City Times and Other Poems
by Vihang A. Naik

Reviewed by Ronnie Alvarado

City Times and Other Poems is divided into six sections that all feature a similar theme. The first section, “Love Song of a Journeyman,” acts as the prelude to the rest of the collection. Each piece in this particular section speaks to the rather fleeting nature of many of the most profound moments in one’s life, whether those particular instances are filled profound joy, intense melancholy, or a deject apathy. A soulful reader will find commiseration in this section, as he or she will be able to reflect on the sparse beauty of the poetry and inflect his or her own respective emotions into the words.

The section “Mirrored Man,” reads as a series of the author’s autobiographical reminisces and observations, many of which can be construed as nearly universal feelings of questioning and curiosity. The third poem of “Mirrored Man,” is a musing on the nature of appearances, and how the outward skin is often unreflective of the true nature of the interior. The author’s metaphor of a chameleon’s ability to change its skin at will is undoubtedly profound. Further, the untitled seventh poem of this section reflects on the truth that a mirror holds, and this particular poem’s many layers of meaning show a full depth of authorial skill on the part of Naik.

The section “Path of Wisdom,” collectively holds some of the strongest poems in the entirety of the collection. Each poem here holds minute and masterful philosophical tidbits that stay with the reader long after the pages of the book are closed. Inspiring the reader to make the most of his or her life, to be kind, to be patient, and dozens of other different profound pieces of advice, “Path of Wisdom” is by far the most uplifting and deep portion of Naik’s work.’

The final section shares the work’s title of “City Times.” Here Naik places the unquestionably longest poem of his collection, recalling what is presumably his own trip to his grandfather’s house in India. As Naik describes passing by his grandfather’s photograph, through a musty attic filled with long-forgotten paraphernalia, and to a dusty desk, the reader can almost imagine themselves present, filled with a sense of longing and nostalgia. This poem will speak to any reader who has visited the former home of a deceased loved one and there has experienced a flood of contradictory emotions.

Although some of the poems in City Times and Other Poems may prove too dense or abstract for any but the hardiest and most experienced of poetry aficionados, Naik’s collection will ultimately prove a delight to any reader looking for a profound and thoughtful collection of poetry.

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