Reviews of The Serene Flame

Brief Excerpts

Nissim Ezekiel: "These love poems are ferociously honest and distrubing. Some are in the comic vein, without being superficial."


Shiv K. Kumar in The Hindustan Times-: "Honest, forthright and charmingly disarming."


Keki Daruwalla in Sunday magazine: "The Serene Flame ... is an absolute delight. ... the book is a fine romp through matrimonial love."


Adil Jussawalla in Debonair magazine: "His best love poems are some of the best I have read."


M. K. Naik in Indian Book Chronicle: "...if a poet can indeed begin so well, he may, if all goes well, be said to stand on the threshold of substantial possibilities."


Gayatri Sinha in The Times of India: "Makarand Paranjape is really an original voice in Indian poetry."


Sathya Saran in Femina: "A delightful, wry collection. Must-read stuff.... Some of it, may leave you surprisingly stirred!"


Nisha Puri in The Sunday Observer: "...imbued with a disturbing energy. ... there is a high-spirited eloquence which gives each line an aura of excitement. ... Paranjape's poetry produces rare vigour."


Vilas Sarang in The Times of India Sunday Review: "... gives notice that he is with-it with the latest.... Paranjape, a US-educated, sophisticated academic, can come up with fine wit...."


Tarun Tejpal in India Today: "...fine use of detail. ...evocative images...."


Sonjoy Datta Roy in The Statesman: "But unlike popular culture, these poems enter forbidden territories of love and eroticism. The intensity of passionate marital love comes out in a `union' in which `the world comes to an end,' `possessed in more ways then one' by each other. Lovers `dissolve' into each other and time is forgotten."


Purabi Panwar in The Economic Times: "... a delightful collection and the sprinkling of wit gives them a bubbling quality which this reviewer found irresistable."


Raju Mansukhani in Newstime: "Makarand's emotion-soaked and yet light-hearted love poetry comes easy to the reader who finds the poet mocking at the world, at poets greater than himself, at creatures lesser than himself, and like all modern poets, he mocks himself."

Detailed Excerpts

G. Singh in World Literature Today:

To say that Makarand Paranjape's poems are love poems would not convey all that there is about them: a conceptual freshness and subtlety as well as an intellectual depth which comes out in a manner that is not too poetical to be genuinely lyrical nor too literary to be poetical. ...  It is also to his credit that he does not interpret "the discipline of being a poet" as something dealing only with the craft of writing poetry, for any discipline worth the name, whether in the case of a poet or anybody else, must start from and end with self-discipline--that is to say, discipline of one's feelings and emotions before they find a disciplined expression in poetry. This is what Ezra Pound meant when he referred to art as being "perfect control." Some of Paranjape's poems themselves display such a discipline and control impressively.... In fact, one can say that a charged simplicity of diction, metaphors, and imagery is the chief hallmark of the poems in -The Serene Flame-, where "distances are intimate" and the lovers "grow vast in their silences."


Krishna Rayan in Indian Horizons:

If Makarand Paranjape is thus at ease with the conventions and cadences of traditional poetry, he is equally master of the inflexions of voice and the postures and gestures of modernist poetry. On the one hand, the initial and penultimate movements in the sequence have recognizably the decorum and -gravitas- of our ancient texts.... On the other hand, the earlier half of "Walls" has the sexual explicitness and cutting edge of contemporary Western poetry.... Again on the one hand, the two-tier treatment of love--love divine and love human, love platonic and physical--are in the highest traditions of mystical poetry. On the other hand, love is, to Paranjape, a text which is to be deconstructed or which deconstructs itself: the warring forces of signification within it, to borrow a well-known phrase, are carefully teased out or tease themselves out. The poems which are in this mode encourage the interpretation that they privilege one kind of love above another or privilege love above no-love; but they invariably work their way to a point where the text puts this interpretation in question.


R. Raj Rao in Kaiser-E-Hind: "A Lover Watches Himself" Blurb:

"Serious art and pop culture come together in a masterly control of the spoken voice" Makarand Paranjape in The Serene Flame becomes the latest entrant to the post-modernist Indian English poetry.  ...although the subject is as personal as love, the lover, rather than romantically wallow in suffering, prefers to -watch- himself love and lose.... The world of art becomes autonomous, severed from reality; love is treated flippantly, not intensely, and the myths that surround it are destroyed.... Yet the poems -do- celebrate their love. Popular culture and cliched language become apt, legitimate vehicles through which this is done. ...  Parody contributes to the humour (even black humour) and sense of fun that mark the tone of some of the poems. Love is parodied; the idiom of contemporary literary theory is parodied...even the rhetoric of politicians isn't spared. ... Then there's the effective structural device of the missing poem, poem no. 15, which, following the longish "Love Poem Unwritten," simply says: -(Author's note: poem no. 15 is missing from the- -manuscript).  The vigour and innovativeness are further added to by skilful manipulation of fictional devices such as "point of view," which has a role to play in -The Serene Flame- in the way in which some poems are writtten in the first person, others in the third. Coupled with the fact that the poems are in a chronologically-arranged sequence, this is where Paranjape comes closest to writing a story in verse, reminiscent, of course, of -The Golden Gate-, whose author Vikram Seth he pays homage to in the "Prologue" itself.  -The Serene Flame- is, in the last analysis, neither -The Golden- -Gate- nor "Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher" [the title of a poem by Nissim Ezekiel], but a further development of these and other poems, unfettered by confining effects of rhyme and metre, exercising masterly control over the spoken voice. It is this that makes it an important work....
  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape