Unique imagery – Suroopa Chatterjee reviews ‘Karmic Chanting’ by Sonnet Mondal

Karmic Chanting by Sonnet Mondal, Copper Coin 2018

Karmic Chanting begins with the quote “everything we sense is not everything”. It is much like the poems he has penned – taking the readers through meandering flights of dark silhouettes and vivid colours that carry the smell of hope and love. Karmic Chanting, Sonnet Mondal’s sixth book, is Calcutta based,  and treats his readers to 87 new poems. His creations carry a wide spectrum of themes, influenced by  Mondal’s inner reflections, incidences, possible unraveled yearnings, and the philosophy that has him piqued as he journeys across places and people he encounters, smelling, breathing and experiencing the mysteries and marvels of human life.

First-time readers of Mondal will discover how effortlessly he has woven an intricate tapestry of words that seem to unravel something that is distant yet near. His lucid and rich interplay of words sometimes appear to move with a force yet at other times appear to be almost silent. All his poems constitute a heady mix of contemporary themes that are yet pregnant and embellished with an old world charm of the classical writers, giving him a distinct style that is uniquely his own.

No matter how much you camouflage
Some icy words from your slithery tongue
Would always reveal you
Publicizing your confessions

 – Aperture

Lines such as these justifies the poet’s instincts throughout the book which highlights a world dipped in contradictions.

Through slow, lyrical and sensuous weave of words, Mondal quietly opens the reader to the world of stark reality, imagination and metaphors in poems such as ‘Strange meetings’ and ‘From Tushar’s Apartment’. Every page the reader turns opens into a new door of pain and pondering as the poet steers you to the alleys and by lanes of lost innocence, that oscillates between forgetfulness and memories as in ‘The lost Mango Tree’ and about the bitter sweet journey of coming home in ‘Dadaji’.

Whether it is his despair and anguish over the world in his poem dedicated  ‘To Syrian Children’ or the futility of war in ‘Snapshots of a dying soldier’ ,or ‘The Air Around Me’, Modal leans heavily on the universality of life and death and unflinching hope. Often his poems speak out loud, compelling the reader to feel restless as in ‘The Homeless’ while in others like ‘I never had a favorite face’ they seem to gently take one inwards and evoke different emotions through his unique imagery. He touches upon the restlessness of time ‘Through the broken window’ and celebrates the quiet sweet sanctity of the reassurance of those facets of life where “Some things are best unchanged”.

Never far from nature and seasons and the mood they carry, Mondal has delicately churned a meditative world with the backdrop of rains that evokes old memories floating in the waters of a river in ‘The Ferry’s Night Horn’. There are some pages that seem to caress the reader with the sweet fragrance of a romance that could have been in poems like ‘Strange meetings’ and ‘Left out love’.

 – Suroopa Chatterjee

Suroopa Chatterjee lives in Kolkata and works as a freelancer. Her recent writings have appeared in several newspapers and publications including The Statesman, North India Patrika and Khmer Times among. She works as a cultural activist and as a content writer in a PR agency.

Karmic Chanting can be purchased through Sonnet Mondal’s website http://www.sonnetmondal.com/books.html


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