Eating Fireflies – Book Review

I must confess, I’m not much of a poetry person. Even within prose, I prefer non-fiction over fiction books. For the month of December, I followed a Christmas theme, picking up books surrounding the festive season. (I had bought 12 books, and am on the 9th one currently). The overdose of fiction (mostly) got a tad overwhelming, so I got in some poetry between all the Christmassy reads.

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Title: Eating Fireflies

Author: Kumar Luv

Genre: Poetry

This is a collection of 18 poems, promoted as a chapbook; an easy read that I completed within a few hours. The title is derived from the first poem in the book, which speaks about the various avatars of a poet. With insights about daily life and society at large, some thought provoking ones, some cheerful and not so morbid, the topics covered are diverse and elicit a multitude of emotions. From helplessness in Bubbles of Smell, and the monotony of New Year, to hope in My Personal God, love in Whisper Again #2, and disgust in Intestines – the collection evokes a melange of feelings. Beyond Terror stands out in the compilation. One of the lengthier poems, it is seemingly written from the point of view of  a terrorist/terror victim lying dead at the feet of a crowd, bringing forth feelings of fear, disgust, and the sorrow of apathy. A Cut-up Poem, though a little difficult to read on account of the format, makes you marvel at the poet’s way with words.

Some stanzas from various poems that stood out for me:
~A single drop of tear
a piece of cloud
a little sunshine
and a few stars
are waiting in tiny bottles
for your fingers.
(Incomplete Canvas)

~Why does it bother you
this freedom of mine?
I am
free of you.
(Freedom Hall)

~She turned into a giant one day.
She crossed the whole obstacle course
and all other barriers, in just a small step.
(Metamorphosis)

~When the shoes were too big for my little feet
I used to stuff them with old socks.
Memories are the same,
stuff them in your shoes to walk comfortably
and fill up the home when you hang your boots.
(Old Socks)

Some of the poems are outstanding, some display brilliance in bursts. The language is a little wanting at times – for instance, Eating Fireflies starts and ends splendidly, but the middle stanzas are quite jarring. Some of the other poems too have this marked difference in the writing style. The writing strikes a chord but the feelings come through in bursts – certain lines are beautiful and relatable, while some fall flat, making you wonder whether it is the same poem, or maybe it was composed hurriedly. Also, the book opens with a dedication to a private book club, making you wonder again whether this was cursorily composed for a select group.

This is the writer’s first collection in English, and is a commendable debut in the language. He is already an accomplished Hindi poet, and maybe with more experience writing in English, the rough edges could be smoothed out in future works. All in all, a good read. And of course, the cover is amazing. If you want to get in some poetry in the winter season, go for this one.

Rating – 3/5

Confess

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