‘The Vast Empty’: Simple, evocative poems that make you reflect

Being a novice at appreciating poetry, I was hesitant to pick up the collection of 65 poems ‘The Vast Empty’ penned by Turiya. Once I started reading, I realised that these are not dark poems full of anger and angst that are so common these days. This is not a poet out to change the world. Turiya’s poems are simple and easy to understand. Yet, thought-provoking and uplifting.

Published by The Write Order Publications in 2022, one of the gems in the collection is ‘Wanderer’. The third para reads:

“The thing that you seek,

do you know what it is?

Or are you just enthralled

by the idea of perpetual drift?”

This poem calls out to the eternal wanderers among us, who do not like being rooted but are always looking for new places and experiences. I guess there is a bit of a wanderer in all of us. But some people literally have wheels below their feet. They are always on the go.

‘The place’ is another of my favourites. Asks the poet:

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“Have you discovered the beauty of the place you call ‘the mind’?

A place you can be the person you were meant to be, not the one forced on you.”

This poem really resonated with me. How often in our lives are we our authentic self – the person we were meant to be? Very often we hide behind a facade and speak platitudes to please people instead of telling them what we really think and feel.

There a couple of sombre poems ‘On living’ and ‘Death’, but they are not dark. They just make you think and philosophise.

Turiya is the pen name of Mamta Chander, a Gurugram-based senior management professional.  An alumnus of IIM Calcutta, she has worked for 25 years and now leads a large global team of consultants. She explains that Turiya means ‘the state of enlightenment or ultimate consciousness’.

“I started writing poetry three years ago and this is my first book. Writing poetry is like a parallel life for me – it is so different from my work life. When I am inspired it is like I take on a different persona. I am almost operating in a bubble. I often write in solitude observing nature. Of course, sometimes an ‘trigger’ comes to me in the midst of chaos at the office and I quickly jot it down on my phone. In fact, most of my writing is spontaneous. These days, I carry a little book and pen with me wherever I go to put down my ideas. I look at them later on my laptop to refine my thoughts,” says Mamta.

Writing poetry is not an outlet or an escape from a high-pressured job for her. It is an expression of her contemplation, she says. “I read a lot of philosophy. I have written these poems in a meditative state of mind. Time finds me when it comes to writing poetry. And, I don’t have to go anywhere special to find inspiration. I can find it even in a potted plant,” says the poet.

Why is the book named ‘The Vast Empty’? “As a child I would look at the sky and wonder where it ended. Philosophy tells us that finally we are all one. That is the vast part. Empty is because I think of my mind devoid of all thoughts. The last poem ‘Thoughts’ explains why the book is named so. The poem ends with the following lines:

“Now it’s just me

Alone

At peace

In my Vast Empty.”

“I would describe this collection of poems as lyrical, mystical, reflective, a gentle journey into yourself.  I wanted to make the poems simple and easy reading so that even those who don’t read poetry enjoy this book. ‘Full Circle’, ‘I Am Whole’, ‘I’m Here’, and ‘Serendipity’ are some of my favourites from this collection,” says Mamta.

Mamta has 50-odd unpublished poems and is planning to come out with a second book soon.

I’d like to end quoting from the poem ‘Happiness’:

“I was overcome

With a bliss so sheer

The day I witnessed

The death of my desire

So much to live for

Without the burden

Or need for aspiration.

A weight had been lifted

The lightness set me free!”

 

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About the Author

Aruna Raghuram

I am a freelance journalist and write on parenting, personalities, women’s issues, environment, and other social causes. read more...

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