Book Review: Saudade by Debarati Sen

Reviewer: Rajorshi Patranabis

Saudade 

Poet: Debarati Sen

Publisher: Penprints

Price: 150 / USD 6.00

 

Saudade is a explosion of sorts by poet Debarati Sen. Debarati, " a government employee by misadventure" has trudged into some mild yet harsh nuances of poetics in this collection ( her second collection of poems). To introduce the reviewed poet, she had been the recipient of various awards including the Tagore award 2022, Poesis Award for Excellence in poetry 2023 and so on. In this particular book, she had treaded into some definitively intricate contusions of human relationships, perhaps an effort to define love in her own signature way. On a personal note, this is the first time, that I had the opportunity to go through Sen's works and I was pretty deeply intrigued by the depths that she had managed to touch upon.

Saudade is a collection of 31 poems with extremely myriad titles and is a 46 page collection. Poetry collections seldom have a purpose. They happen, bloom and live to leave ones thoughts with contrasts of perspective, at times a wabbit and on others an ecstasy.

Rajorshi Patranabis
The poem Being Feminine touches a few chords that had been absorbed and at times( if I may dare say) overlooked by activistic feminists -

They said I did not duplicate Goddess Lakshmi in my posture and actions

Well, the Lakshmi (s) of this world are not expected to be loud and clear and are accepted as docile all encompassing women with ornaments of shyness and patience.

Sen ends this poem with the rebellion of a Kali...

 

My dreams were my only sword

If not being submissive meant less of woman

I am better that way!

Looking for something more tangible than

                                                     being ' feminine '.

 

Debarati Sen

The subtle use of metaphors in this book is also very striking and unique. In the title poem Saudade, Debarati writes

Something thumped heavily inside my body.

My uterus was stuck in my spine!

A clamour of beastly noises,

And my foibles gnawed onto my sanity relentlessly.

 

Since, this is the first poem of the collection, the readers are introduced to this book and also to the poet(the first time readers of Sen) through this poem. A first impression definitely matters and to this the poet has done true justice. This piece hits hard and the pain lingers much through the sojourn of the reader through this collection.

As Edgar Allan Poe says, " I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity." the poet here bursts into that terrain of sudden cardiac malfunction within a range of pragmatic serenity. This is perhaps where Debarati Sen stands out.

Memories that have become Poltergeist.

The fragrance of solitude is resurrecting

after being annihilated by existence.

The fragrance of solitude is liberating.

Looking for answers in an answerless world.

 

The refrain from the poem The Fragrance of Solitude just bursts it open. "answers in an answerless world"  slips the chip in favour of the  conventionally chain breaks of free verses.

Another poem definitely needs mention here. The poet combines and forms a concoction of withering pains with the percursions and rhythms of nature, sour at times,  sweetened to taste. Serenade to the Rains is perhaps one such piece, where in the poet delves deep into the emotive dramas of the showers that drench in silence. A few lines read as:

A sudden gust of wind,

a few raindrops,

mosaic verses, and the innocuous times.

Hiding Saudade amidst my periwinkle rhymes!

The sun has gone to bed a little early today!

Here also the refrain claims its feather and carefully places it on its own crown.

This book ends with a beautiful piece An Archive of Longing - a longing to meet when "dreams bleed black". The poet has this constant endeavor to weave some unnatural oxymorons and metaphors within her deep poetic webs. She ends this book with the following :

While we bury our frosty hands inside furry fantasies.

Till then, I shall keep safe my archive of longing

wrapped within my dreamy ignis fatuus.

 

To conclude, this collection of poems by Debarati Sen deserves a lot of reach, deserves uncountable readers and a horizon of sunlight. The publisher Penprints also deserves a round of huge accolades for showing the way to a beautifully compiled collection of poetry. An extremely attractive cover and very sound in its content, this is a must read to all poetry lovers around.

However, not being an academic and being least scholastic, I personally think, poetry is all about perspectives of the readers and there's no definite interpretation of any poetic work, whatsoever, and as such, my review of this book is only limited to my perspective and understanding of poetics. Wishing the poet many more of such enthralling collections.

I definitely need to quote Poet Toru Dutt here, the reminiscent lines that I remembered, after a cover to cover browse of Saudade...

 

"A waif on this earth,

Sick, ugly and small

Contemned from my birth

And rejected by all,

From my lips broke

Where - oh where

shall I fly? "

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Bionote of Reviewer (Rajorshi Patranabis): Rajorshi Patranabis is a multilingual poet, editor, translator and reviewer dabbling into different forms of poetry. A food consultant by profession and a Wiccan by philosophy, he has eight collections of poetry( seven in English and one in Bengali) and two collections of translations.

He has collections of sonnets, haibun, haiku and free verses. He is credited for the first ever collection of Gogyoka titled The Last drop of your Tears, published by Hawakkal prokashona and launched at World Book Fair, 2023, New Delhi.

***

Bionote of the poet (Debarati Sen): Recipient of the ‘POIESIS AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN POETRY -2023’, Tagore Award 2022 and the Sylvia Plath Women's Literary Award, Debarati Sen is a  poet from Kolkata. She has published two solo poetry collections and has contributed to a few anthologies. Her poems have been published in webzines like The Antonym, The Yugen Quest Review, The Kolkata Arts, Lapis Lazuli, The Madras Courier, The Sindh Courier, The Piker Press, Chakkar, Kabitalive, to name a few. She has been invited by Samyukta Poetry and Women Empowered Poetry to read her poems. Debarati has recently been awarded the WE Gifted Poet Award for strong, emerging voices, 2023 by the Women Empowerment Literary Community.


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