“Versofiction” by Pausali Mukherjee : Book Review

Verse as a form of expression fixates in the minds of the readers more closely than prose. Owing to its short and crispy nature and words being concentrated with power, the verse is easily retained in the minds of the readers. This effect resonates later even when they are not reading and makes the poetry reflective in nature. The same resonating effect is observed in Pausali Mukherjee’s poetry collection, “Versofiction.” As interesting as the title sounds, the volume is an interesting mix of verse and fiction that come together to create a different whole in the three parts of the book.

In the short book, which ranges to less than 100 pages, the poet talks about different subjects and shares her thoughts on issues ranging far and wide that relate to the readers one way or the other. While Mukherjee talks about different subjects in her poetry, this also shows her eye for detail and her way of observing things. The diverse poems she writes are a testimony of this fact. As the readers begin to see the book through the simple but attractive book cover, they get to know that the book is a “literary mashup.” For many readers, this may strike as a new term, but once they start reading and go through the 3 volumes, they understand the mashup that the poet has created.

Every poem of the first part and fictional pieces of the second and third part open the readers to reading, not just different manners in which the poet can use the words but also her observations. If the readers would go through the first poem of the first section called “Milange” with the title “Evening Walk,” they would see the poet talking about the subject of war which finds its roots in history. At the same time, as they read a poem like “Flip the Coin,” they see how well familiar the poet is with the present-day issue of the deadly coronavirus overtaking people’s lives. The readers can also see the poet drawing conclusions as to how the virus is a result of human activities and how they are the reason for their own destruction. Likewise, her observations are noteworthy in poems like “May I?” “Opium,” “Alcohol,” and “Democracy.” She even shares intriguing thoughts regarding things as simple as a mannequin in her poem “Mannequin.”

As the readers progress and read through the second part of “Versofiction,” which is called “Unfinished Fairytales,” the nature of poetry changes, and they assume a completely different style and subject content. The author may have called them “Unfinished Fairytales,” and the readers would also agree with this to quite an extent, but when they read poems like “Once as we were,” “Korero,” “Body’s Soul,” “Roasted Rose,” “Martyred Marriage” and many more, they realize there is a lot more depth to it than merely being unfinished fairytales. On reaching the third section titled “Big Shorts,” the readers can see the authors talking of subjects far more sensitive and holding a lot more social relevance than the earlier poems. “Patriots,” “Paranormal,” “The Whore,” “Honour Killer,”  and others can be mentioned in this regard. These may be short pieces of fiction, but they are more potent with the words they are packed up.

Although the poet does not focus on using a vocabulary which the ordinary reader may not be familiar with, the words she uses to take the meaning beyond the literary and open it to interpretation in multiple manners. While for once the readers may read the poems and works of fiction in the literal sense, at the same time, when they come back to the pieces for the second time, the manner in which they perceive things changes. Overall, “Versofiction” may be a set of verses and fictional writings in general, but the range of issues it covers and the subjects it talks about open a whole new world for the readers in just a few pages in which the author concentrates her work. The 3 sections show 3 different worlds to the readers, and by the time they finish the book, their perspective towards things changes too.

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