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Appraisals: Kiriti Sengupta, reviewed by Rosalind Princess Reshma


A review of Appraisals: Kiriti Sengupta by Rosalind Princess Reshma

Title: Appraisals: Kiriti Sengupta: Breaking the Barriers

Edited by Sunil Sharma and Dustin Pickering

Published by Transcendent Zero Press, Houston (Texas)

ISBN: (Paperback): 9781946460943


Roland Barthes, in his monumental essay says, “We know that a text does not consist of a line of words, releasing a single “theological” meaning (the “message” of the Author-God), but is a space of many dimensions, in which are wedded and contested various kinds of writing, no one of which is original: the text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture.” This speaks volumes about the impact any written text has on the readers. It would be naïve to say that a work of art has an absolute and/or intrinsic meaning. The enlightenment or simply the pleasure that a reader seeks from poetry seldom lies in the written words but lay hidden between the unwritten lines, waiting to be discovered which in return help the reader reconstruct the poet as an artist and as a kindred spirit. Appraisals: KiritiSengupta is a collection of reflections on poetry and the poet.

Poetry has always been a vehicle of spirituality. The symbolisms and the poetic license to experiment with figurative language helps the reader embark on a journey to understand the poem which is another side of discovering the self. Sengupta’s poems, with their rich symbolisms and universal themes provoke the reader with thoughts which Dustin Pickering aptly calls “an education in truth.” Talking in detail about how the ambiguity in the poems keeps the reader’s curiosity ignited throughout this search for truth, he says, “The way each image twists and turns, perhaps due to its translation, from ambiguity to an unexpected consolidation of objects that have nothing in common superficially, can only be the work of a poet-magician who seeks to grasp the external/objective world by poetic and analytical absorption.” (page 22) This ‘self’ that a poet intertwines with the metaphors and allusions, has traits which are universal, yet subtly colored with characteristics which are culturally significant and unique. As Sharmila Ray points out, “Kiriti’s poems are a montage of responses to the everyday philosophy that runs subterranean in the orient. These experiences are common to all men. But the poet remembers them and gives them form through words without frills.” (page 191) Ray compares the poems with abstract paintings suggesting the active role of the readers in creating the “meaning.” While Sengupta experiments with themes that provoke not only thought but a deep and honest contemplation, he makes sure that these themes are presented through images and experiences that are directly borrowed from life, and thus, the poem as a whole becomes something the reader can relate to. Calling the poems “direct references to life,” Ananya S Guha says, “These poems are not arid intellectualism. They are poetry of the heart, the spirit. Yet, they are complex interfaces of existence.” (p-193)

It is intriguing to notice that the style of Sengupta’s writing is always in sync with the nature of the themes and content. The poet has aptly used free verse to “educate” the readers of truths and perceptions that grow beyond boundaries, and thus, cannot be captured within the traditional protocols of poetic art, such as rhyme and meter. Analysing the prose poems in The Earthen Flute, Susanta Kumar Bardhan states, “It is evidently a modernist-postmodernist venture on the part of artist (who practices this) to explore the multiple facets of the mystery-laden complex reality of existence and its relation with humanity at large and to reflectively as well as aesthetically give shape in a text to those.” (p-216) Another interesting aspect of the poems is the stream of consciousness narration used by Sengupta, making his work tangentially touch different genres while not digressing away from the theme. This can be attributed to the complexities of the issues the poet handles in his work. Placing the different sides of these socio-cultural issues in a particular order will not do justice to the consequences of the same which impact the ‘self’ that the reader is attempting to discover and understand. In the words of Usha Kishore, “The narrative moves from light hearted satire to sobriety, to counter narrative and philosophy. The issues of gender and transgender transcend the experimental format and venture into the realm of Indian socio-politics.” (p-156)

While poetry helps the reader discover the inner self, it also acts as a medium through which the reader bonds with the creator of the work. While deconstructing the poems based on its umpteen linguistic and literary aspects, the reader is also reconstructing the poet as an artist and as an individual who has been influenced by the time and place while influencing the same through his art. Sengupta has been described as a “romantic poet” by Ananya S Guha who says that his poetry contains the very essence of romanticism; “idealism,” “pantheism,” and “humanism.” However, by refusing to be confined within the stereotypes of a genre, he lets the universality of his themes blend in with the uniqueness of his perspectives. In reference to “Saffron” Koushik Sen writes, “This is a vivid yet disturbing image that Sengupta produces, and establishes the fact that Sengupta is here to stay — he is not just another writer among the mass.” (p-250) The various reviews in the collection help the reader see Sengupta not just as the globally recognized poet and blogger but a good human with interesting thoughts on the things that surround him. He is also described as a good friend who values relationships by those who have had the privilege of knowing him personally.

Appraisals: Kiriti Sengupta is not merely a compilation of interpretations and perspectives on Sengupta’s poems, but a detailed synopsis of the many sides of his poetry and the diversity of his thoughts and opinions as a poet and as a human. The book, on one hand, answers the many questions that arise while reading Sengupta’s poems, and on the other hand, it gives the reader new questions, to find the answers of which a re-reading of the poems becomes inevitable. Apart from fulfilling the academic and literary needs of the critical reader, the collection also satisfies the curiosity of a poetry lover who just wants to know more about the creator of the poetry which has so beautifully appealed to the intellect and the imagination.


Rosalind Princess Reshma is an educator and a poet who has recently published a chapbook, Lost Interpretations. She holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics and applies it in the creative use of language. Being a polyglot and an admirer of languages, she is interested in reading and analyzing translations of literary texts.


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