(New & Selected Poems)
Vihang A. Naik
[ Vihang A. Naik is a contemporary award winning Indian English poet. His works are widely published and anthologised. Naik has taught English for more than a decade at Shree Ambaji Arts College affiliated to Hemchandrachariya North Gujrat University, India. ]
Poetry Manifesto: New & Selected Poems by Vihang A. Naik treasures the poet’s quality quantum quest under its bosom which is widely ranging from the quest of his own self-realization, introspection; observations of mind and soul; man-nature relationship, man-nature disconnect, impact of society on humans and ultimately covering the impact of cyber-society. Through a few poems of this collection the poet also unleashes sharp and fiery couplets targeting to attack socio-cultural taboos and malpractices existing in Indian society.
The opening poem of the Poetry Manifesto is New Websight which embodies the inquisitive introspection in the temporal void of life in which the poet is seeking the answers of ephemeral existential questions. Quest of the search for inner sight lands him in Poems of crippled life and in fragments of life he searches sight into New Websight. The poems like New Websight (Search: The Third Eye) attempt for establishing a philosophical and spiritual reconnect. The poetic voyage begins with the poem New Websight leads the poet towards the end of the book to his visit on his grandfather’s house where “a bitter journey” makes him realize:
from the door
of future i arrive
… ” (Poetry Manifesto…p.-113)
The backward movement suggests by the poet has been highly applicable to his sequence selection of the poem and the same is apparently visible when he fixes New Websight (Search: The Third Eye ) as first poem of the collection and on visiting grandfather’s house towards the fag end of the collection. The same acquires a very high symbolic value in the poem on visiting grandfather’s house.
Structurally; Poetry Manifesto: New & Selected Poems is the choice based compilation of three segments:
- From Making A Poem (2004) &
- From City Times and Other Poems (2001)
All the three segments exhibit the poetic journey of Mr Vihang covering a couple of most productive decades of poetic ventures specifically from 1993 to 2009.
Inquisitively, Poetry Manifesto attempts to define aesthetics of body and mind imaging the projections in the sub sections like Making a Poem, A Poem Comes Alive and Poet. The poems like The Song of Menaka and A Song for Menaka projects the charismatic beauty that captivates all mortals, and demi-gods of which ‘Even Vishwamitra wouldn’t deny the view’. His art of portraying sensuous beauty is also displayed in Menaka poems where he talks of sight-view and exploring-touch:
There is a point where words
fail; language ends when body
Takes over talking. A view.
Desire may take any form
Just to reveal its urgency.
Fingertips have eyes, exploring.
Eyes become fingertips unseen. (Poetry Manifesto…p.-33)
The flesh of the Menaka’s glazing body is desired (Moha) and admired (Maya). Where the dance of universe mesmerizes by upsurging and scaling the Himalayan summits of sensuous desires on the ball point. “A song for Menaka searching words, Eyes, lips, breast, thighs throbs with sensuous adjectives. You come to a point where tongue fails. The Nude lotus unfolds to the morning sun. Light licks the bare thirsty flower”(Poetry Manifesto…p.-33). The blinded Vishwamitra by Moha and overpowered by Maya deluded him to seek his Moksha ‘through the flesh’ of her alluring and ‘glazing body’ which compels the sage to stretch ‘the arms to touch the line where the heavens and earth meet’.
Apart from critiquing the societal practices like demeaning attitudes towards women who are sufferings from the pangs of infertility and men who are having no sign of intellectual creativity. He portrays the agony of barren woman who ‘screams her pain against the walls.’(Poetry Manifesto…p.-34) Vihang also uses Poetry Manifesto as the pivotal tool for critiquing the so called modern life-stile, its adherence by the urban denizens in cities and finally their departure from Nature. The poet also looks at the man enslaved by the clutches of his own desire which like octopus “stirs arteries and veins, tears flesh apart, feeding upon fire swallowing air.” (Poetry Manifesto…p.-101)
Vihang’s quest of a genuine nature poet initiates From Making A Poem through the poems like Are you Looking for that Poet? Who may tell ‘the secrets of a mermaid’ remains inconclusive as
“Perhaps the muse has left him.
He may not be among
Clouds singing a song
Of birds and bees”. (Poetry Manifesto…p.-49)
Nowadays, his poet has turned his back towards nature. He is no longer an emotional shepherd toiling with his sheep in the green meadows dotted by tall trees in the lap of Nature. His poet opens his eyes to the city and ‘he is a man like you and me’ where his voice is:
A voice hooting in the traffic
With stale words and tired tongue. (Poetry Manifesto…p.-49)
In Rain, undoubtedly, the simplest and one of the smallest, but the most beautiful poem of this collection connects the poet to the line of Robert Frost where the poet does not seems to be ready to bargain the poetic beauty and poetic truth for the deep sense of high sounding philosophy. It won’t be an exaggeration that if the Poetry Manifesto: New & Selected Poems is the metaphorical rain of poetry, undoubtedly, Vihang A. Naik’s creativity makes the paper boat of In Rain ‘flow over flooded waters’ by his artistic ventures. In Rains is just a pure poem celebrating childhood with a very tinge of sarcasm and the poem is untouched from heavy shades and complexities of frets, furies, worries, traumas, irony and philosophy of life and death. Its definitely a poem which ‘sails above road level’. The poet severely criticizes the artificiality of city life in the segment From City Times & Other Poems where ‘an old man coughs the illness of his age’ and the sharp contrast of the life was visible in the city:
A cosmetic girl awaits
The flower of a beauty parlor
You cannot tame the beast
Or the heart
Of man (Poetry Manifesto…p.-117)
In his Poetry Manifesto: New & Selected Poems Vihang A. Naik opens a few avenues inviting critical aggressiveness and rash attacking remarks by making a choice of preferring philosophy and sacrificing aesthetics ruthlessly. Wild poetic ecstasy has been readily compromised in some of his poems where the poet seems to be committed to prove his philosophical jurisprudence. At times, the self opted banishment from the garden of beauty and departure to the hard and rocky mountains of philosophy, disconnects him to his poetry lovers whose apatite is more for sumptuous and sweet flow of simplicity which a few of his poems like The Rain readily offer to its readers. The Philosophical Overload of his poems will keep on inspiring his readership community to pose Himalayan questions in the years to come.
Dr Sudhir Narayan Singh
Department of English and Communication Skills
The Technological Institute of Textile and Sciences
(Established in the year 1943 by Padma Vibhushan Dr. GD Birla)
Bhiwani, Haryana-127021. INDIA.