it can indeed be seen as yet another instance of blood relation – at the linguistic level!

“Significant indeed – carrying yourself

Crucify is Christ filled.

I remember, and my mind runs candle-lit.

They pinned it before,

will do that again…

No arrangements of incenses though!

God & Life;

moving apart…” (Pp.45-46)

The following piece ‘Southern Affiliation’ extends the reflection on blood relation to include several other relations which can be termed ‘literary’.

“Faulty are my limbs

They tilt even on the steady floor;

I readily realize

It is all in my mind

As the sky swings.” (p51)

Thus, though seemingly unrelated pieces read as of a piece and this I think is an achievement in itself.

The last piece in the collection is a masterly finishing touch. It joins all the loose ends including the cover design.

“He first touched the base,

gradually coming up until

He held my cranial recess.

He directed me to face Him

With my eyes closed.

As soon as He spotted the third

The spirit echoed!

I fell in love with myself

With sole existence.” (p78)

The book offers a splendid reading experience and recommend the book to all those who wish to traverse in the realm of literature for ‘entertainment’ and also to those who look for stuff for a thought.

{The review has been published in The Literary Voyage, a print-journal for scholarly and creative writings (ISSN: 2348-5272), Vol-I, Issue-3, Sept.-Dec., 2014}

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A Marvel! — A review of “Poem Continuous” by Chitra Banerjee

I am an extremely subtle entity — yet an ardent lover of poetry and an untiring seeker of ‘beauty’ everywhere.  To write even a few words about a renowned poetic personality as Bibhas Roy Chowdhury is a Herculean task, however, I have dared to enter the zone!

As I did enter, the collection captivated me bit by bit and the enlivening juice filled me in drop by drop. “…Better I keep some wound /Beside the coming tune…”— the ending lines of “The People” startled me at the outset  and the superb lines  in “The Weather Bulletins”— “…That a life has gathered as it saved the manuscript…”   as if glittered the lives of the ‘men of letters’ and imparted  immortality and worth-liveliness in them as never before . Here I salute Mr. Roy Chowdhury.

One of the masterpieces, according to my likings is “Lunatic.” (p 28) Only a person who has undergone or is currently passing through this delicate phase of life as well as its day-to-day existence, can gauge the depth of this poem. Conceiving the whole is only an exclusive area earmarked for the poet himself — a churning experience indeed!  The second is “Ma And Her Eldest Son” (p 46) — the last stanza is so touching — touching a paradox at the same breath. The third one “The Sun -burnt Ashes” (p 52) the penultimate poem in this collection is simply a marvel.  “…I burn, I receive the light and my fingers become exhausted / Readers, are you aware this is only my future and my present?”— The lines are self-jerking and elicit a soliloquy, so far as I can explain them.

Some of the short yet stirring poems claim special mention. In “The Small Boat,” “Bhatiali — Song Of The Boatmen” – “…I keep awake in the day and night, / I write my eye in the poetry…” these lines smoothly touch the soft reality and in “I Can Leave But Why” I discovered the strange assimilation of thoughts coinciding between two distant but thinking and creative souls, though I very humbly admit my insignificance in comparison to the likes of Bibhas. “…I have planted a few trees / They will survive even after my death / I’m happy that they will shade the earth / After I leave the world…” “…চলার পথে চিহ্ন রাখ / রেখে রেখে যাও গো চলে, / পথ ফুরোব, গাছটি তবু রইবে ভরে ফলে-ফুলে…” “When will Winter come” (“…Wait, let us first understand and estimate! / Hands were there, and nothing adjacent / Even space can read and interpret.”), “Eternal” (“…Lift your face for once… / I’m not here, my absence … this is the other sky / And, there is no humiliation before the sky…”) — These particular lines bear the purported meanings if a person can place or identify himself with the poet’s sentiments.  “The Odor Of Being Upset” and “Death By Will” are two commendable creations gifted to us by the poet. The concluding lines in “Speaking With The Self” and “My Darling” exhume the whole gist and flavor of his mindset. “The Connector,” “The Poetry Of A Hibiscus Flower,” and “The Debt” are three dazzling pieces of Kohinoor, to say the least!

Turning to the front pages, as Kiriti (who has been the translator) has written in his notes, “The Tie Of Brotherhood” and “Bhatiali — Song Of The Boatmen” exhibit the deep oozing wound in the poet’s heart for the political Partition of Bengal by the British ( 1905 ) — the anguish, pang and yearnings for the re-union are still freshly alive. “The Light-House” is self-portraying … really we are in large majority, candle-shy and blind!

A few poems in the book get a bit difficult to be pursued within the horizon of senses sometimes and seem beyond the interpretation of the right spirit of the poet at that given moment.  I do definitely realize the truth that the world of poems and poetry is in most instances ambiguous and synonymous to different connotations and realizations by separate entities, choices and of course, the moods / moments of a reader.

To talk about Kiriti as a translator will be “beating about the bush,” for I have earlier said, commented and written a lot in this regard. About his work, labor and effort in this particular sphere, I will repeat the same vernaculars. An utmost tough job has been performed so easy and an almost in transmittable ray of light made to pierce through the rose-hearts of the poetry-lovers of this world! His rich English including strong vocabulary is a special asset for him.  I acknowledge his qualities and I will never lag behind in words in his praise.  Kudos!

In conclusion, I won’t fail to say that Bibhas is a poet belonging to this world now and to the second one the next moment; his expression is easy to understand yet paranormal, beyond the perception at times. The paragon in its true color and conception very deceptive at some conditions or other! The poems are subject to manifold reflections through the prism of one’s own view-points and that of the poet himself.  I wish him a sunny future and I hope his pen will continue to give immense pleasure, support and solace to many aching hearts for days to come. Poem Continuous – Reincarnated Expressions has only enhanced my thirst more.

Chitra Banerjee

Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

India

chit.banerjee@gmail.com

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Man in the Botanical Garden: The Fallen, the Forbidden, the Golden, the Heaven-Going Tree Versus the Tree Turned Upside Down — A Review of “The Reverse Tree” by Bishnupada Ray

In the beginning man was hermaphrodite, a man-tree carrying both fruit and seed in the wake of it. But in a masterstroke of evolution the tree fell, its fruits fell off and the seeds spilled. From the seeds came two separate entities, sex-wise, male and female, and gender-wise, man and woman. They were so different in body and mind that without looking at each other, soon went in opposite ways in desperation. But both soon suffered the desperation of a yearning to seek out the other. This was love. Out of this desperation they sought fulfillment in the other. But out of the same desperation they were in perpetual flight, perpetually withdrawing from each other, in perpetual disagreement. Man never experienced such an aggravated sense of Eros and Thanatos as in this twin manifestation.

Or in the Garden of Eden man was alone and lonely, so God created woman from man’s rib bone to be his partner; a partner in life and a partner in death; a partner in his rise and in his fall; a partner in his glory and in his shame. It was a divine bond beyond and at the same time around the Forbidden Tree of consciousness, the consciousness of good and evil. When the forbidden tree bore fruit it was woman who ate the fruit first, so she also became capable of bearing fruit and she gave the seeds to man to eat.

Or in the sacred grove of Nemi in ancient Rome there had been a golden tree. Anybody breaking a branch of this tree would have become a priest-king. So the reigning priest-king had to defend the tree from any challenger aspiring to break a branch, by remaining on guard all the time and by maintaining a round the clock vigil. The power struggle or the blood conflict eventually got transformed into a psychological conflict of ego and around the golden tree man and woman were seen lurking in ambush.

Or in the Old Norse mythology there is yggdrasil or the heaven-going tree that acts like a stairway to heaven. Is this tree a woman, capable of redeeming the fallen man?

Perhaps all these trees get connected in the surreal tree that Kiriti Sengupta presents us in his latest book The Reverse Tree which he describes as a crisis-management autobiographical philosophy. The man-woman problematic leads him to reverse the fallen man-tree towards the original androgynous ardhanariswar position but he turns it upside down keeping in view the contemporary gender issues to show his reverse tree caught in a time warp. He seems to probe into this seemingly unending sex-dilemma which is all too human to humanly decipher by changing the metaphor in each chapter. The hypothetical, the comic, the poetic, the physical, the voyeuristic and the spiritual sides of the same quest are recorded with a human cry for compassion and a human will for divine grace. One can understand his anxiety in the question, “would you still like to consider men as trees?” I once heard an educated lady saying that man was a tree, the more stout the tree was the more bliss your golden deer(read ‘woman’) would get by rubbing onto it. If your tree is stout, as he claims in the prologue, why all this bother is not well understood. Here is his prologue:-

“my tree is stout,

well-developed

it refutes the gravitational pull

 

not always, you know…

 

my roots run

against the sap!”

However an uncertainty and a question of ‘life in death’ and ‘death in life’ is indicated as well in the prologue. A non-stout tree is unsuitable for the golden deer of magical forests and a man is helpless except he turns into a poet dreaming and churning out ‘poetree’ in his incapacity. Is a poet masculine or masculine enough to have a smooth sailing? I have doubts. The poet is a crucifix standing in wilderness of life awaiting the arrival of meanings to purify his soul so that he remains a spiritual martyr. Then why this concern to keep the soul immaculate in the process of its translation through life? The body must die for its sins. Similarly the soul must live by its own virtue. The body is experienced but it is transcended to keep the soul intact. Is not the body as divine as the ‘sap’ through which your ‘roots’ penetrate? Then why only the body is transgressed and violated just because you have a false sense of identity? Then what is an identity? There is nothing truer than your true being even when that gets deluded by the golden deer of ‘becoming’. Then why fear the false prophets, the ‘editors’ of falsity and artificiality? The body is immediate and contingent, the soul distant but urgent. Body is pain, blood, sweat, tears, guts (Clara); the soul is an untouchable (the narrator). The poet is a body, a failed body, a spurned and violated body, a body reserved for post mortem (like the inspection of Clara’s suture) but it is a body that redeems others, enables others to have a soul. The poet is the totemic ‘I’ without which life is meaningless.

I am sure that The Reverse Tree will mark a turning point in the writer’s life and art as evident from his serious and engaging questions about the areas of life not so well-lighted or clearly defined. Hope he will continue his philosophical quest towards enlightenment.

[Dr. Bishnupada Ray is the Associate Professor, Department of English, North Bengal University, India]

This review has first appeared in the Nov-Dec, 2014 issue of Style Hut Reviews. http://notnul.com/Pages/ViewPort.aspx?ShortCode=cC3A!ik!

The Reverse Tree -- A Review by Bishnupada Ray

The Reverse Tree — A Review by Bishnupada Ray

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Poetess Ananya Chatterjee Speaks Her Mind

A Long Conversation With The Poetess, Ananya Chatterjee from Calcutta, India

 

Summer afternoons are best spent in the coffee shops. You order for a tall glass of iced tea, and you are allowed to enjoy their conditioned ambience for hours. If you haven’t tried this yet, trust me, you won’t go wrong as you follow my suggestion. Again, there is an added advantage! You will be able to cut down your domestic electricity bill if you can enjoy some chill outside your home. Coffee shops are thus my favorite summer destinations during the scorching afternoons. It was on 16th of May (2014) I was curiously observing the election results of our nation as I got a call from one of my old buddies; she is the one who does not quite ring up. I had a pleasant surprise in store: My friend was perhaps shivering in excitement as she told, “Hey Kiriti, I am heading towards the publication of my first poetry title, and you know, I am more than thrilled!” Her vibrations were easily palpable through my ear-drum. I congratulated, wished her all success and invited her over a glass of cold coffee the same day. She probed, “Are you sure?” I laughed out loud, and poked, “Hey! You are most welcome, but get prepared for a ragging session.” “What’s that?” she inquired, and added, “Listen, I am game.” Dear friends, she is one of the promising poetesses from Calcutta, a lady in her early thirties, ace software professional in a multinational company, the translator for eminent artiste Soumitra Chatterjee in his book, “Forms Within.” She is Ananya Chatterjee, a caring mother of two lovely kids.

Ananya was almost thirty minutes late, thanks to the wonderful traffic of our gorgeous city! She was excited, she was giggling, and brought along the complete manuscript of her upcoming book. I chased her, “Now the ball is in my court.” Ananya smiled, flattered her eyelashes (those were for real), and said, “Okay! Carry on.”

 

Kiriti Sengupta: Ananya, what made you think of being a published poet?

Ananya Chatterjee: Well Kiriti, to be very honest, the thought of getting my works published, was a distant dream – not something I consciously set out to achieve. As you know, I have been writing verses since long- but it was only recently that I felt the need to reach out to a wider reader base. My mother, herself a composer of Bengali verses, as well as my sister and my husband, and a few steadfast friends, who are avid readers of poetry, actively encouraged me to make a serious effort in the direction of getting my verses published. The thought initially was huge, as I have always composed purely for the love of it, and it took some time to prepare myself for taking the plunge. I must also mention, that working on translating Soumitra Chatterjee’s verses, and then actually seeing them in print as part of the Coffee Table book Forms Within, gave me the final push. It was only after this, that I seriously started thinking of publishing my own compositions. For this, I shall remain indebted to distinguished curator Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya who provided me the opportunity to work on Soumitra Chatterjee’s verses.

 Kiriti: I have noticed that you prefer being referred to as a poetess. Gender of an artiste is hardly taken under consideration nowadays, but would you like to project your feminist self as you call yourself a poetess?

 Ananya: Yes, I am aware that poetess as a term is rarely used in current times. Yet, I prefer being called one. It is not something that I consciously decided, it is just that poetess sounds much better, and is a term I can more associate myself with. Let’s just say I believe that poetess portrays my identity better than its masculine form does.

 Kiriti: The title of your upcoming book is brilliant: The Poet And His Valentine. Here you have envisioned a male entity; do you think even a poetess has a ‘he’ existence? If this is right, would you like to say that irrespective of physicality all poets are essentially male?

 Ananya: Well, the title happens to be the name of one of the verses belonging to this book. So, to answer your question, let me share with you the thoughts that went into writing this particular verse. In this poem I have drawn a resemblance between the relationship that a poet(or poetess) shares with his/her poetry, and that shared between a lover and his beloved. When a new verse starts formulating in a poet’s mind, the period is one of extreme, emotional upheaval. Being a poet yourself, you must have gone through those agonizing moments of irritability and restlessness when a new poem is about to be composed. Those moments, I feel, bear an uncanny resemblance to the emotional turbulence that unsettles a person, when cupid strikes- when love happens. The emotional balance of a lover goes for a toss, and the mind regains its composure only after he has shared his condition with his beloved. Similarly, a poet’s frustration is cured only after the thoughts that throng his mind, culminate in the form of poetry. Please note that here I have resorted to the generic rule that a lover is a “he” and the beloved being sought, is a “she.” This does not speak of their physical gender- rather of the role they uptake in the preliminary stages of love.

So, I guess, now I have answered your question. Just as all lovers are not essentially male, so is the case with poets.

 Kiriti: What is poetry, Ananya? And why did you choose to write this particular genre in spite of being an avid reader of fiction novels?

 Ananya: For me, poetry is an attitude towards life. A person can be a poet even without writing a single line or word. Poetry is a way of looking at things, a way of interpreting the sights we see and the events we experience- a way that is a bit off-route, a trifle irregular. A person looking at a tree might just think of resting under its shade- a poet on the other hand might imagine its swaying branches to be actually inviting him to nestle under its shadows. A poet’s imagination knows no bounds, and a successful piece of poetry can trigger an almost identical imagination in the minds of its readers. When the poet’s imagination resonates with that of his reader- that is when a verse becomes truly profound, that is when poetry serves its true purpose.

As to why I chose this particular genre- the answer simply is that I never chose. On the contrary, Poetry chose me, and I could not be gladder! One cannot choose to be a poet- one is either a poet or is not- it is not something that can be attained through endeavor- it is something that one is born with, or so I believe.

 Kiriti: If I ask you to name three of your favorite poets your answer would be…

 Ananya: This is so difficult, but I will try. The name of RabindraNath Tagore of course tops the list. Pablo Neruda’s works are also very close to my heart though I have read them only in translated form. Of course I am a huge fan of the haunting verses of Robert Frost, W.B.Yeats and T.S. Eliot – their works fire my fantasies. It is through their creations that I truly fell in love with poetry.

 Kiriti: Much experiment is now being carried out in poetry all across the globe. Your poems essentially vibrate with rhythmic pulses. Aren’t you scared of being marked as dated?

 Ananya: Wow, I would really love to answer this one. I have heard this question so many times.. why do I compose rhyming verse when the whole world is rooting for freeform verse. For one, let me just say, that this is something that comes to me naturally. It is not like I do not enjoy reading free form.. but when it comes to composing something myself- I want, not only the words to reach my readers- I also want the readers to catch the underlying pulse- the inherent rhythm or undercurrent that flows through each of my verses. And I would love to be called dated- as that would mean my being thrown into the same time period as my favorite poets- ha ha.

Then again, I never said I would not compose free verse- but I will never make a conscious effort in that direction. If it comes to me naturally at some point- I would be happy to take the plunge! But be it free verse or rhyming verse- my aim has always been to write effortless poetry. And as long as I am ensuring that, I am content.

 Kiriti: You are headed to join the league of Indian English poets. Tell me something honestly, would your readers consider your work unique? Remember pal, we have enough poets, and unless you have some unique renditions none is going to remember you for your poems.

 Ananya: Kiriti, I must confess I am loving every bit of this conversation J . First of all, if I started writing with the intention of being remembered, I would never be able to write even a single line- the effort would be too conspicuous! And secondly, I believe a poem is not remembered for its uniqueness, rather it is remembered only when it touches a chord with its reader. I would not mind my poem not being termed unique as long as even one reader says he or she wondered how my poem narrated his or her experience/emotions with such amazing precision. It is this resonance that I long to create. And I believe, I have succeeded in this, with quite a few if not most of my verses. The rest, I leave in the hands of destiny J.

 Kiriti: Who are your target readers? Poetry is not enjoyed by many; some poets claim that poetry is read only by the poets. What is your take on this issue?

 Ananya: At the risk of sounding clichéd, my answer is that my target reader is the common man – the kind of person we encounter in everyday life- the kind of person who worries for his family- who toils for his livelihood, dreams of his first love, grieves for his deceased parents, but is too scared to react when his neighbor is looted. My target reader is also the so called criminal who dreams of redemption, the ailing patient who wants to make her caregivers happy. The truth is that I have no specific target. My poems are for one and all.

I believe, there is a dormant seed of imagination in most of us. And a poem has the power to arouse that dormant facet. There is a saying “It is so difficult to be simple” And I believe many verses today suffer from the same ailment- we are trading simplicity for uniqueness. I have tried to keep my works simple enough and am confident that one and all will enjoy reading them and relating to them.

 Kiriti: We don’t have enough publishers in Calcutta who publish English poems. What is the equation with your publisher?

 Ananya: I feel really lucky to have Shambhabi – The Third Eye Imprint as my publisher. I agree – English poetry does not have that many publishers in Kolkata, and I am really happy that things have worked out so well for me. I love the energy and professionalism of my publisher and am really glad we chose each other!

 Kiriti: What is your take on self-publicity? Should a poet engage him/herself in marketing books?

 Ananya: This is my opinion- when a poet decides to publish his work in the form of a book, from that point onwards he or she should actively share the responsibility of ensuring that the book reaches a wider reader base. If a poet is indifferent to the entire process of publishing and marketing, then the book’s future will definitely get affected. In that case, the entire purpose behind publishing one’s work is lost, isn’t it?

 Kiriti: I understand that you are extremely excited with your first poetry title although you have been the translator of the eminent artiste Soumitra Chatterjee in his book “Forms Within.” I would like to hear your experiences as you have worked with him.

 Ananya: As you must already be aware, being a translator of verses yourself, translating poetry is a huge challenge, as one needs to not only translate the words, but also ensure that the lyrical factor is not lost. So, when I was offered to work on translating a few verses of Soumitra Chatterjee as part of Forms Within, I was nervous as well as excited, especially because his verses are so profound, and haunting. While translating, I made it a point to ensure that the translated verses carried the same lyrical quotient that the original verses did. I was naturally thrilled, when Mr. Chatterjee appreciated my work, and lauded my efforts. When the book came out, and I saw my name in print, as the translator, it was a huge feeling- this served as a trigger and further cemented my resolve to publish my own works.

 Kiriti: Please share your experiences as you are currently engaged in translating the verses of the celebrated painter Jogen Chowdhury.

 Ananya: After seeing my work in Forms Within, I was offered to translate the entire collection of Jogen Chowdhury’s verses. The poems are extremely thought provoking and have a unique element in them. Translating his verses has been a huge learning experience. It has been an arduous as well as challenging task- but I am enjoying every bit of it. This work has enriched my creative abilities to a large extent. I am greatly indebted to eminent curator Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya for providing me with this opportunity, as well as the opportunity to work on Soumitra Chatterjee’s verses.

 Kiriti: I wish you all the best, Ananya. May you receive huge response from your readers, and I sincerely hope that The Poet And His Valentine will be read, accepted, and recommended all across the world.

 Ananya: Thank you so much for your encouraging words and heartfelt wishes! I need all the luck I can get!

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