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Vihang A. Naik’s Poetry Manifesto
|by Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar|
Manifestation of Manifold Musings
Studded with new and selected poems of Vihang A Naik, a reward winning contemporary poet writing in English, Poetry Manifesto is his outstanding poetic manifesto with deeper understanding of manifestations of his poetic quality and distinctive style. He is a great poet of greater repute, ‘widely published and anthologised'. Till date, he has to his credit, including the present anthology Poetry Manifesto: New & Selected Poems (2010), three other significant collections of poems: City Times and Other Poems (1993) and Jeevangeet (Gujarati Poems published in 2001) and Making A Poem (2004). Furthermore, he is an outstanding translator at the same time. He is a tech-savvy; hence he has succeeded in getting the flavor and beauty of his poetry closer to the world. The poems in the present collection, seen through The Third Eye, are the beautiful gems reflected through the 'New Websight. They are thoughtful and spontaneous reflections of his experiences he mustered from time to time. They are innermost expressions of varied and vivid moods of the poet. Precision of language - brevity of expressions used in pouring out his thoughts and ideas - is a variegated feather added to his cap. Unlimited in range and variety, his poetry deals with manifold musings on the mundane.
He feels that life in a city is troublesome now-a-days. The city is mad with irrationality. Nothing works here. No courage, no reason. He sums up-
His “Gujarat” is a chronological account of loss of life and properties caused by the earthquake. It is a poignant commentary on the tragedy- “countless deaths/ in countless eyes.” It is a “horrific cracks” in the wall of human habitat.
Indian landscape with all its beauty, impurity and pollutions gets reflected through his poetry. His wonderful presentation of the things of life sometimes fills us with great pride, with joy and other times the plight of the country and the countryside, including the towns and cities, stings our consciousness. Beauty and ugliness go hand in hand-
India is burning in the ‘flame of passion” and “boiling sun”. To the poet, summer is
The plight of the people faced with the scorching heat of life pains him to a considerable extent. Rain of peace and thunders of hope still elude us. The poem is expressive of his environmental concerns. The ecological imbalance is the sole reason for all this sordid saga of vitiation of flora and fauna due to constant outbreak of pollution. Following the rapid industrialization we need to maintain aesthetics of Nature or environment, for “There is an urgent need to preserve nature mainly for two purposes; first for ecological balance and second for aesthetic value”(Chandra and Das 16).As a conscious poet, he seems to be able to draw the attention of the people concerned towards this serious problem, appealing for creating an eco-friendly atmosphere for peaceful life. The linguistic and the semantic effects are significant and so is the sense of the poet who conveys something very subtle. In addition, pros and cons of a city life is a recurring theme of most of his poems and this is what establishes his position as a poet of city.
Purpose of existence is an issue subject to a demystifying realization, and not to mere discussion and that is what forms a crucial crux of most of his poems. Shakespearean influence on his poetic sensibility can be apparently witnessed in his following lines, pregnant with philosophy of life and a sense of stark realism:
To him “Life is a philosophy. Realizing the futility of life he prays to God to show in his life “purpose or meaning”. In short, his poems abound in his existential concerns. The poem ‘Question” puts a question mark on life. His questions are like
He further asks only to get at the ultimate truth:
and the answer to unlock the mystery of life and death ever remains shrouded in mystery as he reaches nowhere in the search for the purpose. In “Midnight City”, he expresses his helplessness:-“questioning the real /and the unreal / the night helps /none/search/the key lost...” in the city built of “the cry /of stones and streets”, littered with “dry skeletons” lying in “the grave of slumber”.
Beloved, to him, is a soulful ‘ghazal’, love a ‘haiku’. Hence, like John Donne, he suggests- “Let us kiss and depart.” For the loving affair is going to have an end with the passage of time, in life which is ‘ a tale of prose’.
He opines that in the company of “barking dogs” like “Academics, seminarians, professional theoreticians” “You/become one, quarrelsome/ who seldom bites.”
Suffused with sensuousness and profound thoughts, “The Song of Menaka” and “The Song for Menaka” are the most significant poems that sum up the philosophical temperament of Vihang A. Naik as a man or a poet. He conjures up a sensuous imagery hinting at the ideas of attachment and detachment for liberation of soul from the mundane bondage of life-
In another Menaka centric poem “ A Song for Menaka” the poet paves the way for the inner and transcendental progression of self and soul from physical to metaphysical realm of the reality, from body to soul, from concrete to abstract, from gross to subtle and herein lies the true beauty of his poetry with an objective approach. He doesn’t rule out the significance of the body. He holds the view that “Menace’s charm works as a /Rule. A sage needs senses.” He accepts-
Wherein “Eyes, lips, breast, thighs, throb with sensuous/ adjectives”, where ‘the heavens and earth meet” resulting into a divine confluence where “A river penetrates the churning ocean”. The poet tries his best to explore the realm of liberation from the bondage of life and death for ‘mukti and moksha’. Strains of Vedantic philosophy is quite apparent in his “Aporia” where he declares-
Endowed with a broader poetic vision, the poet prefers his poetry to be VIBGYOR and that is what forms the manifesto of true Poetry. In fact, VIBGYOR is the acronym of all the seven colors of rainbow (Violet, Indigo, Brown, Green Yellow, Orange and Red.) It contains the symbolic meaning representing different moods of human life. The poet here encapsulates the poetic objective in the life of human beings. Whether good or bad, everything is a part and parcel of our life and poetry is an apt representation of ebb and tide ever surging in the immense sea of life and that has to be tranquilized by the poetic force as can be realized in his titular poem “Poetry Manifesto”:
Ambiguity is an important aspect of his poetry that deepens the meaning of his poems with greater profundity, subtlety and varied richness. Many of his poems are impregnated with ambiguous ideas that finally take us to realize the unexplored aspects of human life. Poems like “A Character”, “Death”, “Growing Up”,” Morning” etc merit our attention in this respect. In his “Night” he remarks-
He goes on expressing his despair and disillusionment in “Infertility”-
Brevity of expressions with glittering pearls of beautiful thoughts is the true beauty of his writings. Chunks of thoughts and patches of expressions give a full meaning of perfection in their imperfection. Unlike other poets, he takes recourse to a very unique style of putting himself across in the cris-crosses of myriads of poetic output, put in by rest of the poets. His greatness as a poet lies in his technique of telling a very little and leaving rest to the readers to understand and realize. His poetry is like a tip of a vast iceberg that arrests our attention to delve deep into his oceanic psyche and heart to explore much more. Sonnet Mondal has rightly pointed out:
Apart from relevant themes as stated above, the technique of the poet deserves a special mention. Dr Kalyani Dixit is quite right when she remarks about Naik’s poetry, “Striking imagery, captivating metaphors and subtle use of other figures of speech add a fresh glory and grace to his poems.” Truly, symbols, paradoxes, metaphors, shortened and extended, sensuous and sensual images, structures of the poems, beginning of the poetic lines, use of capital letters at some places etc. are very unique of his style that spontaneously engages our attention to the poems for their emotional, visual and aesthetic effects. Precision of the language, economy of words, different eye-catching forms and imagery with visual and non-visual, concrete or subtle content as a whole are the hallmark of Vihang A. Naik as a poet. Using a very befitting metaphor, he exhibits a reader’s response to poetry, and this also holds good with the present anthology-
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