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Book Review: Vihang A Naik's City Times & Other Poems
City Times & Other Poems is a collection of new and selected poems by Vihang A. Naik (1969), who is an authentic Indian poetic voice in the contemporary scenario. He writes in English and Gujarati. His English poetry has been published in many literary journals and anthologies across India.

Naik's poems regularly appear in literary journals, magazines like 'The Indian P.E.N., Indian Literature, Kavya Bharati, POESIS: A Journal of Poetry Circle, Mumbai, The Journal of Poetry Society (India), The Journal of Indian Writing in English, The Journal of Literature and Aesthetics, The Brown Critique and many poetry anthologies and acclaimed e-magazines.

His poetry collection includes Poetry Manisfesto (2010), Making A Poem (2004) and his City Times and Other Poems first published in 1993. He is credited with publishing Gujarati language collection of poems named as Jeevangeet in 2001 which he dedicated to the cause of victims of Gujarat Earthquake 26th January, 2001. He also translated poetry from Gujarati language into English. Presently he is teaching at Shree Ambaji Arts College affliated to Hemchandracharya North Gujarat, India.

Naik has dedicated the poetry collection to his mother and has divided it into six parts containing 68 poems based on many themes like religious, social, cultural, and political and economic and personal history. These parts have been entitled as, 'Love Song of a Journeyman', 'Mirrored Men', 'The Path of Wisdom', 'Self Portrait', 'At The Shore' and 'City Times.'

The very first poem of the section, Love Song of a Journeyman' 'in the collection is 'Your Upholding' which is subjective and symbolic in nature. As the lines reflects:

I'd then begun

to hear wings

in empty spaces.

A song

in the desert

of my heart.

A first journey.

The other poems in this section 'includes; You revealed the edge', 'You broke Petals, 'The Flower' are subjective poems depicting many incidents in the life of the poet and 'The world', 'How long', 'Time' are symbolic poems.

It seems that Naik has great love for insects and reptiles as it is reflected in poems like, 'Spiders may have', 'Not only crab walks', 'Chameleon is not that great' where he is telling the story of spider, crab & chameleon. In poem, 'Man as he is, folly' he is discussing about the various weaknesses which a man possess, as the lines indicates:

Man as he is, folly

vice, error, deceit

occupies his heart. Here

the light is gone. Truth,

How should he reach out

To you with a mortal.

The poems, 'He is different behind' and 'Bears a meaningless mark he speaks about double-standard behaviour of human being. The poem, 'Truth is a mirror' reflects the virtue of truth which is fading in today's life.

In section, 'Path of Wisdom' almost all the poems viz; 'Here it is different'; 'Do not touch rainbow', 'When you do not find, Listen! Death knocks, 'You know, 'City is a market', 'Say what all you can', 'The path of wisdom' seems to be philosophical in tone. Each poem has been crafted beautifully with philosophical blend of mine telling us about the harsh realities of life with being symbolic in tone. This shows the philosophical attitude of poet towards life. As the lines of the poem, 'Listen! Death knocks' depicts:

Listen! Death knocks

at the door

of your heart

or for a moment, imagine.

The next section, 'Self Portrait' has a single poem namely, 'I' which has been written in a different and unique style portraying poet's use of experimentation in poetry, as the lines indicates:


wake up

to see my


This is something which is very unique and rarely found in the field of English Literature.

In the section, 'At the Shore' there are poems namely, 'Distance', 'Illusion', 'Desire', 'Pleasure', 'Voice', 'Eyes' & 'At the Shore'. All these poems reflect different natures and virtues possessed by human-beings displaying various symbols or metaphors such as 'octopus', 'sand', 'serpent, 'garment', 'paper kites' and 'vultures' to revealed the emotions. As the lines of 'Desire' reveals:

the octopus

of desire


arteries and veins

tears flesh apart

feeding upon fire

swallowing air.

So, in this way, he has artistically used the metaphor of octopus, a sea animal to describe desire. He seems to believe that as octopus has 8 legs and if it catches a prey, he tears him very badly and same is the case with the desire of human beings which once caught will ruin him forever.

The last section, 'City Times' consists of poems describing about various cities of his state and around the world. 'A Broken Song' and 'After Innocence' are highly symbolical in tone reflecting mis-happening and incidents of the past when massacre of many innocent had taken place around the world.

'On visiting grandfather's house' is a subjective poem depicting Poet's nostalgic attitude. He conveys his feelings about his grandfather whom he misses a lot and his city which has changed a lot.

In 'A sympathiser for underdogs' he has described about his city and has reflect his feelings for the poor people living there. There are poems like, 'Evening' , 'City Voice' & 'Midnight City' in which he is talking about the change which are taking place in his city also the scenes of evening and midnight both in materialistic form and scenic beauty.

Naik has deep love and passion for poetry which is quite reflected in the poetry collection. His poems are enriched with the use of various natural and metaphysical metaphors and symbols. His reflection of philosophy when needed is quite praiseworthy. Almost all the poems in the collection are written in free verse.

The poet has reflected his innermost feelings and experience on various issues of vital importance related to our existence and survival on this universe and has dealt successfully with some religious, social, cultural, and emotional themes in the book.

The poems in the collection are creative pieces reflecting writer's imagination, emotional intensity, intellect and his attitude towards life. There is fine balance of themes which have been placed with experimentation.

All the poems in the collection reflect the writer's experience and demonstrate feeling even beyond their experiences. It is a literary gift for the lovers of Indian English Poetry.

Dr Shamenaz is an Assistant Professor (English), Dept. of Applied Sciences & Humanities, AIET, Allahabad

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