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 http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/this-summer-and-that-summer-9789385436703/

 

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

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