Review: Gopal Lahiri's 'Tidal Interlude'

Review by Purabi Bhattacharya

Tidal Interlude
Collection of Poems

by Gopal Lahiri

Shambhabi- The Third Eye Imprint, Kolkata,India;
Year of Publication: 2015
ISBN-13: 978-81-931666-7-3
Paperback
Pages 69
Printed Price: ₹ 250/-
Price in USA: $9.50

A read in the woods
Gopal Lahiri is a prolific writer: a contemporary voice. His works, almost all of those available online are read, appreciated for the sheer pleasure of reading poetry, sometimes as reviews of other poets, known and lesser known alike.

Lyrical treat is what readers find in each poem he weaves.

Tidal Interlude, the third of his poetry collection is a presentation of some refined yet unrestrained thought. An au courant voice, Lahiri becomes inspirational with his craft for aspiring poets. In this collection of 56 poems, “nature has a special place” in all of them as Lahiri in his own words admits in the introduction.  He also goes on to explain the title of the book, and shares, “tide is a recurring motif which reflects energy of swell and the inherent interlude.”
A reader who follows his writings will admit that in most of his poems he wants readers to accept, love, hope in the everyday: a sunrise, a sunset, a blooming flower or wilting. There is a purpose. There is beauty. There is a charade. He paints life radiant in all of his poems as he sets his words free to perform magic.
Sample this:
                                    The fading colour of the twilight pushes the envelope
                                        Of the starry night and the whispering breeze.
                                                                                                              (from Water)
But that is not all. The poet also raises a still question often haunting poets:
                                “Do people still read poetry?” This question revolves
                                  around for a while to me and this also alarmingly
                                 suggests: “Poets are only talking to each other.”

After reading several of his poems in the collection the reader finds a response to the poet’s queries. Affirmative indeed that there is a motley crowd that appreciates good poems. Poetry meanwhile continues to talk largely of life, of goodness, of looking forward, of “Lemon juice memories” staying “live” in myriad forms.

A reader would groove on all his weaves. One would commend the way he dabbles with words, splashes over life’s lovely spells like every moment is remarkable. Every moment is to resonate, to be preserved.

These then become pleasure read.

Poetry is intimate. It may hold his hand and take him to a utopian set up or leave him melancholic. To each his own. But poetry certainly is not for everybody. It has its exclusivity. Poetry is not what is out in the open, it is what lies underneath the lines and has its own charm. Thoughts such as this dribble relentlessly in the collection, most of the poems which are written in blank verse, remain tool free and effortlessly ebullient.

Interestingly almost every poem has a tinge of colour loaded with imagery and metaphor. All of them in one unhurried breath emphasize graciousness. There is hope, there is entanglement, there is an impulsive force and a hidden hint of pang:
                                               Colours are poison
                                               Colours spit venom…
   
                                                    Leached away
                                          From hungry skin and bone.
                                                                           (from Holy City)
Also sample this:    

                                                 my hands are empty,
                                             put my head in your hand
                                                          stay alive
                                                                        (from Immersive)

The collection brimming with some strong nature images does reflect on the poet’s quest for relief from urban wilderness which has “a strategy on every limb of the township”. There is this unworded yearning for solitude out of the metropolis humdrum. There is a need to be where time has stilled:

                                     “the old staircase drops gossips and stories,
                                       finding no comfort here,
                                       my silent calls echo down
                                      the empty rooms and the courtyard
                                      fill with layers of memories.”
                                                                             (from Home coming)



Lahiri takes his readers for a beautiful word walk. The vignettes such as,
                               
                                   On nothing but a malachite green field,
                                I can catch a butterfly in a faded evening
                                     On the overflowing banks,
                                                                                (from Battle)
makes the city dweller yearn for the rural freshness, wanting to return to a homeland lost in the “everyday chaos and cauldron”. One would find silence appearing often in his poems, that also reminds us the bitter truth: we all crave for this sweet silence…

                                                      the distant
                                            rolling voice and then a veil of silence.
                                                                                   (from Muted Color)
                                 Or
 
                                           The strong wind delete
                                          The archaic code of the silence
                                                                                     (from Claw Back)

                                        Vermillion in a glass case
                                        Shaped and revised memories,
                                       Behind the steel mirror,
                                               The broken words left unsaid.

                                                                                   (from Time Warp)
Man is battle born. Poets are no different. In not so strong words as can be the poet talks of his share. He talks of a world mostly kept under wrap. He shares his “altering craving and emotion”, “when we all fall silent between thin layers of air altering the intensity.” And then furthers on:

                                         Like your blood stained hand
                                     Recalls dusty wind, fallen leaflets,
                                                 Take a bite of you,
                                 Absorb the strong scent of deer musk.

This is the pain of a poet. To effortlessly veil the unpleasantness keeping the liver alive. He does it with panache.

                        The river bed, the ultimate refuge to lie down and rest
                                                    Forever.
                                                                                  ( From Water)

A reader Prabhanjan k Mishra puts it aptly: “Lahiri writes subtly, touching his thoughts with silk gloves yet leaves his finger prints like a painter’s signature on his canvas. In many poems, he broods with a velvety mask creating a halo of sad romance but leaving a reader baffled if the poet is grieving or is happily drunk with his loss.” 

Tidal interlude ergo is a beautifully crafted poetic reflection which incorporates the everyday living. The leaves of the book are drabbed with romance. It is laced with earnestness. Its tone kept coetaneous. It will connect a cord with the newer ilk of writers preferring to write less time consuming blank verses and can be an out and out reflective read.

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