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One Breath Poetry

By Neena Singh, SambhavnaPrakashan, 2020, 168 pages (Hardcover); ISBN:978-93-81619-12-4 Price: Rs.300, Available at Amazon

Reviewing Editor: Pravat Kumar Padhy

Neena Singh’s maiden collection of Japanese short forms of poetry, ‘One Breath Poetry” includes poems of varied styles. Brief head-notes on haiku, senryu, tanka, and elegant black-and-white monochromatic photographs on five seasons add richness to the book.

As she experiences different stages of life, she tries to reflect these through changes of seasons: exhilaration in spring, abundance in summer, revival in rain, a fall or loss in autumn, and a sense of solitude in winter.

Spring is the season of rebirth and joy. As if she recalls the famous quote by Algernon Charles:Blossom by blossom the spring begins …’and writes:

so many flowers

in the spring breeze

a butterfly flutters (p. 18)

She blends cultural layers with subtle allusiveness as the moon reveals its sublime presence amongst thick foliage.

the full moon

hides in the garden all night:

is it a leprechaun (p. 37)

Her haiku at places are alliterative in nature as she unfolds the abundance of summer and senses the sound in the stillness of noon:

sun and sand

burnish skin to gold

an unending summer (p.66)

The fading away of ducks after sunset, “Green lake Park /ducks paddle and fade/ into the sunset” (p. 65), is a captivating visual snapshot by the poet. Interestingly, the impression resembles that of Basho’s magical creation:

The sea darkens/ and a wild duck's call/ is faintly white

Her poetic reflections corroborate with life-related aspects. The reference of ‘revival’ during the rainy season is artfully captured in one of her haiku:

after the downpour

garden choir – in crescendo frogs and cicadas (p. 74)

She is a believer in complementary nature (yin-yang). Metaphorically, through shades of autumn, she explores the sanity of life with philosophical allusion.

back to earth

by a gardener’s broom--

dry leaves crackle (p. 90)

She embraces solitude and experiences the life sketch towards the very end:

leafless trees draw on the skyline a charcoal sketch (p. 110)

bony arms

hold the sky

life’s winter (p. 122)

Reconciling to reality, she wishes to stay calm and often finds solace through humour:

barefoot again -

the dog asleep

on my slippers (p.141)

Faith, love, emotion, and philosophical penchant have been reflected in her tanka. She derives zen-feelings when she visits places of pilgrimage and expresses her deep reverence for the lotus sutraNam-myoho-renge-kyo’. She cherishes the flourishing life of her companion. With time gone by, stepping into the world of solitude and melancholy, she inks:

an acorn, a red leaf

reminders of our walks together

when you said “hurry”

hands in pocket, touching them

I walk alone today… (p.154)

The metrical exhibition, imaginative blending, and lyrical exposition are embedded in her tanka as she portrays both joy and anguish:

the long wait over

my son becomes a father

hugs his son skin-to-skin

oceans apart, grandma's heart

misses a beat to connect forever (p. 155)

The book is worth preserving in the personal shelf of haikai compendium.


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