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Book Review of …and I Stop to Listen Authored by Anju Kishore

Updated: Dec 21, 2019

“A poetry collection with human empathy, love for the nature and love filled messages to the beloved”

Anju Kishore uses words not as tools to fulfil or express her individual desires but as a means to create a spiritually cleaner world for us to live in…She employs poetry as not a futile exercise in manipulating…words, but like the bristles of a soft brush to wipe a painting clean…In that, her main toll is a sensitive mind which is rare among the new crop of poets…

                                                                                                 (From the introduction of Ra Sh)

The poetry book …and I Stop to Listen by Anju Kishore is quite the dictum of the above said words by Ra Sh (Ravi Shanker N) a renowned poet himself who has given an insightful and in-depth introduction of Anju Kishore’s poetry collection. His rave review has said it all but yet I took this opportunity to review the book from my perspective and thought of sharing my experiences of reading it. The book is wisely divided into four segments the first one is “The World at War” This segment has some heart touching and soul-stirring poetry that shows the great empathy that the poet feels for the war victims, particularly children who have been victimized against their will. Her expressions are realistic that makes one ponder upon this dreadful thought that how myriad children are still suffering in war-torn areas and we chose to keep our silence, while the poet has chosen to become their voice and has shown some bitter yet the neglected truths of their lives.  Homeless, helpless, the earth becomes their father and mother. In poet’s own words

To have the earth for a mother, the sky for a father,

And a dusty breeze to lull me to sleep,

While the blackened trees hum a song of life

A life that could have been…

A very strong thought to make one realize that there could have been a better life for them, and then she herself asks the question that should she walk away or join the fight but again she is seeking many answers to those questions which are left unanswered or chosen not to be brought up by many like us. The harshest reality for such children is to wake up each day in such tragic conditions yet how she has again soothed that feeling for those innocent lives in her poem

“Till the Sun Smiles Again”.

The moon is still galloping part

On his dark horse, scattering the stars,

So sleep children, under star-strewn skies,

It’s not quite the hour to rise

The innocence of children needs to be treasured and valued and the above lines are the most warm consoling words that there is still time for them to keep their eyes close and sleep a little more beneath the starry sky before they again wake up to those sadistic realities. This segment ends with the most precise poem that depicts the poet’s heart full of kindest vibes and concern for war victims “A Mother’s Dears”. Here again she has portrayed the most pungent truth that man is the origin for all the agony and pain caused to the mother earth. He blindly follows about what fulfils his fate.

No wayward child has ever set

His fretful mother’s mind at rest

For all her pains to set him straight

He will only trail his fate.

After bringing the readers face to face with the pricking reality of war’s adverse and ongoing after effects the most alluring segment comes in the book and takes the readers to the candid and contagious world of love. The title to this segment has been given …And in Love. Being a romance genre writer myself I thoroughly enjoyed the poems in this collection. From Cosmic Love Stories to This Thing We Call Love, Come Home all poems speak of the purest form of love for the beloved. Somewhere most candid, somewhere personification and in some place with a questioning attitude the poet has depicted that love is not something that ages with lovers aging, rather it becomes deeper and makes a woman’s heart blossom at the fullest seeing her lover’s presence around her, and she feels it to be the biggest wealth in her life. Then there are poems that speak about the ever-growing love for the nature within the poet’s heart. She has myriad protagonists in her poem, those have come to life through her verses, like a river that flows, a wandering butterfly that flutters its wings, the love story of moon and the sea, the hills that has an inviting fragrance for the poet, the silent blossoming of the Petunias in her confine, the poet has used them to her luxury with great vice and making them all seem life-like with unique characteristic of their own. The more you read the more you want to read, are such poems in this collection.

Then there are some existential and subjective poems like the “The Destiny of a Kite” where the poet has depicted a beautiful truth that we should not hinder a child’s fate or destiny. They are like kites, born to fly with the freedom to choose their own skies. Like their varied hues a child also has varied dreams which we should allow them to follow.

The Kite that flies in darts and dives

Is your child, born for flight.

Hold him not by the string so taut,

Let him discover the skies

And the most ideal poem within this segment is the revelation by the poet that every successful urban woman has a man who supports her from the heart, to grow and shine. It was resonating to my soul “The Man of Your World”

Give him a homely hearth,

A bit of life at the end of work

As he lowers his silent cares,

Count them, if you dare.

For everything you think you’ve lost,

He has returned it in some way.

This poem I would say is the heart of all the poems, when two lovers both man and woman begins to value each other’s presence into each other’s lives the blessings grow in abundance as much the love for each other. And the poet has said just the right thing that give your man the warmth and love, and they would shower you with their silent yet most caring love.

Then comes the third segment in this poetry collection, called the “Snapshots” which at first seem more like random musings, but they have a much deeper sense and meaning. As the poet says in the first snapshot poem ‘Flawed Hearts’

Give me not a heart so fair,

That the smallest scar is laid bare,

Allow me my little flaws,

So I may be forgiving of other’s faults.

A kind-hearted human that our poet is has revealed so flawlessly that it’s good to have flaws so that we are more forgiving towards other people’s faults. This segment also has some of that observatory approach towards people, places, things and their comparison to inanimate objects which is again impeccably done by the poet. Like the poet has said people are like lanterns their outer appearance at times might dim but from the inside their souls are more sparkling. And the best one in this section is ‘The Candle Will Flow’.

Religion is a candle,

The helps the seeker find in himself,

The God he is looking for.

The most unbiased thought I have ever come across on religion so far is this poem, the deeper sense that I caught through this poem is that it’s only that light of the candle which lightens up the threshold of every God’s house for the candle is the same, not needy of any religious identity.

And the last segment is titled “A New Life” where the poet has made some candid confessions that even though at times one has to move on to some other place but his heart belongs and stays behind only at his homeland. Even though the beauty of other places and countries have soothed and gratified her heart but she has again felt alive in her native land from where it all began, her existence, her poetic journey and her love for her homeland. Though she rejoices the majestic moments of being a wanderer her heart still questions the unpredictability of life and being a journey in itself.

I am learning to live

Again, as life has moved me on

From what was briefly…home.

New lessons to learn,

A few to unlearn;

And may be much more

To understand of life,

Every time it takes… a new turn

Plethora Blogazine’s Verdict: …and I Stop to Listen, just like the title of this anthology the poet has actually penned down such poems which otherwise many people wouldn’t choose to talk about. The piteous condition of the war torn areas is the most heart touching segment in this collection. The flow of the language is quite lucid and each poem in rest of the other segments have greater resonance and reflections of real life and things that many people tend not to notice, but a poet always does. And our poetess Anju Kishore has justifiably created all the poems in this book with her observation from a soul’s level and with a most empathetic heart. On the scale of 5 I would give this poetry book a 5 star rating and would recommend each poetry lover to read this amazing poetry book, ..and I Stop to Listen published by Authorspress.

Author & Poet: Anju Kishore

Startling images of the Syrian civil war turned Anju Kishore, a cost accountant by profession, homemaker by choice and passion turned her into a poet. Horror and anguish at the plight of innocent children caught in the crossfire between warring adults formed the subject of her early poems. Soaking in the challenges and pleasures of moving across countries, she traced her poetic journey from war to the love of the universe in her first book of poetry ‘…and I Stop to Listen’ that was published in 2018 and dedicated to the children of Syria. One of the winners of the Great Indian Poetry Award 2018, her poems are part of e-magazines and print anthologies. They have been featured in a theatrical performance in Mumbai and in the readers’ section of a Dubai based magazine



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