Saturday, 1 November 2014

Red Seeps: The Poetic universe of Sadia Sehole / Authors Press

Every book carries its own distinct tone!
Red Seeps has got the tonality of a morning breeze on a pristine beach!

You hear the fresh breath of the gentle wind – rising off the emerald sea and moving towards the shore like a minor Grecian deity – humming, caressing and playful, rollicking around the white beach, altering our P-o-V (point of view) of the dull surroundings. The entire natural experience can be pretty transformative in itself, very much like the new writings that renovate ways of seeing and recording existentialist angst and euphoria in urban centers and render the whole process of living in a novel manner.

Often, in the field of arts, youthful energies inaugurate fresh perspectives on traditional forms and reinterpret them for the contemporary audiences in their lingo.

And, through the act of writing, opens up fresh vistas!

In the 109-page Red Seeps, the Karachi-based science graduate-turned-research-scholar in English Sadia Riaz Sehole does that only by starting a dialogue with the world via short and lyrical poems.

The offerings seamlessly move from the intensely personal to almost elegiac to romantic to moody and occasionally Plathian in its sad commentary on the realities of a world restrictive for a talented and sensitive female author.

Sadia is able to distill a variety of experiences into a feminine, graceful language, syntax and idiom that is stunning in its overall impact and aesthetic effect.

Her style borders on simplicity – the hallmark of good poetry.
In stark terms, the poet declares:

Neither look too good
Nor talk too wise.
I am who I am
Though I strive to improve. (Me, p. 2)

This declaration is a counter to narcissism of the FB poetry. It is an affirmation of faith in the unceasing process of improvement achieved after shedding the ego. Sadia throughout comes across as an honest voice searching for truths and self-realization via poetry.

In another moving poem – a tribute to parents, she announces her core belief: At best, I can show my feelings/ Through my feeble words. (Poem to my parents, p6)

Red Seeps is full of vitality and vigour and innocence. It is a superb documentation of varied encounters with a world that has not yet become skeptical for its young inhabitant. The continual feeling evoked is that of wonder. Familiar emotions and relationships are creatively explored in many of the poems in a subtle way.

Take this as an illustrative example:
Bound by precious threads
Of blood and warm sentiments
Woven close to each other. (Family tapestry, p10)

This is a heart-felt little ode to familial bonds and captures the closeness in three lines of intense devotion and minimalism. Only a gifted woman can compose such a lovely tribute. Then this moving one:

Before the trust rusts
Before the heart bursts
Before I’m torn
Before I’m worn
I wish to die… (I wish to die…p.15)

The same morbid mood is echoed here:
Each day, treading
On burning broken glass
Drenched in sewat
Devoured by agony and pain
A soap opera set in hell
Arteries slit open for a world to see
Running a marathon without a marker for end
Immune no more to pain
Priceless tears drying…
Inconsolable and insane
I picked up the pen
And here red seeps… (Red seeps, p. 24)

The collection of poems is real remarkable for their innate beauty and heightened awareness about pain and creativity felt by the greats like Woolf and Plath. These competently crafted poems are linguist pearls that delight and uplift the reader – like the fresh breath of breeze on a pristine beach. You feel inner harmony and get the underlying message that for the synthesizing mind of a poet, every feeling, mood, emotion and object – including pain – remain an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

These are poems that are going to linger on, long after you have finished reading them. A brilliant writer Sadia Riaz Sehole arrives in the world of poetry and is here to stay on the basis of her sheer skills. She has an ear for the right word and is able to create powerful images that speak directly to a yearning heart.

Red Seeps is a very well-illustrated book with a perceptive foreword by the noted Indian poet Vinita Agrawal. Its production value is very high. It is more of a great objet d'art where poetry and images are mutually supportive, merge and become a startling fusion of different media; it is an inspiring dialectics of image-text-visual for a connoisseur. For that also, both the poet and publisher need to be complimented. They have together produced a very beautiful book, part poetry, part art.

About the Book
Red Seeps.
Author- Sadia Riaz Sehole.
Authorspress, New Delhi. 2014.
ISBN 9788172739324
Price Rs. 295
Reviewed by Dr. Sunil Sharma
Principal - Bharat College of Commerce 

Warscape Verses by Chandramohan S / Authors Press

Reviews, Vol. I, Issue I
“Warscape Verses”: An Unleashing of Social, Cultural and Political Truths

 According to the great English Romantic bard William Wordsworth, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions”. Poetry has the irresistible and overwhelming power to convey notions in an unrivalled manner supplemented with stark and gritty images where its diction holds sway.  Often poetry turns out to be the valorous mode for expressing gruesome contemporary realities which could make the foundations of the hegemonic forces tremble. Poet Chandramohan’s “Warscape Verses”, an anthology of short, sharp and witty poems deserves to be labelled as a humanist’s spontaneous reaction to the realities around him through a medium which he reigns supreme, poetry. “Warscape Verses” contains poems that speak a million truths about a world, torn apart by the juggernaut of Globalization and Neo-Liberalism coupled with the dominance of aristocracy where the Subalterns are relegated to the periphery. Chandramohan asks grave questions at the Sate machinery which considers capitalism as the sole panacea for all its maladies where a section of the populace still engages in the futile search to find their roots amidst the ghastly treatment meted out to them by the State in connivance with the elites. “Warscape Verses” is thus significant for its candidness along with contemporaneity and the poet remains vigilant in his representation of those who are hitherto misrepresented.

      Chandramohan’s language is simple and direct and he never attempts to camouflage his strong feelings which need to be expressed at its extreme. The poem “The Rape and Murder of a Tribal Girl” is a brilliant satire on the apolitical middleclass which is controlled by the neoliberal nexus of market forces and visual media controlled by capitalists. Here, a tribal girl’s death goes unnoticed as the media have clear prejudices which always result in negligence towards the lowest strata of our casteist society.  The middleclass’s hitherto unseen enthusiasm in their protest which was historic after the Delhi gang rape case and their continued silence after horrific molestations and murders of Dalit girls in other parts of the country is scorned  by the poet who sides himself with the underprivileged. In the poem “Neo-Shambukas”, mythology is invoked to bring into focus the never ending saga of discrimination. Indian mythology is infamous for its partisan attitude towards the subaltern figures such as Ekalavya and Shambuka. Chandramohan quite adeptly draws parallel between the present and the yore as Dalits, and sexual minorities are yet to be recognized as part of the mainstream society. They languish at the bottom of the social ladder deprived of justice, equality and even basic amenities.

      “Warscape Verses” contains poems such as “Wet Dreams of Damsels” which is a clear indicator of the poet’s unflinching stand on the issue of gender and society. A Feminist perspective is evident and in the socio-cultural milieu of India, even women need to be categorized as Subalterns when taken into consideration our society’s patriarchal value system which never treats women on par with men. The present world order, which is clearly dominated and ruled by the capitalist forces, witnesses the pathetic scenario of nature being subjugated and exploited for the proliferation of corporate enterprises.  Chandramohan flays Neo-liberalism and its market driven policies which is clear act of swindling that could pave the way for the obliteration of natural resources. Poems such as “Let Them Eat Pollution”, “Fire of Global Meltdown” indicate his deep concern and anguish for the nature and mother earth. The global police, omnipotent capitalist messiah the United States is severely condemned for its atrocities that span all across the world and its global surveillance which is an intrusion into the rights of people.  Chandramohan’s diction and choice of images quite magnificently creates an aura where his thoughts are conveyed to the readers with inimitable dexterity.

      Marxism is a theory which has once enchanted the entire world as the ultimate saviour but lost popularity and charm as socio-political realities were much more intricate to comprehend than the Marxists had thought it to be.  Poems like “Comrade: The Pentecostal Preacher”, “Are You Still Our Comrade” are sarcasm at its best as it turns out to be an indictment of Marxism. Indian Marxists failed miserably in their judgment of India’s socio-cultural nuances as class compulsions, carried over from the western theoretical doctrines clashed against India’s peculiar Caste system which added to the erosion of popular support and confidence of Indian Communist parties. Chandramohan ridicules their dogmatic rituals which deprived Indian communists of a clear understanding of Indian caste realities which proved to be a major cause for their decimation. “The umbilical cord of her brother / Twisted around her neck”, these lines send a shocking wave across the readers’ spines as the appalling reality of female infanticide is still continued unabated. The pointed finger of the poet dares the reader to look deep into his own psyche to comprehend the grim scenario we found ourselves in.

        “Warscape Verses” is powerful enough to disturb the reader and bring him/her out of complacency into the stark realities of our times. Chandramohan is vociferous in his appeal to bring into focus issues which are intentionally neglected as it goes against the unholy nexus of the aristocracy and Capitalism. The poet is pithiness personified and often his style is reminiscent of the great German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht who composed short poems which are stuffed with immense social truths and messages. Tribals, Dalits, Homosexuls continue to be the outcastes of a Democratic social setup which is sadly remains an issue unresolved. Such sections are always finding themselves at the receiving end of the neoliberal agendas which glorify the mantra of “development at any cost” a farce to the core. The poet sings their songs and invites the rest to listen to those voices and realize the ideological manipulations by the powerful sections whom the State represents. Chandramohan finds a niche well suited to him in the world of contemporary poets and his astounding quality of pronouncing the social truths loudly makes “Warscape Verses” a book to be read, dwelled upon and its themes to be disseminated.

About the Book
Title : Warscape Verses
Publisher : Authorspress ,New Delhi
Price : Rs.195/--

Pages :73
Reviewed by Hari Narayanan
Assistant Professor, Dept. of English, NSS College Ottapalam, Kerala

Ri: Homeland of Uncertainty by Paulami Duttagupta / Fablery

Reviews, Vol. I, Issue I

 Ri – Homeland of Uncertainity by Paulami Duttagupta is an adaptation of the movie Ri.

‘Ri’, is a Khasi word, which means country or say, homeland. This novel is a story about journey back to homeland. Literary speaking, we all are wanderers who are wandering around in order to locate our real roots, which are actually deeply located back in our homelands. Every single individual has his own perception for finding roots; it may be looking for satisfaction in professional life, happiness with family members or may be looking for some purpose in an aimless life. This story is about – ‘Ri’.

Based on the backdrop of terrorism in north eastern states and set in 2000s, the book makes an intelligent start with an introduction to the very concept of ‘north eastern sates’. I am confident that many of us know nothing about this region except a few names such as Shillong or Darjeeling or Cheerapunji.

The author sets the mood and tone of the story with a beginning laced with familiarizing the readers with the region; its geographical and cultural aspects – both beautiful and majestic. Then, she makes a twist and directs the attention towards a social menace – ‘Terrorism’. Yes, even these states were also grief stricken with an ‘inside-outside’ war. Like Kashmir, the youth were diverted towards the wrong routes in the name of freedom. Inadvertently, they stood against their own men in dress, their countrymen – their saviors. Within this gloomy situation prevails the uncertainty of homeland.
The author makes an attempt to highlight the plight (the uncertainty) of people in north east states through the story of Kyndiah (SP in Policeforce) and Manbha (a ‘so-called’ freedom fighter). She sensitizes on the aspect that how war, which the people claim to fight, becomes senseless, thus, seeking freedom from undesired bondage.

The characters are really strong and they are not merely the protagonists of the story rather they are the faces to the numerous thoughts and the mindsets of people out there! Kyundiah is a result-oriented and committed police officer who has left behind his family to serve his country. He heads his team and cares about his men like his own family. Contrastingly, is Manbha, who is actually a young blood vouching for responsibility, belongingness and recognition (just like any other young lad) but unknowingly, becomes a committed member of an outfit group, and is set on a mission.

 She balances the story by incorporating the media outlook in the equation. She touches upon how media probes deeper into the issues but glorifies the plight. Indeed, a perfect example of shallow journalism. Starting from the blocked roads of Shillong, it traverses through India-Bangladesh border, Meghalaya and it ends up in openness of Church, located in Jowai, Meghalaya.

Reading this novel was a perception changing experience for me. It made me re-think if we should ever try to justify why terrorist groups are growing? It was frightening to learn how we (we all) debate about terrorism on a global scale but actually we have NO IDEA of what is happening in our own state. How the influencers make use of ‘Fight for freedom’ and ‘terrorism’ interchangeably for their own benefit at the cost of the commoners. What runs in the minds while performing inhumane tasks?

Read the story to learn how these issues affect the lives of the commons and the culprits alike and how the author suggests an alternate approach in the voice of Emika! Who is she? A Freedom fighter or a terrorist? The uncertainty prevails!

About the book
Ri – Homeland of Uncertainity – “People from this state sacrificed their lives for the sake of freedom for India but who knows about them? These selected chronicles of selected parts of the country, India, has always excluded us, and it hasn’t become self-sufficient yet. For half a century, independent India has only waited for some miracle to happen… and you still have hope?”
Trapped in the limbo between ideology and conscience, Manbha finds himself part of a terror outfit. An unexpected opportunity, anger, squalor and disillusionment –followed by armed combat and injury lead to the soul – searching that form the substance of this moving tale.

About the Author                                                
Born in Shillong, many moons ago, with schooling at Loreto Convent, and an English Honors from St. Edmunds Collage, Paulami started her career with ‘All India Radio Shillong’. She wrote and also gave her voice to a few shows there. Later, she came down to Kolkata and got a post graduate degree in Comparitive Literature from Jadavpur University. She had also taken a fancy to learning Spanish, but today confesses that she has forgotten most of it.
In the past, she has written for ‘The Times of India’ in the ‘Guwahati – Shillong Plus’ edition and also ‘The Shillong Times’. Television had always attracted her and was connected to the Bangla TV industry for about 6 years. She was associated with ETV – Bangla, Akash Bangla and Sony Aath in this period.

Having left her day job in 2012, Paulami took up full time writing. Her first novel ‘Pinjar’ released in early 2012. She has also contributed to ‘Minds@work’ anthology in 2013. Her second novel ‘Unplanned Destiny’ released in 2014. She is also the screenplay writer of the National Award winning film – Ri Homeland of Uncertainty.

When she is not writing or watching movies, Paulami is either reading biographies or classic pieces of literature. Cricket, food, cinema, books and music are an integral part of her life.

About the Book
Title: Ri, - Homeland of Uncertainty
Author: Paulami Duttagupta
Publisher: Fablery Publications
ISBN: 9788192893730
Pages: 127

Reviewed by Priyanka Batra Harjai, Book Blogger cum Book Reviewer.

The Grass Flower by Ramakanta Das/ Authors Press

Reviews, Vol. I, Issue I
Autobiography Of A Heart

Poetry may not always reveal all to you, but it must ring in a kind of feeling that evokes reaction in the reader’s mind. The reader is left to interpret the colors, shadows and finer strokes of the brush on the canvas. ‘The Glass Flower,’ a selection of 51 poems by Ramakanta Das, provides food for thought and a feeling of satisfaction. He is a master craftsman who plays with ideas bedecked with words and challenges the readers.

‘The Grass Flower’ by its subtle title, is bereft of any self-aggrandizement: it is the humblest natural creation, but poets can rightfully claim ‘To see a world in a grain of sand/And a heaven in a wild flower.’ It’s advantageous to lie low and record your observations of the world around.
The collection is an autobiography – an ‘autobiography of a heart’ as we find in one of the poems – or is it the ‘unfinished autobiography’ or the ‘unnamed autobiography’ as claimed elsewhere? A poet cannot pen an autobiography that has an end to itself – it must carry on with newer thoughts. And so it is: ideas, thoughts, emotion, wit and logic are intertwined with words to make each of these poems.

The language of his poetry, Ramakanta writes, is

the silent language of the heart:/a language devoid of any grey matter/and philosophical hues.
(Soliloquy of my poem)

Still, the simple, unencumbered language carries the weight of great philosophical thoughts. He takes upon himself to examine and explore human existence in a very nonchalant way. It verges on the ‘theatre of the absurd’:

Quite often i find it funny/and deeply ridiculous/to un-knot and tidy/the same beaten moments/that lie like a heap of tangled threads/with no visible beginning or end. (Autobiography)

His wit never fails him: it adds to the spontaneity of his words. You cannot but love the man who has the courage to bare his heart open and learn the hard way:

And he further added,
“These curls of steam are cycles/of birth and death,/you didn’t know”?
I said, “No, i didn’t know,/now that you said,/I know.” (Ah! You didn’t know?)

Life is an Enigma: the Alpha of life melts into the Omega of death. Is there anything left? The sensitive soul cannot but ponder whether its whole existence is meaningless. The poet makes minute observations on life, death and rebirth; yet he does not part with his intrinsic positivity. ‘A cluster of fireflies’ draws a visible curtain between the living being and the dead, but unlike Emily Dickinson’s famous fly that moved “With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz/Between the light and me” until she “could not see to see,” Ramakanta is

thrilled all over again/by the warm breath/of an imminent ecstasy,/heralding my rebirth.

He picks up the oft-repeated imagery of shadow to portray death but moulds them in a more nuanced language. The sheer optimism and his realization can only be examined in the philosophical realm; the poetic vision cannot be lost:

Strangely enough,/the urge to come out of the shadow/has given way to a desire/to languish in it.

It may seem to be part of ‘romanticization of death’, as the great Romantics had long claimed, but his unflinching faith in the ‘light divine’ makes things different. He is more akin to the Sufi philosophy of death than the western thoughts on death:

I look forward to/a splendid metamorphosis/of the shadow like the one/under the great Peepal
for a shaft of light divine/that enlightens the universe. (Shadow)

The poetic play of life’s chiaroscuro continues in other poems. While he cares less for the life-giving rays of Sun, he does not forget “to keep the shadow in good humour.” The logic is more metaphysical:

for, i know the shadow alone/has the celestial potential/to eclipse the Sun. (Sun and Shadow)

He confronts the Enigma in a sort of submission and rare revelation and it completes the cycle:

no more/can i differentiate between the hue/of the rising and the setting sun,/for they look so similar/against a dissimilar horizon. (When Horizon closes in)

Some of the poems in the collection seem weaker and weather-beaten (“Please...,” “Remember Me”) but words of wisdom cloaked in masterly imagery, transferred epithets and mythical allusions will ever be remembered - “They'll never fail you,” as the poet rightfully claimed in the preface:

Time crawling/like a soiled infant/on the earthen floor/of their neighbour’s courtyard. (Time)

The eternal wind/tells me the timeless saga/of its grand entry/through the decorated portico/and a definite exit/through the back door. (The Wind)

The chest torn apart,/the wheel of arrogance/submerged under a bloody bog/and the royal thigh broken. (Draupadi)

About the Poet
Ramakanta Das has done his Masters in English Literature from Ravenshaw College , Cuttack .Odisha. He taught at a degree college for a few years, before joining as an officer in the Parliament of India. At present he is working as a Joint Secretary in Parliament of India, New Delhi.
His first collection of poems, Passionate Musing, was published in 2005.His second book of poems The Grass Flower was published in 2010. Canvas and Colours is his third book of poems published in 2012.

He is very passionate about poetry as a form of literature. His poetry is intense. He writes about his everyday experiences, but they take on a very aesthetic appeal as he expresses those using highly poetic images and diction. His experiences, when put into words, get transformed into a completely new being with a life of their own. Needless to say that his readers easily identify with the emotions expressed in his poems.

Nature, its varied beauty, is an unending source of inspiration for him. While reading his poems, one can actually experience what he describes- feel the fragrance, hear the sounds, see the beauty as he relates it and relates to it.

He also writes about his innermost feelings. His poems offer a glimpse into the mind of this sensitive man, the way he perceives life as he comes to terms with what it has to offer or through his interaction with people he encounters or through his observation and reflection on things happening around him- the little details which the onlookers sometimes fail to notice.

Reviewed by Dr.Sumanta K Bhowmick, 
Joint Director, Rajya Sabha, PARLIAMENT OF INDIA, NEW DELHI.

About the Book
Publisher: Authors Press
Cover: Paperback
ISBN 13: 9788172737733
ISBN 10: 8172737734
Year: 2014     
Pages: 80
Price: 195/-

The Reverse Tree by Kiriti Sengupta / Moments Publication

  Reviews, Vol. I, Issue I
Man in the Botanical Garden: 
The Fallen, the Forbidden, the Golden, the Heaven-Going Tree versus the Tree Turned Upside Down

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 to 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,
                  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’ are 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. So the soul must live by its own virtue. The body is the bound of experience 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 postmortem (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.

About the Book
The Reverse Tree, Kiriti Sengupta,
Moments Publication,
Ahmedabad, 2014, pp xi+48
ISBN: 978-93-84180-78-2 (Paperback)

Reviewed by Bishnupada Ray
Associate Professor of English at the University of North Bengal, India.
He is an Indian English poet and won a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2009

Deluges: A Collection of Poems by Varsha Singh / Gnosis

Reviews, Vol. I, Issue I

In a poignant, heartwarming and evocative collection of poems, Varsha Singh has ruffled heart beats and submerged the mind in a deluge of passionate verses—of lines pure and lucid without the hampered matrix of form or a forced schema.  In the arteries of the Romantics, like Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, Varsha Singh has constructed a delightful tapestry of fine prose, marking urges, longings, and convictions.   However, in her Neo-romantic approach to matters of the heart, she embraces something more sublime in the tumultuous waves of passion shifting to and fro within a soft and dappled light, dancing to the buoyancy of various human experiences. In short, concise but open ended lines, the poet paradoxically explores themes marked by continuity regarding human desires, yearnings for overwhelming aspects of the passionate life.  The conceit is unraveled in the potent figure-of-speech including personifications, similes and metaphors of nature spawned by the imagination while conjuring up various moods and feelings —as in “Remembrance,” where an animated memory creeps like the earthworm crawling inside the heart of the ground.      
            Mysterious and inward is the way. Intuition is the voice heard above reason, as the journey into the night appears sometimes private and nostalgically revealing in one of the poet’s most illuminating verses, “A Walk to remember with you.”  The imagery of a moonlit night may suggest a vague knowledge of the path traveled by faith. Here, the nuances of quiet moonlight set the mood for sentimental recollections regarding companionship.  The eroded longing for answers appears strikingly impressionable in the poet’s clever play of words exemplified in the closing lines of “Repressed Desires” where “waste land [appears] dying to regain its lost Paradise.” Despite the sometimes desolate sublimity, “Sudden glare of Hope” breaks forth in other words posing the question of growing love despite the harsh terrain of human experiences—“If rocks can become jewels so why can’t the humans?”  When the darkness turns to light, stars evince their brightness, and as the “My Mighty Gulmohar” splashes its dashing color across the sky, the poet is inspired to dream dreams of grandeur.  

            This urge and eroded longing for meaningful restorations appear to strike a chord in the poet’s passionate call for unconditional and universal awareness for a collective state of one love in the fractured state of human innermost experience along an occasional mystical or sociopolitical plane.  In verses like “Synonym-less” and “Waiting for The Only Source,” a feeling of a spiritual union or the simultaneous juxtaposition of immanence and transcendence describes the Source. While in a verse; “Do Thou Know Thy Nation?”—the poet has drawn our awareness to matters of patriotism and political concerns toward an all-inclusive society—in a nudge to go beyond color boundaries, caste systems and perceptions of based on regionalism.  This, more meaningful state of the union, is likened to the imagery of evergreen or the priceless value of a state perhaps flawed by preferred internal undercurrents.

            “The Deluge with Varsha” is delightfully refreshing and sensational telling. The fragrance is soft and dainty especially in the rain as “flowers oozing charm drop crystals on the ground and in my melted mind… every time you come around,” said the poet.  The pausing silence is occasionally broken by a “Dribbling…drizzling…[and] splashing around!” Then, shortly after the trickling rainfall, it “billows me out with a great wave…[to] make another rainfall,” the poet continued. Besides all, it’s the felt experience in the open lines most sublime that will transport her readers into the striking awakening in “The Journey” where “The curtains of night budged,/The voice of Dawn revealed/I stood gazing all awake/The journey of darkness to day!”

About the book
Author- Varsha Singh
Deluges: A Collection of Poems.
New Delhi: GNOSIS, 2014.
ISBN 978-93-81030-68-4
Pages: 82, Price: 195.

Reviewed by Paul C Blake,
Independent Thinker/Writer, Georgia

Amit Shankar's Café Latte - Eighteen Unusual Short Stories / Vitasta

                                                       Reviews, Vol. I, Issue I

In these speedy times, when people don't get enough time for reading long fictions to rejuvenate their mind; it's the genre of short stories which adds freshness into the lives and gives instant creative surge in between the technicality of life.

Amit Shankar's recent collection of eighteen unusual short stories Café Latte is unique in all sense. His stories are short yet crisp, intense yet momentary, deadly yet delightful, and to add much more. This book is unusual in one more sense, as two stories out of 18 are told by 2 talented kids, Kartikey Sharma and Vasundhara Goyal.

Author of three national bestsellers; Flight of the Hilsa, Chapter 11 and Love is Vodka - A Shot Ain't Enough, Amit Shankar, with his extraordinary flair for carving unusual offbeat stories proves to be refreshing in this collection too. Although, he raises his creative bar so high, that few of his stories slightly fail in front of his other best pieces present in the same book.

His strength lies in his story telling technique, and most prominently in his unusual twists at the end of each story which keeps the readers stuck deep into the narrative and shake them from within at certain moments; but the same becomes his weakness too, when his twists fail to hit back the readers' mind as strongly as anticipated by the writer's creative strength.

The first half of this book is delightful and full of surprises, but slowly and gradually the tricks of Amit start fading in the later phase. The Sixteen unusual stories by Amit are, "The Temple Of The King", "26 Down Express", "Code of Honor", "The Jazz Player", "Let Me Help You Die", "The Black Widow", "The Lion The Leopard And The Hyena", "The Chosen One", "Home Sweet Home", "The Other Side", "The Dream Chaser", "The Guardian Angel", "Every Mouse Ain't A Mickey Mouse", "Smart TV", "True Lies" and "Writer's Block". The other two unusual stories by two talented kids are "A Rose For Her" by Kartikey Sharma and "A Highway Called Life" by Vasundhara Goyal. 

The stories of Café Latte are as instant as a cup of instant coffee. Each story has a different yet unique and refreshing flavor. A must read collection, indeed. Grab your copy today. You will not regret it with your cup of coffee at any time, be it morning, noon or night! 

About the Author
Author of three national bestsellers; Flight of the Hilsa, Chapter 11 and Love is Vodka - A Shot Ain't Enough, Amit Shankar, with his penchant for telling offbeat stories, has this time found his expression in the form of eighteen, unusual short stories. He is an avid music buff and a great exponent of the guitar. His genre includes rock, jazz and blues. To know more about him, log on to

-Reviewed by Varsha Singh/ Managing Editor, Reviews

About the book
Publisher: Vitasta Publishing
Publication Year: 2014
ISBN-13: 9789382711445
ISBN-10: 9382711449
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Number of Pages: 208 Pages

Source: The Bookaholics

Raji Narasimhan’s Translation as a Touchstone / Sage Publications

Reviews, Vol. I, Issue I. 
When in 1993 Susan Bassnett emphasised that “Today, comparative literature in one sense is dead”, translation studies was supposed to take the mantle where comparative studies was leaving it. More recently, Bassnett has acknowledged that her earlier, prediction has shown itself to have been flawed: “translation studies has not developed very far at all over the last three decades and comparison remains at the heart of much translation studies scholarship”.

While translation means carrying over a piece of foreign language into one’s own, “comparison” means being momentarily without one’s language, not needing to translate precisely because of one’s ability to translate, to step into the other’s language without carrying it across, and thus respecting the otherness of languages and cultures.

Translation in that sense is a discursive practice of remaining/retaining the other; not allowing one to subsume the other in the dominant, hegemonistic, synchronic systems of hierarchy.

Raji Narasimhan’s Translation as a Touchstone (New Delhi: SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd., 2013) is an important contribution to the ever growing field of translation studies under the larger rubric of cultural studies. It brings the expertise of the two symbiotic worlds of comparative literature and translation studies together to create insights into the reading of the texts and also the methods of translations.

On the blurb of the book we find written, “Through a comparative study of original passages and phrases in literary texts along with their translated equivalents, she has followed a multi-pronged strategy and has used, as methodology, the comparative analysis method.”

According to Narasimhan, “translation is a product of Difference”, hence the act of translation becomes as unceasing negotiation of cultural difference. Narasimhan says, “A translation should sound and read like a translation that is, like a rendering in another language. It should have a bi-lingual note and fee.”

Apart of the six chapters, Narasimhan has written by way of an introduction (Introduction: Some Approaches to Translation) her theories of the approaches to translation.

She says, “In addition to transliteration and transcreation, there is one more approach possible to the task of highlighting Difference that is incumbent on the translator. This approach, which I think, can be called the creative juxtaposition or the creative aligning, of the two languages comprising a translation”.

The first chapter (Chemmeen: Its Passage through Three languages)of the book is a study of the three translations of Sankara Pillai’s Chemmeen in Tamil (by Sundara Ramaswamy), Hindi (by Bharati Vidyarthi) and English(by Narayana Menon). To translate the original Malayalam, according to Narasimhan, the translator must be able to grasp the ‘femininne orientation’ of the original. The translator’s, ‘prose has to rock with the pain and pleasure, the ethics and passions, battling each other in Karuttama’s (protagonist’s) sexual awakening.’

Mahasweta Devi’s story Rudali which was adapted for stage performance by Usha Ganguli is the focus of the second chapter (Negotiating the Language Divide) of the book. To bring the best in the translation one must feel the inner tether i.e., the standing realities of the story. Also, Narasimhan sees a role for the editors of translations to iron out the deficiencies in the translated language.
The third chapter (A Misleading Simplicity) concerns with Nirmal Verma’s Maya Darpan translated by Geeta Kapur. According to Narasimhan, Nirmal Verma’s Hindi is deceptively simple; translating the text without understanding the postmodern sensibilities of the text will create pitfalls for the translator.

The fourth chapter (The Implications of Bilingualism) discusses Vijay Tendulkar’s Shantata! Court Chaaloo Aahey in its English translation (Silence! the Court is in Session). Narasimhan says, “The language is stage-y, in both the Hindi and the English”...’a translation is primarily considered at the lingual level, even for saying that the lingual level be itself is not enough.”

The fifth chapter (The Road to Rebirth) begins by problematizing the issue of who is the best judge of a translation. Can it be done by someone who does not know the original? Narasimhan says that in that case the language nearest to the original should be treated as touchstone. P.S. Sadasivan’s Tamil translation of Samskara, U.R. Anantha Murthy’s celebrated novel in Kannada and its English translation by A. K. Ramnujan are discussed in the context. Narasimhan does not know Kannada and has used the Tamil version as touchstone.

The sixth Chapter (The God of Small Things: A Wrong Book to Translate) treats Neelabh’s Hindi translation of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things as Mamooli Cheezon Ka Devta. According to Narasimhan, “The language of The God of Small Things is overpowering. For the translator, this strong, foregrounded presence of the parent language creates problem.”  “ The immediate effect on the translator of this thrust of language is that it thwarts him from sufficiently distancing himself from it, and focusing on the thought/thoughts behind it.

The euro-american perspective of the demise of comparative literature has always been questioned. The questioning should have a particular Indian edge. For a multilingual, multicultural context to survive, translation – in theory and in practice- has to flourish. The tools of comparative studies come handy. This is what this book achieves – though at times subjectively – and in the process has brought the art and craft of translation to theorise and respond to theories.

Reviewed by Himanshu Shekhar Choudhary/ Editor-in-Chief - Reviews 
He teaches at the Dept. of English, P K Roy Memorial College, Dhanbad, Jharkhand

(First published in Literary Confluence, Vol. 1, Issue 1, a journal by Authorspress India Publishers.)

About the Book
Hardcover: 165 pages
Publisher: SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd (January 24, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 8132109546
ISBN-13: 978-8132109549