Beth Somerford

 

 

 

Night Walk to Peppercombe Beach


Late afternoon already, as we drop
down the unmetalled track to find the house;
watch the light slip from the day’s shoulders
while we unpack and settle, make the tea.

We trace the dark thread of the cutting through
the combe, listen for the wish of gravel,
feel for the slip of mud at the path’s edge,
follow the rings of the torch’s dim ellipse.

The slim-etched branches trace
the ribs of a nave as we process,
past the cry of a tawny owl, a crumbling barn
and three gates with their different latches.

The calm ceiling pierced by stars,
and you say ‘go on, count them!’
You cut a piece of the sky’s dark cloth
and lay it round me, kiss me with a smuggler’s tongue.

Nearing the cliff we hear the shifting stones,
the echo of the waves against the trees.
Next day we find the drop is sheer, the pebbles
we heard rolling in the surf are big as cats.

 

 

 

 

Beth Somerford‘s poems have appeared recently in Backlash, Brittle Star and The Interpreter’s House. Her pamphlet ‘Messing with Endings’ is available here. She is Director of Different Development in Brighton, and author of ‘Rhyme and Reason: The Poetry of Leadership’.  Website – bethsomerford.com.

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Tanmoy Bhattacharjee reviews ‘My Glass of Wine’ by Kiriti Sengupta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going through the gorgeous, red-slim book My Glass of Wine by Kiriti Sengupta I am reminded of a few lines by Li Po:

“Since water still flows, though we

cut it with swords,
And sorrow returns, though we

drown it with wine,
Since the world can in no way

satisfy our cravings,
Let us loosen our hair tomorrow

and go fishing.”

 

Author Kiriti Sengupta first and foremost entreats to be marked as an “Indian [Bengali] author.” Rather he is merely a writer. Because he never worries which genre his work would fit into. “Seeing is believing.” So, he only writes what he sees, believes in, and observes.  My Glass of Wine should better be treated, as Sengupta wrote himself, as “a book written in the English-language, and in several ways.” A note to follow-up: “Is it autobiography? Is it non-fiction? Is it poetry? Don’t puzzle over such ‘sensible’ questions, reader. The author did not.” Celebrated Indian poet, Debjani Chatterjee, who is based in the United Kingdom, also picks up the general amazement the readers might experience in this book.

“The author is dead,” when a piece of writing is out of the hands of the author(s) concerned. Now it is up to the readers to deliberate and decide. But why would the readers bother to read a book? Sengupta first makes an introductory “Alap”— a noticeably individualistic stroke applied to communize with the readers; familiarise with his gharana (marked stylistic ideology) of writing. He is a Bengali, writing in the English language. Here he acquaints us with his clarified considerations the issues of “popularity,” “mass,” “class,” “personal,” “impersonal,” “literary” elements of a work, and a few notionally determinant factors that constitute the image of an author. This chapter does not merely introduces the “being and becoming” of the author, “Alap” also brings in the narrative of how Sengupta came into the literary world. He sounds iconoclast when he questions the liberty of a writer to be absolutely him/her-self, and also the liability of the buyers. Thus, his appreciable take:

One must realize writers don’t write bestsellers; it is the readers who make a book popular. If a writer exhibits some control or understanding of the readers’ minds, blame those who have remained apathetic towards the buyers.

Probably Sengupta is concerned about the creation of good literature, not necessarily “great literature.” He puts much emphasis on the practice of “thinking in English,” which, far from merely translating native tongue into English, will certainly enable one to gather the finer nuances of the language.

“Poetry should not mean, but be” is a quote by famous poet Archibald Macleish.  Sengupta offers his advocacy for poetry to “be.” His mission seems to be targeted to prepare a stronghold for poetry, irrespective of whether it sounds clichéd, nature-based, or modern. He rather adds the idea of “new-age poetry,” nor does he even miss out on to mention referentially Eliot’s theory of impersonality in poetry.  Moreover, Sengupta proposes a zealous appeal for poetry that will “linger over the decades” and that should not read too “abstract.” Sengupta aspires to write some autobiographic shreds of his life, through some “prose weaved into poetry.” He not only inspires the upcoming poets to come up afresh, anew, Sengupta also stays tuned with Baudelaire, the renowned French poet: “Always be a poet, even in prose.”

Sengupta names his next chapter, “As I Traversed.” Of course he traversed, but all along on his own into the realm of literature, and Tagore’s landmark novel, Shesher Kobita, as the author informs us, opened for him a new gateway. Although readers may smell a bit of Platonic ideation of poetry, when Sengupta logically establishes that the firsthand role of literature is to entertain, and poetry does not necessarily do that. Does he, in any way, propose to exclude poetry from literature? We lay nonplussed observing his stand:

Poetry delivers. Poetry communicates. Poetry bridges up. Poetry inspires. Poetry evokes. Poetry provokes. Poetry enlightens. Poetry illumines. Poetry heals.

Needless to say, poetry entertains through all these facets. It is said, “What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God” [Hans Urs von Balthasar]. Author Sengupta opens up his long-closed window of spirituality, and responds to the clarion call of God — he picks up the creator’s choice, and suddenly “becomes.” By getting “spiritually baptized,” drinking wine, and thus, by de-constructing his deep-rooted ancestral practice, he actually re-constructs himself, explores the journey he is sent for. Benjamin Franklin sounds perfect when he says: “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” Not only Sengupta, his older sister too finds peace and things worked out well for them. Truly one can assure himself thus, “In wine, there’s truth” (Pliny the ElderNatural History). The concept of “blood relation” looks a bit different in Sengupta’s words, as his idea encompasses a large area of probabilities:

“You and I

The Father and son

the legacy goes on

Inevitable – impeccable,

blood relation …”

 

We name; we are also names!  Title of something is the marker of its content. Similarly, a name of a person roughly hints at his supposed nature or behavioural pattern. Awfully true is, “fame” is credited not with the person, but with someone’s name. “My Sister’s Bhaiya” is such a chapter that is enough to give a hard blow, at least to the Hindu way of naming the new-borns, for they are preoccupied with a prejudice of remembering and chanting the names of the divine prowess:

“Significant indeed – carrying yourself

‘Crucify’ is Christ-filled

I remember, and my mind turns candle-lit”

 

Who we address genuinely as our “Master?” He, or she, or it? Well, irrespective of the varied choices ascribed, Sengupta directs us to a new horizon — the “soul,” which establishes our existence philosophically. He is again the “Guru,” whose preaching reads thus:

 

“Open your heart, and

Use your brain;

you will reach beyond

the humanly plane.”

 

Sengupta narrates how he was initiated to yoga — Kriyayoga, but enigma pervades as to what kind of initiation actually it is! Is it the initiation of discovering one’s self, or the initiation into writing? Arriving at the closure of his exposure he succeeds in consummating his notes, notices and messages within a very philosophical framework. Evident is his voice, which is crucially unconventional! People often get perplexed with certain issues and elements, and wrongly associate them with other ideas, but here Sengupta does not fail at all even to justify the philosophic and spiritual contextualization behind the vertical lines as noticed in the cover of the book. Aristotelian dictum, “Know thyself,” finds perfect parallelism in his words for self-analysis. The disability to connect spiritual and real, as he exemplifies, leads to the end. Conclusively, he reverberates his Master: “Reach the void, and see the cage.”

My Glass of Wine results in the manifestation of the words by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Sengupta could easily arrive to this tranquil essence as “in MGOW he is essentially interviewing himself,” as suggested by Don Martin in his foreword to this book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tanmoy Bhattacharjee hails from Raiganj, West Bengal, India. A teacher of English language and literature, he writes English poetry and literary nonfiction. Tanmoy has authored a book of poems, Heights of Life (Hawakaal Publishers, Kolkata), which has been a best-selling title on Amazon (United States). Tanmoy’s poems have appeared in acclaimed journals and webzines like Asian Signature, The Contour, The Literary Herald, Tuck Magazine, to name but a few. He has co-authored Sankarak — The Literary Fusion, an anthology based on Hybrid Literature. Besides, his papers have appeared on well-known journals like, Wilderness House Literary Review (Massachusetts, USA), Muse India, among other places.

 

Order your copy of Kiriti Sengupta’s My Glass of Wine (Hawakaal Publishers, Calcutta) here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Glass-Wine-only-glass/dp/819316668X?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

 

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Colin Pink

 

 

 

New Perch

We balance on the balcony like two Japanese cups
on a high shelf – together – rim to rim
perfect and fragile in equal measure.

A shingle of stars lies scattered across the sky;
it takes a long time for their light to reach this far
- like a thought that dawns too late.

As we gaze up we reconfigure the constellations,
tracing ourselves, joining dot to dot, making
new stories to grace this velvet night.

 

 

 

Colin Pink is a freelance writer and art historian living in London. His poems have appears in Ink Sweat and Tears, The Shop, Poetry News, Poetry Salzburg Review etc.  His first collection will be published by Poetry Salzburg later this year.

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David Brierley

 

 

 

Twelve views of Manchester

Sunrise across New Islington, from the side of Rochdale Canal.
Fallow Café at Landcross, the morning after a snowfall.
A rainstorm beneath the Beetham tower.
Sketch of a Mitsui shop on the walls of Affleck’s Palace,
the little wave to a friend on Oxford Road,
A cautious chord on a piano, in the Sackville Street Foyer,
A party, broken up by police, off a street from Claremont Road.
Picnic under the oak trees in Heaton Park, as it starts to rain,
Finding a seat somewhere in Kro Bar, opposite the University,
The neon glow of that red PALACE sign, obscured by a fog,
Manchester Cathedral – of St. Mary, St. Denys, St. George,
The sun setting on John Ryland’s, a taxi splashing rainwater on the street.

 

 

 

 

David Brierley is an English Literature and Creative Writing student at the University of Manchester, though he is originally from Gloucestershire. This is his first published work.

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Geoff Mills for National Flash Fiction Day!

 

 

Manners

Gladys Walker ascended to heaven in her eight-first year to find the place not at all to her satisfaction. Glancing critically over the field of serrated clouds upon which a manna market had been erected, she collared the next person who jostled past her.

‘Einstein?’ she barked.

‘That is I,’ he replied candidly, for in heaven no untruths may be told.

‘This is not what I had in mind when I pictured eternity. Is this all there is?’

‘All there is? What more could you wish for? Any flavour you care to imagine and it may be found here!’ He swept his hand across the teeming plain and gazed in wonder.

‘And beyond the market?’

Einstein’s eyebrows rose up like a pair of ambushed seagulls. ‘Madam, once you’ve tasted our manna, the question of beyond ceases to exist.’

‘Yes well! I’d like to have a word with God all the same. If you could point me in the right direction!’

‘Not possible I’m afraid. He’s indisposed. Indefinitely.’

‘How so?’

‘Depression or some such. He just doesn’t believe in himself anymore.’

‘Well then, Jesus?’

‘Blackholing in Andromeda I believe.’

‘St. Peter?’

‘Otherwise engaged. Problem at the entrance. Went to ask about letting some thieves in, came back to find the gate missing.’

‘Outrageous. This is not the heaven I imagined!’

‘Ah! Heaven, madam, is a problematic concept. By what standard do you take measure? It’s rather a question of relativity.’

And with that, Einstein disappeared greedily into the munching masses.

 

 

Geoff Mills is a Midlands based writer and teacher. He is currently in the final year of his PhD in creative writing at Birmingham University and teaches on the script writing module at Worcester University. www.geoff-mills.com  #geoffmills7

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Hideko Sueoka

 

 

 

Cherry Blossoms

Today dark blue is my facial colour.
So can you see ashy-indigo confetti?

A cherry addict admires pale pink
fluttering down in lambent sunlight.

But through the flyaway organza of misty breath,
my skin hides another complexion

that lurks on the counterfeit surface
in spring frolics. After catharsis of my mind,

unknown beauty you can find in me
bright blue – like cranesbill,  grape hyacinth, catmint.

 

 

 

 

Hideko Sueoka has been working as a translator, living in Tokyo, and was the winner of 2013 Troubadour International Poetry Competition. A recent poem was published on the online journal Stravaig issue 4: http://www.geopoetics.org.uk/online-journal/stravaig-issue-4/

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Kenneth Pobo

 

 

 

Red Carnations

Your dad died three years ago.
You were 61.  Today
your brother left red carnations,
his favorite, by his name.

Beside your dad’s place,
a stranger’s sinking grave,
the name angled like
a board game played
on a tipped table.  Deer

watch us, often eat the flowers.
We don’t scare them.
They sneak back
after we drive away.

In the morning,
work.  The slow moving forward,
step by step, to death.

 

 

 

Kenneth Pobo had a book out in 2015 called Bend of Quiet from Blue Light Press.  His work has appeared in: Orbis, The Fiddlehead, Indiana Review, Amsterdam Review, and elsewhere

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