Author : Abhijita Kulshrestha
Publisher : Har-Anand Publications, Rs 395
Ambrosia Sides is the perfect side dish one needs to be able to savour the main course of life. It contains the kind of poetry that demands to be read and re-read, writes Narender Kumar
Poetry is a realm where less is more, where the geometry and aesthetics of warp and weft of words matter and where deliberately interspersed silence speaks volumes. Even a short and crisp poem has the potential of carrying the powerful impact of all literature within itself. It can convey varied meanings through a chosen few words that are strung together aesthetically. But, it requires skill. Such poetry is not just invaluable; it is also quite rare.
It is only once in a while that one comes this kind of poetry. It often lies hidden among a multitude of works in prose. It demands to be discovered by those who can appreciate the passion and the sentiment that it carries. When found, it catches the fancy of the reader with its lightness and its depth at the same time. From that inviting emotion, it grows into a more absorbing one within the reader’s mind and heart. Then, it overpowers him/ her as it has a lasting impact on the senses and directs one into action.
Upon reading this book of poetry, I realised that I was in for just such a rare treat. Ambrosia Sides is a collection of poems by Abhijita Kulshrestha. It has been published by Har-Anand Publications. The said book encompasses compositions on diverse themes that have been categorised into the Trinity construct of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. There is a palpable exploration of femininity and the female psyche throughout the book. The section titled Brahma is all about creation, birthing, and the unusual mix of agony and ecstasy that is a part of this process and defines its very purpose. The book captures this complex idea beautifully and powerfully in the following lines:
It’s only my baptism,
A folded love note
I must gather it
from the Earth's throat…
The above quote is just one example of the many gems that the poet has decorated the pages of this book with. There are some compositions in this collection that are disturbingly beautiful. It uses simple words to express complicated emotions. The idea of this section is to capture the difficulties that impact the evolution of the individual in a warped environment. Here are a few lines that I have selected from this portion:
A new scarf to hide my shame
A new blouse to drape a heartache
New pants for a stifling morality
New bags for more baggage
Brevity is one of the many strong points of this poet. The impact of this poetry is such that it forces thought and spawns feelings within the individual. It is directed to challenge their very approach to problems in particular and life in general. They jolt one out of any sense of resignation and force him/ her to consider all the available avenues and encourage the reader to decide what must be done.
Further, the reader is treated to another section of thought-provoking poetry. This section has been meaningfully titled Vishnu. The poems under the section are even juicier than the ones from the sections that precede it. They put emphasis on love, which is looked upon as the primary energy of preservation in this world of ideas. Refrains of longing, desire and fulfillment through human connection are explored in a rather appealing way by the poet. The language is quite rich is visual imagery and offers subtle texture to emotions. Here are some of my favourite lines from this section:
Salty memory, of tears kissed
the crisp break, of a pretzel heart
This book does not offer the kind of pleasure that is temporary and can be experienced only once. It is the kind of poetry that demands to be read over and over again. In fact, one would even be tempted to take several breaks between reading these lines full of deep ideas. These would be quiet breaks required to savour the lines in silence. The beauty of poetry is such that so much can be said in pithy, short compositions!
The last section of this collection has been titled Shiva. It is undoing of a world built carefully. It is about heartbreaks and endings. There are explorations of identity, of exhaustion, and of plateaus hit in relationships of dissolution. Here’s a quote from this part:
Wave upon wave
as a crash into the rocks
as a lie awash on the sands
as I retreat into the liquid beyond
Ambrosia Sides is a delicious mouthful to savour with the main course of life. It is a book you can enjoy when you are all by yourself. It is a delicate treat for the senses!
It is a brave and interesting first collection by poet Abhijita Kulshrestha, a trained media and communications professional with previous stints at some big media houses. Now, she is a full time Vedic astrologer and Gemologist interpreting cosmology by day and engaging with prose and poetry in spare time. She is the director of the e-commerce portal www.gemstoneuniverse.com