Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mad Jade by Sona Ghose

Title: Mad Jade
Author: Sona Ghose
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 53

When I first opened the pdf file of this poetry book by Sona Ghose, I was smitten by the cover graphic and the title "Mad Jade". Poetry should be mad and evocative filled with imagery and imagination, which the poet has successfully achieved in some of her poems, while many of her other works were emotions expressed onto the pages of a book, simply like we write a diary.
I was amused by the poetic rendition of her acknowledgement page, which is dedicated to her beau and in clear words were poignantly suggestive of the bond she shares with him.
Her prose piece "Fashion is fickle" tells you of her struggles to get published and more so, to get a footing in this big bad world filled with poets and authors. When she finally decided to listen to her voice and ask her own self for support, this poetry book took shape.
"When do I get myself back?" is a call of her alter ego and I liked the way she plays with the images inside her head, trying to tell the reader of the deeper voice of her alter ego that isn't leaving her alone.  

"For as long as I can remember,
I’ve been tugging at sheets
to tell myself that I’ve still got a hold on things,
but she and I both know
that I’ve never gotten the hang of hanging around her.
Sitting in my car, she’s singing
folk songs I’ve never heard. She brings
something to the table
that I’d left to childhood fables."

Scary images of a confused reverberation of her other self are painted in these images.

In the poem "Names" she has tried to sketch a colour of the seasons like she does it here
"Let me call you April
because I’ve never come across
a brighter storm; you
surrounded by gusts of wind
and rains which beat on the window panes; of me."

"Explode" plays with the sounds of a lover's breath and the beauty of inebriation that alcohol brings. Usage of images like napkin and table leg are haunting, although the ending is abrupt, which doesn't do justice to these pictures in our mind.
"On Wanting to sculpt" could have used personification which Sona tried doing in initially, but somewhere again the chase led this poem nowhere.
"Your Song" could have worked better had the poet tried to describe in detailing the emotions that  music invoke in her.
In "I say to all" the images of the daffodils, ponds, grass, book and apple tree could have been spelled out more clearly.
"I want to follow you" could have used more images, which it lacks.
I liked the idea of a heart in a protective case much like a jewel, but i was confused when Sona spoke of visitation rights here
"Occasionally I
may find a place;
red upholstery and
purplish trim
set it there
in a protective case.
Dust it
three times a day
Never fail
to find meaning.
if you wish so
Some day I’ll
return it
with a provision for visitation
She could have clarified how she was trying to use the image of her heart here.

"I want to plant you in my garden" made a promising start, but somewhere it gets lost when the poet talk of mowing her lawn and iced tea. How can these ideas be synced with the images of death and freedom that she has spoken of in the first few stanzas. 
"Sigh" read like a conversation of the poet with herself. I didn't find any brilliance to save it.
"Inklings of reason" is again a resolve to find the reasons as to why she writes which she clarifies here.
"i write
then i can edit,
changing words,
manipulating phrases,
my only control in
this chaotic life."

"The things we carry" tried to do elucidate the synonymous metaphoric usage of luggage with the emotional baggage we carry. Beyond this
"but maybe, in time, i learn to find a way
to carry this luggage in such a way that it does not
in my way.
i’ve realized that it’s never about the weight
but about the grace with which one may carry..."
her interpretation again gets lost.

"The answers to all of life's most difficult questions" doesn't elucidate her thoughts. I was wondering as to what was she trying to convey in the bulleted and numbered answers.

"Religion?" is a strong surge towards finding life's answers in god and the theories of religion. The ending was wonderful and the thought of talking to an empty book was indeed poetic.
I didn't understand the poem "Flow to you" and what it wanted to convey, although I liked the idea of a dam trying to stop the flow.
"Alone even in a crowd" tries to find lost voices wasted in death. But who is the poet imploring to? Her love or her forefathers?
In "Fate" I liked the idea of an art gallery and a connoisseur and the images of a lover as a canvas or art piece are again wonderful. But from there, where does the poem go?
"Condition" read like a tiny write-up with no poetic devices.
"Hide away" is a wonderful attempt at portraying a stage and puppets like in this stanza
"damned if i do
damned if i don’t
i am merely a puppet
a sad doll on a tiny broken stage
i will cry only when you see fit
i will laugh when you feel it is appropriate
over contempt i will adorn the guise of content
i will mask sadness with serenity"
but why does the television come into the picture? And even if so, why does she pull her innate secrets into the poem, which reads like a complaint letter.
"Muse" is a simple dedication to the poet's muse, that read and flowed well, but then again I kept searching for poetic figures of speech which I was looking to admire.

I give the book 2.5/5, because for a first timer, this was a propitious display of talent. Some poems like "Explode", "Hide away" and "Religion?" worked for me although I wish she would have not got lost and tried to clearly interpret her feelings and emotional vagaries before putting them on paper. Some images were very strong and are full of promise, but their tendency to get lost and not convey what they want to, didn't go down with me.
"Mad Jade" is a beautiful personal memoir of love and a keepsake of a dedication. In terms of poetic experimentation, the book triumphs at certain places and loses plot in other places. I also loved the sketches that went with each poem, although they did nothing to add voice to the language that was being rendered to us.
For a debut, this collection of poetry looks promising, and cannot be overlooked.

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