Book Review: An Inch of Sky, by Paresh Tiwari

“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.” — Plutarch

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As a poet, I find no truer words than that of Plutarch when it comes to expressing the art of poetry in few words. Over the years, I have explored this art, growing slowly and enjoying every minute of it. I have always wondered, if Plutarch can express the vastness of poetry in five words, why can’t a poem of such brevity express the vastness of the world. In my incessant adventure through poetry, I came across a form so simple and small, yet expressive in three lines as much, if not more, than a long free verse. The form is a haiku. And I feel each poet understands haiku in their own way. Some look to mimic the form as per Japanese syllable structure, others adapt to the modern haiku. The form is, I feel, too deep for explaining in a few sentences and takes time to perfect. It aims to capture in that brevity, a moment that leaves the reader thoughtful.

The author (or poet) behind An Inch of Sky, asked me, “What do you see when you hear the title An Inch of Sky”? I saw the reflection of the sky in a dewdrop. Well, this book has haiku that are as beautiful as an inch of sky, hanging precariously at the top of a leaf in a dewdrop. When I read the first haiku this book offers, I imagine a moment when the starry sky is in my garden, and not just above it. This book has some of the best haiku Paresh has written in his poetic journey. I take an example. Take this haiku for example:

mustard fields –
a thimbleful of sun
on each blossom

I imagine a mustard field, the flowers bright yellow spread across acres. But the haiku, to me, is not about the field. It’s the contrast that the last two lines offer, as if a small part of the sun was on each flower, making the field just as bright. It’s that observation that makes it wow.

Like this, each haiku brings with it a moment. Whether or not the moment is caught by a poet remains to be seen. It is my firm belief that a poem is read by each reader in a different way. Some read it the same way as the poet intends, and some read it in another. The latter way doesn’t make the poem a failure, but brings a different angle to the words, making it more interesting. In his introduction, Paresh says he hopes the book is able to give the reader a moment to ponder, where everything is teeming with the unbound and unchained force of life. As a student of haiku, it is my honest belief that the book, and the haiku in it, does that. The other part of this book is for haibun, a form to which I’m still new. From what I read, and what I know of the form, you won’t be disappointed.

There are words of praise for him from stalwarts of the haiku form, and I don’t know if I can match that. If one understands the form of poetry that is haiku, and what it intends to do, then this book has some poems that capture the magic in what is a simple moment. It’s like looking into a kaleidoscope, and seeing the changing colors from the light of life.


The Bookworm Rates This: 4/5
The Bookworm Rates This: 4/5
Book Details
Title: An Inch of Sky
Author(s): Paresh Tiwari Genre: Poetry
ISBN/ASIN: 9789351963929 Publisher: 20 Notebooks Press
No. of Pages: 117 Price: Rs. 300

Reviewed for the author, who gave me a signed copy of the book. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.


(© 25th January 2015)

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: An Inch of Sky, by Paresh Tiwari

  1. Haiku and Haibun are perfect formats for our times, for a number of reasons. Your review captures the mystic simplicity of Paresh’s writing. What it misses out on, though, is the fact that the author is one of the leading proponents of the movement to bring poetry (and in Paresh’s case, Haiku) back into the townsquares of our times. He has organized local and global Haijin to come and study together through workshops and appreciation sessions. This “first” volume was long overdue. To find a review on it on a blog that I didn’t know Vinay was writing was an added surprise. All best to author and reviewer!

    1. Yeah, I know that part, the thing is, I don’t really have words to describe Paresh’s talent in this field. And I didn’t want to take a profile from the book itself 🙂

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