Book Review — Where Even the Present is Ancient: Benaras, by Maitreyee B Chowdhury


Poetry is food for the soul. At least, it is for mine. It is my belief that poetry can tell stories too. That’s the notion the book “Where Even the Present is Ancient: Benaras” has. It tells little stories that makes us who we are, or so says the blurb. The book looks to show us that bit of the city of Benaras that the poet believes is there in each Indian.

Poetry has its own meaning for each of us. I look at the poem Varanasi of the old, and I see a call to sit on the steps of a temple looking at the stars, contemplating the atmosphere of silence in silence. But to someone else, it might be completely different. The poem “The Linga” brings to me a sense of equality in spirituality. “A Hurriedly Etched Divinity” feels familiar, bringing with it a nuance that the city itself has spirituality everywhere, said or unsaid. To me it also conveyed a sense of calmness, that memory of a hurried prayer and something more.

“I bend to pick up a poem
The lines somewhere mixed…”

How can a poet not relate to that, that feeling of sudden verse… this is part of a larger poem but still, these two lines help contemplate further.

“It’s a beautiful night…
Somewhere there is music,
A moon and someone’s river floating by –
A waft that touches my soul”

Lines so vivid that they paint an image; short yet beautiful and thought provoking. This book is full of such poems.

The book may not be felt the same way by everyone, but this is one that will be remembered by me for some time.

A rating of 8/10
A rating of 8/10

Book Details:
Title: Where Even the Present is Ancient: Benaras
Series: n/a
Author: Maitreyee B Chowdhury
Genre: Poetry
ISBN/ASIN: 9789382473848
Publisher: Virgin Leaf Books
Price: INR 125

I own a copy of the book. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.

(27th December 2014)