Saturday, August 1, 2009

Journey Book Launch

Pietermaritzburg based poet and publisher, Graham Lancaster launched Journeys, An Anthology of Poetry from different parts of the globe. The book has an eclectic collection of poems that makes a great reading. I usually pack it in my coffee bag during calls to the hospital. The book has been edited by Graham Lancaster and Shaleen Kumar Singh.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Shaleen Kumar Singh's unusual poetry book, Proprietary Pains published by our publishing house, Poets Printery was launched at Durban on the 25 March 2009. This book is now available for saleBook launches would take place at Allahabad and Badaun
Please contact with Shaleen
Shaleen's work in his book is a trail blazer for Indian poets, poems that are experimental, feelings that have emerged as words at the spur of a moment.

We at Glorioustimes believe in his immense creativity, this book of short poems would continue to inspire poets who believe that poems can be mere words bereft of structure and laws, if understood to its fullest capacity.

The Hungry Generation Movement that started at Kolkata in the late sixties advocated the same principles which Shaleen's work gives a whiff.
Shaleen Singh from Uttar Pradesh has contributed to a movement that is iconoclastic, reminding me of such people as Sasthi Brata and Erica Jong.

Attached is a photo of the bookRegards

Amitabh Mitra
Congrats! The young Indian poet goes to South Africa and conquers hearts in the land of Mandela and Nadine Gordimer! Really remarkable! Keep on adding to your your conquests.Regards,
Dr Sunil Sharma (Eminent Fiction Writer) Bombay
CONGRATS, dear Shaleen. You have been doing very well on both critical and creative fronts.
R K SINGH A veteran Poet and Critic
Dr. Shaleen- let the release be auspicious-
Aju Mukhopadhyay (Pondicherry)
Dear Shaleen,
Heartiest congratulations! May you reap rich rewards from the Proprietary Pains.
Dr Nibir K Ghosh editor Remarkings
Hello Shaleen,
Dr Uma Parmeshwaran, renowned Critic Canada
ohh thats great congratulation for achieving this milestone
Ram Pratap Singh Chauhan, a young Scholar
Hello! I read your poetry i am so impressed that i can't tell you indeed you are the youngest author in UP
Saifi Adnan a devout scholar
Hi Shaleen,

I got a copy of your book from Amitabh. It is very powerful and the words cut deep into the soul giving the reader a view into your life through your eyes not theirs.

Very deep and thought provoking!
Shameela Abrahm
Proprietary Pains
Dr. Shaleen Kumar Singh
published by Poets Printery, East London, South Africa.

It was my great pleasure to be invited to review Dr. Shaleen Kumar Singh’s anthology of poetry, Proprietary Pains. Written in the thirteen days after his father, Dr Vinai Kumar Singh’s death and in honour of a man the author held in great esteem:
A shadow
Soon departed –
Left the sun, the heat,
clearly demonstrates the author’s view “-- a true poem needs no introduction, nor any foregrounding nor backgrounding rather it speaks itself what it is- “ which of course is the way of the true craftsman, which the poet undoubtably is “-- therefore I leave my poems to you to listen and feel what I say…” Which is exactly what comes to the reader’s mind in thought and clear word pictures:

A lamp
In deep Abyss.

The slim anthology of one hundred and four, three line, untitled nor catalogued poems is unusual in itself and also in its setting out of openness in this coffee table sized book with an attractive hand painted cover by Dr. Amitabh Mitra. Yet it is easy on the eyes and refreshingly unselfish and un-bounded in the sharing of such deep and personal feelings so soon after the loss of a parent:

A marsh
Feeling helpless

The collection spanning some thirty years of memories - and the sudden hollow lost feelings of tragedy and anger are deep and without restriction:

A tornado
In thoughts
In words

And yet we find great sadness in the father’s life:

Smouldered whole life
In last
Turned to ashes.

One can only believe the writing has been cathartic, which will ultimately bring about some form of peaceful acceptance of the inevitability of life and the realization that Dr. Vinai’s life also held pride and happiness in his family’s love:

Deprting You
Bidding adieu I
Mute Pantomime.

I wish Shaleen great success with Proprietary Pains, and also have the belief it will bring comfort to many.

Graham Vivian Lancaster
Alexander House
Review of the Proprietary Pains

Proprietary Pains (PP) is haunting!
The way the old Spanish or the soaring Gothic castles are still haunting for the modern tourists!
Or, the vast Russian steppes in Turgnev, running down to the very rims of the infinity, are for the readers. Or, the majestic Brahamputra of Assam, flowing down across the heart of an ancient land, is for the travellers. Or, the fleeting ruins of a Rajasthani haveli are, as seen in the afternoon sun. Things that refuse to fade from your mind already exposed to info overload. After reading the PP, you get the same feeling. It is like hearing the rustling wind in an empty room of an abandoned colonial-era bungalow set on a hill: It is the sad but redeeming MUSIC of the inner space vacated recently by somebody very dear. As we all remember songs from our childhood and can not erase them from our remembering adult heart, in the same manner, some precious persons/ special moments can never be forgotten. They get enshrined in memory. The PP by Shaleen does that for him and his readers. The young bearded poet mourns his father---an unsung college teacher, in the hinterland of India---in this bouquet of 104 short poems, published from South Africa. The poems come straight from a grieving son and the poet within transforms that personal loss--- a family tragedy but a routine thing for others outside the immediate circle---into haunting music and marvelous verbal cadence. It is about remembering an ordinary father, in a celeb-driven age, where the very act of remembrance is Herculean resistance against trivializing mass culture that reduces everything, including art, to trivia and nothingness; where family and values are all dying fast, and, where the human beings and early robust humanism have been all made redundant by the emerging consumerist society. Amnesia is promoted here. Man is superfluous. Only ads, objects, sensations, ephemeral things are made sacred and desirable, crowded out by others competing for your eyeballs. In this universal age of instant gratification and instant replacement, memories of the dead, of the past, personal histories--- of a person and nation, are all heroic attempts to retrieve a slice of the slipping past and capturing it in verbal structures of pure harmony and beauty and thereby, resisting the general forgetfulness endemic to nations and groups. Shaleen pays glowing tributes to a father in a minimal, sparse poetic style and transmutes the felt pains into flowing, arching Niagra fall of loss and recovery, in the face of extreme pain, hardships and emotional black-outs. In the process, a son feels orphaned by the parental death but a promising poet is born…cleansed by mourning and finding strength in that personal tragedy, emerging as a true person, down but not out by the slings of misfortune…the stuff of serious art anywhere and occasion for deep meditations on Life. It is also an elegy on patriarchy, now in the throes of crisis everywhere. Broadly, it is about the loss of father figure, an angst felt by us, while growing up. It is about finite that is man and an infinity that is art!

---Dr. Sunil Sharma

Review cum Personal Essay on Shaleen Kumar Singh's Proprietary Pains by Shreekumar Varma

"i read the book through once again just now. your words are loaded with grief and an effort to be brave so that they reflect--- however or wherever they are placed--- the heaviness of your heart. your father's profile comes alive almost as surely as your bereavement. if all these poems were written during the 13 days following the loss of your father, it's no wonder the words weep. they justify the book's title. but at the end, i wondered whether you shouldn't have included the memory of a few moments of happiness and laughter in his life as well, so that the personality as well as the poetic balance is complete. but then, of course, fresh grief can't be channelised, and this is a moment all men face, and only poets know how to express. i see your tears on amitabh's cover as well."

Shreekumar Varma

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Handbook of Language and Literature by Sudhir K. Arora, Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 2009. Reviewed by Shaleen K Singh

A Handbook of Language and Literature (For Competitive Examinations) by Dr. S. K. Arora is a book ‘designed with a view to keeping the requirement of the candidates preparing for the PGT/TGT Recruitment Test.’ The book is the outcome of an ‘inner-urge’ that ‘forced’ the author ‘to pen a handbook for the ‘strugglers’ (for job) that will remain with them as a faithful and reliable companion in their struggle’. The author without claiming ‘any originality’ has tried to present both a standard introduction to the close reading of literature and an invaluable resource for English Postgraduate students and aspirants of Lecturer’s Examinations like TGT/PGT or NET. Though, the book is designed specially for PGT and TGT Examinations, yet it can be a better companion to students of English literature who have a weak background and also to those who have a sound background but have an urge to sharpen their knowledge as well as a desire to attain excellence in the subject.
The book is divided into two parts of Language and Literature. In the first part, fourteen chapters are included dealing with grammar vocabulary, unseen passages, spelling, punctuation and narration. Part two carries Literary Forms and Terms, Figures of Speech and general introduction of the Authors and their works.
In the first part of Language, the author at first provides basic rules of grammar (in a precise and concise manner) and then includes objective questions to test the knowledge. These methods develop a succinct, thoughtful and incisive approach in the reader and enhance the level of understanding.
One notable feature of the book is that the definitions of various Literary Terms, Figures of Speech and the author’s introduction and other information are short, simple and easy to understand which clears the fact that the book is designed with a view to keeping the level of understanding of the students of U.P. in particular. For example, we may look at the definition of oxymoron that runs as follows: “In oxymoron, two opposite words or ideas are put together.” I think there can no shorter definition be given by anyone. Besides, the example to clear the above definition is also the easiest to note which goes as follows: ‘This is an open secret.”
Similarly, in the second part of Literature, the author’s introduction and some important points to remember are also written in point wise manner in an equally simple, short and clear way with a few objective questions on each author and his/her works.
The book is arduously prepared because author has vicariously experienced the pain and humiliation of the strugglers. There can be no greater reward for the author if some aspirants qualify their examinations with the help this book or benefit themselves by developing an insightful understanding of literature. Kudos to Dr. S.K. Arora for preparing such a nice book!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Noontide: Poems, Ghazals and Hymns, Kanwar Dinesh Singh, New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2008, ISBN-9788176258821, price 240/- reviewed by Shaleen Singh

Kanwar Dinesh Singh is one of the pioneer poets of contemporary Indian poetry in English who seems to be the true follower of Frost’s dictum that ‘a poem should begin in delight and end in wisdom.’ He is now a well-known poet of Kangra valley whose previous collections won critical acclaim from the poets and critics like Patricia Prime, Gulzar, Amrita Pitam, Pritish Nandy, Jayant Mahapatra and Bernard M. Jackson. He has ten published poetry collections to his credit and a number of critical essays and papers published in the leading news papers and journals of India and abroad.
The present collection under review titled The Noontide is divided into three parts poems, ghazals and hymns in which one can discern a wide range of ideas clothed in the attractive form of poetry. The poems of the collection are a refreshing whiff of fresh air in the melancholic and complex climate of present time. The poet has tried to sketch varying aspects of life with broad precision and imagination. The poet has covered all the major themes like themes of philosophy, love, nature and social consciousness in his poems that are predominantly subjective in tone but objective in effects. The poet scribbles his pen dipping it in the ink of philosophy when he sings:
I am a leaf
Of the grand family tree
I wither and fall and fade away
But the tree lives on… (7)
And exhibits his concern to the hungers of man:
Man is not man
As he is seen
From outside
His hungers are just
Not his own. (8)
The consummate skill of the poet is seen his short poems. Specially, when he says like this:
On the other side of
My portrait:
I have no eyes,
No ears,
No nose,
No mouth,
No face,
No glow. (21)
But his longer poems create a world of its own. The poems ‘Wither to Man?’, ‘On the Death of Sun’, ‘A dream of death’, ‘Naught to Naught’, ‘Who to Blame’, ‘Spread Vast Eye’, ‘Asides’, ‘The Chain of Being’, ‘Anxiety ‘and ‘To A Watch’ are highly philosophical and suffused with social consciousness while the poems ‘How can I Forget You My Love’, ‘proximate to You’, ‘When You’re Before me…’, ‘The Colour of Colours’, ‘Up in Arms’ and ‘Together A Poem’ are tinged with romanticism.
The second section carries twenty five Ghazals, a popular genre of Urdu poetry. Traditionally Ghazal is known as the appreciation of the beloved with their peculiar rhyme and metre (which in Urdu is known as paimana and Bahar) but the poet has adopted the path of Jadeed poetry and has developed both the content and form of Ghazal in English in particular for which the poet should be analyzed comprehensively by critics and academics. The poet’s ghazals are both romantic and reflective. A few pieces of his romantic ghazals are as follows:
How can I tell you love so much, o dear!
On my tongue I’ve a seal of hesitancy and fear;
How can I bare my heart to you, o dear!
Of ignoring I have apprehension so sheer; (77)
The poet has imbibed the grammar of Urdu Ghazals so he follows the discipline of Makta and Matla while composing the Ghazal even in English. Mark, how beautifully the poet weaves the Urdu proverb in English Ghazal:
Who’s bathed with milk, O Dinesh?
Everyone in this Hamam is bare enough! (70)
The poet deserves his praise in composing Shair (Couplets) of Urdu in English which is probably the finest example of poet’s remarkable creativity and innovative approach.
The third section carries five hymns dedicated ‘to the creator of this world’ before whom the poet’s ‘soul bows in obeisance’. All the five hymns are the loveable litany to the Lord. In the hymn three, the poet sings like Tulsidas (Kulyug Keval Nam Adhare, Sumir Sumir nar Utarahi Para):
Chant the name of God, man!
You will be liberated from
This- world’s illusive trepan. (97)
Thus, a close perusal of the collection makes one feel as if the one has journeyed from human to the divine. Though there are a number of beautiful poems in the collection but the poem I liked is ‘Poets’ which reminds me the Indian poetician Anandvardhana who ‘proclaims in a famous verse that the poet is the sole creator in the universe of poesy since he fashions the world of the poem according as he pleases’: Apare kavyasansare kavirev prajapatieh/ Yathasme rochate vishvam tathettratipadhate. Look at the poem how the poet expresses it:
Out of sheer chaos they invent
A world too exuberant yet delicate
It is the messy composition of life
That they so fondly celebrate. (56)

To sum up, it is needless to say that the poems of Kanwar Dinesh Singh are unique and universal. The poet is not different to sublime poets and indifferent to sublimity. His imagery, symbols and other linguistic techniques successfully create delight at first perusal and wisdom in the second. His experimentation with language and genre has made him appealing and a poet of high caliber so the present volume is worth reading as well as worth buying.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Discovery, Tapati Baruah Kashyap, 12, D Juripur, Panjabari Road Guwahati, 2008, pages-49, Price-50/- Reviewed by Shaleen Kumar Singh

Tapati Baruah Kashyap’s A Discovery is a beautiful arrangement of poems in a single book-form that have previously appeared in different esteemed journals like The Sentinel, Replica, Poet and The Journal of Poetry Society of India. The book contains thirty six poems that took birth when the poet was journeying through the path of life with the only ‘companion’ of ‘Silence’. It is better to quote her own words when she says: Honestly speaking, all these poems are discovery of my sense perceived at different situations and experiences of life when silence was my only companion. (Words of Gratitude)
The poems composed in silence need silence again to enter into the being of the readers and agitate their conscience. Therefore, the poems that were composed in the back drop of series of violent incidents perpetrated by armed groups in Assam during which several innocent people had to sacrifice their lives for no fault of theirs need special notice of poets and critics so that a wider audience may equally experience the invisible claws of death over the lives of the innocent persons and their inexplicable agony. The poems of this collection are both subjective and objective equitably; subjective when she seems discovering her own self and objective when her own self is tormented by external inhuman and cruel forces and when she exhibits her genuine concern for the humanity at large. The realistic images drawn by her make the reader discover the root cause of the tragedy of human life which is in jeopardy on account of ethnic violence in Assam as well as discover the true identity of man in ‘nobody’s world’. But it is only the silence where she discovers ‘sense’. It is the silence which is a passage to her soul and an opportunity for realization and can make her heart’s door open and suggests her to keep it open. Most of the poems of the collection are suffused with realism so they contain skepticism, nihilism, dejection, hopelessness and deep pain in themselves and at times she becomes too inquisitive to ask death:
Why death
Why are you so harsh?
No sympathy for the humanity
Why death?
Where do you exist?
Is it your pride?
To destroy the earth
At your own wish . (32)
The poems like ‘Death Disrupts’, ‘Death Prevails’, Death is Disorder’, ‘Death Pollutes the Air’ and ‘Song of Death’ deal with the theme of death with a mode of research and skepticism. Her questions like ‘When there is no end/ How is life possible’ (41) or ‘Why death? / what were their sins?’ and the answer, ‘nothing –nothing-nothing’ (39) or her suppositions to death as ‘the healer of pain’ or ‘a shower of serenity on / the helpless soul of earth!’ create skepticism and reflection in the mind and heart of the readers.
Tapati appears to be successful in making her readers more reflective and thoughtful on the varied shades and emotion of life. But all the skepticism and pessimism (of poets) that arises out of the material world may shed if we remember Tagore who sings (in Bangla): ‘ Jibone yata puja holona sara,/Jani he jani tao hainin hara,/ Ye phul na futite jhareche dharanite,/Ye nadi marupahte haralo dhara,/Jani he jani, tao haini hara./ Jibone ajo yaha rayeche piche jani he jani, tao haini miche.
Which means ‘The prayers which I have left incomplete/In my life time,/Are not lost, I know/The unblossomed flower which falls/On the earth,/The river which lose its course/On entering a desert,/Are not lost, I know/Even to day the things/Which are left behinds/Are not in vain, I know.’

Therefore, if she remembers that the man dies but his soul lives on, her poetry will be more reflective, inquisitive and remarkable because her incessant urge to search, to know self is more powerful than other contemporary poets writing in English. The book is aesthetically designed and moderately priced. I avidly urge other scholars and academics to cast their critical glance to such a fresh and qualitative poetry.