The First Word: Book Review
Dipping in murky, turbid waters, you come out reading this book feeling dazed with the innumerable tiny little disappointments surrounding your life. Nothing serious like a tragic cancer story or a poverty stricken woman destroyed by a male dominant society, no tearjerkers allowed in this collection of broken-hearted ballads. Rather the little things that happen to each one of us all the time are the highlights here, stuff that we overlook as being unfortunate, stuff that we get over by going for a crazy night out with friends and forgetting all of it by morning. Here the author records everything. Not the slightest detail gets overlooked and none of the painful moments get edited out or washed away. A desolate feeling of loneliness and profound disappointment surrounds you as you read poem after poem of unrequited love, relationships gone wrong, love interests showing indifference to their lovers and breakups tragically etched into the memories of a sensuous lover. "...I wrote a note/ The sprawling ink/ Was my blood/ The red flowing in my veins... ", painfully confesses the narrator as he is carelessly rejected by his beloved and the note burned to ashes at the end of the poem. 'Senses' is another poem where the poet achieves perfection, attempting a more lyrical and disciplined rhyme scheme and the coherence molds the strong material into a solid ballad that displays the talent the poet possesses when everything falls into place.
Of course there are some happy moments where the lovers do unite and there are some hopeful conclusions to the predicaments of poems that almost always start in a haunting, painful way. "...After years of living in a cold and dark room/ I'm finally free of it all." announces the narrator after a two page long description of his unbearable pain seeing the woman he fancied going out with another man. Not quite a happy ending one would hope for but the poet settles with the little ray of hope life gives him. 'The Lamp-post', another captivating poem, ends in a positive note too, where despite some hiccups, the lovers finally meet and its with a somewhat cautious tone that the narrator declares, "...love is blossoming under a useless lamp post", well aware of the transient nature of a euphoric moment. 'We Will Be the World', undoubtedly the most sensuous poem in the entire book, has a passionate and purely surreal touch to it as the narrator "...looses his tongue in his beloved's mouth/ Tasting the coffee they had that morning...". The poem ends at such a confidently hopeful note, it seems it has been taken from a completely different book.
But the general vibe suggests that the loneliness and the bothersome disappointments in the modern life of a person today are perpetual, nothing whatsoever one might try doing about it. The clear, simple and concise nature of the poems make the reading light and the vibe, though initially feels diluted, cuts through you as you delve deeper and deeper into the atmosphere the book creates.
Halfway through the book, you stop thinking these are poems written by somebody else as they start reminding you of trivial things that happened to you long ago, getting ignored by your crush, breaking up with a high school sweetheart and getting haunted by the hazy, seemingly beautiful memories of your teenage romance. That's where this book shines, its relatable to the young adult audience its aimed at and you feel safe in this world the author has put down into words. You feel as if you are not alone when feeling all of those confused emotions while growing up in an increasingly alienated world and even though the poems seldom offer plausible and satisfactory solutions to the modern era existential crisis, the isolation has been described well and in detail. A reader travels through the gloomy pages, seldom finding hope but almost always finding a subtle warmth and an ethereal companionship.
There is one particularly noteworthy attempt at writing a political poem at the end and though its commendable and describes the atrocities and war crimes being committed in the 21st century, you can feel the discomfort of the poet as he finds himself in uncharted waters. A poem called 'Grandpa' along with certain rare inclusions of social commentary on postmodern consumerism and the futility of the never ending materialistic desires, certainly provide variety to the collection of ideas included in this work. "...Why am I here in this traffic?/Why am I here in the crowd of all these faceless people waling so nonchalantly?...", implores the narrator, in a fantastical poem called 'Dreams' where surreal, chimeral images are crafted and revered. But the poet undoubtedly feels most at home in the heart-wrenching love songs he has so patiently and skillfully crafted throughout the 140+ pages and those fill the majority of the book. My only problem, some of the poems could have been excluded and reading the book could have been made a more taut and intense experience.
The overtly simple words woven throughout the poems sometimes create magical moments and some of the lines surprise the reader at their cleverness. Subtle brilliance pours through at these moments. Though, no doubt there are weak links to the poetic pieces, and many a times you feel completely detached as the magic fades away for limited portions of the text. But when it returns, you trust the poet again, and you close your eyes and let the rhythmic compositions wash over you. Your mind wanders to unfamiliar corners inside your brain and the heartache comes back. The yearning for a world where the subtle intricacies and challenges of life wont bother you comes back, and the book becomes a relic you want to keep forever with you, reading over and over again in moments of distress and disquiet.
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