Book Review Of The Chill In The Bones

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Book Name: The chill in the bones
Genre: Poetry
Author: Wani Nazir
Year of Publication: 2022
Published by: Book Street Publications
ISBN: 978-93-91317-50-8
Pp: 126
Price: INR.200
Reviewer: Perveiz Ali

Nothing beats those wonderful feelings that well up after reading a poetry collection by one of the mature poets from one’s own place of living for it is, in a way, equivalent to diving into their minds and experiencing the depth of their thoughts and emotions and connect with their work and appreciate the beauty of their world of words that comes alive.

What makes this collection a differentiator among so many collections produced almost on a daily basis is the primary question that I pose to myself after reading every collection. Often I fail to get an answer perhaps because of my inability to decipher the intent of the poet but at times like ‘The Chill in the Bones’- the book literally cries aloud itself about its own existence. Wani Nazir’s skill set makes it very much easy for him to channel his thoughts and emotions into words and thereby a truly powerful experience for the readers to voyage through his world. It thus becomes both a deeply cathartic experience and a journey of self-discovery for readers.

Craft is an essential component of poetry and can set a poet’s work apart from others. Craft helps to shape the distinctive work of art to evoke strong feelings and vivid imagery. Wani Nazir’s class of craft across his poetry is a certificate in itself for him to stand out from the crowd and a milestone of his journey at the same time. He writes,

Shall I myself gather
my bones
and stitch me into wholeness
or, will you assemble me
in your frozen flesh? (The poem I desire)
The fetus of meaning,
the metaphor was pregnant with,
was miscarried. (Burial of the dead)
I need another dream
to restructure my verses
I hope dreams squeeze
until they fit in a stroke of a pen (Weaving a poem)
I rub my shoulders with your intent,
looking to those who would sleep
through bruises, they inflict on others (Jigsaw Puzzle)

Reading these verses is a soothing experience and at the same time, the reading itself puts up so much at ease that you are transported away from mundane life to a world of imagination and creativity. Its thoughtful and reflective language evokes in us feelings of peace and solace that are hard to find otherwise in the everyday life of this chaotic world. One of the striking features of Wani Nazir’s poetry is his ability to open up new insights and understanding of the deeper nuances of life and its complexities.

While crafting a poem, the poet must think carefully about each word he uses and the impact it has. It is important to use language that moves the reader, so they can truly connect with the meaning of the poem. A poem’s structure is also very important – the poet must be able to construct a piece of work that flows naturally and captures the reader’s attention. ‘Weaving a poem’ is one such example to support how brilliantly Wani Nazir takes care of it. His economy of words experiments with language, craft, imagery, and metaphors – all standing in line to add meaning to his intent.
He writes,
Languages of vain transaction

and turn into displaced echoes.
I need another dream
to restructure my verses

I hope dreams squeeze
until they fit in a stroke of a pen

I spin the yarn of eons’ wounds
in my mind
and weave a poem
in yours.

Since I bled, do you know
alphabets grew inside me?!

I rearrange the blood drops
and you (mis)take it for a poem. (Weaving a Poem)

Memory is a recurring theme of this collection. By exploring memories, Wani Nazir writes about his own experiences and thoughts, as well as those of others, and uses it as a base to give readers an insight into the human condition to evoke powerful emotions in a unique way. He uses memory to explore the past, present, and future, thereby allowing his readers to travel back in time and reflect on what it has been in comparison to what it is and opening up the window of insight into what the future may hold.

Wani Nazir’s art uses memory as an impactful device in modern poetry to explore the concept of history in poetry is appealing. He skilfully paints the events of history with a brush of memory to make it easy for his readers to understand how history has shaped current political and social events. He writes,

The vestiges of your insolence
lodged inside my bones,
have frozen my marrow
into a cold lump of a bitter memory
like the ornate flakes of snow
wedge chill down the skin of the earth (Acrid Memory) Or,

Memory dusted my skin
with little pining
and, history
with loads of suffering. (Kashmir)
Memory – bitter and sweet,
inflicted a scratch on a parcel
of my courtyard, (Scratch)
The summer of the distrust
shivered the branch of memory
grafted long back by my ancestors
on the wild apple tree
burgeoned in the heart
of the courtyard of my house (The Green)
I tend memories
only to find my life
forgotten (Reflection)

The job of the poet (a job which can’t be learned) consists of placing those objects of the visible world which have become invisible due to the glue of habit, in an unusual position which strikes the soul and gives them a tragic force”, Cocteau, p.12, “La Mort et les Statues”, Paris, 1977. Wani Nazir endlessly erects those invisible objects again in the hazy airs of this part of the world. It at times becomes difficult for an artist to convey the mayhem but artists like Wani Nazir don’t shy to pick up the local metaphors to illustrate the nuances of their region. He writes,

I am from a parcel of earth
the language of whose breath
is writ on the leaves of Chinar. (Who am I)
Memory is a blistered brick
once a home was made of
but now forlorn
in a huge rubble
forged by the loud music of
detonation (Memory)

Before summing it up, let me quote Don Paterson who writes in “The empty image: new models of the poetic trope”, Poetry, unlike music, is a meta-art, and relies upon non-physical structures for the production of its effects. In its case, the medium is syntax, grammar, and logical continuity, which together form the carrier wave of plain sense within which its deeper meanings are broadcast. I feel it is an apt description for ‘The Chill in the Bones. This collection offers readers a unique window into the complicated, yet beautiful intricacies of life. It is an original and inventive collection; it puts up challenge its readers to think in a new and interesting way.

© Perveiz Ali
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