Kiriti Sengupta’s “Healing Waters Floating Lamps” || Review by Ananya S Guha

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Book Reviews, General Reading | 15 comments

Poetry, Healing Waters Floating Lamp, Kiriti Sengupta, Ananya S Guha, Book, Poems, #CreativeWritinginIndia, Poets, Review, Book Review, Spirituality, SpiritualKiriti Sengupta’s poems are at once lonely, spiritual and a mystique of the open wide world punctuated with existential questions, In Healing Waters Floating Lamps the poet holds constant dialogue between what is signified — call it God, a moral question or retribution, or even a pantheistic credo. The persistent reference to water, the sea and the ethereal connote a world that is sacrosanct, such as the invocation of a holy city, or a Tagorean utterance of God and a hushed mystical world.

Throughout the poems there is a defiance of the ordinary as the poems catapult into an emblazoned extraordinary world. Yet the poems are not reductionist, they are structures embedded in a philosophy of humanity which is God-centered. The cultural stance that the poet takes is culled from everyday situations such as the apparent ordinariness of a fish depicting a cultural symbol.

The Tagorean impulse dominates some of the poems:

“Have you seen the floating lamps in the river?” (“Evening Varanasi”)

Or “My Master enjoys the stage” … (“Unravel”)

While “Eyes Of A Yogi’’ ends with a crescendo “The mother changes to sky.”

These poems are not arid intellectualism. They are poetry of the heart, the spirit. Yet they are complex interfaces of existence. They are not subject to one interpretation. Such interpretative dimension imbue these with fine, subtle qualities.

Throughout the poems there are reverberations of the infinite pinned down by a finite well-ordered reality. But the subversive elements dominate the poems- this well ordered reality should be transcended into the metaphysics of life. It is a Meta world we live in. The poems reveal this intensity of grappling with prescient but not foreboding truths. Always there is light, not darkness:

“I reach the sky

While I draw a circle in the water

Looking at the image

I take a dip” (“Beyond The Eyes”)

The poems militate against arid intellectualism. They open out the citadels of love, they are not susceptible to one interpretation, they are rather interpretative and multi-layered. They are irreducible statements not of the cerebral, but that of the spirit. This breaks new grounds in Indian English poetry.

The power of Sengupta’s poetry lies within, not without. The images are retained inwardly and inner senses cry out for something, somewhere:

“I have seen my mother

Preparing Ghee out of milk-

She never used butter

To clarify it further…”  (Clarity)

“Clarity” here assumes an ambiguous connotation. Do we have it in what we say and do? Sengupta’s poems rest continuously in such clever word making and imagery. Let us look at the images in his poems: eyes, water, tears, river, yogi are some of them. The sacred city of Varanasi is another one. The poet is subsumed by a quest for the ordinary transformed into extraordinary metabolic desires. This gives to his poetry a pugnacity, barring any raucousness. The voice is always quiet, meditative, it is never sentimental or maudlin. If there is a cry for God, then it is an act of surrender. In fact surrender is one of the dominant themes of these poems. But it precludes any kind of overt religiosity. Sengupta’s poems are no ontology, they are direct references to life, the rustic world and sometimes to relationships. They may be direct statements, but their innards are complex and philosophical. They maybe short poems, but they “say” much more than they state. A lot of Indian poetry in English today is pretentiously cerebral and exercises in word play which has become a fetish. Healing Waters Floating Lamps is a refreshing and daring breakaway from this slip shod tradition.

Kiriti Sengupta, Healing Waters Floating Lamps, Poetry, Book, Poems, Poet, Verse, Spiritual

Ananya S Guha has been born and brought up in Shillong, North East India. He has seven collections of poetry and his poems have been published worldwide. They have also been featured in several anthologies. He is also a columnist, critic and editor. He now is a Regional Director at the Indira Gandhi National Open University. He holds a doctoral degree on the novels of William Golding.

15 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for publishing the review. I’m humbled.

  2. Very well-written review, it was a pleasure to read this. I feel like going out and buying a copy of the book today; it sounds wonderful. I think I will for sure.

  3. Thank you, VJ. You may visit your nearest Oxford Bookstore and ask the front-desk to get you a copy of the book from their Kolkata store. Or else you can buy it on Flipkart.

  4. I completely agree with this review. The lamps are floating towards the light. Heartiest congratulations Kiriti Da.

  5. Interesting review and a remarkable addition to Indian English poetry!

  6. Excellent review. I couldn’t agree more. “Beyond The Eyes” was perhaps one of the most simplistically complex poems I’ve ever encountered.

  7. This is a brilliant review. I completely agree with Mr Guha when he says-” These poems are not arid intellectualism. They are poetry of the heart, the spirit. Yet they are complex interfaces of existence. They are not subject to one interpretation. Such interpretative dimension imbue these with fine, subtle qualities.” Sure these wonderful poems of Kiriti Sengupta can be interpreted from different view points as per the intellect and perception of the reader.

  8. of course it is a brilliant piece to be re-viewed by times…what i found striking is the demarcation that the reviewer marks that the poems in the book has not much of denotations, but they are truly connotative, even much after several reads certain interpretations crop up heads.

  9. Brilliant Review!Dr. Guha has elucidated here how the small lines, simple thought and spirituality create a significant impact. I am acquainted with Kiriti’s poem since 2013. I do agree with Dr. Guha- ‘Sengupta’s poems are no ontology, they are direct references to life, the rustic world and sometimes to relationships. They may be direct statements, but their innards are complex and philosophical’. Aspects like 1. language and 2. Philosophy are of utmost importance in dealing with the book. The review is the modest endeavor to highlight the parallel poetry of Sengupta. One more thing- references from the earlier works of Kiriti could create a different dimension in this case. Otherwise it is brilliant!

    • Even direct world references can hide a passionate philosophical understanding. I think Dr. Guha is making note of academic hollowness rather than remarking that Sengupta’s work does not contain philosophy. His work is of the world, reflecting the truth of objects and wisdom at the same time. Not some silly system of thought that is far removed from existence. As George Harrison recorded on Brainwashed, “God is existence itself.” I think that was read from a book called “How to Know God”.

  10. Ananya Guha’s soulful review has surely aroused a desire to have a go at the poems.

  11. I have read Sengupta’s trilogy and wrote a review that will appear in The Lost Coast Review. I find it strange that Guha singled out the lines that also struck me the most, from “Beyond the Eyes”. It is great to connect with writers worldwide especially if they write in a cultural context that truly appreciates spirit, existential searches for meaning, and developing as a humanistic being. Today’s world is saturated (appropriate word) with greed, slumber of empathy, and general grief and fear. I am also reminded by this review of the hollow reed of academia and its stupid pleasure in obscurity, senselessness, and deranged contexts. Where are the sincere writers and thinkers? The ones with something to say? Here, on this page…reading this review. Excellent work.

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