Admittedly, living within poetry is an aesthetic proclivity. It demands a special psycho-emotional capability to nourish this artistry. To put it simply, it has to be an innate ability. Those who are gifted as such can convert their introspective sensations into verse. And these verses become poetry after taking the shape of a specific literary activity—wherein feelings get intensely wrought through distinctive style and rhythm.
Tasneem Hossain, a trilingual poet, professional business communication consultant and columnist, displays her aesthetic frame of competence in her recently published book of poems The Pearl Necklace. The 40 poems reveal a varied sense of her emotional journey—a journey comprising hopes and despair, peace and restlessness, ecstasy and depression.
The first poem "The Pearl Necklace" captivates sensitive minds with the mixed emotions of a foregone conclusion of a romance that was never meant to succeed. The 'pearls' metaphorically represent the protagonist's thoughts of restiveness, who desperately tries to rediscover the meaning of the love she had once encountered through a pearl necklace from her beloved. She had refused him, probably out of imprudence or arrogance, which allowed the 'phantom of a man', her lover, to endlessly shake her memories 'flashing in wild whirl'.
What echoes throughout the poem is a suffocated cry of self-inflicted torment that cannot be pacified. Here is where the poet deftly makes readers associate themselves with that torment. The poem takes a dramatic twist when her once-rejected lover sends her a white pearl necklace, epitomising his purity of love. By then, he is in an ailing state, inching towards inevitability—but has never lost his love towards her.
That white necklace crafted in her a new glimmer of romance, making the 'phantom' of her lover transform into a smiling identity, as if with an unsullied offering of adoration, making her embrace the eventualities with a moody depth of sacrifice.
Similar sentiments can be found in her poem "An Old Photograph" albeit in a different context. This time, destined toward a happy ending with her beloved, the protagonist met a harsh reality when she found him as a valiant martyr of the liberation war.
Her emotions strike the readers as she says, 'Time heals wounds, but never forgotten/The picture and the days, sweet sad memories, kept hidden…/Cherished memories, but for whom do I wait?' Ultimately the memories fade away though the sight of his old photograph creates a never-to-be-forgotten resonance in the deepest core of her heart.
But to the poet, life offers its whimsical facets as well. Two people, having tied knot for a rewarding partnership, find their dreams shattered in painful awe: 'Slowly, romance slipped away/With all the hustle and bustle of each day/We forgot to look at each other as time passed away' ("Be My Lover").
Nevertheless, Tasneem digs out optimism even from such despair—a lesson for all couples for regaining and nurturing romantic relationships. She says, 'Smile at each other every single day…/Bringing back the memories to make us as we play/Tremble with powerful emotions once again, as we grey' ("Be My Lover"). In this way, she fashions her romantic notion into a serious urge for readers: admire the love that you get in your life; never lose your grip of it when it matters.
However, incredulous readers—in some portions of her romantic poems—might find the poet lovesick in romance, often in a haste to expect fulfilment in the nitty-gritty of relationships. Like 'The feeling of emptiness in me is so strong/Perhaps you will never understand the storm,/That is there in our bond;/Until the day I have gone' ("Dilemma"). Yet, the same readers will find an explanation to her restive mood in several other verses. She perceptively reveals her suffocated self, encountering male hypocrisy that is responsible for her haste: 'You gave her not a single space to breathe… You never did believe,/In the world that she lived…' ("Epitaph").
Tasneem intuitively takes the feminine perspective when it comes to romance and passion. But on the whole, she turns out to be a humanist. Her female voice echoes the sentiments of men and women alike. This is the most significant strength of her book. And it is exactly due to her humanistic stance that she stands out in her serious poems like "The Lighthouse", "Time Dimension", or "Paradise Regain"; these are poems for thoughtful minds. Let me mention "The Lighthouse" which reverberates with the need to uphold our humanitarian spirits, without compromise. The poem teaches us why we need to activate the different lighthouses inside us—our strength, our dedication, and our untiring service to humanity.
Tasneem's choice of words are soulful when it comes to attributing her emotions to nature's grace. In other words, she celebrates nature's beauty like a delicate painter. "Secret Rendezvous", "Rain Music", "Nature-1", "Nature-2", and "Nature-3" are poems that possess such agility. One striking example can be found in "Secret Rendezvous": 'Gazing, glaring, watching wondrous eyes./Carving patterns on sultry, sunny days,/Feelings frozen melt on frosty nights./Divine destinations draw journeys to an end.'
Tasneem's poetic sensitivity excels in her depiction of the trauma and the ordeal of rape victims. I may categorically mention "Agony" and "Trapped" which must stir the minds of empathetic readers. They will become immersed in the unfathomable pains of the victim's whimpers: 'Dyed with colour red/Darkness around, I felt dead' ("Agony") or 'Surrounded by gloom and four walls of wood and glass plates,/I spend my time in this small place./It will never be the same for me' ("Trapped"). But the poet shows that even in such darkest moments of vulnerability, the tormented soul does not lose her desire to bounce back into a free, dreamy space: 'I am a little blue butterfly,/Caught in a glass cage dreaming to be free/A dismayed prisoner enslaved, waiting to be free ("Trapped").
Tasneem Hossain, as she appears in this book, bears an overwhelming poetic persona. She has a pensive elegance of understanding the personal, emotional and social worlds where she lives, just like the rest of us. This she reveals in childlike frankness.
Now when it comes to judging her poems on the 'poetic' yardstick, I recall reading an article several years back where the writer defined 'being poetic' as being predominantly lyrical and thoughtful. In that sense, Tasneem's poems easily wear the epithet 'poetic' due to the thoughtful, lyrical attire they wear. This book, in sweet probability, should help you discover an equally poetic reader, subtly residing in you.