Words born in silence

July 10, 2022 12:00 am | Updated 05:33 am IST

The poet essays the loneliness and alienation as well as the little joys and mundane realities of daily life during the pandemic

Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poetry is born of longing — for a time long gone, and for the moments slipping past. It is a longing for people known, tastes and sounds felt and heard, whether from his childhood or from pre-COVID times. This is Goswami’s second collection of poems, brought out just after the pandemic. It essays the loneliness and alienation felt during this time when silence is a good listener . And yet, it is simultaneously optimistic, celebrating the little joys of daily life as Goswami seeks vital signs in the ordinary and the everyday. Significantly, time and memory become the leitmotif, a theme all the more pertinent during the pandemic. In the poem ‘In Time’, he says: We will look back one day, and wonder / What drove us, fear or hope. In ‘Seeing it New’, he writes: This zone between dawn and dusk / Every breath is a birthday.

In Vital Signs , ordinary musings combine with minute observations, tiny epiphanies and wonder; Thelonious Monk and Art Blakey enter the poet’s thoughts together with milk packets that need to be washed clean. He reflects upon religious beliefs and invokes music and nature as faith. He contemplates the political — race, colour, borders.

The collection is also a tribute to various people, both ordinary folk and legends — cobblers, gardeners, teachers, musicians, poets (including his publisher, poet Hemant Divate), Mahatma Gandhi, Ghalib; people he has heard of or encountered personally.

Like this line from his opening poem, Under the big rain tree/ Lived a night forest , Vital Signs is a volume that is pithy yet expansive. And like the meals in ‘Feast’, it is a collection to savour slowly.

The writer is an author of fiction and travel, a curator and creative consultant.

Vital Signs

  • Amlanjyoti Goswami

  • Paperwall Publishing

    Rs. 350

    Top News Today

    Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
    • Access 10 free stories every month
    • Save stories to read later
    • Access to comment on every story
    • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
    • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
    Sign in


    Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

    We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.