Earlier this month, our own Parthian poet Natalie Ann Holborow reviewed the recent collection Modern Bengali Poetry: Desire for Fire for Wales Arts Review. Her thoughtful commentary on the book is wide-reaching and perceptive, making a dip into its intriguing pages seem ever-more tempting.
Here are a few snippets of Natalie's reading:
'So many of the poems in this volume are a sublime feast for the senses; as much as walking through the steamy haze of Indian rain was for me a few years ago. I am swept up again into the cacophony of Kolkata by Purnendu Pattrea’s ‘Conversations’ with its “softly overcast Calcutta skies / The knee-deep water on Calcutta’s pavements, submerged / carts…"'
The rallying cries of political poets in the volume is significant, with writers such as Mallika Sengupta (often described as an “unapologetically political” poet), fiercely challenging the patriarchal nature of history in poetry. A feminist by her ideological postulation, she writes in ‘While Teaching My Son History’: 'The forefathers were alone, mankind too / We have no womankind, nor foremothers / History is his story of sperm and valour.” However, I personally believe her standout work within this volume is ‘Salt’, with its unsettling and direct use of language that remained with me for the rest of the day ...'
She also noted the impressive task of translating the collection:
'Credit is therefore due here to Sinha, who has managed to capture a diverse selection of voices, rhythms, idioms and styles in a way which allows every poem to breathe; to mark itself out as distinctive without diluting the imagery with over-literal translation nor to give way over-embellishment. Each poem is considered in its own right, and this is no doubt testament to the fact that he has translated an impressive catalogue of Bengali literary texts spanning both fiction and poetry.'
You can read the full review on Wales Arts Review here.
And you can buy your copy of Modern Bengali Poetry: A Desire for Fire here.