Book Review: Amrita Sharma’s ‘The Skies’

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By Prithvijeet Sinha

Dr. Amrita Sharma proudly wears her recently anointed honorific, a bona-fide PhD, to her name from the University of Lucknow. That is another one of the many feathers she has on her hat. This young and enterprising writer has been an avid reader and a conscientious student with an honourable stint as Fulbright Fellow at Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, from 2021 to 2022. But what she holds as her most impressive source of talent is an innate ability to be lucid. The poetry in her debut collection, entitled The Skies, is a testament to her reserves of simplicity that leap off her personality in general and in her verses, in particular.

Book reviews are conventionally meant to be objective, but I feel a sense of pride and joy in sharing her worldview with other discerning readers-writers. Neatly divided into nine sections titled respectively as ‘Musings’, ‘You and Colours’, ‘To Them with Love’, ‘Thought Trails’, ‘She and Her’, ‘Set on a Stage’, ‘Within’, ‘Journeys’ and ‘Abstractions’, these poems let you discover a creative mind’s endless horizons that become her stage, her personal document of intimate, beautifully etched emotions, mapped out in concise capsules in each section.

Take the first titular poem “The Skies” where she writes,

“I never looked up so often before,
I never felt the need to stare at the sky,
but something taught me to value
the blues,
for it is not the ocean that transliterates
our tears,
but it is born out of a clear lit sky.”

How effusive, evocative, and pure are the thoughts of a poet. The first impression hence lingers with these lines.

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Her vision is touched by a personal tinge as in “Worldometers” where the idea of mortality so crucial to modern writing, especially in the context of a pandemic, finds echoes:

“I see people writing of death,
as they flip through the life cycles
of the living,
reduced to the philosophical churnings
of the ones who escaped”

The lucidity of imagery and a deep affinity with nature and humanity can be found in other entries such as “A Paint Brush”, “The Green Flower” or in the section dedicated to the multiplicity and heterogeneity represented by colours. In “Blues”, the titular colour’s ubiquity is found in “that shirt you wore on our last distant call/ or in the fancy ink of that pen your drawer holds.” As also in “In Shades of Leaves” where green “were all once shades of leaves in a glade from your sketch book.”

I must also add that each poem is akin to a personal conversation, a one-on-one exchange that displays her talent given its distinctive personable nature. Then there are other personal favourites like “A Box of Fumes”, “Origins”, “After Years I turn to Ink”, “Women” and “She” that maintain a rhythm, a seamless intersection between her prose and verse styles. Take, for example, the final lines of “A Box of Fumes”:

“When chaos reverts and timelessness falls,
we shall reach out to unknown lands,
unfolding layers of skies and space,
for then the fumes may drift apart”

These words collectively make sense because they come from someone who has travelled the world, seen people and places, drawn from each experience and has managed to successfully translate them to stirring miniature portraits of thoughts. We can also attest to the global nature of poetry and writing in general with them.

Her acknowledgement of poetic inspirations, too, abound in a work like “A Letter”:

“you had been writing to me so often
and, asking me to prepare for the journey
while, making me relearn my mother
tongue again”

Then once again in “Ventriloquist”, a female muse fits her oeuvre with,

“I know she sits on a tall branch,
not very far
upon the Golden Shower tree,
from the last poem we wrote together.”

Or the joy of inspiration that comes from forging new friendships in a new land as in “To Unni in Seoul” where “all had happened for a reason/ all like a timeline set in a loop.”

In fact, Ms. Sharma is able to conjure her most impressive relationships with people, colours and the possibilities of language in poems culled from sections titled ‘To them with Love’, ‘Journeys’ and the final one ‘Abstractions.’ “The Concealed Skyline” reinvigorates the ancient myth of Hylas and the Nymphs with her characteristic touch of sublimity.

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I could possibly quote a dozen or more lines and poems here. I would suggest that the readers read each line, each expression and take in the full breadth of her gentle, compassionate and considerate tempers.

To the horizons that become one’s skies, Dr. Sharma’s words attest to more heights to be scaled. The thing of Beauty, Knowledge, Power, Joy and Sustenance that is Poetry is second nature to her and her humility becomes the byline and symbol of her promising beginnings with this work.

Bio:
Prithvijeet Sinha is from Lucknow. After completing his MPhil, he launched his writing career by self-publishing on the worldwide community Wattpad in 2015 and on his blog ‘An Awadh Boy’s Panorama’. He has published in several journals such as Gnosis JournalReader’s DigestCafé Dissensus EverydayCafé Dissensus MagazineConfluenceThe MedleyThumbprint MagazineWilda Morris’ Poetry BlogScreen QueensBorderless Journal, encompassing various genres of writing, ranging from poetry to film reviews, travel pieces, photo essay, and culture.

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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Horror-(fic) Turn: Understanding Contemporary Horror Films”, edited by Animesh Bag, University of Calcutta, India.

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