Archive for August 8th, 2013

Review Poem on The Dance of Peacock

THE DANCE OF THE PEACOCK

 Dr. K. Rajamouly

         I am a splendid spectacle

The rarest of the rare for the viewers

The fairest of the fair of the creatures

       Really, it is my sole miracle;

       I am the dance of the peacock

With the unfurl of plumage in all angles

With the luster of images in all spangles

     Truly, a cud of joys in the stock;

     I am for the stupendous display

With the gorgeous glitters in the azure

With the felicitous postures in the sure

     A blue paradise seen in the gay;

      For the thirsty, I am the oasis

For the hungry, a fruit for full satiation

For the avidity, substance in all fruition

       In fact, I am indefinable bliss;

       My dance is seen not to cease

Like time to flow in the agile traverse

Like light to glow in the dark corners

       My utmost aim ever to please;

       I love rhythms in multitude,

An anthology subsuming imagination

In variety to mark beauty in reflection

     A feast of senses in magnitude;

       I fly in the fancy-firmament

With the galaxy of infinite inklings

In the rainbow-hues on own wings

     For sure, life-enlightenment;

       I am a poem-blossom garden

With theme-perfume, melody-honey

With ripe-recipe of beauty-harmony

     Musing-spring all to gladden;

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Katta Rajamouly (b. 1952) is Professor of English by vocation and a poet, short story writer, essayist, critic and translator by avocation. He has published The Poetry of Philip Larkin: a Critical Study, GRAMMAR, Dictionary of Grammatical and Literary Terms, Art of Speaking and Learn English through Conversation. His creative contributions appeared in Muse India, Kakatiya Journal of English Studies, TRIVENI, Commonwealth Review, etc.

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The Dance of the Peacock: A True Garland of Marvels

The Dance of the Peacock: A True Garland of Marvels

A Review by  Shasikiran Deshetti

 The ‘Dance of the Peacock’ is a true garland of marvels. It is a great collection of poems from around 150 poets from India. I found it as a great read if one is looking for a great diversity in tastes. The anthology speaks for itself in the title. Among the few poems that I have read, here is a review:

In the poem ‘Gifts of Nature’, Katta Rajamouly brings out an immense feeling of gratefulness towards the Mother Nature, from the readers, in words that surpass every other humane expression of gratitude.

         ‘The earth with its wonderful nature all around

      With its rich sights and sounds: the high treasures

All to fill the sunshine of peace and exhilaration for all 

                  With no due goal of its own’

 The poet ends the poem so thoughtfully and yet graciously, leaving us pondering, with a terminal thought of how a human mind, the supreme creation of God, as the poet coins it, comfortably ignores the beauty that surrounds us and the creator of it..

        ‘God’s supreme creation, the best of all species

       Enjoys His gifts of gaiety but forgets to sacrifice

    And never to create a paradise in favor of God’s will

                        With a goal of his own’                 

                   

The poem ‘The Ephemeral Glow’ subtly deals with the overlying gleam of life and lively things, and fairly justifies the mere essence of time. The poet brings out a new vision with an immense depth to our perception of life, for example of a dew drop that shines in eternity till its downfall.

‘Dews strewn on the blades of lush green grass

     In quest of their embrace with the sunrays

                 Like the stars only to twinkle

                Like the pearls only to sparkle

   With shining to dwindle in the earth’s heart

Eventually to trickle down to the lowest dismal’

 The poem, ‘Twilights’, beautifully describes the realm of birds in its true nature. The poem throws light on the painstaking efforts by birds in protecting their little ones from the ecological evil elements of nature. It is indeed a marvelously said piece about the feeling of parenthood providing immense satisfaction to the readers.

The poem ‘At the Temple’, by Seema Arella, is an enchanting devotional verse, delivering peace to the inner mind. The poet beautifies the aura of a temple from inside.

There are huge number of poems that are noteworthy, like ‘Not Enough, Mother’ by H.K Kaul, ‘The Orphan’ by Prabhat K. Singh, etc.,

Thanks to the editor, Dr. Vivekanand Jha for bringing up this anthology

– Shasikiran Deshetti, Software Engineer, M. S, Austin,  Texas, USA.

The Dance of the Peacock: Pick Up and Get Lost In

The Dance of the Peacock: Pick Up and Get Lost In

 A Review by Caren Starry White

 

From the moment you open this collection you can see how wonderful the title, The Dance of the Peacock, fits this beautiful poetry collection. Just as a peacock’s feathers blend with all different colors, each of the 151 poets included in this anthology brings something diverse and exciting to the collection. As Editor Dr. Vivekanand Jha writes in the introduction, “the collection represents some of the most leading poets of Indian origin… from 15 years old to 92… from doctors, engineers, film makers, bank employees…” At a length of 518 pages, the collection may seem daunting at first glance, but as you flip through pages and poets, you find yourself dancing in a world as wonderful as the title suggests.

 With an anthology of this size, it would be impossible to acknowledge every single poet, but to give you samplings of what to expect inside, we can look at a few poems in particular, which have stuck with me even after finishing the collection. First, Amol Redij’s “Word(l)y Mess” (42) is a fantastic play on grammar function. Reddij writes:

 “Question mark finally defeated

His dear fellow exclamation Mark.

Spilling tornados of semicolons,

and firing rounds of commas.”

 Reddij’s use of metaphor here is fresh and playful, yet the poem in its entirety seems to be making a comment on how grammar and language, or lack there of, are being used in today’s society.

 The reader is certainly not at a loss for form variation within The Dance of the Peacock. Lakshmi Priya’s “Wet Streaks Damp” (229) is a perfect example of this. Priya writes:

 “yellow shade

came

through velvet strings

of day light GLOW

sun-tan baths

over

flew

kites and birds

of narrowed beauties

soaked up

spicy

in            open air breaths

of wanton ecstasy”

 Apart from the freedom of form displayed through out “Wet Streaks Damp,” the poem’s real beauty lies in the amazing images Priya creates. When you read it, you can feel the sting of “spicy” and the lightness of “the kites and birds” is reflected in the effective use of spacing.

 Finally, we come to “Destiny” (261) by title contributor Mona Dash. One of the great things about this collection is that with its vast themes and subject matter readers can find a poem or rather many poems in which they feel a strong connection to. Dash writes:

 “Seeing others do

I too rushed to fill my Life

Families, jobs, marriages, babies

Gifts given to all.

Not knowing that

A one legged man walked on graves

Ghosts cackled in trees

White geese turned red

On the day I was born.”

 In this poem, the reader is confronted with a surprising change between these two stanzas. While usually the association of “Families” or “marriages” is a happy one, in the case of “Destiny,” Dash presents a stark contrast, but these dark images are still hauntingly beautiful.

 I could name many, many other brilliant poems from the collection, but I will save them for when you open up the collection yourself. With The Dance of the Peacock, Dr. Vivekanand Jha has pieced together a collection of poetry that anyone can pick up and get lost in.

Caren Starry White is a Creative Writing professor at London Metropolitan University. Her poetry has been published in various journals, such as Cutaway Magazine and In Stereo Press. For more reviews and poems, visit her site: carenstarry.com.

The Dance of the Peacock: Captivating Coruscations

The Dance of the Peacock: Captivating Coruscations

A Review by Dr Rajnish Mishra

Instead of assenting to Romeo’s “What’s in a name?” I must say that there’s a lot in the name, especially after experiencing the sensual treat that Dr. Vivekanand Jha’s The Dance of the Peacock is. Peacock is India’s national bird, and for very good reasons. It not only symbolizes the various hues of the rainbow colours of beauty, but also alludes to the rasas that originate in the sahriday after experiencing beauty. Like the captivating coruscations from the spread peacock plumes, this anthology has the rainbow colours of human emotions, thoughts and experiences in it. The poets given place in the anthology come from various backgrounds, states and diasporic points of origin. It is, in the true sense of the words, an anthology of English poetry from India. The poems may be said to range over the unending ground of human experiences. Every poem is pregnant with meaning, and many of them may be classed with the best in their genre. It has always been very difficult judging one’s contemporaries, especially in the field of poetry. Yet, with a lot of caution, learning from the mistakes of the past: mine and that of others, and placing the caveat lector in the very beginning that my taste is mine alone, and so is my judgement, I dip my metaphorical fingers into the honey bowl and present the same on extraction for the readerly gaze.

I liked many poems in the anthology. In no ordered manner, as they come to my mind, are few lines that spring out from my unconscious:

“The crocodile body betokens memory foot-steps into dustbins of glory”

“And yet, down the steps into the water at Varanasi,

where the lifeless bodies seem to grow human”

“I keep mourning all the times

Love-lorn like a serpent

For its lost gem”…

The process promises to yield my personal hyper-text, and to offer the heady lotos nectar and its accompanying heavenly amnesia. Yet, I can’t persist in enjoying and perpetrating this anarchy, for it challenges the most venerated invention of the modern society: personal and private ownership. Coming back to the individual poets and poems then, linear, well defined, segregated by names and endings, I take up randomly the gems of purest rays, to show their beauty in process. I begin with Ananya S Guha’s “Dusk”:

Clamour of voices turns down

as dusk descends into a beast.

Colours change.

I love dusk.

I love the beast,

the chameleon of changing colours.

The imagery acts as a trigger that starts a chain reaction giving rise to stifled or hidden voices of the past: the voices of tradition in which the poem falls loosely, the tradition of amalgamation of thoughts with feelings. The dusk becomes an all devouring beast, in an unconscious, atavistic hybridization of Eliot’s brown fog and Yeats’s “beast”.

The next few lines that come to my mind are from Aju Mukhopahyay’s “The Paper Boat”:

The paper boat

I set adrift

In my childhood

On the flooded road

Of a metropolis

Has just arrived

This rainy evening

At my doorstep

Mukhopadhyay’s mask of simplicity and plainness works well. It takes in the reader, at least in his first reading, to make him believe in the poem’s being some kind of invocation of the Romantic spirit, which it is, in a way. Deeper and more readings reveal layers of significations that the first and cursory one had missed. Then one comes to know the other meanings: intended and unintended. Why declare the ending of a Hitchcock movie? The poem must be tasted again and again to be fully enjoyed.

Charu Sheel Singh’s “The Gate Keeper” is one more poem that has stuck somewhere, unknown, yet definitely, in my mind. It has the elements of myths, ready-made and invented by the poet too. The various symbols that the poem uses work at two levels of the tradition of Indian classical symbols and the poets’ personally created or used ones too. On a more concretely mythical note, Harish Chandra, the keeper of the gates of the mahashmashan in Kasi that takes his name, is also the epitome of truth in Hindu mythology.

The nine fold gates into the body

beg for tales that empty their

earth. Harish Chandra the gate keeper

patrols death leading to the shrines

of eternity.

Jayanta Mahapatra’s “Sanskrit” woke me up from my dogmatic slumber. Since having tasted it, my views on the “dead-ness” of the language have changed. There’s a strange, sad, slow rhythm in the poem, a rhythm that tends to grow its roots into and around the reader’s mind.

And yet, down the steps into the water at Varanasi,

the shaggy heads of word-buds move back and forth

aware that their syllables’ overwhelming silence

would not escape the hearers now…

The alive and special (due to their commonness) images in Kanwar Dinesh Singh’s “Oak Trees” make the poem’s effect similar to that of a ripe Indian gooseberry that can taste anything, ranging from sweet to pungent, depending on the past memory of the taste buds and also on what is taken after it. His oak tree takes a symbolic form and transcends the limits imposed by time and space, even by its roots. The life power ascribed naturally to the things natural comes in the Indian tradition and the pantheistic Western one too:

Who says their joints are an arthritic sore,

And their gravity’s owing to the old-age?

Outwardly they appear to be somber, bore;

Inwardly each of them is an astute, incisive sage.

They seldom show up their inner blues.

Among bullying deodars they stand artfully –

With warped form, serrated leaves, dual hues,

They carve a niche for themselves cannily, carefully.

Mona Dash presents a woman’s way of looking at love and that of a man, and, in a way, the difference between a man’s and a woman’s weltanschauung in her “Love Lost”. The poignancy with which the narrator recalls her past: times and love, lends the potency of a mini-dirge to the poem: the dirge of love, life and time combined. The lines that portray the loneliness best are also those that reflect the need to get the old times and love back:

I think of these questions now

Long after he has gone

Now realising that, sometimes

There should be no questions

Now worrying that the answer

Has come and gone

The subtly woven yet strong feminist strands make the warp of the poem and the finely arrayed words its woof.

A very strong and haunting poem of the anthology is Raja Nand Jha’s “Poetic Homage” to his beloved, his wife. The power of his emotions is put over the page in the form of words that succeed in touching the reader’s soul and making it resonate at nearly the same wave length as that of the poet. He begins with a declaration; an invocation:

I wouldn’t let you die

Till ink’s left in the pen

I vow to write on thee,

Please grant it fulfillment.

The mature muse never lets the reader’s interest wane, keeping the parts taut and firmly together. The poem’s elegiac note is maintained throughout, yet, it is not a poem of mourning, at least not fully. The bereaved has hope that springs from his love and from his faith. The presence of the lost is so strong that it challenges the material reality, and becomes more real than mere reality.

Since thou persist

In haunting my memory

I keep mourning all the times

Fifty-spring-old in love

And the laceration from its loss-

Another woman, another poem, but so different: Seema Aarella’s “Freezing Fantasy” is in a league of its own. It’s very uncommon in its Janus like duality. It’s definitely not like the prototypical feminist poems galore that sometimes appear affected poems by poseurs. It’s an introspective, personal kind of a poem that takes one intensely felt experience set in the frame of few moments and converts it into a well wrought poem. In it there’s loss again, but the loss is not of someone else. This time round, the poet loses her own self, a part of it at least:

And the poet within was just about to

Transcend the physical and live greater ecstasies.

But you vengefully rose from the seat,

Drew the curtains over the window

And killed a beautiful evening

With the attribute of a jealous lover.

Who was it that talked about that room of their own? She was very right. Personal space and time are essential for the creative process and the creator must be allowed to exist as an individual with an independent identity. How can a non-existing entity create? That would be like going one step further from the creation of the world by God: ex nihilo. Because it’d be creation sans creator.

Syed Faizan’s “The Book of Life” is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s seven ages theme, albeit in a different way. He begins the poem musing philosophically, and very metaphysically too:

What if each breath that every being e’er took,

Has been recorded in a library;

What if each human were a secret book,

Bound in the covers of eternity.

He then goes on, posing the problems one’d have in reading such a book. Each age is depicted creating, in its idiosyncratic manner, its own kind of text. And thus goes on the life, all life, till the end.

But ‘fore we’ve written all that we would wish,

Death scrawls abruptly in one stroke “finish”.

T. Vasudeva Reddy shows how poetry may still act as a tool for social correction. In a way reminiscent of the great past satirists, he takes up the modern sadhu baba in his “Ashram”:

Saffron robe is his shining mask

to realize his cherished tainted task;

helpless religion falls an easy prey

to his sensual lips that feign to pray;

Brimming with desire his lustful eyes

greet fairer beauties, frail butterflies;

This new age sadhu has created his own dictionary and the first word he has redefined is the common noun: sage. He is not at all other worldly. His complete attention is on this world, and now. Not for him are the austere and pure ways of the yore, as satisfying his senses is all he desires. Not for him are Himalayan austerities and a secluded ashram, as he wants the best and travels by air only. On his return, his palace of an ashram awaits him. In a Chaucerian portrayal, with all the details so aptly placed at the right places, Reddy succeeds in actually showing the sadhu to the reader. The poem does not end pessimistically though:

He and his tribe to real sages are a blot,

but dark clouds can never eclipse the sun.

Khurshid Alam tells the tale of the conversion of nationalism to jingoism and war in just six lines. His well crafted poem “Border” begins with “Each border crafted on the land/ engraves a ditch in the heart”. A man made thing that is entirely external and accidental then goes on to make men enemies of one another, as “the divide cannot be unwritten”. Alam’s “The Sun” stands in complete contrast to his previous poem in its simplicity of theme and treatment of the subject. The way he makes the sun speak for himself is quite remarkable. The poem has to be taken in its entirety to be enjoyed. The sun says:

You’ll see me:

dancing along the streak

of smoke when I take

a flight from the river;

The poem ends with the sun’s going away for the night, with a promise to return. He leaves behind a token that generates trust. It’s a “shaft of light/ for the night from where I pick up/ again the next morning”.

And thus may I go on. But then, the reader’s autonomy will be compromised. And then, the pristineness of the poems will also be gone. Therefore, I hold myself from touching any more gems in the treasure that Dr. Jha has succeeded in presenting to the reader in his anthology. It’d suffice if I say that I have only skimmed the surface of the vast ocean of contemporary Indian English poetry that this anthology is. I am quite sure that this anthology will be of great service to the connoisseurs, readers, students, researchers of Indian English poetry and will prove a milestone in the rich tradition of anthologies with roots in the Indian ethos.


The Dance of the Peacock: An Anthology of English Poetry from India Edited by Dr. Vivekanand Jha, 2013. Hidden Brook Press. pp. 538 pbk. RRP Rs. 1500/-

ISBN: 978-1-927725-00-9

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Dr. Rajnish Mishra is an Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Science and Humanities, Galgotia University, Uttar Pradesh, India. He has M A in English Literature and was awarded Ph D on the topic of A Critical Analysis of Villains in Shakespeare’s Tragedies. He has more than 12 years of teaching experience and more than 20 critical articles and research papers of his are published in various national and international publications and journals. He has co-edited six critical anthologies on Indian English Literature. He is presently working on the psychogeographical effect of his city, Varanasi, in both creative and critical media. http://rajnishmishravns.wordpress.com