‘Verses of this Universe – Poetarrati Volume 3’ is a collection of contemporary poems written by Shweta Hitesh Joshi and Ashok Subramanian. 61 poems, compiled under five headings, explore, celebrate and question the human inside – the head and the heart, and outside – the society, humanity and nature. A unique experiment of ‘Picture poetry’ called the ‘Ekphrasis Journey’ brings out the collaboration between the poet and artists Sridhar, Divya and Anirudh. The book has been carefully edited by Thailambal Satheesh, an English scholar, teacher and editor. Most poems are written in the ‘free verse’ style. The contrasting styles and substance of the poets indulge the reader on a journey of myriad emotions, while at the same time, appeals to the heart and the mind with the questions of these times.
As soon as I picked this book in my hand, the first question that came into my mind was “Why the landscape orientation of the book?” I have read books of multiple shapes and sizes, so the question was not brought up from the point of something being different from the normal. I just thought it would be inconvenient to handle and read poetry from a book of that dimension. It is almost double in width compared to a normal book.
However, as I started reading, I understood the relevance of the orientation of the book. It allowed a full-size display of the image corresponding to each poetry. This is particularly important for Part 4: An Ekphrasis Journey, which is a picture poetry section. So, as I got the hang of the book, I started enjoying the reading experience.
The poetries are written by Shweta Hitesh Joshi and Ashok Subramanian. Both the poets bring in a unique style of writing. While one mostly writes rhythmic poems the other specializes in free verses.
The poets stick to the title “Verses of this Universe” and provide a new lens to the reader to view the world with. From rains and rainbows to prey and predators; from a weak sapling surrounded by trees in a forest, to the last piece of green land in a concrete jungle; the two poets present to us nature with the help of contrasts. They take the usual, obvious stuff and present it in a way to make the reader notice it, appreciate it. They deal with not just nature, but humans and human emotions too. Everything that conspires the universe, makes this book.
The book is divided into 5 parts. 1: Deep inside the Human This part deals with the complex emotions of humans. The human mind and heart, happiness and pain, hope and death, and finding oneself.
One of my favourite verses is one by Shweta Hitesh Joshi: A hope that life would smile back, how, and when is not known yet… Till then, let me sleep and I know tomorrow will be better again… This verse make me smile and look for hope in my struggling times.
2: Matters of the Heart It deals with the matters of love, romance and heartbreaks. The reader can’t help but think of their special someone who they can’t ignore, their smiles and laughs, the place where they sit in the park, and the way they talk about their favourite books. Ashok and Shweta add to the poetries the sincere wait of one-sided love, the butterflies of first love, and the torment of losing one’s lover/friend.
Ashok Subramnian writes: I tried to imprint my love In her mind, Like writing on the beach sand. Every time she wavered, A wave washed away my message. 3: Conversations with the Universe A take of the poets on travel, humanity, time, pandemic, expressions of art, the world, nature and almost everything you witness in your life and nature. Things and ideas that are visible to the naked eyes but often not paid attention to find their place in this section of the book.
‘Bits of Us’ is a poem by Ashok Subramnaian that I absolutely loved. It captures the essence of the universe so subtly yet so powerfully.
4: Art Meets Art: An Ekphrasis Journey Art meets Art, here, signifies the combination of visual and verbal art. Paintings and photographs are used as a prompt for the poetry. All the poems in this section are the contribution of Ashok Subramanian. My favourite is ‘Clocks and Deadlines’. Extremely relevant to corporate employees and students alike.
5: In the Lap of Nature This final part deals with the sun the moon, the stars, the rains, the trees. The beauty of nature, the sunny, rainy, cold, and starry world makes way into this part of the book. The reader genuinely feels like laying their head in the lap of nature.
The book effortlessly deals with various topics and emotions. It is easy to find something you are in the mood of reading. If you are a fan of poetry, this book is a great choice. However, its unorthodox shape makes it a little difficult to store in a normal bookshelf setting.