Poetry, in any tongue, is a demanding art form for both creator and reader. The best poetry combines an exquisite appreciation for the subtlety of language with an ability to convey mood, emotion and content, and a gift for evocation.
In Ananya Chatterjee’s The Poet and His Valentine we have an Indian software professional and translator conveying all that the poet should. This is largely a collection of what might loosely be termed ‘love poetry’, but that’s by no means the whole tale. Ananya includes some darker, more disturbing subjects in this anthology. I found myself moved, amused, outraged and transported to other times and places as I read her work.
The prevailing mood is one of optimism, often against the tide of events. This is a brave and questing spirit, a voice many will empathise with easily. But the poems of love found, love lost, love sought are interspersed with pieces of observation on life, art, social injustice, and environment.
There’s inspiration to be found in these verses. Indeed, in her introduction, Ananya says, ‘If it succeeds in touching a few chords, and in inspiring more people to read and write poetry, I would know my purpose was served.’ I can say that, for this reader, that success is complete. I’ve long considered setting down my thoughts in verse, and have trodden that road with faltering steps. Ananya’s example has made it much more likely that I’ll continue on that journey.
This is an enjoyable, amusing and thought-provoking read. I recommend it to all who love, or wish to, and to all who have a taste for comprehensible language used to great effect.