The book is a tribute to the great Russian writers.
When silence dominates the night and the wind sings a berceuse, you want to snuggle inside your pashmina duvet and get marooned into a colonnaded garden of poems that take you to an exotic realm and gift a cosy comfort to your soul.
Vodka by the Volga does exactly that!
The much-awaited book by two eminent writers Dr Ampat Koshy and Dr Santosh Bakaya, Vodka by the Volga is sure to create a space in the memory chamber of your hippocampus.
The book is a wonderful tribute to the great Russian writers.
One can feel stimulus in the sinew and curve of each poem.
The cascade and cadence of words and imagery have left fragments of their being in my mind. While reading, I was lost in the maze of portmanteau of words and thoughts created by India’s two stalwarts of English poetry.
Santosh Bakaya’s poetry teaches us to look deeper and tempts us to find the enigmatic wisdom in the grubby highs and lows of life. She wraps us in a flannel coverlet of her beautiful words, nudging us to recce the unknown terrain of our inner self, places we didn’t know existed. And we marvel at the way her words engulf us, gifting us a novel experience with each poem. The more you read her, the more you yearn for it like the waves yearning to touch the lips of the coast.
Dr Koshy, through his superlative poetry, evokes hypnotic animism that you would want to preserve in your glass jar of imagination. The way he weaves imagery and the enigmatic way he arranges the iconography of his words to catalyse our sepulchred thoughts and emotions, is the most transcendental attire of creativity.
The reference of Pushkin’s The tales of Belkin , Eugene Onegin ,George Orwell’s allegorical novel Animal Farm (The song Beast of England rang in my ears) etc. made me walk down the memory lane .
My personal favourites are:
A Nonchalance So Blue
Receding memories, scream for attention
those buried secrets creep stealthily,
roam all over my mindscape, grinning triumphantly
I cull impassioned words from hidden anguish
and, miraculously, constellations of poems are born, unbidden.
The glamour of that exuberant clamour overpowers me and
the notes of the night stammer on, hammer on
- Santosh Bakaya
I was compelled to revisit this evocative poem. I love the sense of flow in it. The poem plays in a loop in my mind, long after reading it, just like my favourite song. Under the carapace of resilience lurks a sensitive soul that reflects in these verses.
Another favourite of mine is:
The White Nights
Do not listen to lies
We do not love to win or gain,
Or write for success
But for loss
Failure is our heat and light
Let me kiss your black eyes
My pen dipped in black ink
No ruse, but spells & magic
- Ampat Koshy
What a beautiful poem! There are no words for the eloquence Dr Ampat Koshy espouses through his verses. The words flow like a cascade dancing in terpsichorean steps on the bosom of a mountain and glides down with panache to embrace the brook.
Santosh Bakaya refers to the poem ‘The Gypsies’ by Pushkin in her poem ‘On Dark Nights’
Have you read The Gypsies?
What a narrative poem! you gushed
I looked askance as you went headlong
into a vibrant description of the gypsy camp
throbbing between the wheels of carriages,
where a flame burns –and a family cooks around it
It burns, it still does as my mind recalls
a tame bear, lying uncaged
It was then that I knew what a Russophile you were
I love the analogy of tame bear morphing into a grizzly bear.
And how memory initially peeps from the door like a tame bear but eventually metamorphoses into a grizzly bear that shakes raindrops from its mane, overwhelming the poet and making her insomniac.
I’m insanely fascinated by Santosh Bakaya’s play of words and the poetic extravaganza that she offers through her verses.
Take a close look at these lines fromThe Wilderness:
There was a time, when we walked the wilderness,
with Lorca in my rucksack, Neruda in my hands,
Pushkin on your mind, and Pushkin on your lips
What a time it was, what a time!
Your eyes bound to the antics of a butterfly,
vain and bloated, moving around with a swagger,
flaunting the golden rays of the sun shimmering on its wings
This poem is so vivid that I could see the reels flashing in front of my mind’s eyes as I read the lines. It forces us to keep the door of our observation ajar. Beautiful, illustrative manifestation of words in this piece of art.
In the poem ‘Dedicated to Lermontov’, Dr Koshy writes
…while the lightning flashed
the rose in my heart was withering
and on your cheeks pale and wilting, grey glazed
I rained my kisses
while your breath misted faint
on your bedewed upper lip.
Your bosom rose and fell ever less.
Nothing was left of me after you died.
On the cliff’s edge, later, while I duelled, I felt
if I fell
I would cry…
If only you hadn’t died that night
untimely rose plucked from my grasp
Bela- you who were my heart’s only delight!
This poem is inspired by the first chapter, Bela, from Lermontov’s ‘A Hero of our Time’ and we are reminded of Perochin, the lover, and Kazbich, the slayer of Bela. The poem has beautifully brought out the anguish and the agony of Pechorin on Bela’s death.
I’m sure ‘the Poet of the Caucasus’ must be blessing Dr Koshy from up above, for this heart-wrenchingly beautiful poem, depicting the nuances of the characters so intensely. Such a beautifully emotive piece!What makes this book special is the note by Dr Santosh and the afterword by Dr Koshy. I loved to peek into their personal experiences on how they were introduced to the doorway to Russian literature.Each and every poem in this collection will nudge you to slow down, peruse, completely marooned in the magical ocean of verses by these two stalwarts of poetry.The poems are grouted with silence, eloquence, epiphany, and insight that galvanises your imagination.
Mahua Sen is an award-winning poet.