Geetu Vaid reviews ‘This Summer and That Summer’ by Sanjeev Sethi



Picking up this slim collection of poems, one wonders whether the dainty yellow paper boats peering at you from the cover are just delicate and frangible or symbolise strength by daring the elements with their fragility and how these connect to the contents of the book. The effect of the poems by Sanjeev Sethi in This Summer and That Summer, however, is not the same as the short and succinct poems leave no doubt about the poet’s ability to express complex emotions with simplicity.

They say true ‘poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful’ and this is precisely what the poems present. In each of the 51 poems in this collection, exquisite wordplay complements the intricate weaving of thoughts, impressions and sentiments.

The poems carry a heady dose of alliteration and assonance lacing the bitter-sweet cocktail of emotions dished out by the poet. But nowhere does he allow the alliteration to get monotonous and tedious. So one can marvel at the pithiness wrapped in the silken-smooth flow of words whether it is the ‘Scratch the scab, and sanitise the skin.’ (Life’s Lesson), The celestial sphere sutures me to its stole (Fingerprint), An uncluttered brain is the boulevard of bliss (Worlds) or Goaded by grog music and machismo merge (Tavern Tale). But his skill is not limited to this, Sanjeev virtually paints with words in poems like Pigeons, Garrison Report and Nocturnal Activity.

While the diversity of content dipped in nostalgia, disillusionment or irony keep the freshness of the familiar alive, the arresting opening lines keep one glued to the pages. The poet beautifully describes the experience of enjoying poetry in one of the poems:

‘If you enter poetry like a nabob before a nautch

it will leave you listless.

When you peruse a poem perpend it like a psalm or salat.

When faith is installed guerdon is assured.

…When you undress a poem with dignity, delicately like a lover, it will disrobe you of excess, accessing your inner feelings’. (Conduction)


Thus, as the ‘words slither and startle’ and the poet ‘caress syllables to complete the emptiness of your experience’ a reader can savour the sublimity of lines such as ‘Some wounds require healing of the hurt’ (Life’s Lesson); ‘…is there a pesticide for the past?’ (Nocturnal Activity); ‘He didn’t know, I know, /baggage is not spatial’ (Ascot) or ‘We had window-shopped love in frippery of feelings’ (In the Plaza of Prejudice) or ‘Not remembering is a way of telling oneself, it did not happen/ Brutal echoes are best treated this way.’ (Winters).

These surely make the poems more than just ‘tercets from This Summer and That Summer’.

This is Sanjeev’s third book of poetry after Suddenly For Someone and Nine Summers Later and with this, he establishes himself as a craftsman who knows his art and his tools as he goes about his task diligently delivering one masterpiece after another. Like droplets of emotion and reason soothing the singe of experience, his verse leaves an indelible impression and one gets the feel of being on one of those pretty paper boats traversing a stream of emotions.


Order your copy of This Summer and That Summer by Sanjeev Sethi here


Note: This review was first published in THE TRIBUNE, CHANDIGARH

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Vicky Morris





It’s not like he’d planned to wake up
after 23 years of marriage,
to find the taps turned off,
everything dried out on the draining board,
no one checking the mains,
bulb gone in the hall,
the garden too barbered for its own good.

He laced up his quietest loafers,
grabbed some socks from the top drawer,
slid his passport from a copy of Punch,
loaded his toolboxes into the car.
While she stared at the TV she’d never watched before.
It’s plug without a fuse,
remote control in the drawer.

Vicky Morris writes poetry and short stories. She runs groups and projects for young writers. In 2013 she made the documentary – Dyslexic & Loving Words and in 2014 she won the Northern Writers Arvon Award.  Website:

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Mark Russell



Love Often Bares its Teeth

I am waiting for the number 44 bus,
it is raining and my bag is full of books
I have become less than keen to read;
they weigh me down, prod and bump
as if I carry a badly-concealed family
of cats. And not for the first time.

When I board I notice you are the driver—
I don’t know whether to make some remark,
don’t want to belittle your new occupation,
can’t decide if I should comment on how well
you fill the uniform, if this might be
inappropriate. And not for the first time.

I pay my fare, give you a tip
because I don’t have the right change,
sit in my favourite seat, enjoy the sting
and blind of oncoming traffic, see your face
on the front page of the Metro
with the story of your dimples. And, damn it,

the elderly man sitting by the window,
who swats the rain as it hits the glass,
growls curses or compliments—
it’s difficult to tell them apart, especially at night—
is also you. Your unshaven face is no disguise,
nor the smell of piss and chips, lager

and Hilary Duff’s ‘With Love’. Strangely,
you are also changing a flat tyre
outside the Spar by the school. I recognise
your scarf, the angle at which you hold your head.
That coat will have to go to the dry cleaners,
with the soiled hanky you use on the jack.

On the top deck a fight erupts. I hear your voice,
its gentle pace, the peacemaker’s tone,
and all goes quiet, the tempest quelled.
As I get off in Sauchiehall Street, you
get on with a surfboard, talking on your mobile
to your mother in New Zealand, whom you love,

and who loves you, of course, that’s what mothers do,
and I swear you see me, nod, pay your fare,
go upstairs out of sight. The doors close.
As the bus pulls away water drips from my hair
down my back, inside my trousers. Even the rain
is you, breathing, beckoning, open mouthed.



 Mark Russell has published Saturday Morning Pictures (Red Ceilings), and Pursued by Well-being (tall-lighthouse). His poetry has appeared most recently in The Rialto, The Interpreter’s House, and Bare Fiction.

Note: ‘Love Often Bares its Teeth’ was first published in the pamphlet Pursued by Well-being (tall-lighthouse).

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Joe Cottonwood




Welcome, Stranger

The half dozen gray geese
in our town’s central pond
used to strut out on the road
to attack trucks. Grills, tires. Pecking.
If you honked a car horn at them,
then you were speaking their language.
They’d hiss and cuss you out.
The folks in town got so fed up
with those geese that we did exactly that:
fed up on them.

So, stranger,
welcome to our local tavern.
Let me buy you a drink.
Just don’t cuss anybody.





Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life. He is the author of nine published novels, a book of poetry, and a memoir. He lives in La Honda, California, where he built a house and raised a family. His most recent book is 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses  Website:

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Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou




The Wedding Picture

‘Oh, I do, I do! It fits me fine but… I can’t afford it, I’m afraid. Another time.’

Yiota told the village peddler, Mr. Giorgos, on the phone, letting out a throaty ‘Bye’.

Dina was sitting at the sofa, her Geography schoolbook on her lap, staring at her parents’ wedding photo hanging on the living room wall. Opposite her the setting sun illuminated the balcony door. Black and white, the outline of the newlyweds blurred, as if penciled by kids, ruler-stiff bodies, the constipated smile of Gioconda on both faces. She liked the dress, the flowery lace along the neckline and the hem of the sleeves and the skirt. It was champagne-white, rather than paper-white and starched, like cardboard. Yiota had told her that it wasn’t actually her real wedding dress, or Dina’s dad’s own trouser suit. ‘No money for such luxuries’, she’d said. They were both the result of the photographer’s artistic endeavours. Common practice those days – the late 60s. Like arranged marriages. The kind they had.

‘Never seen him before our wedding day,’ Yiota would tell her best friend. ‘We smelt each other like sniffing dogs on our first night together. I would’ve taken a better pick,’ she’d say.

Yiota pattered out through the balcony door and leaned against the rails after hearing a car rev – for the umpteenth time that afternoon. ‘Ohi. Not him,’ she whispered. Then the phone rang. Yiota leapt across the room and picked it up. ‘Right,’ she said and clanked the receiver on its cradle as if dropping a steamy-hot casserole lid. ‘Your dad won’t be coming to dinner. Going out with friends,’ she mumbled. Hardly had she slumped down in the armchair, when she sprang up and dashed to the phone again. With firm fingers she dialed, took a deep breath and said, ‘Ne, Giorgo, I’m taking the dress. Bring it over tomorrow morning, when hubby is at work, you know…’ She let out a fake, girlish giggle and hung up.

Dina glanced over at the wedding picture. Whitish dress against blackish suit, a bouquet of bright red roses in the bride’s grip. Added by the photographer, of course. A cluster of scarlet blooms against the smudgy space between the couple she’d never noticed before.




Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou lives in Athens, Greece but writes in English. She holds a BA(Hons) in Literature and an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her stories have appeared in print and online in several literary magazines (including IS & T). Her first short story collection entitled Black Greek Coffee is available from Amazon.

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Brian Johnstone



What to do? You sign it,
as they all do, sign it in your childish hand,
descenders and ascenders imperfectly described,

a name, its capitals, its lower case
presented in the ink that’s drying even
as you gaze at it, drying as you think yourself

committed, pledge what future
you are able to conceive of to an absence,
disavowal (though you do not know these words)

and cannot see beyond the demon
conjured up before your eyes, you wish
in all your being to avoid. You will. You swear to it

right here. But cannot know
what liquor in a glass is waiting on a table,
what bottle, sweating in the heat of some back room,

has the word upon its label
that will draw you in, make a mockery
of this, its scrolls and curlicues, the fake solemnity

induced by those who should
know better, playing on a child’s mind,
its addiction only to a vow, a campaign, to a faith.



Brian Johnstone’s latest collection is Dry Stone Work (Arc, 2014). His work has appeared throughout Scotland and in the UK, America and Europe. He is a co-founder of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival and was Festival Director from 2001-2010. His  poems appear on The Poetry Archive.



Note:  this poem first published in Antiphon

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Nick Cooke





Struck by an ice-cream vendor at age nineteen!
What a bumptious little prick I must have been
to order a cone and then refuse to pay
on grounds of cost, and in a simpering way
watch as vanilla dribbled down his wrist.
Without reflecting he drew back his free fist
and slammed it in my ribs like a cricket ball,
a response I did not think I’d earned at all –

Today I’m not so sure. My eyes retrace
but seldom his livid loganberry face,
nor do I hear his panicked apology
when I threatened to fetch the constabulary
(a bluff I never meant him to believe).
Instead I see the liquid on his sleeve
and venture to compute the irritation.
It is a sad and shameful calculation.



Nick Cooke has had poems published in a range of magazines, from Agenda to Dream Catcher, as well as on sundry websites. He is currently working on his first collection.

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