“School Of Age” Mihir Chitre (Dhauli Books)

Review: Shreesti Kumari

School of Age by Mihir Chitre
Dhauli Books | Year: 2019

A book of awakening sensations, intricately woven with experiences and impressions.

An assured collection, Mihir Chitre’s poems in “School Of Age” takes us to new territories and also within.

“We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.”- William Butler Yeats.

There is an irrefutable gusto that draws readers to Mihir Chitre’s “School Of Age.” This book is both universal and autobiographical in its subtleties. Like a silver foiled mithai which is solemn to look at, his poems when taken inside melt into sweet grief, triggering one’s taste buds. In the preface of the book, Chitre writes “Youth is the Preface to the book. The end of youth is also to know that you don’t and never will know enough; to know that what you chase in terms of fame, money, love is a label that can’t contain a fraction of your ideas of them.” The book hints at an inner journey along with an exterior, fast-moving time, where the poet finds himself in a pleasure-pain state.

Poems “Similarities and Differences”, “Access”, “Articulate “, “Lost Ordinary” are a few where we find unique “ideation of thoughts.” His poems orbit around an idea where he fancies his imagination using incisive metaphors in a meticulous craft. /The word sorrow, like all words, is a metaphor to sorrow and not what it really is.”/(pg-34). 

Many of his poems are fragments from his past which tickle and tingle him both./The older you grow the more the disorder within you/(pg-13). Some poems like “Melt” and “Alone” completely absorb us when we begin reading but with every word approaching towards the end, the verse emits a sense of detachment from the memory. In his poem “Importance” he writes “the limitation of writing is that you can only write from memory or imagination and it’s not easy to tell them apart.”(pg-10). He wanders in a dilemma of what moved him and what he thought moved him. We find an intermingling of thoughts, memories, imagination, possibilities. 

Chitre writes from a deep seat of consciousness./Imagine poetry being of use instead of simply being of use instead of simply being a reflection of absence.”(pg-22). As a poet he takes to writing overwhelmed by the alienation of urban life; the angst because of losses in such a kind of life; and the dreading of more such losses in the future. There is an undercurrent of pessimism in some of his poems /Like a true pessimist who always wants to be closer to death./(pg-85) while some poems have an optimistic tone. Captivating is the fact that his poems show his vast love of life and its variegated shades and twists. He writes,/We talk about the power of stories but in fact we talk about the power of people in those stories.”/(pg-15).

“Bombay” finds a personification in many of his poems./the inadequacy of reason makes no difference in my Bombay./(pg-23). Like an abstract on a canvas, some of his poems like “Ghazal for Goregaon” paint life in a cosmopolitan Bombay and the worldview which the poet develops from there. This poetry collection has some of the finest imagery produced which unlocks our hearts and leaves us awestruck. /The graffiti of termite on the bedroom wall draw a masterpiece of drudgery./(pg-16) /Invisible wisdom leaking out of an old vase./(pg-18 ). His words weave figures and shapes and tirelessly seek the sun.

There are many poems (about places) in the collection that move across India and abroad. The poet visits a place with a mindful eye and extracts poetry from travel./Perception is the most diverse country in the world./(pg-68). We see Chalal, Côte d’Azur, Goa, Varanasi, Himalayan Villages, Dapoli, Udaipur, Shanghai, Kolkata, Delhi from Mihir’s lens. He writes in “A Graveyard in Goa”/The only way to go there was not going there./(pg-46). Cinema and songs find an influence in his poems. Wong Kar- Wai’s movie is articulated in lines,/Yet there are people in Hong Kong who lose their voice when in the mood for love./(pg- 76). In his poem “Tosh ” a verse ends with Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”. The poet also quotes Sahir Ludhianvi in some of his verses. (pg-84).

At a closer view, some common threads run in the poetry collection. Some of these are revocation of the past, feeling of cultural and individual uniqueness, an indefinable sense of longing and absence, an elixir of enthusiasm and energy, hints of hope, much of angst in both personal and social being. There exists the conjunction of desire, distance, displacement in the collection. The mosaics painted in most of his poems are unique and varied. The inner world of the poet overlaps with the outer on the speculative.

Chitre writes in free verse and further takes the liberty of flirting with words. /The universe is full of mistrust. Stars are coquettes and the moon a flirt./ (pg-66). In one of his poems, he admits the cost of messing with language. Gender stereotyping, contemporary social and political situation, haunting sense of failure, sensitivity find expression in this collection. It unites sensibilities. Some of his poems are serene and distinct. /That’s probably why you are most scared. When you don’t know why you are scared. /(pg-107). His verses consist of awakening sensations with consistent rhythm and melodious sounds. The poet records various twists and turns and snapshots them in his verses. The inner fabric of the collection is a rare juxtaposition of experiences and impressions.

The poet’s sincerity is genuine and his feelings unfathomable. He writes “To the school we’ll all graduate from only in death. To the school of age.”. As George Sand puts “He who draws noble delight from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life”- School Of Age takes us within.

The primary function of poetry is to make us more aware of ourselves and the world around us. This poetry collection successfully does it.

Shreesti Kumari is a young poet. Her works have been published in notable literary magazines and journals. She keeps a keen interest in English Literature. She is an orator. She also writes reviews of books and films. She has graduated from Karim City College, Jamshedpur in English Honours.