“A Book Review” on This Summer and That Summer by Sanjeev Sethi

You may be wondering why I’ve put the words book review in the title of this post within double quotes. Believe me, I’ve got a fair explanation for it. Pardon me, if you get bored of these silly rambles though. You may skip to the fourth paragraph of this post from where the actual “review” starts. But anyway, to explain the double quotes, I have to give you a little insight into where I’m coming from and why I write what I write.

For the past few months, I’ve been missing from action on this blog and because of that, I’ve had some time to reflect on the content of my posts. I won’t dwell too long on why I haven’t posted much. I guess I can blame business and laziness both but that apart, it hasn’t been too bad. The reason I say this is because after two years of blogging both on this site and my other poetry blog, I was able to sit back and not write, or maybe write just for the sake of it. I did not post anything and neither did I write anything worthy of posting. I decided that I would stop writing if writing was to be a chore.

Fast forward to this month and I go through my blog to realize that the last post I made was in February. It’s been an awful long time, hasn’t it? That is why, I decided to sit down and will myself to write again, because four months is more than enough break for any writer. As always, this review is purely personal in the sense that it is only going to reflect how I feel and see this book. It is not your typical academic review and neither will it be all too trustworthy. I feel I must put this disclaimer of sorts before I review this book because I realize that my personal opinion on a book, a song, a movie or anything really isn’t the norm. And it shouldn’t be. The world would a terribly boring place if everyone was just like me (or thought like me).

The book that I’m “reviewing” (read: ranting because I read books and sometimes I want to talk about them) today is a book of poems. I can’t quite recall whether I’ve ever done a blog post on books of poems before but if this is a first, I’m glad to tell you that it is one heck of a first! The reason I say so is because it’s really great and I love it and I seldom fall in love with books of poetry as I do with fiction. Perhaps, that is ironical because I write poetry too. But I have found myself to be quite particular about the poems I like. This is why, I am greatly honoured if someone genuinely likes my poems. Because poetry is relative and tastes differ from person to person. Also, not all poetry resonates with every person.

‘This Summer and That Summer’ is the kind of book that resonates with me. The first poem in the book, called Pigeons caught me by surprise because somehow, it made my heart leap and I felt liberated in the strangest way. I almost feel like Sethi’s words were my words, only I was not going to ever actually write that poem because it had never actually formed in the landscape of my mind. But somehow, I felt I like I owned it and that is scary to me. I realise now that poetry, just like music, is not just for the person who writes it but instead it is owned by anyone who reads it and wishes to own it.

There are poems in this book that are marked by simple clarity and freshness that make them feel like a cozy nap under warm blankets on a rainy day. There are other poems that I did not quite understand or relate to. But the best part is that there were few poems like the first one which I actually owned in thought and feeling. Or maybe I am wrong and it is the poem that owned me. Whatever the case, it was a generally enjoyable read and by the end of the book, I thought I knew the author. Only after closing the book and laying it to rest by the side of my bed did I realise that Sanjeev Sethi is a stranger to me. One book of poems is not enough to know a man.

I liked that I found humour in some lines and bitterness in others. Sethi’s style is sharp, cynical and soothing all at once. I also liked it because it was not all one thing in particular. No single theme that tied every poem to each other. I believe that the most beautiful gardens are those with many kinds of flowers. No, I don’t want rose gardens or sunflower fields. I want orchids, lilies, chrysanthemums, roses and every kind of flower whose I name I do not know. ‘This Summer and That Summer’ is this kind of garden, only it is a book and there are no flowers here. Just poems.

  • Name of the book: This Summer and That Summer
  • Name of the author: Sanjeev Sethi
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • Price: Rs 199
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