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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Winner of the UEA FLY Festival Short Story Competition 11-14 yr olds: Scarlett Baxter

We are never disappointed by the 11-14 yrs entries for the Short Story Competition at the UEA FLY Festival and this year was no different. How do you make a decision when the imagination of these kids seems to have no bounds taking them back into history, forward into virtual reality gaming and everywhere in between? Ultimately, the judges (including brilliant YA author Alexander Gordon Smith and author and festival organiser Antoinette Moses) focused in on Scarlett Baxter from Langley School. Her ending is well-written, both atmospheric and exciting and pulls all the elements of the story together in an unusual and moving way.

Second place goes to Broadland High School’s Lorna Hatch, whose ending offers us a nicely alternative slant on Robin Hood and can be found here. And Honourable Mentions must go to the runners-up, Honey Lamdin (Langley School) and Finn Cruise (Smithdon High School)

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FLY Festival 2016 Short Story Competition:
First Place 11-14 year olds: Scarlett Baxter, Langley School

 

It was going to be a great day. One, there were no lessons as we were going to this festival thing at the university in Norwich, two, Mum seemed to be getting better, and three…

I didn’t get as far as three because the bus sort of juddered and made a noise like someone scraping their fingernails across a blackboard. And the driver said the word Mum says I mustn’t ever use. He swung the wheel to the left and, with a couple of bumps and more scraping sounds, it stopped.

‘Sorry, folks, it’s a puncture,’ said the driver. So our teachers got us out of the bus, with lots of sighing and looking at their watches, while he changed the wheel. We’d stopped in a narrow road with a long flint wall running along beside it. I was about to take a photo of the driver, who’d got very red in the face, when I noticed the door in the wall beside me.

‘Look at that,’ I said to Chris.

‘’Why would you make a door that small?’ he asked. ‘It’s weird.’

Then it swung open. Not wide open, just a crack.

‘Shall we..? I asked.

Chris grinned. The door opened almost before I touched it and immediately Chris and I were in this huge green field. Which is when an arrow thwacked past my left ear and landed in the wall. Which wasn’t flint anymore but wood.

‘What on earth?’ yelped Chris. We turned round to get away from whoever was shooting arrows at us, when we saw that the door had gone. Disappeared. It just wasn’t there. And that’s when we heard the shouts and heard the dogs and…

…we heard the twangs of more arrows being pelted at us. I thought I must have fallen, from how low I was in the grass, when I heard Chris cry sharply. I turned and I stared. Before me was a wonderful vermilion fox. I looked down at my hand, but there was no hand there, just a small scarlet paw. The word mum told me never to say slipped from my lips as I realised what was happening. However, adrenaline had taken control over my limbs and I began pounding into the deep thicket of trees, shouting at Chris to follow. He, too, bounded into the forest narrowly missing an arrow, which thudded into the ground where he stood a second earlier.

We kept scampering through the trees even though we could hear the hunting horns die out and shouts fade. A smooth voice shouted from the root of a tree, instructing us to follow it down a deep hole. We skidded to a halt at the edge of the hole. I was reluctant to follow an unknown voice down a mysterious hole, but what choice did we have? We clambered into the damp tunnel, Chris leading this time, and scarpered along it with careful glances back in case the huntsmen came. The tunnel suddenly turned to a great chamber, which was surprisingly well-lit. There were about twenty foxes and vixens sat, some talking raptly with each other, some staring attentively at Chris and I. It was a very odd sight.

‘Welcome,’ said the furthest fox from the door.

She was clearly the leader. She had a demanding presence of power in all her body. Except her eyes. Familiar eyes?

‘My name is Twyla,’ she said softly ‘We’re the Vulpes. We, just like you, are humans, trapped. And we, like you, are confused.’

The room had stilled in silence.

‘However, we do know something,’ she continued ‘this is not real. It’s an alter reality in which our minds live. Our bodies live on in the other world, but as soulless beings. And as you may have guessed, we need to get out of here.’

Just as the words had escaped her, another fox appeared.

‘Twyla!’ he panted ‘we’ve found it!’

The room exploded. Every single fox scrambled for the tunnel and its opening. Chris and I followed. The other fox lead the way through the trees until he found an opening. There, at the base of the biggest tree, was a small door.

‘Shall we..?’ I asked and we went through together.

Everything blacked out. I felt something like butterflies in my chest, followed by a thump as I felt my back hit the ground. I opened my eyes to see the bus and everything how it was before. I sat up dazed and saw Chris next to me. We both had knowing looks in our eyes. Did that really just happen?

When I returned home, mother hugged me tight. She was completely better. No pale face or watery eyes. But those eyes… She nodded. So mum was never ill after all…

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Winner of the UEA FLY Festival Short Story Competition 15-18 yr olds: Edward Darrall

Last week, we were once more privileged to be part of the UEA FLY Festival (Festival of Literature for Young people) and again supported the final event, a cracking POETRY SLAM with host Adisa and exceptional mentors in Tim Clare, Mark Gristo, Molly Naylor and Ross Sutherland. Thanks, too, to the kids from Stalham High School, Open Academy, King’s Lynn Academy and East Point Academy for reminding us that poetry is not a dead art to the young.

As in previous years, we co-judged the Short Story Competition with the inimitable Alexander Gordon Smith and festival organiser and author Antoinette Moses, who also wrote the story’s opening. It is featured in italics below followed by a very evocative and moving ending from the winner of the 15-18 age group, Edward Darrall (Diss High School). It speaks of a real talent

Praise, too, for Second Place winner William Johnson, also from Diss High School, whose multi-viewpoint story ending can be found here. Finally, a Honourable Mention must go to the runner up, Alexander Poulson.

The winners of the 11-14 year old age group will be featured on IS&T tomorrow.

 

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FLY Festival 2016 Short Story Competition:
First Place 15+ year olds: Edward Darrall, Diss High School

 

It was going to be a great day. One, there were no lessons as we were going to this festival thing at the university in Norwich, two, Mum seemed to be getting better, and three…

I didn’t get as far as three because the bus sort of juddered and made a noise like someone scraping their fingernails across a blackboard. And the driver said the word Mum says I mustn’t ever use. He swung the wheel to the left and, with a couple of bumps and more scraping sounds, it stopped.

‘Sorry, folks, it’s a puncture,’ said the driver. So our teachers got us out of the bus, with lots of sighing and looking at their watches, while he changed the wheel. We’d stopped in a narrow road with a long flint wall running along beside it. I was about to take a photo of the driver, who’d got very red in the face, when I noticed the door in the wall beside me.

‘Look at that,’ I said to Chris.

‘’Why would you make a door that small?’ he asked. ‘It’s weird.’

Then it swung open. Not wide open, just a crack.

‘Shall we..? I asked.

Chris grinned. The door opened almost before I touched it and immediately Chris and I were in this huge green field. Which is when an arrow thwacked past my left ear and landed in the wall. Which wasn’t flint anymore but wood.

‘What on earth?’ yelped Chris. We turned round to get away from whoever was shooting arrows at us, when we saw that the door had gone. Disappeared. It just wasn’t there. And that’s when we heard the shouts and heard the dogs and

…knew we were in trouble. Chris seemed to have frozen, his eyes open wide in horror. My eyes skimmed across the field, but I couldn’t see anything – just long grass. With a thud, another arrow embedded itself firmly in the ground at Chris’ feet. Whoever the attackers were, they seemed to be invisible.

I grabbed Chris’ arm and started running along the wall. He soon caught on and was sprinting, full pelt, beside me. In the distance, lining the edge of the field was a tangled mass of trees and thorny bushes. We were heading towards a small, black opening in the malicious looking barrier; our only means of escape from our attackers. I was less than ten metres from the forest when a third arrow struck Chris in the back. He made a small whimper as he fell. My hands were shaking as I bent down beside him. The back of his shirt was already soaked in bright red blood. I gently touched his face; his skin was pale and cold and his eyes were glazed. Mum had told me that I had to be strong, so I left him and crawled my way through the narrow opening and deep into enclosed woodland. I crawled until all the sounds of the dogs and the people had faded away and I was alone in the sickening silence, the pulsating darkness swelling around me. Then I curled into a ball and waited.

My heart was racing, beads of sweat stuck to my forehead. Daylight was unable to penetrate the knotted thorns and the gnarled tree trunks of the foreboding thicket. Talon-like brambles clawed at my back and scary faces glared at me from the blackness all around. I screwed my face up and forced my eyes tightly shut, but a small tear still found its way down my cheek and onto my chin, only to drip and land on my trousers. I wanted my mum. I remember her telling me that I was so very brave and that she loved me very much, but I was scared now. Really scared. I wanted her to be here with me. I wanted to be able to talk to her again. I wanted this all to be a dream, just a story, but it wasn’t. It was real.

I am back on the bus, tears glistening in my eyes. Chris is sitting next to me with his headphones on. The driver in front of me, eyes focussed on the road ahead. The bus moving happily forwards. In my lap is a notepad; basic ideas of stories scribbled down all over the paper. I’ve got to the bit where an arrow hits the wooden wall. But I can’t get mum out of my head. All my stories just quickly deteriorate and I start crying. I want to pretend that she’s well, but she’s not. The doctor says that she won’t get better. I shakily put the pen to the paper and start again.

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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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