Book Reviews

A Layman's Perspective on Paresh Tiwari’s ‘An Inch of Sky’

My poetry is much like my forthright nature – in the face and blunt! Therefore, I consider it an act of great daring and bravado on my part to have even attempted to write on a genre of poetry – haiku - about which I know next to nothing, except that it is a nuanced three-liner, steeped in subtlety – alas, so unlike me!!!

Yet, so enamored I was by the beauty of Paresh Tiwari’s ‘An Inch of Sky’, a star-studded collection of his haiku and haibun, that I couldn’t resist the urge to write this piece and what’s more, post it too here!

As I read through ‘An Inch of Sky’, it became increasingly evident to me that Paresh treats the haiku genre of poetry as a meditative process during which he paints his word pictures and then refines his creations with the commitment of an artist, the reverence of a devotee and the passion of a lover. Not surprising because besides being an engineer turned Naval Officer by profession, Paresh is also “a creative writer and artist by choice”!

fireflies …
for a while my garden
mimics the sky (Page 17)

This is the first haiku in the book and the imagery it created in my mind, had me riveted for quite a while, not letting me move to the next haiku. Needless to say, I visited the next haiku after quite some time and so on. Each haiku that has been created by Paresh with a great economy of words, presented such a vivid picture before me that I was simply stupefied! After reading each haiku, my eyes would involuntarily close as if in deep contemplation, and there, in my mind would slowly conjure up the image that the haiku presents!

Now envision this:

toddler’s hideout
the azalea fragrant
with giggles         (Page 17)

And this:

thunderclap –
the infant’s fist tightens
around a dream  (Page 19)

Or these:

alley puddle –
a paper boat glides
over the stars   (Page 20)

dripping from her elbows …
mango orchard (Page 25)

The simplicity and the gentle subtlety of the above verses are bound to touch and move anyone! And that Paresh could visualize and capture such moments of life so beautifully into his haiku, demonstrates not only his grip over the medium but also his deep sensitivity and immense creativity! And yes, above all, his poetic prowess and artistic acumen!

I have mentioned earlier that Paresh serves the Indian Navy and perhaps, this verse reflects the time he spends away from home sailing ( an occupational hazard ?!) :

longest night …
the taste of sea breeze
and her absence (Page 33)

Indeed, the haiku in ‘An Inch of the Sky’ touch some interesting facets of life , events and every day happenings, cleverly employing the metaphor of seasons, dawn, dusk, night, the sun, the moon, the stars, the sea, nature and animals appropriate to the mood of the situation.

The ups and downs that a relationship goes through have been presented with amazing sensitivity in the following verses that at once touch a chord and tug at our heart strings:

Love & Marriage:

night chill
she steps in wearing
moonbeams    (Page 31)

moondew …
the way her hand
melts in mine   (Page 37)

Sized to fit
her wedding ring
dew moon     (Page 29)

Post Marriage:

baby bump …
the three of us sway
with wind chimes   (Page 35)

Fetal Doppler –
the swaying oceanw
within her womb   (Page 35)

C-section …
a lark hatchling beaks
the full moon      (Page 23)

Tensions & Break-up:

silent night
the wings of a moth
carving storms (Page 41)

stubs of a dream
the ashtray fills with
morning chill (Page 45)

love letters …
how we drift apart
page by page (Page 45)

stale arguments …
a blackbird mending
pine shadows (Page 49)

spring cleaning
dusting the cobwebs
from my shadow (Page 53)

The above verses appear in different sections of the book and not in a sequence. Yet, they caught my attention because of the depth of emotions in them.. and the kind of pattern they wove for me. I have quoted just a few here. There are many more with which one will feel an instant connect.

Paresh has thus touched every mood through his haiku.

summer’s end …
the scent of a rainbow
in our goodbye kiss (Page 37)

moonless night
a watchman’s lantern
flickers the silence (Page 43)

war mountains …
the herd grazes over
no man’s land (Page 53)

war news …
the dark underbelly
of autumn clouds (Page 59)

In his introduction Paresh says “The haiku in this book are loosely divided into four parts, each marked by a delicate sumi-e painting by my mother….not meant to be stonewalled sections…”

sumi-e …
a sparrow returns
to her shadow (Page 57)

Paresh has further added that “The haiku in this book move seamlessly from one season of life to the other as if moving from one ashram of existence to the next…” In this context, I loved these verses that reminded me of ‘Vanaprasthashram’ and beyond:

gran’s hand
how cold, how frail
this autumn dusk (Page 43)

hospital chill –
the smell of despair
in my coffee (Page 47)

ashes in the urn –
the aimless drift of
an empty polybag (Page 49)

a year on –
mothballing memories
with her coat (Page 41)

However, the above verses may appeal or affect each reader in a different way, perhaps depending on his / her state of mind at the time of reading and again perhaps the stage of life (ashram) – he/she is in …

Like the moods, each of the seasons too has been superbly showcased by Paresh…After all, seasons and haiku go hand in hand…

winter wind
a stray leaf’s ballet
by the curb (Page 23)

incessant rain
the smell of coriander
getting drenched (Page 29)

summer heat –
the mongrel laps up
a mirage (Page 43)

Paresh’s verses appear simple but one can also easily see how each of these has been refined and polished by him like a master craftsman with great love and gentle care. To be able to touch a sensation and present it, and through it create a vivid imagery is no mean task. Personally, each of the verses gave me that ‘Aha! Moment’ for which a haiku poet strives (without appearing to be doing so). This verse is one of my personal favorites and will remain with me for long:

slow moving night …
you and I cross-stitched
in vowels (Page 37)

Coming to the haibun in the book that has 25 of them and in Paresh’s own words, “each of these is a slice of life, a story waiting to be unfurled…” I will share just one vignette here for want of space and also to kindle your curiosity to visit the rest. For the uninitiated, haibunis a combination of two poems: a prose poem and haiku. The form was popularized by the 17th century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. As with haiku, this genre too has undergone iterations over a period of time in terms of its texture and format.



An airport is an unlikely place for a serendipitous meeting, but here we are, I, with tufts of unruly white hair and she, with a few more wrinkles around her eyes. Has it already been eight years? Did it start with a glance, a greeting, or a tentative smile?

Crossing each other, we halt mid-stride for a brief moment of recognition before moving on to opposite ends of the lounge carrying with us the lasting legacy of our relationship – silence. Sitting down on a recliner that overlooks the runway, I can see the taxiing planes and a cluster of hazy trees beyond them.

flight of gulls –
the beach slips away
beneath my toes


Just two years or so into the haiku and allied genre and Paresh Tiwari has amply made his mark as an immensely talented poet. This is borne out by the fact that his works have been recognized in various contests and reviews, and have also been published in a number of international print and e-journals and anthologies. Paresh is also theResident Cartoonist for 'Cattails' A literary journal by United Haiku and Tanka Society, USA.

‘An Inch of Sky’ stands further testimony to Paresh’s accomplishments. Besides, the attractive book cover designed by Paresh himself and the visually appealing ink sketches (sumi-e) by his mother Pratibha Tiwari enhance the overall impact of the book manifold.

Frankly, ‘An Inch of Sky’ has left me asking for more. I for one, am eagerly waiting for Paresh Tiwari’s next book that would hopefully showcase his tanka and haiga too!

My recommendation: On a balmy and quiet day, sit down with this book and lose yourself in it. And yes, discover your own ‘Aha!’Moments, with which I assure you, the book abounds!

Book Information:

An Inch of Sky – A collection of haiku and haibun by Paresh Tiwari
ISBN978-93-5196-392-9 Price Rs. 300/-
Publisher 20 Notebooks Press.
Available on and (in India) and (for international shipments)


More by :  Padmaja Iyengar-Paddy

Top | Book Reviews

Views: 3531      Comments: 6

Comment Thanks very much dear friend Paresh, for your kind words and generous praise. Thanks again for letting me into your 'Inch of Sky' to write this review of a beautiful haiku and haibun collection!

Padmaja Iyengar
18-May-2015 14:12 PM

Comment Dear Paddy

Thank you so much for such a wonderful review of my book. I am indeed indebted to you for this. As we all know, haiku and haibun are a niche genre and thus they get a somewhat 'touch me with a barge-pole treatment'! It might even be that we haiku poet ourselves are responsible for some of this alienation. You my friend however, may just have begun a subtle movement for mainstreaming of the genre. I hope more and more people will stop thinking that haiku is a special genre and would start enjoying it just like any other poetry.

May I also take a line to say that I enjoy your poetry a lot and believe you me I can never write something that tongue in cheek. Thank you for your poetry and this review!


I would also like to thank Seshu ji and Pankajam for the kind words :)

Paresh Tiwari
16-May-2015 11:24 AM

Comment Yes Seshuji agree with you that 'An Inc h of Sky' is indeeda treat to savor!

Padmaja Iyengar
12-May-2015 00:32 AM

Comment Many thanks Pankajam for liking my maiden attempt at demystifying and understanding a highly technical genre of poetry called haiku! Paresh Tiwari's 'An Inc h of Sky' was so engaging that this review wrote itself!

Padmaja Iyengar
08-May-2015 14:48 PM

Comment A treat to savor.

Seshu Chamarty
08-May-2015 02:33 AM

Comment Well done Paddy. Each of the verse comes alive in vivid pictures and they give a sense of delight to the readers. Being a layman myself, I cannot comment much except to say that the verses are fantastic and created a subtle feeling of satisfaction. Fantastic review. Kudos both to the author and the reviewer.

07-May-2015 00:14 AM

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