Yes, Justin Emeka, even I enjoyed following the tracks of Brian Bower’s mind as I read the lines and thoughts in this thin, trim, and suave looking volume of poetry. No, thin isn’t always malnourished… just as trim isn’t always civilized and literate. This volume with its less than fifty pages has more thoughts than even some of those books on philosophy with hundreds of pages of obfuscating theorising.
‘Shadows Chasing Light’ is a collection of poems written by Brian Bowers – and none of the lines in it are ‘half-thoughts’. They open the mind where thoughts of you come tumbling down, all for keepsake, again! Well Brian, I loved the way you went about taking bits out of your own stanzas and ending up with what was invariably more than a poem! No, I’m not talking of yet another marketing gimmick to attract people towards the beauty of poetry… though if it is, I’d love it all the more. I am just talking of Brian’s samplers disguised as poetry, that are, in fact, mere indicators of content… and you find them comfortably seated in the best seat available, busy humming their own tune, almost like these lines:
Soft petals spread like angel wings
It whirled and danced along the stream.
Soon there fled a lonely tear,
My precious flower no longer near.
Off I go to live in dreams,
To drink my love, inhale the stream.
Brian’s poetry volume is trim… and has line after line of mesmerizing artwork. Lines that we read, lines that have a lot tucked between the spaces, lines that conjure up images, and lines that are images that say just as much as those lines with words and spaces! Brian is an artist too and has effectively captured known and unknown nuances of ‘grief, happiness, love, and an infinite longing for the unseen’… The book is a light-weight hard-cover volume with a laminate matte finish and UV gloss text – but all this doesn’t matter, as the poetry in this volume has the power to touch hearts even if it is printed on newsprint. But yes, Jasmine Powell’s illustrations come alive in this really good production.
Brian ‘chisels his way through the glacial sadness’ and ‘not caring to hide tears, drowning in the salty depths’ he tells us that…
There is a fire that burns
Within for You
And it yearns to have me whole.
Words tumble in one after the other, silently and without any hurry… there is no stampede in this ‘kumbh mela’ of words, as the reader slowly glides from thought to thought filling his synapses with the hormonal urging of a gradual progression into an awakening. The poems transcend boundaries of geographies and histories to reach out to minds anywhere… and I’m sure, would be just as relevant even a few hundred years from now!
Yesterday, as multiple blasts hit the city of Hyderabad in India and I was pained by this mindless terror, I opened Brian’s book and found the lines as relevant to me here and now. They must have also been as relevant to him sitting hundreds of miles away in Houston, Texas and thinking of anything but terror in Hyderabad:
A part of me shatters
When history repeats
While the rest of me
Struggles to keep together –
When history repeats
I scream and shout
In silence, run around
Stumping my feet in stillness
Poetry needs to go across distances, across time frames, across sensibilities, across civilizations and forge relationships that echo the truth in ‘vasudeva kutumbakam’ or ‘this world, one family’… this thin and trim volume does just that with aplomb!
Title: Shadows Chasing Light
Poet: Brian Bowers
Illustrations: Jasmine Powell
Publisher: 5th Principle Productions ThoughtPress, Houston
Price: $15.95 (in 2013)
Written on 21 February 2013
Published in ‘The Education Post’ dated 23 February 2013