Published By BookWryter, Kolkata, India
Date of Publication: January, 2023.
No. of Pages: 98. Format : Paperback, Price Rs 350/-
Ananya Chatterjee’s latest collection, Barefoot on Splintered Glass -is a beautiful gift that will be cherished and treasured. I have read it cover to cover three times now, and I know I will return to it in subsequent years. I find Ananya’s work both stimulating and moving and this collection with its title which evokes pain and courage, comes as a reminder of her ability to strike a deep chord with the reader.
The classification of the poems under four seasons, signifying a full calendar year, lends the poems a universal resonance that reminds us of the natural cycle and indicates that there is a poem in this book for every season for all individuals who pick it up and return to it.
There is an intimacy and honesty about these poems which resonate with me with their confessional power. The use of imagery can be startling as well as meaningful, the rhythms, the suggestion of rhyme, and the variable poetic form dictated especially by each poem offer something here for all readers. The themes covering love, relationships, loss, longing, loneliness, recovery, and renewal, show the close alignment of human experiences and emotions with nature and its ability to heal.
It is not possible to mention all the poems, but here are lines from some of them which carry her message and remain memorable:-
The first stray showers of summer
hit the madly swinging sea.
I suddenly remembered I was thirsty
For a voice that was always a blur. (‘Mother’)
A choking sun sets fire to your hair,
I find the flames scorching my face.
You whisper a name into the wind,
I want to somehow believe it’s mine. (‘Terrace Dreams’)
The air between us distends
with an answer we’re dying to know.
With a question, we’ll never ask.
“Will I see you tomorrow?” (‘The Question’)
“How many before me?”
-The morning dew asked the night jasmine.
She yawned playfully…”None” – she lied. (Transience’)
After years of dormant longing…
Healings begin. (‘Show Me Your Wounds’)
And the two very different ‘prized possessions’ in ‘Strangers’ ‘Memories’ and ‘Amnesia’ in two elderly gentlemen coming together on a park bench – are poignant.
The sunbird uttered no obvious tweet,
the cacti folded their thorns and dropped silently…
On winter twilights
no one dies of lovelessness. (‘Diagnosis’)
remind me again
we were friends
we turned lovers…
I gather your shriveled
Palms in mine.
like old times…” (‘Aging’)
I dream of mountains. Every other night.
Not far and distant, not snow-dripping white,
But brown and milkless barren peaks.
They throb in silence, close, so close,
I can almost taste their jagged creeks. (‘Penance’)
Love arrives soft-footed
And nuzzles your vision
Like the warm palms of a child
Cupping the eyes
In a game of blindfolds. (‘High Stakes’)
How quietly you went…
Leaving me alone
With a million butterflies
suckling at the breasts
of honeyed marigolds. (‘Heartbreaks should happen in Monsoon’)
Here. Now. Untamed and free.
I am the forest. The forest is me. (‘The Forest and I’)
Jayant Kripalani’s Foreword is a tour de force, befitting this collection. And it is significant that the author begins with the fullness of summer and ends with the promise of spring. And this is what stays with me- this quality of poetry to bring succor and hope.
10 May 2023, Edinburgh
Bashabi Fraser CBE (born 1954) is an Indian-born Scottish academic, editor, translator, and writer. She is a Professor Emerita of English and Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University and an Honorary Fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh and an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Literary Studies (ALS), Scotland, and a former Royal Literary Fund Fellow. She has authored and edited 23 books, published several articles and chapters, both academic and creative and as a poet.