Srujani Mohanty’s debut collection of poetry is awe-inspiring. ‘Ash in the Sky’ (Dhauli Books, Bhubaneswar) has more than eighty poems written over a period of time. A multifaceted persona, Srujani has been pursuing her creative faculties since the early days. A civil servant by occupation, her poetic abilities are exceptional.
The poems in this collection are all-embracing and they are full of romantic idealism. They are lyrical and at the same time dreamy. There are poems on nature and there are poems of relationship. With vivid imaginations, the poems are a throwback to the times gone by. Decently structured, the poems are overtly expressive and the reader can reconcile himself with the innermost feelings of the poet. Here is one:
‘The overreaching shade of your love/The caring branches of your arms/The evergreen leaves of your care/Moored strongly by your nourishing roots.’
Analogous lines echo elsewhere:
‘A lion among men, large-hearted, bosom filled with warmth/His presence overwhelms all and none are untouched by his charismatic presence/That high broad brow which quells every mortal fear or doubt!’ (The Genial Patriarch)
Srujani Mohanty’s handling of nature is evocative and there is a whole section for nature- induced poems in this charming collection. While the titles are delightful and suave, the lines too are striking:
‘Woken up from a daydream
Screeches of the marauding parakeet
As it bit off the fine flesh from guava
Impatient, not waiting for perfect ripeness.’
(By the guava tree, the years fell away).
Take another poem where singing the praises of nature comes full -circle:
The garden’s pathways hemmed in by the greeting beauties/Multiplicity of whorls, in all colors imaginable/The Dahlias’ allure with vibrant tunes of vernal symphony/
The endearing sight prompting silent prostration before the eternal gardener.
(Dahlias at Talkatora’s).
The poet’s engagement with out- of- the -country themes is entrancing. In the section ‘Japan Diary’ she has some twenty full-blown poems on the Samurai country.
Tokyo Metro! A study in microcosm
Two million people underground at any point of time
Traveling in unified streamlining!
In Author’s Note, Srujani lends a thought about the collection: ‘This book of poetry is a labor of love, only love! A love for mankind, for God’s wondrous creations. An intense sense of gratitude catapults my heart into creating something tangible before it splits through my fingers, something that completed my design of life and captures my worldview.’
With a foreword by Prof Sachidananda Mohanty, this maiden compilation is uninhibited in its approach. Each of the poems in the anthology has a ‘soul’s stirrings.’ The journey here is one of meaningful preoccupation with poetry in the midst of holiness.
The strength of ‘Ash in the Sky’ lies in its wholesome approach to life’s inner beauties. A promising lyrical endeavor to begin with!