The Earthen Flute
60 pages; $6.00
Reviewed by Scott Thomas Outlar
Established poet Kiriti Sengupta of Calcutta, India has teamed up with illustrator Tamojit Bhattacharya to compile a collection of short poems that, as the title indicates, focus primarily on the flesh and bone phenomenon of this earthly plane. The opening piece, “Keep An Eye,” references the spiritual nature of the third eye, or what some have called the seat of the soul, but then quickly establishes the point that sculptors are not as concerned with this aspect of metaphysical consciousness as they are, instead, on experimenting with the two eyes of the actual human face. And so we know from early on that we will be taken on a journey that is influenced by those concerns which are all-too-human. This is made even more clear in the poem “Womb.” Here, the female body is compared with the earth itself. An archetype that has, of course, been expressed through countless millennia by various civilizations across the planet. Such a mythos continues to ring true. There is no escaping the fundamental fact that all of us, ultimately, come from and return to the dust and dirt of terra firma.
What I found to be the most powerful poem, “Experience Personified,” is a simple, serene meditation on the morning dew and the sensation it makes on one’s bare feet when walking through the grass. Sengupta sums up the event:
I don’t call it a feeling,
I would rather name it
I am reminded of the birds in Aldous Huxley’s book The Island that parrot the refrain: “Here and now, boys, here and now.” This poem brings me back to the present moment with a reminder that each experience throughout the day is a reflection of eternity.
In “A Different Ballgame” Sengupta considers a problem that certain poets have encountered when realizing that their work has failed to garner attention by catching hold with reviewers. He offers two possible paths (one slightly more sarcastic than the other) that the poet can take at this stage of the process:
Redoing all your old stuff;
replacing the words
with synonyms found on Google,
or in Oxford Advanced Learners, and then submit
Them to the journals
where the editors boast about their high standards
leave your old stuff as it is,
and think about the classic poets,
who were explored
as they set out for their heavenly abode
The Earthen Flute contains a number of anecdotes pertaining to the basic routines of everyday life. In “Time And Tide” Sengupta writes about a breakfast ordered after a heavy night of drinking with friends. The cheese omelet has not been prepared correctly. When it is inquired whether the cook is new we come to discover that she is a family member of the establishment’s owner who has gone through a terrible tragedy earlier in her life. The lesson this reader came away with: Let us not be aggravated by simple annoyances in life, but always remember to have compassion for those we serve as well as those who serve us.
References to both elemental and earthy ideas such as the sun, moon, lakes, ponds, birds, flowers, and the like are scattered throughout the pages, but in the final poem, “Struggle for Silence,” the philosophical tenets of existentialism and eternal quietude are considered as we leave this bag of bones behind and seek harmony with the Creator. It all boils down, in the end, no matter what type of fun and games we’ve played here on earth, no matter how much suffering and sorrow we’ve experienced in this physical body, to the simple fact that entropy of the mortal coil eventually comes calling. The only question that truly matters is whether or not absolution is realized before that final bell tolls.
A historical moment in literature! A new sub-genre has emerged combining poetry, philosophy, and anecdote. Kiriti Sengupta, bestselling author & poet based in Calcutta, India and translator of Bengali literature, is finalizing his Reflections on Salvation. This work promises to be startlingly unique, fresh, and enlightening!
Sengupta’s collection, termed “Flash Wisdom,” is slated for release this week. We hope to spark interest in this project as few poets of this type are represented in the American publishing industry, and this peculiar collection of less than 50 pages invents a sub-genre of poetry, combining humorous anecdote with wise musings using a terse prose style.
Dr. Mary Madec, award-winning poet of Ireland, instructor of those with intellectual handicaps, and recipient of a doctorate in linguistics, invented the term “Flash Wisdom” to categorize Sengupta’s promising new style — as in a similar vein, Hedwig Gorski invented the term “performance poet” during the 2000’s to describe what later became “slam.” — Dustin Pickering (Founder of Transcendent Zero Press and Editor-in-Chief of Harbinger Asylum)