Rajib Chocroborty’s poetry collection tackles a wide variety of subjects, including gender equality, oppression, and love.
The collection is comprised of free verse and traditional forms. It is replete with gorgeous, well-selected imagery, as in “Mardian In Mumbai”: “Seeds tantalize, refuse to grow/ even with the perfume Venus and Mars left behind/ fierce affections take secret flights to Rome.” Or in “Desperate”: “Of course, it may bloom/ like a titan arum/ or a stinking corpse lily/ pollinated by flies.”
Many poems, especially those in traditional forms, also skillfully place readers in a specific moment, leading to lush, visceral conclusions. For example, in “Dialects,” Chocroborty writes: “During communal riots/ we dress up as infidels /and hide our hearts and tongues and private parts.”
Unfortunately, there are many moments that display the opposite qualities. The author sometimes struggles with mixed metaphors (“To extinguish the smouldering chaff I use/ boiling water./ Someone draws an outline in the void/ with dull fingers/ like blue flies maddened by mangoes/ the cells of my brain pour colour and perfume…”). And the free verse poems, in particular, lack the specificity that elevates several other poems. For example, in “Liberation,” Chocroborty writes: “You have hardly anything to lose/ unlike me./ Why should you be angry?/ Why should you feel hurt?” The absence of detail leaves readers uncertain what injustice has occurred or who has committed it.
This collection is often a delight to read aloud, as Chocroborty has a knack for manipulating sound, with frequent and intentional use of assonance and alliteration—although, sometimes the poems fall into singsong delivery, undercutting serious subject matter: “His light has lost its dazzle/ but I can now feel more at ease/ earlier I used to be so afraid/ of wearing my heart on my sleeve.”
In sum, this is a highly uneven collection. Readers should expect to find lesser work among the memorable poems and dazzling lines that demonstrate the author’s promise.
Also available as an ebook.