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:
through velvet strings
of day light GLOW
kites and birds
of narrowed beauties
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.