City Times and Other Poems
City Times and Other Poems has many twists, stops, and pauses in Naiks stylistic writing. Certainly the philosophical depth of this bilingual author is striking, like when the sunlight reflects suddenly off of a mirror and into your eyes, instantaneously blinding but only for a fleeting second. Even with a continuous rereading of each poem, I did not necessarily see the picture Naik was trying to paint. The lines seem disjointed, and yet they appear to belong to the same family. His style is such that each poem may need to be read and reread. Or perhaps that is the point, to read each line, abruptly laid out, and to feel jolted from one image to the next, with little clarity in the transition between one line and the next. Or perhaps the point is, instead, to read his poems with the voice and feeling that you impose, ignoring the format and, instead, focusing on the phrases, like “grasp the luster” or “he cannot afford to look at himself,” or “in one sentence I saw my face multiplied in a broken mirror.
Certainly his imagery with mirrors, the world and cities; it does easily expand ones imagination to a broader view, while narrowing your expectations of what he may be communicating. I found the book, as a whole, to be confounding. What is the message? What am I to take away? Should I just treat it as a confused experience, like meeting a wild stranger in the midst of a conversation? Overall, I do intend to use his poems, especially “Midnight City,” as inspiration and as a reminder that, while it may take a few readings to get the flow and the meaning, Naiks poetry is meaningful.
Vihang A. Naik