Moss Laden Walls: A Review

Updated: Oct 23, 2021


Reviewing Editor: Pravat Kumar Padhy



By Teji Sethi, (Hawakal Publishers, 2021). 107 pages; ISBN: 978-93-91431-05-1. Price: Rs. 350, USD 14.99, Available on Amazon


Teji Sethi is a bilingual poet and anthologist. Her haiku are often illustrated by the sense of wabi-sabi (aesthetics of natural simplicity and solitude). She is emotional and the memories strike the note in her poems:


moss-laden walls

her fingers trace

remnants of the past (p. 9)


It reminds me how closely it makes a poetic parallel with the haiku written by Gabi Greve:


mossy steps overgrown by time and loneliness


She has intelligently engaged the sense of touch, sight, smell, sound, and taste:


autumn breeze …

her forehead still moist

with the parting kiss (p. 12)


Creativeness and contrast imageries have been often enamored as poetic metaphors when she presents:


Ganga aarti

a million suns

sink into darkness (p. 18)


She often blends science with poetic symbolisms when she awaits the rhythm of the moon and tides:


new moon

the stillness of sea

awaits a tide (p. 37)


She is bold, evocative, and paints womanhood with sharp contrast.


menopausal blues

it is not red

always ( p. 45)


She is equally brilliant in crafting senryu with a touch of wit and human attributes:


shelling peanuts

neighbours once aggrieved

share a gossip (p. 43)


therapy session

with her autistic son

she learns to tie a lace (p. 53)


Teji writes haiku with lightness (karumi) and elegance (fuga). She articulates vividness through the art of juxtaposition.


mango orchard

the planter sings back

to the cuckoo (p. 49)


origami swans …

father shares

it is time to depart (p. 89)


migratory birds …

carrying home

a piece of sky (p. 91)


She has also tried a 4-line haiku (haiqua): bus ride … / waving at a friend/ I grab/ a handful of wind (p. 81) and an experimental vertical array in the haiku on pandemic (p. 87):


tree sap

the life in

quarantine d me out

r

a

i

n

s


Teji recalls the trauma of partition of India in haibun, ‘Tapestry’ and ‘Fragments’. The tanka prose ‘The Road Not Taken’ is a brilliant piece of reminiscence. She enumerates the contrast between the crowded modern city and the serene silhouettes of the mountain range. The concluding tanka manifests the ‘dreaming room’ (to quote Dennis M. Garrison).


a beam of

moonlight sieves

through the window …

the mesh of relationships

I have lived all these years


When she writes, “a tender plant/ pushes through the cracks/ cemetery” (p. 21), I recall the ray of optimism portrayed by Issa:


moss blossoms bloom in a little crack... stone Jizo


-Kobayashi Issa (Tr. David Lanoue)


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