Some books are meant to be devoured and Misspelled Portrait is one such book written by Devarya Singhania that is full of allusive ideas, historical and socio- political references, subtle inklings of the heart and the larger mystery of life and living. Powerful in terms of topic selection and writing style, this collection of odd poems has a rather understated book cover in comparison to the bustling poetic endeavour that it harbours.
The title of the book is rather paradoxical but conveys the idea that the portrait of the world, its inhabitants and their emotions can be painted with the stroke of poetry which is one of the greatest forms of art. Heart touching and soul stirring, this collection is a tribute to acrostic poetry in particular and the genre of poetry in general as the poet notes: “Poetry is not merely a dance of words, rhymes, or styles; it remarks on one’s ability to express, display candour, and rejoice in its prosperity.” Such a thought comes with deep realisation that there is a world of poetry situated within the larger world of literary endeavours that has variety in terms of form and style which provides potential to be tapped and unleashed. This is the motivation that drives the poet to uncover the hidden gems of poetic activity not as a powerful overflow of recollected emotions but as an art that is to be practiced and can only be improved upon further practice.
Yet, there is a certain charm to poetry that Devarya Singhania does not deny. She is full of critically appreciative efforts in this genre and expresses whole heartedly her love for this genre and its proponents. A Misspelled Portrait is a collection of nearly 97 poems on varied themes like war, mental health, nature and relationships. Each of these topics are dealt with in a straight forward and holistic manner. These topics have been given almost equal room and they have been explored with utmost care and caution.
These are mature topics and meant for intermediate to advanced level readers. While the ills of war are explained in poetic diction, the many facets of life, love and the relations that this worldly life provides is also expressed along with the dilemma of living, its challenges and its myriad opportunities from which one can learn, rectify their mistakes and create new, better situations. Though for the most part, the book revolves around these issues, the central idea is to elucidate these topics and not necessarily with the aim to provide any specific solutions.
Since it is not a prose work, there are no specific characters that may be discussed although that does not take away from the fact that there are specific situations and circumstances or even historical events that find mention and are dissected thoroughly to bring out their multiple implications. These are then woven into a story like manner that provides fresh perspective and increases the chances of understanding of the historical events and incidents through deeper analysis without forcing any sort of conclusion onto the reader. At all times, Devarya Singhania gives the reader complete freedom to incorporate their own understanding and envision the scenario that is being dealt with in the poems.
This provides a certain space and room which calls the reader into the purview of the poems and allows them to engage with these poetic works at a deeper and personal level. Yet, Devarya Singhania never loses control of her art. The fine line between the personal, impersonal and professional is constantly treaded but with a purpose which is to bring to the reader’s notice the key issues of the subject of contention in the poems. In this sense, the collection is quite objective, opinionated and with a thorough purpose of bringing the attention of the reader to ideas that are both personal and of global importance. This makes the collection quite revolutionary, full of realism and one that strives forth for global, personal and societal betterment. Yet, if this depth of thought is the icing of the cake, then the cherry on the icing is the beautiful writing style regarding which words cannot do justice. This has to be felt and experienced and that can only be possible through the reading of the poems which should be thorough and attentive.
The vocabulary is not easy to follow as there are many technical terms used and most words maintain a writing standard that beginner level readers will find difficult to follow. The poems serve as puzzle pieces in the manner in which they are acrostic as that adds to the sheer beauty of the poetry collection. The acrosticism of these poems tells a whole new story and adds a different aspect which is enticing to discover. The poems are impeccably written and the book deserves to be devoured whole heartedly.
Reviewer: Tasnima Yasmin
Title: A Misspelled Portrait
Publisher: Evincepub Publishing