Book-Review

THE LONGING OF TALAT ARZOO BUTT
A Review by Dr. Stephen Gill

Nida-e-Dil (The Voice of the Heart) by Talat Arzoo,
Alhamd Publications, Lahore, Pakistan, HC, pages 120


Nida-e-Dil (The Voice of the Heart) by Talat Arzoo Butt is a collection of poems neatly arrayed on the shelf of longing. The book’s lay-out and the cover design are soothing to the reader’s eye. If there is any thread that unites all these poems that thread is longing. These poems are individual in their style and thought. The messages of these poems go straight from the heart of the poet to the heart of the reader. Most of these poems are bones without much flesh.

It is clear that the poet is not lost in the deep woods of meandering. She  knows the tools to shape poetry in an unsophisticated beauty. Using these tools the poet has chiseled quotable lines, such as numbers 5, 6,7 and 8 on page 27. The poet here does not believe in receiving love in drops.  Other quotable lines are the first two, along with seven and eight on page 37.

These are love poems. Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran says in his Foreword to 
Tears and Laughter: "An eternal hunger for love and beauty is my desire; I know now that those who possess bounty alone are naught but miserable, but to my spirit the sighs of lovers are more soothing than music of the lyre." 

Love has been explored intensively and extensively from different angles before and after playwright William Shakespeare, who is famous also for his sonnets. More will be written in years to come on every continent by most poets in their own languages and in their own ways. Yet, the subject will remain unexhausted. Talat Arzoo Butt in this collection centralizes on this subject in a simple and evocative manner when the poet says that there is no need for wines because the intoxication received from the thought of love is enough. Among the other mentionable lines are the first two on page 51, where the poet states that it is not yet evening and the glass is in her hands. These and some other lines are symbolic of something that is inexpressible and almost reminiscent of Omar Khayyam’s  Rubaiyat.

The poems in this collection could have been better if the poet had avoided the use of overused phrases and symbols such as on pages 17 and 85. The result could have been even better if she had refrained from sermonizing, though such lines are rare. The poet also could have benefited immensely if she had used devices to produce internal rhythm. The poet leaves the reader thirsty by using few lines in her foreword. Perhaps the poet has left this part purposely short because of the nature of love and longings.

Nida-e-Dil is from a poet who has a master’s degree in English from a reputable seat of learning in Pakistan and who has lived in Canada for more than twelve years and is married to a prominent columnist. She began writing poetry during her college days. Talat Arzoo Butt deserves congratulations for producing a collection of poems amidst her hectic schedule as a wife and real estate sales representative for Royal LePage in Cornwall, Ontario. 

Nida-e-Dil, a child of her interest in Urdu and poetry, is a savory dish to share. The dish is different and individual but definitely worth-tasting.

www.stephengill.ca

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(Published in Kafla Intercontinental - Jan-April 2014)