Rituals, the latest book consists of remarkable collection of poems that explores the panoply of human experience and elucidates the meanings and rhythms of a mature poetic life.
Poet, translator, editor and critic, all rolled into one, that is Kriti Sengupta for you. In his latest book, Sengupta writes, “Customs are like meditation,” as the poet weaves religious liturgy as well as the opera of gods as the quotidian backdrop of a married life and experiences with his son.
Not just interested in the matter of appearances as a poet, Sengupta delves deep into the questions of what makes an Indian and how Hindu Goddesses can strengthen willpower and remove the ‘venom’ from life. What is more, the mythological and the quotidian blend and inform one another, the goddess appears in iterations of the wife, the daughter and the mother. These poems also talk about Monsoon and Muri as snacks that overlap with dialogues of intellect and Sanskrit.
Themes like nakedness and nudity are explored from the point of view of youth and maturity. Furthermore, the striking imagery marks the passing of time on everyday objects where the speaker can now stop and observe the beauty of human traces on life, “My tired eyes uncover the kohl of night.”
The speaker is not only interested in contemplating the beauty of everyday moments but also faces his reader with the violence of the modern world, in the poem “The Untold Saga” the violence of a mythological world mirrors the violence on women practiced often in the 21st century, offering a powerful statement on the untimely death of Nirbhaya in 2012. These poems are also meditations on our place in the world as humans, the vastness of the Earth compared to our frail bodies with the invitation to reconnect to the natural world.
Kiriti Sengupta, who has been awarded the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize (2018) for his contribution to literature, hails from Kolkatta. Sengupta has published nine books of poetry and prose, including Solitary Stillness, Reflections on Salvation, The Earthen Flute, A Freshman’s Welcome, Healing Waters Floating Lamps, The Reverse Tree, My Dazzling Bards, My Glass of Wine, The Reciting Pens, and The Unheard I; two books of translation, Desirous Water by Sumita Nandy, Poem Continuous—Reincarnated Expressions by Bibhas Roy Chowdhury; and he is the co-editor of five anthologies, Scaling Heights, Jora Sanko–The Joined Bridge,Epitaphs, Sankarak, and Selfhood. Sengupta’s poems have been published/accepted for publication at The Common,The Florida Review Online (Aquifer), Headway Quarterly, Moria Online, The Mark Literary Review, Mad Swirl, among other places.
The new book, published by Hawakal Publishers Kolkatta is eliciting humongous response. Sanjeev Sethi wrote, “Sated with Bengali flavours, Kiriti Sengupta’s forays in English are fraught with the essence of syncretism. Rituals is his best work to date.”
Cafe Dissensus review read, “(These) poems inhabit a space between poetry and aphorism in the way he compresses thoughts and pitches them in a tiny enclosed space. It is the job of a poet to defamiliarise the ordinary. In Rituals, Sengupta does an intriguing job of distilling wisdom from the dross of our daily life, a necessary condition for the possibility of poetry and living.”
The hundred page book is priced at Rs.300 and $ 9.99. Rituals is available in India, the US and the UK. For India, you can visit hawakal.com/books/english-books/rituals, for the US amzn.to/2WrY186 and for the UK amzn.to/2FLwgDh.