no urgency to be home | book review by Arvinder Kaur

Review

no urgency to be home by Neha. R. Krishna

Lab Academia Research and Publishing Center, 2022, p, 112, ISBN: 978-9391717-17-9


In a world where there is a clamour of haiku voices both euphonic and cacophonic, Neha’s voice comes as a whiff of fresh air. The title of the book has been picked up from a beautiful poem that forms a part of her collection:


city of another language

I feel no urgency

to be home


The poem is suggestive of the writer’s world view which is clearly all encompassing. In the typical Shakespearean sense, it refers to ‘all the world a stage’,and also reflects how Neha prefers to steer clear of nationalism and even parochialism. Not only that the above poem incorporates the poet’s journey, a journey of life where ‘contentment’ may not lie in reaching a destination, but also in the fact of living it up while on the way. For Neha, it seems the destinations are mirages that need not be chased. ‘Home’ presents itself as a powerful metaphor that can be interpreted at so many levels. The layers in her poems engage the reader effortlessly. In his discourses, Plato implied that ‘Poetry does not happen to the reader’ It is instead an interactive process.This is something that Neha achieves with her poems.


housewarming

I let the waves

enter first


Likewise, the reader too is able to enter the poems and live the experience that has been captured in such epiphanies. Most readers who pick up a collection of haiku to read, look for a poetic sensibility that is refreshing in its newness and yet has all the elements of poetry. Neha’s poems are subtle in the way that they suggest both.

Let us look at this haiku


spring rain

i walk to him

barefoot


Perhaps no one can miss the deep sensuality of this poem and may marvel at the mystery of an expression of complete love and surrender on one level,and so much more on another. The poem engages different senses for different readers and remains open ended. Who is the subject and who the object? When the poet is barefoot what is she feeling? What does she imply or suggest? It is incredible how many questions are answered and also how many remain unanswered in these seven words!

Neha writes from within her own world but the range of her thoughts is universal. May it be her deeply feminine longing in this beautiful verse:


moondust

henna on my hands has the colour

of his love


or the voice of a rebel in this one:


selecting gods

religion will decide

who I should love

The poet chooses her words carefully and makes a powerful impact each time. In her verses he waxes eloquent about relationships as she lives and loves as perhaps only a true haiku poet could.

Poetry thrives on memories and nostalgia and there is a fine sprinkling of these in Neha’s collection.


fireworks

the little things I ignored

last year


A poem like this has the power of taking the reader on his/ her own trip down memory lane. All of us tend to ignore certain things at one time or another and those keep lurking in memory along with a desire to have them put back in order. The poet’s words gently nudge all of us towards this possibility.


There are poems in the collection that have a deep emotional quotient. No one can miss the beauty and the poignancy of her poems.


on sale…

my grandmother’s rocking chair

and her bedtime stories too


And


empty bench in the garden

the sun rises

and sets


The collection is full of flashes of realism as well as imagination. Every reader is able to feel the reality and the tenderness of motherhood in the following poem:


elbow in water checking the temperature

for baby’s first swim


And the realistic humour in:


fish in pond

my cat plunges

at the iPad


Striking images imbued thoroughly with the haikai spirit are freely sprinkled all over the book. The reader becomes a part of her world when she looks at a ‘child’s first run/ wearing payal’. No one can afford to miss the musicality of:


night raga

the moon entangles

in a tree


If we measure literature on two basic scales, that of a soundness of theme and of the skill with which technique is used, I would say that Neha’s collection succeeds on both levels. Poetic themes like love, relationships, and nostalgia are dealt with deftly without ignoring the all-so-delicate nuances of the techniques of haikai. She makes great use of juxtaposition, symbolism, imagery, realism, humour, satire, and almost everything on the list to convey a deeply sensitive worldview as she takes the reader on a journey from spring to autumn. One gets a sense of closure when she signs off:


autumn begins

walking the same path

my shadow and i


***


Arvinder Kaur

(former Principal and Associate Professor in English literature and Media Studies.)

arvinderk8@gmail.com @arvinderk8 www.instagram.com

@arvinder8 www.twitter.com


Author

Kujhh Kasailey Supne (Punjabi Poems) Raghbir Prakashan, Chandigarh,1999

Amrita and Imroz: In the times of love and Longing (Trans.) Hind Pocket Books (A Penguin Random House Company) New Delhi,2009

Lessons in Writing Skills. Unistar Publishers, Chandigarh, 2009

Nimolian (Haiku in Punjabi) Lokgeet Prakashan, Chandigarh,2013

Dandelion seeds (haiku,senryu,tanka ) Aesthetic Publications,2015

Under raintrees (cherita by ai li in translation) Lokgeet Prakashan, Chandigarh,2018

The Wild Weed (Selected Poems of Paul Kaur) edited and translated from Punjabi by Arvinder Kaur, Red River,New Delhi,2021

Fireflies in the Rubble. Red River,New Delhi, 2022

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