Labor Day 2014

labor-day-2014-images-2We celebrate Labor Day Weekend here in the United States to honor all those who labor for a better life and the all too many who gave their lives for the right to unionize, 40 hour work week, major medical benefits and retirement rights…. all of which are slowly slipping away in the new millennium.

My Glass Of Wine by Kiriti Sengupta

my glass of winePaperback: 70 pages
Publisher: Author’s Empire Publication, India (April 26, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 8192861902
ISBN-13: 978-8192861906
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Reviewed by Shernaz Wadia
 
As I held Dr. Kiriti Sengupta’s little book in my hand for the first time, my instant reaction was, “Oh, this shouldn’t be too time-consuming.” I was right in that it took me just a few hours to read it but it is going to take much longer to savour the delight of the wine in it – the heady wine of love and spirituality; of a curious, contemplative and open mind; a large accepting heart – all embodied in the simple, direct words of the writer that make you enjoy and revel in this intoxicating cocktail of prose and poetry. A delightful experience as we take sips from his glass! 
 
It has already been mentioned by others that this book cannot be pigeonholed. As he says in the preface “When I wrote the manuscript I deliberately wrote down what came into my mind. I never considered what genre my book would fit into.” To brand it would be to diminish it. It is a distillation of some momentous pieces…autobiographical word snapshots, each followed by a poem. This book is Kiriti’s humble attempt to take poetry to all book lovers so that it can ‘reach its pinnacle again’. With great simplicity he tackles issues of love, spirituality, relationships, the world and nature as he perceives them and brushes them with his poetic sensibility.
 
He cracks open little drawers and lets us peek into some uplifting moments of his life. The initial glimpse is into his first date with his future wife Bhaswati, which began on a slightly comical note that for him turned into the stepping stone of his literary journey.  His wife to-be was quite amused when she asked him about a Rabindranath Tagore novel and he replied that he didn’t read poetry at all! Because the novel was “Shesher Kobita”! This honest revelation by Dr. Sengupta at the start of the book immediately endears him to his readers and keeps charming them till the end.
 
The poet Kiriti was born from the agony of a painful relationship with a friend to whom he addressed his first poem in Bengali. While he says that with all its innumerable functions and facets poetry should also entertain, he believes that true poetry arises out of total consumption of one’s being.
 
Consumption
 
Consumed time/ like an infant consuming
milk; inevitable/ it remains.
Killed essence of
the eternal soul; and consumed,
Essentially I remain…
 
The second chapter from which the book takes its title shows us another side of Kiriti as he takes us along on a sacred trek. He is gentle but forthright in the weaving of this tale. We get whiffs of the wine that he imbibes spiritually and are given a peep into that part of his life which was experimental and experiential, culminating into the insightful observation that ‘red’- the colour of some wines and of blood – is divinely symbolic in Christianity, Tantric Hinduism and Islam.  Whereas in Christianity, (to which he received formal baptism after the priest was convinced that he had attained spiritual baptism) ‘red wine’ is representative of Jesus’ godly blood sacrificed for mortals; Tantrics also use alcoholic beverages in their rituals and hold ‘red’ to be the colour of divine power. And so their attire is blood red in hue. With these he compares the Islamic ritual of animal sacrifice – ‘Qurbani’ – and draws the conclusion that ‘the elements of blood, power, alcohol and red (are) associated intimately with divinity”.  “Blood Red”, the poem at the end of the chapter is a summation of this belief.  The poetic vision he lends to his experiences and deep meditation on things we take for granted in our indifferent stride, shakes up our mental lethargy and prods us to reflect intensely on such matters. 
 
From the sphere of spirituality, we go into an investigation of the word “Bhaiya” – meaning older brother – a tag given to him by his elder sister! From there onto his take on ‘name’ with which he plays a word game, replacing ‘n’ with ‘f’ and then with ‘g’. He muses that though many Indians are named after gods and goddesses, ruefully few imbibe the virtues of their namesakes – “Religion has left its profound mark in the psyche of Indians, but has failed to alter their behavioural pattern.”
 
Namesake
Whispers the tale fo your character,
colour and its fragrance merge to call it/ a Rose.
A lot matters, /if you remember/ the name…
 
In the next chapter, Southern Affiliation he talks of his association with the southern city of Chennai (Madras), whose charms have bitten him affectionately. His affiliation is further enhanced by Mr. Atreya Sarma, to whom he devotes a whole paragraph and dedicates the poem “Clarity”.
 
“Rains” is an allusion to situations that bewilder and hurt him; those thoughts, crowds, disciplines in which he tends to get totally drenched. These ‘rains’ have inspired poems from his haemorrhaging heart. His scientifically trained mind believes that love is “a strong cerebral affair.” It is the brain that rules the heart he feels and yet he says love is “a wonderful experience that enables you to feel your loved inside of you.”  How beautiful is that!
 
“My Master and the Cover” is the most significant chapter.  He talks about his initiation into Kriyayoga by his beloved master; about Spiritual awakening through the rising Kundalini – the Divine Feminine force – whereby an aspirant experiences a ‘winy trance’.  In the glow of his awakening he also tries to justify the cover design as substantiating Yoga in the light of literature, though there could be many different interpretations, as the designer refuses to explain his creation. But even as he exults in his Awakening he laments the moral degradation of the world and is grateful for his Master who helps him uncover the mysteries of life.
 
I
As identical as ‘I’/through the slice of my sigh.
Like the sky; where the stars shine bright and/ the Sun ‘I’.
 
This book ‘stirs’ the reader to arouse his sleeping Kundali
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You can check out the book here:
 
 
Shernaz-Wadia3- Shernaz Wadia, a retired teacher, lives in Pune, India. A free-lance writer, her articles, short stories and poems have been published in many online journals and literary magazines like Muse India, Boloji, Kritya and The Enchanting Verses etc. Her poems have been anthologised in Poets International, Roots and Wings and Caring Moments. Shernaz is in the process of publishing her poems in a book titled Whispers of the Soul.. She has also co-authored a book of poems titled “Tapestry”, with Israeli poetess Avril Meallem. It is an innovative form of collaborative poetry writing developed by the two of them.

 

 

Modern & Contemporary American Poetry

coursea.org

From Al Filreis

ModPo – a free, entirely open, non-credit, discussion-based 10-week course on modern & contemporary U.S. poetry – begins its 2014 session on September 6. Everyone is welcome to join us. Click here –

https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry  – to enroll.

ModPo 2014 includes several new features in addition to the 10-week survey of mod American poets & poems. New is an entire set of resources for teachers. (We encourage teachers at all levels to join us.) And new, too, is “ModPoPLUS,” a supplemental syllabus that parallels the main ModPo syllabus – additional poems, links to audio and video, and video-recorded close readings of the poems.

ModPo people gather together for meet-ups in many majors cities around the world. The ModPo team this year will be coming to New York, Washington DC, and Prague.

If you are new to modern poetry, join us anyway and don’t worry: TAs and Community TAs (people who have taken ModPo before and are volunteering to help with discussions) and your instructors stand by pretty much always to guide you and answer your questions.

And ModPo hosts weekly live interactive webcasts.

ModPo is committed to the idea that massive open online courses need not be impersonal, and that collaborative collective close readings of supposedly difficult poems can shed new interpretive light on them.

(ModPo’s new section of teacher resources is a collaboration of the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania and the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College.)

 

Poetry in the news…

Hasstrac smith

And The Winners Are…

http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/stanza/academy-american-poets-announces-recipients-2014-american-poets-prizes

2014_0716_edgar_allan_poe

The Poetry and Prophecy of Edgar Allan Poe

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/oliver-tearle/the-poetry-and-prophecy-o_b_5699435.html

Hebridean poet wins UK’s richest poetry prize with debut collection

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/17/hebridean-poet-wins-uks-richest-poetry-prize-with-debut-collection

Post, Simin Behbahani

Simin Behbahani, celebrated poet known as the ‘lioness of Iran,’ dies at 87

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/simin-behbahani-celebrated-poet-known-as-the-lioness-of-iran-dies-at-87/2014/08/23/7438fbda-28b9-11e4-958c-268a320a60ce_story.html

Scott Andrew Christensen’s poetry sings simply

http://thechronicleherald.ca/books/1231778-scott-andrew-christensen-s-poetry-sings-simply

Ananthamurthy-ibn

Remembering UR Ananthamurthy: The literary icon who took a stand against Modi

http://www.firstpost.com/living/ur-ananthamurthy-pioneer-kannada-literatures-navya-movement-1677817.html

Nevadan poets making a mark on literary community

http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nevada/nevadan-poets-making-mark-literary-community

Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca

Giant of Turkish poetry remembered on 100th birthday

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/giant-of-turkish-poetry-remembered-on-100th-birthday.aspx?pageID=238&nID=70931&NewsCatID=386

The Reading Series Returns – September to November 2014

podiumThe Fox Chase Reading Series

Ryerss Museum and Library

2nd Floor Gallery

7370 Central Avenue

Philadelphia, Pa. 19111

 

After a summer break, The Fox Chase Reading Series returns with readings in September, October and November at Ryerss Museum and Library. The featured readers are followed by an open mic.  Please note our new start time of 1 p.m.

September 28th

mmwittleinlondon1rodger-lowenthal

 MM Wittle and Rodger Lowenthal 

October 26th

billwunderrosenbloom

Bill Wunder and Robert Rosenbloom

 November 30th

lynnjelee
Lynette G. Esposito and Jeffrey Ethan Lee

The Americans by David Roderick

IconAmericans1Series: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 88 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (August 5, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963124

ISBN-13: 978-0822963127

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Reviewed by g emil reutter

There is always a danger in the blandness of a poet, of a poet who writes well-crafted poems, so well-crafted that they are void of passion, of reality. There is also the elitist view of suburbia as a wasteland of culture. And, then there is The Americans by David Roderick, a poet of passion and a craftsman whose series of poems titled, Dear Suburb, appear throughout this outstanding collection of poems.

Roderick tells us in the Dear Suburb (page 3) poem, I’m not interested in sadness/just a yard as elder earth, a library of sunflowers/battered by nights rain. And again in this poem, I see how you exist, O satellite town, your bright possibility/ born again in drywall/ and the diary of the trick lock. In Dear Suburb (page 13) he captures the transformation of rural to suburb, If your billboards peel, if the gaze/ is really dead, then what are those/remaining fields to you…/or the mirror of thought, or just thought’s sleeping sheets?

There are the other poems where monkey’s howl, Virgin Mary rests in a window, Judas swinging from an aspen, of pastoral settings, big box stores, gardens, Plymouths, the Enola Gay and of being an American.

Roderick reminds us of the dream of America, the American Dream and the loneliness of dreams, the longing for nostalgia and the possibility that delivers us into the future.

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You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Americans-Pitt-Poetry-Series/dp/0822963124/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408576264&sr=8-1&keywords=the+americans+by+david+roderick

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g-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

Poem Continuous – Reincarnated Expressions – By Bibhas Roy Chowdhury- Translated by Kiriti Sengupta

poem continuous us editionPaperback: 62 pages

Publisher: Inner Child Press, Ltd. (July 17, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0692233180

ISBN-13: 978-0692233184

 

Reviewed by Shernaz Wadia

 As Leonard Cohen put it so aptly poetry is just the ash, the evidence of a life burning well. When a poet fleshes up his emotions and thoughts and attires them with words, a poem seems to take on a life of its own but an invisible umbilical cord runs from the creator’s soul to that of the poem, making them indivisible.

 It has been said that a poem is never finished. Even if the last line seemingly ends on an air of finality there is no true closure. There remain gaps to be filled between the stanzas, lines and words. Poems grow along with the poet making them an uninterrupted process. Even if he does not alter them on revisits, new ones sprout out of that receptive emptiness giving them continuity. In this book, Poem Continuous, the ‘Reincarnated Expressions’ are birthed through their transition from Bengali into English, done smoothly by Kiriti Sengupta.
 
Bibhas’s voice pulsates with an undercurrent of passion…it is melancholic yet inflected with hope…pithy in words but loaded with sensitivity…it is a reflection of the loneliness of the poet’s heart and its aches. To quote Kafka, “(his) pen is the seismograph of (his) heart.”  I realised that these poems are not for idle reading. I read them once, I read them again and then again each time sinking a little deeper into their profundity, their challenging complexity, and emerged with an ‘aha’ feeling. That is the beauty of these poems…they plummet you beyond the tips into their inner core and thereby into your own deeper recesses, conversing with your sense of self. 
 
Minimalistic, staccato at times, as in “The Small Boat” – Bird…Bird…Bird…Bird/Fetch the sky
 
and again in ‘The Offering’ which is all of four very poignant lines dedicated to Rabindranath Tagore,
 
“Poison in the diet
the budding poet!   
 
Ye, the source…   
 
What is in your mind?”
 
The poet leaves us pondering. I have used more words to talk about the poem than he has to convey his distress at the pathetic marginalisation today of poetry and poets. In the third line he expresses his reverence for the great bard in just three words!
 
Bibhas’ poetry is enigmatic with a near mystical aura to it as he puts into words his innermost emotions about life, love, nature and other poets. He connects with both the worlds – that of matter and of spirit to find and define the meaning and balance in life. His language is fragmented at times when all he has are shards of pain to be expressed, for instance, in ‘The Tie of Brotherhood’, where he laments –
 
“We are finished, aren’t we?
Can you hear me, Gurudev? Ye Tagore?
Crowd no longer…no music…hands free!
Now the ties are lost, and so are the Bengalis…”
 
In his Translator’s Note, Kiriti says “… wounds are essentially native, and they are difficult to translate into other languages.” I think other poets will concur with me when I say that often wounds of the spirit are native to the individual soul and are near impossible to transmit into words. That Bibhas and in this case, the translator has been able to open up those deep gashes so movingly to the readers, is very laudable.
 
‘Bhatiali – Song of the Boatmen’, is pure anguish. It harnesses the distress of myriad souls who
“Wish my blood obliterates the Partition, on either side of the border…” His pain transmutes into obstinate hope as he ends his poem with these lines:
 
“In the core of my heart I nurse the wounded soul carefully/Union of the parted Bengal will aid in my recovery…”
 
Though the poet talks of a divided Bengal, the soreness of his words reflects an universal ache…no country, no people like the divides they are forced into by the scheming, screaming, contorted truths propagated by authority, by those few who snatch power, control minds and leave them defenceless.
 
The poet often asks questions in his poems. In The Horizon, he asks “What is poetry?” and concludes with these lines
 
“The blind bird/was painting/its nest so deceptive/on the water-body…” Let each reader and lover of poetry demystify these words in his own heart and mind, for poetry means several things to different people.
 
Don Martin calls this book “A Literary Tour-de-Force”. Full of praise for the work he says, “This is a seamless, and highly accomplished Bengali poetry. Experienced lovers of poetry will immediately recognise the significance and nuances of the work. Those new to Bengali poetry are in for a real treat!”
 
 
Shernaz-Wadia3Shernaz Wadia, a retired teacher, lives in Pune, India. A free-lance writer, her articles, short stories and poems have been published in many online journals and literary magazines like Muse India, Boloji, Kritya and The Enchanting Verses etc. Her poems have been anthologised in Poets International, Roots and Wings and Caring Moments. Shernaz is in the process of publishing her poems in a book titled Whispers of the Soul.. She has also co-authored a book of poems titled “Tapestry”, with Israeli poetess Avril Meallem. It is an innovative form of collaborative poetry writing developed by the two of them.