Book Review – Inspire by Vijaya Gowrisankar

Vijaya Gowrisankar’s book of poetry has a single word title, a word that leaves you in raw anticipation and encourages you to seek out the promises that it offers. Inspire lives up to that anticipation and promise with poems that burst free the human emotions of love, loss, joy, and disappointment, but it never fails to fill you with inspiration. Vijaya’s form is free-style with the occasional rhyme, but she writes in a simplicity that allows her to speak to the everyday man and woman. You will not find any complex metaphors here, nor underlying difficult or hidden messages. What you will find are delightful and well-penned gifts to the human soul.

Vijaya’s book is divided into six sections: Life, Change, Nature, Let Go, Positivity, and Random Thoughts. Each section gives the reader a glimpse into the compelling mind of the poet. You will find yourself lingering in each section, often reading and re-reading individual poems, allowing words to seek the deepest parts of your heart and soul. You cannot allow yourself to simply read and move forward without the messages offered here to sink-in, to do so would be an injustice to the poet and your own self. These poems are meant to be savored.

In Life, Vijaya opens the section with a short dedication:

Every time I thought of you (Life)
You gave me a different picture to paint
My words fell short
You awed me
And I owed it to you
To express myself…

With those words, you know immediately that the poet intends to prove herself worthy to Life, and to reveal to you the awe that Life has shown her. In the first poem of this section, Life…you are like…, Vijaya compares Life to a game, an epic, a musical play, and a mural. These concepts are beautifully written and profound. Each of us are, at this very moment, playing the game of life and we know these words to be truth: “The paths are decided, on the options we take/ No way to retrace or get back the lost time.” She encourages us to tell our own stories, “Spreading magic, displaying inner strength and conviction/ Building silently the personality, molded by situations.” There are no regrets here. Instead, you find conviction in her words: “Rough sketches are the efforts we put in/ Masterpieces are our achievements in life.” She reminds us not to dwell on those “rough sketches,” but to find peace in our own “masterpieces,” those moments in our lives where we achieve greatness.

In another poem, Life…setting you free..., Vijaya reveals much of herself. She offers doubt: “I wonder what I would do if I were free/Free of relations, free of boundaries, free to fly,” and allows us an opening into her own world, a world where imagination has set her free, that without it, “I would still be this shy, introvert person, in the background/With secret wishes to conquer the world, and make a difference.” And as readers, we too are reminded that imagination is the tool with which to free ourselves.

In Life…I wish…, Vijaya leaves these jewels for us: “laughter prevails, like a resounding waterfall,” “peace of mind, is the thread binding emotions,” “old age is a mere number, not a curse to befall” and finally, a strong reminder, “loneliness is not a friend to invite.”

In Each of these Life poems, Vijaya struggles with doubts, rejoices in laughter, agonizes over pain, and indulges in the simple joys of motherhood. She also offers prayers to Life, that despite all of her failings and missteps, she truly is a viable player in Life’s grand scheme. She does not want to be merely an observer, and she doesn’t want that for her readers either.

In the next section, Change, Vijaya opens with this insight:

Change has been a friend
Since I recall my memories
Some changes are circumstantial
That life throws at you
Some are in our hands…

The only way to move forward
Is to have a liberated mind, to be self-aware
To embrace change for the better
You compelled me so much
I had to pen you in my words…

Throughout the poems in this section, Vijaya reminds us that change is inevitable, but through change we accept, we grow, and we move forward. In her poem, Unexpected Turns, she gives us these words to ponder:

The question is, what choice do we have then?
Yes, we can rant and rave at the incorrectness
Or we can move forward, searching for newer avenues
It’s tough I know, but we need to move on

In her painstaking and endearing poem, Let me breathe, we are shown the agonizing realization of the birth of a female child in any country still given rule by archaic standards:

I have been conceived out of love
You were so happy till yesterday
Today it was revealed, that I am a girl
Don’t destroy me, give me this life
I can’t smile, I can’t hold you or cry out
I am still a speck in your womb
Oh mother! please protect me
Let me breathe…

Vijaya has written this poem for all women in all countries were female children are not as revered as male children, they do not inherit wealth and are at times a burden to the family. Vijaya dwells on these antiquated ideas as the subject of this poem begs the parents to let her go to school, grow as a teenager into adulthood, and as she, herself, becomes a parent. She continues the poem with gratitude toward the parents for giving the subject the opportunity to breathe: “We have been lucky, all girls don’t have this wonderful journey, I know…” Not only is the subject of this poem grateful to the parents, but she gives credence to their love and nurturing natures. With these final reflections, the subject shows how, although society may have not changed much in her lifetime, her own reactions have changed:

I just found out today that I will be blessed with a baby girl
As I hear her heartbeat, I can hear her echo in my ears
Let me breathe…

The subject is “blessed” to have a baby girl and reminds us that even she, in all her quiet rebellion, must allow her own child room to grow and breathe. This is a universal theme, the realization that as parents, we want to hold on to our children tightly, keep them safe and secure, but ultimately, we have to give them space to develop and become individuals.

The remaining poems in the Change section offer hope, resilience, moments of reflection, the agonies that come with the passing of time, but always, the undeniable desire for change… a change of attitude towards others and a change within one’s self.

In Vijaya’s Nature section, she gives us flashes of the natural beauty that surrounds her, but she also gives us an insight into the effects that nature has on the human psyche. In the section’s opening, she unveils that insight with these words: “I draw parallels between nature and life/And try to learn how to live life through Nature’s lessons.” Each poem expresses her love of nature and how it drives her as an observer and a doer. In Garden, She not only expresses her love for all occurrences in the garden:

I stare at the garden, mesmerized
Flowers in full bloom, flaunting their freshness, fragrance and colors

Drawing eyes in awe – people, butterflies and bees alike
The view so magnificent, my eyes don’t blink

but how it affects the human condition: “The fruit of labor, hard work and toil – a visual delight/There for the world to see and appreciate.” She concludes the poem with this reminder: “To bring a smile, when I am lost or sad/To motivate me to create such a garden in any field.” Vijaya knows that a physical garden will wither and die over the course of a season, but when you hold such visions in your memory, no matter where you are or what is affecting you at any given moment, you can recall those memories and recreate that beautiful scene and find comfort.

Vijaya creates those kinds of scenes over and over again in her Nature poems. Whether in the beauty of a rainfall, sand cascading through our fingertips, or the melodic call of the cuckoo, she reminds us that we are, at times, inexplicably connected to nature. In Crows, my favorite of her nature poems, she explains the complexity of crows, and how they’ve fascinated her ever since she was a child. It is in her closing stanza though that we grow to understand how she connects their mannerisms to human behavior:

The unity and uniqueness they represent
Is hard to find in us, people
They teach a lesson, if we want to learn
We can try, even if it’s hard to implement

It is true that crows have a pack mentality. They take care of one another, share their meals, and caution one another. This unity is hard for humans to understand as we are known for our selfish nature. Parenthood is perhaps the only time in human development where this type of behavior is reached, but perhaps not with the consistency of the crow. Indeed, there are lessons there for us humans to learn.

The Let Go section hosts some of my favorite of Vijaya’s poems. In these poems, she wrestles with letting go of the past, the future, of pain, loss and love. The concept of “letting go” is akin to Acceptance: accepting that you have no control and thus allowing what is and what will be to occur without interference. In her poem, Winds of time, she compares life to the cycles of a flower:

As the petals of life, disperse with the winds of time
Gathering them seems a tough task and I let them remain

The once blooming bud nurtured by love and care
The flower handed over delicately to another

Wishing the future, to be adorning a loved one
The flower was lost, in the maze of the unknown

Struggled to find its identity and destiny
Find though it did, some precious moments of happiness

Temporary it was, as it had to wither away
Fragrance of moments, only to be dispersed with the winds of time…

Letting go is not merely surrender. It is not forgetting. It is, instead, a quiet resolve: we are born, we suffer, we love, and we die. Holding on to things we cannot change will only force us to live continually in pain.

In the Positivity section, Vijaya’s poems remind us to release the negative and embrace a positive mind-set. She opens the section with these words:

As I started to write and be positive
And released this negative energy
I became happier and a more content person
I started taking charge of my destiny and enjoying life

In her poem, Wait and embrace, Vijaya encourages us to be patient in life, to weather loss and pain, to accept and seize the positive:

Wait till the moon rises
To call it a day and embrace sleep
It’s to rejuvenate and recharge oneself
Let the leaves of disappointments float away…

Wait till the sun rises
To conquer each day’s challenges
It’s to spread the wings in the guiding light
Armed with zeal, enthusiasm, support, ready to fly…

Wait till the tides wash ashore
To let the past, hurt, bitterness go
Wash away the pain to move forward
Write a new chapter, on a fresh canvas with a new outlook to life…

Wait till the seasons change
To reiterate that everything is temporary
Tough times too shall pass, persistence is the key
In hindsight, the experience and strength shall prevail…

Wait till the trees grow from plants
To nurture with care, each relation in life
It shall bear fruits, give shade and support in time of need
Patience, love over the years remain the key…

Wait till you connect with nature
To achieve that self-realization and satisfaction
Life itself is a gift, to be cherished and lived
Feel that joy, free the soul, frame the memories, follow your heart…

In these Positivity poems, you will discover the solace of silence, the joys of dreams, the serenity of prayer and the beauty of love. Vijaya’s voice will echo in the chambers of your heart and soul, filling you with compassion, wonder, and bliss.

In the last section, Random Thoughts, Vijaya questions her own identity, her desires for freedom, her role in the world, her acceptance of grace, and how her spiritual beliefs have shaped her world-view. It is in her final poem, Don’t let me quit, where these inspirational poems come to fruition:

Don’t let me quit
when I give up and sit
when hope is slayed by a hit
when every action is a misfit
when I feel I have lost all grit

Her words are as much a prayer to God:

just get me to sweat, to vent my anger
force me to feel the essence of success’s hunger
ensure I move forward, and not let despair linger
ignore all resistances, and be my anchor

as they are a plead to society as a whole:

I need your push, your strength and faith
to search for oceans that wash away the hate
to fill the void, write a new story on a clean slate
to rise again and prove that we control our fate
you made me breathe and helped me achieve

Vijaya’s collection of poems is to be cherished and silently absorbed into your whole being. Her words radiate truth and wisdom. In a world constantly bereft with pain and struggle, Vijaya’s poems remind us that we are all a part of the same whole, we are spiritual beings in search of love and acceptance, and we can have healthier lives when we let go of pain and regret and focus on positive, meaningful pursuits. Indeed, her words will Inspire you.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for a fair and honest review.

Genre: Poetry

Rating: 5 Stars

To Purchase: Amazon

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3 thoughts on “Book Review – Inspire by Vijaya Gowrisankar

  1. Christy B says:

    Such a thorough review and it is obvious that the poetry had a great effect on you – how wonderful to read about it today!

  2. calmkate says:

    Your passion for Vijaya’s poetry shines thru! How delightful for you both … is this the lady I’ve read here on WP – maybe include a link to her blog?

  3. Soul Gifts says:

    Such beautiful poetry, Lori 🙂 Thank you

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