By Saikh Md Sabah Al-Ahmed
The subtle art of verse-making, one would agree, emanates from the heart and soul and more often than not gets embedded back into the heart and soul of the verse-maker itself. The above hypothesis simply implies that poetry is something very personal, passionate, deep, and most importantly ‘honest’. Rati Agnihotri, a young bilingual poet comes out with her second poetry collection ‘I’d like a bit of the Moon’ – which in essence marks her gradual metamorphosis as a poet whose poetry would make you pause and ponder, even if ephemerally.
This collection of 32 thought provoking poems, if read with a subtle affinity, would take one to an altogether different world. Here ‘escapism’ in its literal sense isn’t implied, but rather a more refreshing alternative from this drab and mundane world awaits the one who has consumed Rati’s poetry with nonchalant glee and fascination. She is an idealist, no doubt about that, but she is a pragmatic idealist – neither does she mince her words, nor her yearnings and cravings for anything and everything that is represented in her poetry. This apart, her poetry is smeared with yearnings and cravings – some evidently idealistic (her yearning for a bit of the moon), but some surprisingly pragmatic too (a life away from the metropolis).
As is evident from the title that initially hits you, she openly confesses of her being charmed by the moon: “This collection has been inspired by the moon, my perennial muse. I have been so fascinated with the moon since I can’t even remember when.” Continuing with her ‘moon fascination’, she has even named her poetry group as ‘Moonweavers – Chaand ke Julaahe’. It was founded by her and a couple of other fellow poets in November, 2010, with the aim of taking poetry beyond the confines of academia and elite circles into the thick of society.
Her poetry also reflects her mastery over the use of words – not superfluous, but apt words at the right place, and more importantly brings out the desired effect that the poet is desperately looking for. In her poem, ‘Parody of a poem’, just read and feel this last stanza: The loner paints/with a dummy heart/the mythic wound/on the soil of the river. Again in her poem, ‘Transient corpses’, she displays her magic with words: We reflect/ Pause/ Pause on the reflection. In her poem, ‘Grammar’, she starts off: Hysteria knocks us down/ a glass of water please. Lines like these and many more instantly knock you down with her sheer power to express her pent-up feelings through words. Some of the beautiful and out of the box titles of her poems like ‘Kalamkari of the face’, ‘The magic mirror’, ‘Shadows and moans’, etc., also sets this collection apart. Moreover, the aesthetically designed cover, various artworks, overall editing of the book by its publisher, Red River, and its team, truly deserve a pat on the back for its sheer professionalism done in a methodical way.
About the poet: Rati Agnihotri is a bilingual poet who writes in English and Hindi. Her first book of English poems, ‘The Sunset Sonata’, was published by Sahitya Akademi, the National Academy of Letters. She runs a poetry group ‘‘Moonweavers – Chaand ke Julaahe’, in Delhi with fellow poets. She is also a freelance journalist with extensive experience across television, radio and digital media.
About the reviewer: Saikh Md Sabah Al-Ahmed is a young Guwahati-based poet, lyricist and columnist. His debut poetry collection, ‘Tranquil Musings’, which was released by legendary (former) BBC South-Asia Correspondent Sir Mark Tully at the Asia International Literary Festival (2010), won him a ‘Certificate of Excellence’ for his poetry from the United Nations Association (UNA), Assam, and the prestigious Reuel International Prize for Poetry (2019). His poems have been translated into Italian by Giorgio Moio in ‘Frequenze Poetiche’, an Italian magazine published from the city of Naples. Keki Daruwala, one of India’s legendary poets, applauds him as “A young poet with promise.” He presently teaches English and Social Sciences at Don Bosco School, Panbazar, Guwahati. He also teaches Creative Writing and Poetry as a Guest Faculty at Cotton University. His popular poetry blog poetsabah.com is a storehouse of his elegant verses. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org