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.
 

17 responses to “Poem Continuous – Reincarnated Expressions – By Bibhas Roy Chowdhury- Translated by Kiriti Sengupta

  1. An admirable write.

  2. I’m elated, dear Shernaz Wadia. I appreciate your effort in reviewing my work of translation, “Poem Continuous.” Thanks, Fox Chase Review (Reading Series) for publishing this review. I feel honored!

  3. A wonderful review. A proud moment for Bengali poets and poetry that they are finally reaching the western world.Translator’s commendable work deserves much appreciation.

  4. Reblogged this on Kiriti's and commented:
    “Poem Continuous – Reincarnated Expressions” got reviewed on Fox Chase Review (Reading Series), U.S.A.

  5. Robertson Short

    Wonderful book! The work itself and the translation are astounding! Congratulations to both.

  6. Marshall G. Kent Sr.

    I very much appreciate this review. I like to think that all things are connected through our souls and that the language of heart transcends. That being, when a writer writes from their heart and the reader reads from their heart meaning transfers. Of course translation is vital and as I have come to know Dr. Sengupta and his painstaking work translating Bengali poems, believe to be able to connect with a poet from another country because of it. Poems truly are continuous!

  7. Chitra Banerjee

    Ms. Shernaz Wadia has expressed her thoughts excellently for both the poet i.e. Sri Bibhas and the translator Sri Kiriti. Kiriti excels in his work here to transmit the inner soul of a poet of distinguish and his marvellous creations to the world of poetry even when the original book in Bengali is not with you . This is a stupendous effort and I shall say , almost setting a standard of its own. Sri Bibhas has his aura of mysticism , love , care , pathos and many more sometimes intangible feelings and sentiments around him …….. to fathom him is surely difficult , yet seemingly so simple . I congratulate Ms. Shernaz again for her write-up.

  8. Congratulations on a great review, Kiriti. Continued power to your pen!

  9. Brevity is the soul of this review. Compressed and comprehensive, the review by Ms. Shernaz Waida corroborates the translator’s standpoint that without even knowing the source language, reading poems in target language can even be a pleasant experience. The continuity of reviews and analysis of “Poem Continuous” has made it transgress the shadow lines of boundaries and frontiers, thereby embracing a global and local (glocal) readership. Indeed every time a new reviewer expresses his/her thoughts about the poems, the herculean effort of Dr. K. Sengupta in translating Sri Bibhas Roy Chowdhury gets reincarnated.

    –Tuhin Majumdar, PhD Research Scholar, Dept. of English, The University of Burdwan

  10. Good critical review. I also experienced the book…. I could sense the words,uttered by the poet. The denial of eternal humanism is not only a tragedy, but also enhances the socio-political depression. Bibhas Roychowdhury is a passive speaker. Hence, you could not find any direct conflict here, but he would compel you to stand in front of the mirror. His poems include an understanding of the Indian society and its value system, such as the eternal feeling of brotherhood. He is few of them who is cultivating his ‘Indigenous Poetry’ and he is an excellent conservator of the biodiversity of modern Bengali poems: “Sun, in this birth of my being let me enter you / inside” (The Sun-Burnt Ashes, P; 52).Furthermore, I must express my appreciation to Kiriti Sengupta for his outstanding performance as a translator. This is probably his best work til now. During this journey I didn’t feel that I was going through a translated work.

  11. dipankar mukhopadhyay

    “Without even knowing the source language, reading poems in target language can even be a pleasant experience…” and Dr. Kiriti Sengupta has shown how this could be a reality when it comes to reading his translations of Bibhas Roy Chowdhury’s poems, which are originally composed in Bengali . In doing so, he has hardly missed an essence, a note or a nuance of the original. Yet he remains a pleasant experience to his readers of target language! Translating Bibhas Roy Chowdhury, one of the finest poets in nineties, must have been a real challenge to him and he accomplishes the job so well! I am in concurrence with Ma’am, Shernaz Wadia! She has said it all and in eloquence!

  12. congratulations to both the poets……hats off to you

  13. T.S.Chandra Mouli

    None can write like this, except Shernaz.She too could compose it so well, because it is translated exceptionally well by Kiriti Sengupta and the original text has its intrinsic value inspiring many a poet and critic.Cheers!

  14. Let me thank all my readers and reviewers who have posted their remarks! Much love to all of you…

  15. Congratulations Bibhas Roy Chowdhury and Beloved Kiriti. Many Blessings.

    Janet P. Caldwell
    COO Inner Child Press, ltd – USA

  16. Being not only a Publisher, but also a Writer myself, i feel deeply honored and rewarded to have had and continue to have such a relationship with Mr. Kiriti Sengupta. His fervent meticulousness and drive for his Writing Projects is truly admirable. In this offering he is sharing with the world the moving insights through verse of one Bibhas Roy Chowdhury. I find the perspectives usually found in the previously unknown voice of writers amongst our humanity to be a blessing, for there are many many perspectives, and consequently we are gifted to see our connectivity as a family of humanity. Keep up the good work my friend . . . Kiriti Sengupta.

  17. Yet another beautiful review by Shernaz, She wrote, ‘In this book, Poem Continuous, the ‘Reincarnated Expressions’ are birthed through their transition from Bengali into English, done smoothly by Kiriti Sengupta’.and ‘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’ .Her words are so true and we readers glide along the path of the desired objectives.

    The chemistry between the poet and translator is immediate and intense. In my review of this book, I have noted that ‘What apparent for this book, however, is the single-minded efforts of both the poet and the translator that lead to a seamless journey to achieve the goal. In a way, Poetry is meant to be read and heard. We feel a powerful sense of connection at the end. For this, Poem Continuous will surely find a wide reader.’

    More intimate in tone and answers with a lyrical affirmative, this review is a fine illustration of a sentiment that fits rightly in with our sensibilities, you get what you deserve. Kiriti and Bibhas deserve all that. I wish all the success of this wonderful book.

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