Book Review: ephemerae, by Dr. Shrikaanth K. Murthy


ephemeraeplucking mangoes

I fall again

into childhood

Gowtham Ganni


This beautiful haiku (page 61) is so apt for the current season in India: mango trees sprouting fruit in summer, with the fruit readily available in the market over the next few months. Having grown up in India, plucking mangoes was part of childhood.  I have fond, fun memories of climbing mango trees or the compound wall or roof of our tiled house to pluck mangoes. (And our friend Amber, confessing loud in church that she stole mangoes from Uncle Philip’s garden). (Smiles).  Nostalgic memories!

I promised Shrikaanth that I would write a review on the first edition of his journal, ephemerae, and hopefully I do it justice. Facebook and Twitter have become active platforms for tanka, haiku and their related versions (of the Japanese poetic art) that the net is flooded with diluted and unedited poetry, with genuine poetry lost in the confusion.  The need to self publish has taken center-stage to quality, and in this light, it becomes an exceedingly difficult task to portray quality in poetry.  Moreover, with the need for journals to survive, many pander to the poet, rather than make the daunting task of writing a letter of rejection for a poem of questioning quality.

ephemerae made me smile.  Made me laugh.  Made me feel the experiences of the ‘subjects’ in the pages of this journal.  Shrikaanth makes no bones about defining quality. The haiku, tanka, rengay, haikai, tanka sequences, that he has selected are of exceptional quality. He has taken pains to separate the good from the mediocre and poor poetry; a task that not every editor is capable of.  I have to stress how impressed I am about his selection for this journal.

I do not particularly intend to quote poem after poem to illustrate what I like.  They all deserve equal attention and equal appreciation.  What I particularly enjoyed about ephemerae, is that Shrikaanth has outlined a kind of invisible pattern to categorize the haikai and tanka.  You have to buy copies of his journal to understand what I mean.  One page has poetry on the cherry blossom, while another has on healthcare or yet another on the weather, or summer to be specific. You ‘live afresh’ through the ‘A-ha!’ moments and surprising stories of these short poems and images.

I would like to draw special attention to the collaborated work of seven poets in the tanka sequence, Different Paths (page 59).  I have personally witnessed this work emerge, take form and be edited multiple times over to reach the quality it is, that I am exceedingly proud (of these specific poets) to see their finished product in print in ephemerae. In this light, reviewing ephemerae has become more personal than intended.

How can you not be impressed with the entire package!(?) (rhetorical).  ephemerae is a delightful addition to your poetry collection and coffee table. I would recommend you subscribe to ephemerae, and, or polish your poetry if you want to be published along with the best. There is no doubt in my mind that if you encounter work from any name mentioned in this journal, you can be sure you are interacting with quality. This is what ephemerae stands for: quality.  Pick up your copy today, or engage actively to be part of this wonderful, energetic creation.  You will not be disappointed.

Image Credit: Shrikaanth K. Murthy