City Times and Other Poems

Vihang A. Naik
AuthorHouse (2014)
ISBN 9781491897133
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (05/15)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘City Times and Other Poems’ by Vihang A. Naik on Blogcritics.

“City Times and Other Poems” is an anthology of Vihang A Naik’s poetry. Naik teaches English at Shree Ambaji Arts College in India, and translates poetry from the Guajarati language into English. His poems are rich in poetic expression, abstract in form, and varying in pattern, word use, and style, creating effective tone shifts, hidden meaning, and reveal profound insight. He uses a unique form of modern poetry and free verse, with a combination of minimal rhythm and short sentences packed with meaning. Well placed pauses and inference deliver elusive nuances and creative images that allow the reader the interpretive liberty and a personification which encourages reflection and self-expression.

Naik’s poems are reminiscent of Walt Whitman’s free verse. Naik uses metaphors of the spider, the crab, and the chameleon to create an image of man’s folly, vice, error, and deceit. Philosophical in nature, each poem in this section reflects a common theme “mirrored men” which parallels man in the process of change, and how their values are impacted as a result of these changes.

For example:

“Not only crab walks
Crooked. Who has ever
Made a man walk straight,
Where is that pathway,
The footage, the fixed mark?
He gives messages, speeches,
Lectures and lays out plans.
A sermon of great ideas
for others to follow.”

Although he often alludes to the limitations of words; whether describing the beauty of nature, coming of age, or the uncertainty of purpose, his word choices shape meaning.  However, the use of symbolism, metaphors and similes may cause some readers difficulty in recognizing the underlying deeper hidden meanings.

Each poem is well crafted, perceptive, filled with imagery of hope and sadness, sensitive thoughts on the innocence of childhood, the discoveries of youth, and the disillusionment with manhood. Naik strikes a chord, hits a nerve, or inspires soul stirring personal contemplation. He touches on topics of futility, wisdom, self-esteem, or a sense of exile and alienation prevalent in the busyness of city life. 

“Chameleon is not that great
He changes colours, chairs
Words, moves sooner than
you think to merge
with the surrounding.
His facts behind eyes
Eclipsed and his image
In heights increased. Even
Crocodiles and vultures
in the mist are taken
real in the least.
Who knows what
Is deceit?”

“City Times and Other Poems” by Vihang A. Naik is a book for intellectuals and students of poetry at every level, as well as for all readers impacted by change in crowded cities around the world, or in the rural areas between these metropolitan hubs of humanity.

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