Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Vihang A. Naik's City Times and Other Poems / AuthorHouse, U.K.

Reviews, Vol I, Issue IV
City Times and Other Poems
A Must Read Pack of Poems with Five Blank Pages 

Prof. Vihang A. Naik, an inspiring teacher, a good translator and widely published, anthologized award winning contemporary English poet, was born in Surat, Gujarat on September 2, 1969. His collection of poems Poetry Manifesto (2010) Making A Poem (2004), City Times and Other Poems first published in 1993, Gujarati collection of poems Jeevangeet (2001), set the stage for his success. He also translates poetry written in Gujarati language into English, His poems have appeared in Indian Literature : A Sahitya Akademi Bi-Monthly Journal , Kavya Bharati , POESIS : A Journal of Poetry Circle, The Journal of The Poetry Society (India) , The Journal of Indian Writing In English , The Journal of Literature and Aesthetics and many more.

The City Times and Other Poems by Prof. Vihang A. Naik is a philosophical pack of poems, divided in six segments, i.e, “Love Song of a Journeyman”, “Mirrored Men”, “The Path of Wisdom”, “Self Portrait”, “At the Shores” and “City Times”. The uniqueness of the collection is that every title is nicely woven to its poems. The title of every segment and the poems do not harm the message of the poet rather both stands still with the poet, like in, “Love Song of a Journeyman” is a travelogue of fancies and feeling of the poet, carries seven poems and every poem tells a unique tale of the journey of poet’s imagination. The poet has exhibited a different poetic style in the very first poem. A reader can comprehend the intuition of the poet at the tail of the poem. The first song is all about the poet’s first surreal imagination…Your upholding downward look/ Dimpled shyness/ warmer breath/ Transparent eyes/ Flickering flames/ Ankle play. The interesting thing about the first poem of this section is that if a reader reads this poem from tail to head rather from head to tail, it does not affect the imagination of the poet. The message remains crystal clear. The expressions of the other six poems hover over the poet’s inner feelings and unmasked reality of the world. The poem, “The world shrinks within…”, “How long…”, “Time preaches mortality…”, “You broke petals….”, “The flower devoid of colour…”, takes a reader to the shores of reality where man has lost his way to humanity. The poet unpacks the book of absurdity which ends in nothingness and repeatedly warns his fellow beings not to take the road which leads to nowhere.

the road unwinds,
you’ll pick up
the race
and melt away
in the noises
of a city
whose streets
lead you nowhere.

The second section of this collection is titled; “Mirrored Men” comprises seven poems. Appropriately titled section throws light on the multi masked man of the modern world. The poet tells that how a man pretends to be wise and gives speeches and lectures to others to follow. In poems like, “Chameleon is not that great”, “Man as he is...”, “He is different behind …”, man has been portrayed  as a true image of folly, vice, error, deceit and what not. The man of the modern world has lost the value of truth and has become diabolic in nature. The second section is all about the changing colours of a man whose outer is different than his inner. They are actually two persons in a single shell.

He is different behind
his words of cream
and butter, it serves
his purpose. His language
curves like dark night
of desire, takes turns
with ambiguous intent…

The third section is titled, “The Path of Wisdom”. It comprises seven short poems. After going through it, one can say that these are the words of wisdom because the overall message of the section is appealing it takes a reader into a state of wonder that how can a poet be so appropriate and exact while writing the words of wisdom. Every poem of this section really gives us a glimpse to the philosophical probing of the poet and compels a reader to ponder over his next move in the game of life.
Listen! Death knocks
at the door
of your heart
or for a moment, imagine.
You may
then to enter
into life
really lived.

The next section, “Self Portrait”, consists of a very short poem and five blank pages, a unique approach of the poet. He gives a free space to a reader to register his feelings on these five blank pages or the poet himself feels blank because he begins the section as “I wake up to see my Self”, followed by five blank pages and ends with a phrase “discovered beyond thought”. After carefully going through this section, a reader concludes that they are not merely five blank pages, they are actually five appropriately titled books without the story and the responsibility of filling these pages has been put on the shoulders of a reader.

The fifth section, “At the Shore” contains seven beautiful poems. All the poems in this section deal with the poet’s sense of alienation and inbetweenness in the busy days of modern life.

The last section of this collection “City Times” is a collection of seven realistic poems. What remains interesting here is how the poet shows broken image of materialistic city life. The poet, Vihang, beautifully sketches the wicked city weather and atmosphere which has burnt down humans beings within, “memory stirs/the mugging parrot/cute companion/who died/by the sun’s/ scorching fireballs/even he had refused/to learn from men/parting/member’s name..”. The poem, “A Sympathiser for Underdogs” gives us a detailed description of our underdevelopment, poverty, naked population and blah blah… “from naked palm/the lifeline leads/to the skin/unclean/heart line/to half covered body/it strikes anyone”. The poet portrays  a symbolic character of a beggar who represents the sordid material greed and the mechanicality  that has crept into the behavior of people living in modern/metropolitan cities. He further qualifies the central idea of the poem as:

our cities
have scores of them
they catch hold
stick to you
look around
then inwardly
they do not
leave you so easily
they shall shower

The poetic onslaught on city life does not end here it further goes on. The poem, “City Voice” comes up with more lethal diction:

the gray haze distorts
noises of broken rhythm
railway tracks rattle
the wheel
strikes on road
look for signal lights
in crowded smoke
an old man coughs
the illness
of his age…

an inspired child
of nuclear war
the world shivers
a polluted planet
the ganga screams
for help…

The poet shows how wicked politics and opportunism tarnished the age old tradition of values, beliefs and customs. Such wickedness did not only harm the purity of thought but went even further to cause division and disharmony among fellow human beings. The collection, “City Times and Other Poems” covers all the universal themes. After reading this wonderful collection, one feels the divine relief and absolute satisfaction. The poet has succeeded in presenting a valuable gift to his readers which answers many difficult questions and reveals the truth about many mysteries.

Reviewed by Waseem Majazi
Research Scholar, Department of English & Foreign Language, Central University of Haryana

No comments:

Post a Comment