Reflections, Poems by Tanuka Bhowmik, a Review
It is highly presumptuous of me to try to review a book of Poetry, as I have only rudimentary acquaintance with this art form. In our youth we professed a love for poetry and spouted Neruda for much the same reasons as we took up palmistry, to impress ladies. My own attempts to write poetry take a strange turn and end up as limericks, often unprintable. Serious poetry is rarely attempted sober, and incomprehensible once sober. But those who can’t; criticise, and the poet herself asked me to give an honest opinion, having greater faith in my critical facilities than I do, so who am I to complain?
Poetry, I thought, had to either rhyme, or be incomprehensible. Tanuka’s Poems did not fit in either category, so I was confused. Even an unschooled prosaic hack like me could figure them out, and moreover, enjoy them. Those that didn’t hit my head straight away, went a bit lower, and hit straight on the heart.
Poetry also could be I suppose, saying a great deal in very few words. Therefore these qualify.
The cover is beautiful, playing on the title, a reflection of a gull striking the water, in a golden yellow backdrop.
Tanuka’s reflections are categorised in six groups;
Social and Political, reflecting her social and political conscience;
Love, the imagery from her romantic thoughts;
Pain, the picture of her soul;
Reflections, a shadow of her thoughts;
Others, kaleidoscopic images from her consciousness;
And finally, Translations from Tagore, which are a reflection of her religion. For all true Bongs, their religion is the truly secular worship of Rabindranath.
It was the last section that truly floored me, for only the very brave attempt to translate their reigning deity, and the really talented succeed. Having known the original pieces, I could realise that Tanuka’s translations, reflect both the sense and the rhythm, a rare feat.
My personal favourites were many, but I will mention a few here.
One is” Words”, from the political section, which was about the bathos of the chatterereti deliberating the future of the dispossessed. The Poets angst and frustration are starkly evident.
Another is” Love in the times of Cholera”, named after my favourite novel, another surrealistic take on passion.
“Meal times” I liked because it rhymed, had a lovely beat, on a fuzzy warm subject, like comfort food.
But the one that touched me the most was “For my Daughter”, because they touched a nerve. I miss my daughters, as they have both left the nest.
Decades ago, when editing our college magazine, I had published a poem by this poet which I did not quite understand. Mean minded classmates had complained that I had done so as she was a PYT. This, in fact, she was, and still is, going by the picture in the back jacket. But this brilliant book vindicates my stand, and I tell my pals “So there! She always was a Poet, only you philistines didn’t know it!”to borrow from my favourite poet, Ogden Nash.
Looking forward to more such reader friendly poems from this poet, good job Authors Press, make this a bestseller.