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Thoughts in verses


The work is candid and ruminative, often circling back to familiar convictions, but without becoming preachy.


In this new age of hyperbole writing, understatement might be a greater currency than overstatement. So if this reviewer says that Kiriti Sengupta’s “Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral” is a striking reality of the kind of poetics we are fast losing the taste of, you can trust the understatement, aside from the casual assertion of prophecy. 

Seamlessly mixing the unseen with the seen, determined to create a new form of the grotesque that marries autobiographical sketches to poetic verses, Sengupta’s book is easily among the most inventive and successfully performative works to appear in living memory.  
Consider “Vastu” for a fine example:

The bedroom measures eleven by eleven,
Twenty-two of you;
No mirror in the room
Following Vastu
A small family it is...

It is this simplicity to convey such intense issues of both importance as well as immense sensitivity to a large section of population, that sets Sengupta’s latest book apart from the ongoing turmoil  in Indian literary space.

Poems typically run for a few pages, each serving as an extended rumination on a particular topic. They cover personal triumphs and disappointments, expressing acutely felt emotions like love, hate, and envy. They typically either unfold like well-constructed essays, as with the examination of what it means to be a metaphor in “Long,” or meander in a more naturalistic stream-of-consciousness way, as with the “lips with highs of your water” in “Crisis.”

Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral showcases an interesting poetic voice and features sometimes unexpected wordplay. The book has a confessional tone and a conversational vibe, and poems like “Beyond The Eyes” would be effective if read as slam poetry, with lines like “I reach the sky while I draw a circle in the water .”

Above all, “Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral” makes an implicit case that, if Wordsworth had been able to turn his rage at the mysteries of the world inward and also invited the sea to follow him inside, he would have blown the lid on creation as a direct precursor to the poet of our subject.  

Sengupta’s lack of a direct precursor, despite the abundant literary, religious and philosophical references embedded in the ingenious wordplay of his collection, is part of what makes “Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral” completely remarkable.
The book blows several giant craters out through the walls of our inherited and now somewhat cowed Western selves. 

It is a bomb with an angel behind it and reminds the many readers of this book to take it slow. Writing is a slow process – not as much for the writer as it should be for the reader going through the work.

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