The Dance of the Peacock: Many Histories, Rewritten Myths and Canonized Margins

The Dance of the Peacock: Many Histories,

Rewritten Myths and Canonized Margins

 A Review by Jyothsnaphanija

The Dance of the Peacock: An Anthology of English Poetry from India Edited by Vivekanand Jha covers wide ranging perceptions, vivid experiences of myriad poets from all walks of life, all ages, and all cultures representing the diversity of India. Though they are termed under the rubric of Indian poets but their works showcase universal nature of language, responding nature and time, memory, love and loss. The contemporary poetry of Indian writers presented in this book offers a touching flavor of insightful philosophies, the craftsmanship of the experienced writers, and meticulously selected works of wide ranging themes.

Nature is one of the themes much often focused in the works of the traditional poets, and in this book too, there are number of poems on nature, as raging nature, trees wearing colourful bangles, and as Anju Makhija appreciates,

“When raw mangoes

drop on our head, we pause

to appreciate nature’s bounty.”

Nature pained these poets and painted their poetry. Arman Najmi beautifully writes,

“The dry parched river bank

Bearing the burden of deprivation

Has been tolerating the lashes of the scorching sun

On its burning breast

Neither a shade of dense tree

Nor the carpet of green grass

Who will cover its bare bosom?”

The music of the words blended with typical imagery of the landscape of the composing nature was excelled where the poets were capturing the feel of green fields, whisky whispers, huskily rustling leafs, dew of morning grass,  falling sky and bitter kisses of roses, where “Shadows of various kinds converge on the west-facing frost-glass windows,”, “Where Clouds let off wrinkled steam and the skies/ See the rocks blossom naked and wild”, with “canopy of the trees of the emerald green”, and in aquamarine rivers, sea of marijuana green, with passionate thunders whipping the carriage horses,  wrinkled boats and pastoral afternoons.

Love is another idea conceived in this book. Loveria as Vivekanand Jha writes, there are many love stories this book tells. As it is beautifully composed by Mihir Chitre in his poem Ripples, “In your eyes was/ the warmth of three winters/ The sky shivering/ And I surrendered”, love captures the pain, is like a poem, eternal and loss. As Amarendra Kathua says in Injury Time, “that love has its deepest wound etched inside our hungry togetherness”, love is an injury, is ambiguous, and musical in these lyrics.

Typical Indian culture is indicated in morning ragas, summer mangoes, angulimalas, offerings to Shiva, Deaths in Orissa, floods in Andhra Pradesh, quiet Kerala beach, The Himalayan scenery, ETC. P. K. N. Panicker’s poem Haunted tells how the poet is moved with the modern change in the country,

“A landscape,

framed in the memory

of my native village

in God’s own country,

where paddy plants listen

to the scratch of crickets

and to the bellowing of the frogs”

Feministic vision was viewed both by the poets and poetesses in this work. In a soothing language, they talked of dreams, love, hopes, motherliness, desires, old age and widowhood which injure women. Anita Nair’s Hello Lust tells how one is submitted to another in a relationship. Ambika Ananth expresses,

“Sometimes I am called archetype and archaic

When I walk few paces behind my man

That I am under machismo grip

and I have no voice no progressive thought”.

Few women poets have architected the language of their own in these verses with their own imagery. Similarly, Monika Pant’s Monsoon Blues tells the rupture of the betrayed as was written,

“Is it because behind the arches of the derelict monument,

I had stood for long

Holding my white, wispy veil

Or dupatta as we called it,

Across my tear stained face

As I waited for him

And watched the darkening sky swell

Like the belly of a pregnant woman?”

P. K. Joy’s Two Hands of a Man is a satiric poem on the double moral standards of a man who protects his wife in a crowded bus and tries to touch the other lady. This poem shows how the mail centric society treats the women as objects of sexual pleasure and does not apply the same for their own family members. Many of the poems in this book portray how feminism is seen as a different entity from women’s actual lives in the country, rape and adultery of mind, and significantly as repeatedly Ruth Vanita questions “Can you take the lesbian out of India?” While Shefali Shah Choksi’s Mirror Women talks of the invisibility of women, how they are trivialized, Sunita Jain’s Summer Magic tells how the young girls are viewed trivialized. As Usha Kishore says, “an Indian woman attempting feminist writing in a borrowed tongue,”, these women have written their own lives and lives of women around them in English as in Gopa Nayak’s I had Put Mehendi on That Evening, Hazara singh’s Glory of Woman, Tejdeep Kaur Menon’s verses, tell the tales of women’s desires, shattered and trivialized.

This book tells many histories, rewritten myths, and canonized margins.  History revealing Taj Mahal,  dust and beggars outside the Taj Mahal, new version of Parvaty’s story,  Desdemona’s story, Draupadi’s myth, retelling the story of Ravan, Gandhi’s tales, image of Madonna, and poem inspired by Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings, contribute for the imaginative flavor of the anthology. Telling Cinderella’s story till the tragic death of Nirbaya, many of the poets pinned at the society with their pen. They talked about the tribal women, street children, poverty, and caste woes.

This book in no way compromises the readers in giving unusual imaginations, expanding the limits of language and feelings for example, “love as a performing art,” “pregnancy of earth”, “drinking the sky”, “half dreamt dreams”,  and many more. As K. Satchidanandan translates,

“God too must have stammered

when He created man.

That is why all the words of man

carry different meanings.”

The imaginative space too carries the infinite interpretations besides the bewilderment of the words hived in the language, and the compositions played by the shallow piano keys.  This commendable work promises any reader to offer a simple language covered unusual thoughts, and takes the reader towards a different journey. This book tells the secrets of storms, shows the darkness of the darker nights, and takes towards the wands of irresistible beauty in bringing towards the African continent and the way of the world.

Many of the poets in this anthology wrote how poetry talks to them, how poetry pains them, and how it conjures them. For the poets in this anthology, poetry is a beautiful tree, poetry is love making, poetry is deciphering, and as Pashupati Jha asserts Poetry Makes a Lot to Happen. As C. D. Norman recites, “Words play hide and seek,” and Bipin Patsani attributes making a poem as “The voyage/ More exciting /Than the destination”, these poets sing the patchwork of happiness and sorrows. As  Syed Faizan rightly articulates, “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”, this anthology records the most delicate phases of life, tangential perceptions, and colourful realities.

One should take this book and read to understand the vibrant perceptions of some gifted souls, speaking directly in free verse, making everything crystal clear. Many of the poets presented in this anthology are established poets presenting their unique perceptions and experiences. This book is of perfectly designed to cater the needs of a contemporary reader who can read poems about face book and twitter, and satisfy with the traditional forms blended in modern thoughts where the poets sang odes to Mumbai, and hymns to love and nature.  It answers for feministic concerns, makes cry for the unacknowledged pain, seeps us through inevitable imagination.

Some of the metaphors and language flexibilities of this anthology shock the readers in the explored phases of literature. This commendable work is worth reading and refreshes the readers when poetry is losing readers as Jha worries, poetry is frightening as fiction. This book ends with words of Keats “None but the master shall praise us; and none but the master shall blame.” Suggesting that, this collective effort compressed in this anthology can have a critical appreciation from the readers, serving them and enlightening them.

 ********

Jyothsnaphanija is a doctoral candidate at the Department of English Literature, EFL University in Hyderabad, India. She did her Masters in English Literature from the same University. This 23 year old young writer was a gold medalist in BA English Literature. She challenged the vision loss which she was having from her birth. Her poetry has been published in Luvah, Coldnoon, Tajmahal Review, Kritya, eFiction India, Miracle, Fragrance, Induswoman Writing and are forthcoming in Skeleton’s Anthology, Kumquat Poetry and Solstice Initiative.  Her academic writings have appeared in Subalternspeak, eDhvani, Wizcraft, Barnolipi. She contributed her essays to the books Indian Women Novelists: A Critical Spectrum (2012), and Contemporary Indian Drama in English, 2013. Currently she is in the editorial team of Criterion.


Call for Submissions: Phenomenal Literature, A Global Journal Devoted to Language & Literature

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Call for Submissions

Phenomenal Literature: A Global Journal Devoted to Language & Literature

Phenomenal Literature is a biannual print journal devoted to language, literature and creative writings. It is a publication of Authorspress, New Delhi, India. We welcome and publish extracts of novels, poetry, short stories, drama, plays, translations, book reviews, interviews, critical/academic/research articles, essays, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, travelogues and other creative writings in English.

Our primary role and goal is to display a unique spectrum of humanity and social sciences produced by variegated colours, wavelengths and frequencies of language, literature and creative writings in English.

Phenomenal Literature has set a global stage for characterizing dynamic, vibrant and versatile authors and academicians, playing their parts in advancing the plot of literary scenes of sublime thoughts, themes and diction in front of traditional and electronic spectators.

Submission Guidelines

Phenomenal Literature welcomes unsolicited submissions from novels, poetry, short stories, drama, plays, translations, book reviews, interviews, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, essays, travelogues and creative writing. We will only consider work that has not been previously published, whether in print or on the web.

We read submissions round the year and you are requested to wait until you receive our decision on the status of your submission before you resubmit you are requested to wait for the next submission till you receive our decision on your previous or pending submissions. The response time can fluctuate in proportion to the number of submissions we receive. Simultaneous submissions are permitted but if a work you have submitted to us is accepted elsewhere, please notify us without any delay. Remember, poems submitted for the journal, Phenomenal Literature, can also be considered for its sister journal, VerbalArt: A Journal Devoted to Poets & Poetry.

 Categories of Submissions

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Novel:Submit a chapter from book length manuscripts of your novel. It should be a maximum of 2,500 – 4,000 words.

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2.    Strictly written in MLA style 7th Edition (with proper citations and references).

3.    Excerpts/extracts from reference books should not be longer than your critical remarks. Begin and conclude your article with proper critical appraisal and appreciation.

4.    Every critical/research/academic article should be accompanied by a submission fee upon receipt of the acknowledgement for acceptance of publication. For details and options of pay please refer to the page of subscription.

Translations: You can submit English translations of fiction and non-fiction too. The word limit of submissions will remain the same as in the cases of original categories. If you are submitting a work in translation, please indicate whether or not you are in possession of translation rights from its original author.

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 Copyright/ Plagiarism Alert

 Last but the most important thing is to adhere to Plagiarism Alerts. We will be checking the cases of plagiarism both electronically and manually. Electronically we have updated software to check if any content is copied and simply pasted without giving proper reference and citation. Manually we will use our vast experiences of having edited more than 500 articles. We must caution you in advance itself, that your article will be simply rejected if you are found guilty of indulging in any kind of plagiarism and copyright infringement. Along with your submission you must attach a certificate of originality mentioning that you own the copyright of the submitted piece(s).

 Disclaimer

Phenomenal Literature retains the right to use the accepted work in future online or print anthologies, as well as in the online archives. All other rights remain with the author. The journal will not be liable in any way for any sort of copyright infringements.

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Subscribe Phenomenal Literature

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Call for Submissions: VerbalArt, A Global Journal Devoted to Poets & Poetry

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Call for Submissions

VerbalArt: A Global Journal Devoted to Poets & Poetry

A publishing venture of Authorspress, VerbalArt is a biannual print version of journal devoted to poets, poetry and poems lock, stock and barrel. Our primary purpose is to set a vehicle of emotion and feelings for poets and poetry in English and poetry translated into English from any languages. The journal publishes everything pertaining to poets and poetry and it will feature poems, reviews on books of poetry, and the interviews with established poets and the research/critical/academic articles on poets and poetry. VerbalArt is committed to promote talented, amateur and young poets amid aura and ambience of established poets by browsing and exploring thought-provoking innovation and hidden talents in the cerebrum of the poetic world.

Submission Guidelines

 Please read the submission guidelines carefully and save your diligence going down the drain! VerbalArt welcomes unsolicited submissions all about poet, poetry and poems. We also publish translation in English, book reviews, interviews, biographies, autobiography, memoirs, essays, travelogue and creative writings pertaining to poets and poetry. We will only consider work that has not been previously published, whether in print or on the web. We read submissions round the year and you are requested to wait until you receive our decision on the status of your submission before you resubmit. The response time can fluctuate in proportion to the number of submissions we receive. Simultaneous submissions are permitted but if work you have submitted to us is accepted elsewhere, please notify us without any delay. Remember poems submitted for the journal, VerbalArt can also be considered for its sister journal, Phenomenal Literature: A Journal Devoted to Language & Literature.

Categories of Submission

Poetry: A set of five poems. Each poem should be a maximum of 40 lines.  

Biography/Autobiography/Memoir/Travelogue: Submit a piece of Biography/ Autobiography/Memoir/Travelogue on and by established poet only. It should be no more than 2500 – 4000 words.  

Interviews: You can send your interview with a celebrated poet and should be well within 2500 – 4000 words. The interview should be informative and inspiring. Remember, we will not be publishing manipulated interviews i.e. there are some poets/interviewees who approach to the interviewers to have an interview for cheap popularity and sensationalism. We are knowledgeable, updated and capable enough to know and examine which interview needs to be published or not. Though photographs are not essential but joint photographs of both interviewee and interviewer will be preferred and appreciated.

Book Reviews: We do not accept unsolicited book reviews. If you would like to submit a book of poetry for review, please send a query to editor@verbalart.in

Critical/Research/Academic Articles: Please read carefully to avoid the rejection of submissions:

1.      Articles should be only on poets, poetry and poems.

2.      Article should be a maximum of 2500 – 4000 words.

3.      Strictly written in MLA style 7th Edition (with proper citations and references).

4.      Excerpts/extracts from reference books should not be longer than your critical remarks. Begin and conclude your article with proper critical appraisal and appreciation.

5.    Every critical/research/academic article should be accompanied by submission fee upon receipt of the acknowledgement for acceptance of publication. For details and options of pay please refer the page of subscription.  

Translations: You can submit English translation of poetry too. The word limit of submissions will remain same as in the cases of original categories. If you are submitting work in translation, please indicate whether or not you are in possession of translation rights from its original poet.

 Where & How to Submit

 All submissions are to be sent as an MS Word attachment at an email id editor@verbalart.in. Don’t forget to mention your brief bio, email id, postal address and contact number (optional) at the top page of attached document.  You will receive Auto Response

 Copyright/ Plagiarism Alert

 Last but the most important thing is to adhere to Plagiarism Alerts. We will be checking the cases of plagiarism both electronically and manually. Electronically we have updated software to check if any content is copied and simply pasted without giving proper reference and citation. Manually we will use our vast experiences of having edited more than 500 articles. We must caution you in advance itself, your article will be simply rejected if you are found guilty of indulging in any kind of plagiarism and copyright infringement. Along with submission you must attach certificate of originality mentioning that you own the copyright of the submitted piece(s).

 Disclaimer

 VerbalArt retains the right to use the accepted work in future online or print anthologies, as well as in the online archives. All other rights remain with the author. The journal will not be liable in any way for any sort of copyright infringements.

 Compensation

Every contributor will get a free copy of the journal in which issue his submitted piece is published.

Subscribe VerbalArt

 May be because of lack of funds, sponsors or readers, every year a host of literary journals are launched, they garner bubble reputation and disappear into insignificance. There have also been journals about which some even don’t come to know when they are released and ceased publication. Let us belie this truth, trend and conviction by supporting and subscribing this journal and let this journal touch the glory of eternity as long as ever.

Subscription of Individual Issue (Including Postage): $ 15 (US & CDN) / Rs. 300 / Euro & UK Pound 10

Annual Subscription (Including Postage) for individuals: $ 30 (US & CDN) / Rs. 600 / Euro & UK Pound 20  Membership for Five Years (Including Postage): $ 125 (US & CDN) / Rs. 2500 / Euro & UK Pound 90

Submission fee upon acceptance of Critical/Research/Academic Articles: For every article $ 40 (US & CDN) / Rs. 1000 / Euro & UK Pound 25 Indian Subscriber can transfer required amount of fee or subscription through on line or net banking. Bank account details are: Name: Authorsgroup Advertisers

  • Name of the Bank: PNB
    A/C no. 2257002100001903
    IFSC code: PUNB0309300 
    Payable at: New Delhi

Foreign  subscribers can transfer  the subscription fee through PayPal,  one  of  the most secured methods of transaction on internet. PayPal Account Id of the journal is olordsai@rediffmail.com Subscribers are requested to also email the particulars of any payment sent/made to editor@verbalart.in. Current and past issues of the journal can be purchased anytime and from anywhere from the online estore of Authorspress at www.authorspressbooks.com as well through various modes of payments facilitated by EBS.

Dancing with the Peacocks…

A Review of The Dance of the Peaccok by Prof.  Vishal Bhadani

“We live only to discover beauty, all else is a form of waiting” words of Khalil Gibran kept reverberating for quite long time while flipping through pages of the new anthology of English poetry from India called The Dance of the Peacock edited by Dr. Vivekananda Jha. Significantly, such anthologies do not appear so frequently but when they appear, it is, I must say, a treat to read, relish and to be with them. While reading this anthology, you will hardly differentiate between a poem and a peacock!

The constellation of poets and poems that Dr. Jha has taken pains to chose keep surprising you by uplifting you to the wonderland of ecstasy. Characteristically these Indian poets and their imaginations are heterogeneously spread across a range of direct responses to the human experiences as they are: black and white. Poets in this collection can happily be classified into three broader classes: 1) Romantics, 2) Mystics or Philosophers, and 3) Rebels.

Fortunately, they appear magically without any introduction or so called biographical details (thanks to the editor for not colouring readers’ perception by doing so!!). Sometimes these poets, through their poems, either just say “hello” and fly away or the other time they hold you inside out that you wonder how they exactly know about your-self! Ambika Ananth is an exponent of preserving poetry the experience of Love:

I being there

is just a pretext of life

The reality is ‘you’

I have no identity..

How enticing, how soothing

is this state of ‘not being’

The ‘self’ is one those issues that so many poets in this anthology take forward to world of poeticity and philosophical dialogue. In all such poems the ‘self’ get encoded, decoded and recoded for the readers. I must indicate to those poems that speak volumes of confrontations of/to self in few-familiar words, as in Asha Viswas’

My body’s landscape

with footprints and traces from the past

is like a huge, old island

that understands the patois of the shore.

Or Aparna Kaji Shah’s sense of release after and nausea of the tough battle with the self can be felt loud and clear when she says:

Free at last, the self rises

Like an unwavering flame,

Dispelling the darkness of the mind.

Depersonalizing what it means to have a ‘self’, to realize it and to articulate emptiness that one feels every moment in/of the fragmented time sequences we call life. Poets, chosen here, are brutally honest in deconstructing the “romantic” version of life (as it was so handy with some earlier poets obsessed with natural and spiritual themes) and have audacity to represent some of those failed aspirations as engulfed by human instincts. For instance, in his “Guns and Gods” Asoke Chakravarty compulsively nullifies the pseudo-democrats of the first World when he satirizes:

We have the peace bomb.

Your bombs are not so peaceful.

In the name of democracy and justice,

Our peace bombs kill humanely.

Your bombs are not so humane.

There are plenty of such poems which stare eye-to-eye at you till the point you are internally disturbed and convinced. More gravely Samartha Vashishtha articulates those realms of Diaspora that many poets carry burden with always, alike, alone. As the poem “Escape” reads:

Burning tyres in Gujarat

brown as her eyes

my country weeps;

I dream of white women

and the firmness of their breasts.

 

Then sipping at my glass of Coke

letting the deluxe bus go

I dream of a place called New York

miles and miles from my bus-stand

cleaner than a river called Ganges.

It makes bullet holes in your eyes, there are numerous question marks floating through them, there are reminiscences of painful events that rest for a while and take shape of tears. Poems like these and many more have set, through this anthology, high standards for the poets to come from Indian English category. For example, late in the anthology, there dances a poem called “Ashamed” by Satish Verma states: The mother tongue weeps. / The masks will write a history, in exile.

Interestingly when we trace the development of symbols and metaphors across the languages and literature, we feel that something has happened to the poets of these age that there is radical, sometimes ironic either, shift in the choice of them. As in this poem “Absence” of Asha Viswas:

A verse inscribed with a red lipstick

glimmers from the looking glass

A spider leisurely walks between the lines

While the wakeful cat on the window sill still waits

for the departed one.

Verses used to be blessed by the Muses and there was a sense of piousness or elevated emotions and thoughts, but with this “red lipstick glimmering” new kind of poetry is born for which we need a different kind of poetics altogether. It is quite possible that the culmination of poetry or sublimity of the aesthetic experience we have during the poem may not happen at the end. Often you get elevated in the beginning itself and the rest is, then, just anti-climax or craftsmanship, for instance, the poem “When Without Rains” the first line speaks: As there are seasons, /I have reasons to change.

 

Ah! It is irresistible a task of talking about as many as possible provided the fatal and finite space of the words allow you to. The Dance of the Peacock is an anthology of peacocks who dance as poems. As their areas of poetic expertise, poets have almost covered all major human emotions, nature, problems of modernity, socio-political situations, dialectics of internal and external worlds, poetry writing etc. A must read for all those students, teachers and other poetry lovers who have so far read poetry for the sake poetry and I am sure you will get many more than just poetry i.e. is dance of poems. You will discover much more gems than I could while reading. Last but not the least, Sukrita Paul Kumar says in his “Parting again”:

 

Sadness sits like

a snake in my belly

turning and twisting

 

I would say, after going through this anthology The Dance of the Peacock edited by Dr. Vivekananda Jha,

Happiness leaps up like

A peacock in my heart

Dancing and dancing!!

       ***********

Prof. Vishal Bhadani, Assistant Professor in English, Department of English, Center for Education, Indian Institute of Teacher Education, Gandhinagar (Gujarat-India).


The Dance of the Peacock: A Slice of Life

The Dance of the Peacock: A Slice of Life

A Review by Rashmi Jain

 

Sigmund Freud says Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, which is held together by delicate, tough skin of words. This is reflected in The Dance of the Peacock-An Anthology of English Poetry from India, edited by Dr. Vivekanand Jha. The anthology consists of creative poesy by 151 poets. The anthology has a striking title ‘dance of peacock’, as peacock’s dance is exquisite and unique so is the poems included in this anthology. Some poems are graceful, some somber, some mystical, while others have inherent richness in it. Dr. Debjani Chatterjee says, “The poets whose work is included, represent many diversities: they hail from the many different states of India and have different mother tongues, a fact that also shapes the different ‘Indian Englishes’ that they employ; and the poets of the diaspora are globally spread, with most residing in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.” Another striking feature of this anthology is that the editor has tried to include all walks and talks of life, apart from the creations of poets he also included the works of  doctors, engineers, diplomats, bureaucrats, politicians, film makers, management professionals, scientists, bank employees, accountants, journalists. The anthology in a way celebrates Unity in diversity.

Dance is a creative art which gives vent to emotions, feelings, expression, and aestheticism, so is poetry. Poetry is the chiseled marble of language; it’s a word-spattered canvas. Poets like Aftab Yusuf Shaikh, Amol Rediji and Aparna Kazi has feminist approaches in their poems. Yusuf Shaikh in ‘Kamathipura’ expresses the ill fate of daughters who are captured and thrown into the dark caverns of prostitution. Amol Rediji’s ‘Gendercide’ in a subtle manner sings about the gender discrimination in a patriarchal society where female child is drowned in milk when they are born. Kazi’s ‘The sun still rises and sets’ expresses the fate of female particularly of wife who had been working day and night like a machine and her sacrifices are uncounted.

Ambika Ananth’s ‘When in love’ compares the piousness, purity of love with calmness and tranquility of still water and sky. Water is shapeless, colourless so is love. Anita Nair’s ‘Hello Lust’ involves one of the cardinal sins as its subject (lust). Metropolitan Culture and Live-in relations are focused where one quenches his/her material and physical desires and drift apart as if nothing has ever happened. ‘You said, I Agreed’ has striking alliteration in it. Anna Sujatha Mathai’s ‘Goddess without arms’, captures the spirit of how poetry is conceived, recollected, contemplated and formed. It reminds of Wordsworth’s definition of poetry as ‘spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings it takes its origin from emotions recollected in tranquility.’ In ‘Pilgrims’ the poet showcases that pilgrims are on a pilgrimage and they travel in search of their destination  similarly human soul is also a pilgrim which is on its journey in search of salvation. Arbind Kr. Choudhry in ‘Leader’ sketches the modern leader as:

“A wolf in sheep’s clothing

Sheds crocodile tears for the suffering.

O Blood suckler of the sufferer!

Your name is Leader.” (61)

Poet compared leader to Faustus- a character of Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus who sells his soul to Mephistopheles in order to gain infinite knowledge. Similarly modern leaders sold their souls to gain all kinds of material benefits. They care not even an inch for people and the country but are busy in their pocket fillings. ‘In Quest of Extinct Pleasures’ by Arman Najmi, the poet narrates about the circumstances and memory. Conditions changes with circumstances but memories are evergreen; they remain sedimentated in the unconscious and subconscious. Asha Viswas ‘Another Vignette’ has been described in early Yeatsian style like the Lake Isle of Innesfree. Ashok Chkravorty’s ‘God is deaf and dumb’ is a glimpse of tragedy that took place in Iraq in 2003. The emptiness and helplessness in a child’s eye is highlighted. The pain, grimness and remorse are beautifully posed. His ‘Guns and Gods’ remind one of Owen’s tones.

“Boys, we are at the doorstep of the twenty first century.

The Crusade and Jihad are alive and well

with guns, in the name of God.”(88)

Bipin Patsani ‘Making a poem’ compares writing of a poem to love making. C D Norman wrote about what an unborn poem is and how it comes into existence. ‘The Rising sun’s’ vibrant images and color has been beautifully blended together. The ‘coppery bright’ color of rising sun, the silhouetted coconut fronds/waving in the morning breeze create a mesmerizing ambiance. Chandrashekar Dubey’s ‘Tribal Woman’ is a mockery of women empowerment. Poet presents the reality of life of tribal women, although on papers government is talking about the upliftment of women but in reality it just seems to be an illusion. Their progressive views on democracy with a call of liberty, fraternity, equality seems to be hollow less. DC Chambial’s ‘Om’ traces the journey of mantra Om, as people have been reciting this from centuries to gain mental peace and inner strength. Debjani Chatterjee ‘Angulimala’ and ‘Ravana’ are based on mythological concepts and she also presented a series of poems in Haiku. Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry having 17 syllables in three phrases of 5, 7 and 5 on respectively.

“O jasmine garland

Wilted in white hair, you scent

My memories green.”(Recollecting Youth, 127)

K.N. Daruwalla in his ‘Wolf’ discussed how the wolf myth was a part of his childhood and later they have been hunted down both in reality as well as from the darkest memories. Khursid Alam’s ‘The sun’ brings bright light and sunny smiles to faces. It expresses the continuity of life. Jayanta Mahapatra’s poems in this anthology have a complex symbolic mode. His poems are filled with loneliness and gloom. William Walsh in his essay ‘Small observations in a large scale’ says “his mind and his language works, not by poetic murmuration or suggestiveness but by pointing, by specifying, by delimiting and detailing.” Mona Dash in ‘Love Lost’ expresses that sometimes too much of interrogation ruins the situation. When a true soul mate appears one should never let that person go because once he/she is lost its difficult to find them again and aftermath regrets are left. Nuggehalli Pankaja’s expression with usage of minimal words is mind blowing.

Poornima Laxmeshwar’s ‘A letter’ expresses a mother’s wishes and blessings for her unborn child. She is dreaming of a beautiful future for her child and wants him/her to be a great lover of literature as she says ‘I wish that you fall in love with words’. This represents a pure and selfless expression of love. R.J. Kalpana’s ‘Prakriti-The Elemental Women’ portrays the elementary qualities and strength of women. She is like earth produces life, preserves and nurtures; like fire  burns impurities, illuminate light to others, fire also represents the capacity to fulfill impossible tasks; like water can follow and achieve her dreams, adjusts in any ebb and flow; like ether independent in spirit and mystic at heart. Woman is combination of all these qualities, a mystery unresolved. Ranu Uniyal in ‘Prayer’ says it’s the instrument to bring inner peace. It gives strength and ‘a reason to live and be happy.’

Smita Agarwal’s ‘Joyride’ seems to involve personal overtones and shows the joy of a child with her father on a ride. ‘Angrezi Vangrezi’ shows the importance of English all over the world with different assents and how an Indian is mocked when they speak English in an Indian manner. Sonjoy dutta roy’s ‘Words’ brings out the importance of reader as in reader response theory. Words are not only a medium of expression but sometimes of silence as well. Words are capable enough to rage storms but evoke sweet memories like on pages in album or books of poems. The absent is more important than the present. Words have power of creation as well as of destruction. In ‘To you who hold me in your depths’ poet speaks of the hidden mysteries of human eyes. The use of similes to describe the depths of secrets in eyes is extraordinary:

“Like the earth holds the roots

And the dark water, the hidden iceberg.”

Sonnet Mondal has majestically used imagery in his ‘Tyranny of hellish sea’ and ‘Ruined Generations’. Tyranny of hellish sea is filled with the kinesthetic imagery like rolling, thunder, floating which expresses the nature and intensity of sea. Ruined Generations has gustatory images like ‘shivering wine’, ‘offering posthumous drinks of desiccated fruits’ and so on. However these poems are quite different from his 21 lines caudate sonnet/Fusion sonnet.

Usha Kishore’s ‘Vishwamitra and Menaka’ is inspired by the painting of famous artist Raja Ravi Verma. The poet beautifully described the backdrop scenario with minute details of confrontation of Menaka and Vishwamitra. Beauty of Menaka, the celestial nymph has been beautifully portrayed. The beauty of her eyes was like darting arrows; her lips were like rosebuds and so on.

Vivekanand Jha in his ‘Sleep Indespensible’ used similes and metaphors in an outstanding manner. The poet pinpoints that the real face of humanity is so awful and brutal that he had been better in his sleep. The human who had been the epitome of humanity, compassion, brotherhood, love seems to be lost. They turned into ‘pack of blood hounds’, a flock of vulture.  In ‘someone else’ the same essence is brought out. He focuses on the atrocities inflicted on the victim of gang rape. The heart rending description shows that the victim suffers not only physically but mentally as well. The tragedy of girl has been described as ravished like a wrecked ship or the souls without wings. The inhuman and heartless nature of mankind has been brought to focus where they resist helping a helpless person as   “Her only guilt – she was the daughter or sister of someone else, not of the passers-by”   Poet deals with sensitive issue of honour killing in the poem ‘Honour killing’. Poet put forwards the view that though a man boasts of being in twenty first century he couldn’t separate himself from the bondages of caste, creed, and status.

Yasmin Sawhney’s ‘Ode to Daughter’ speaks of splendid relationship between a mother and a daughter. The entire anthology seems to be a slice of life, which represents various feelings and experiences involving joys, trauma, excitement, remorse, delight, love and others. The confluence of different cultures, ambiance with the individual personality of poets together compounded the master poetry. All the poems included in this anthology are engrossing and a typical representation of modern English poetry of India.

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Rashmi Jain is a Research Scholar, University of Allahabad, U.P., India.          

The Dance of the Peacock: An Opulence of Expression

The Dance of the Peacock: An Opulence of Expression

A Review by Nidhi Mehta

The Dance of the Peacock: An Anthology of English Poetry from India is an apt title for the book edited by Dr. Vivekanand Jha as it is a true projection of its contents. The multitudinous hues of the feathers of a dancing peacock come alive before us as we read through the poems compiled in this anthology. Including poems by 151 poets, the collection is remarkably wide-ranging and each of its page is extremely vibrant and at the same time, different from the other. The poets hail from different parts of India as well outside India and have given an altogether new expression to the contemporary themes in their poems which have been further, quite judiciously and meticulously, selected by the editor. The foreword by Dr. Debjani Chatterjee is informative besides being interesting. The anthology strikingly has a claim over both indigenous and diasporic writing. After reading this anthology one’s faith in the promise held by the existing as well as the upcoming brigade of Indian poets gets fortified. Its scope embraces numerous themes including love, nature, human emotions, attributes and so on. The poems of Keki N. Daruwala, Jayant Mahapatra and K. Satchidanandan deserve special mention for the opulence of expression.

The Dance of the Peacock attempts to enchant the reader by being genuinely different from other recent anthologies. Unlike the latter, it is an assortment of diverse tempers, ideas and sentiments especially because the poems are written by as varied a group of poets as the editor could have possibly garnered within the limits of the book. In fact, one of the main merits of the book is that it does not confine itself to the poems of eminent writers alone, rather it also seeks to take in some budding poets who are good but still struggling to make a name for themselves. Each leaf of this 538-page long book is a reader’s delight because it has something interesting for everyone. The book presents all types of moods and temperament and so the poems are not just high-spirited but at times heart-rending and experimental too. Some of the poems touch upon one or the other aspect of Indian life and people, which in turn, is affirmed by astonishingly appurtenant and lavishly explicit interpretation of Indian spirit. Conspicuously, some of these poems do have the quality to transcend the boundaries of region and country. As a whole, this anthology proves the contention that the future scene of Indian poetry in English would be bright. After reading this anthology, one cannot overlook the immense Indian potential of poetic expression. This anthology is indeed a significant contribution to the Indian poetic tradition and is a must-have for every admirer of Indo-Anglican poetry.

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Nidhi Mehta is a Haryana-born writer and researcher. An M. Phil. English and M. A. English and Public Administration degree holder, she has written eight research papers on India novels in English and diasporic novels, for various anthologies and journals. She also writes poetry.


The Dance of the Peacock: Snapshots of Indian English Poetry

The Dance of the Peacock:

Snapshots of Indian English Poetry

 A Review by Sanober Kahkeshan

The poems of the anthology, The Dance of the Peacock are pouring – out of an extra talented cerebrum and ultra sensitive heart and have succeeded in portraying the realities and concerning issues of day to day life. Each poem in this anthology gives an image of picturesque scene. The poems look like snapshots which convey a specific mood, moments and milieu. The editor should be lauded for his excellence in taste.

Abhay K’s historically portrays the monuments of the Capital:- ‘Delhi’ entices “hordes of human flesh from far away lands’ like traders , emperors. The poet escapes from the busy crowded city to the hill for the feast of eagle. It reveals his state of discontent to live in this filth. ‘Nakedness’ and “nude’ reveals the truth. His next poem “Qutub Minar’ describes the bleak future of the nation. The poet has its own strained world which is filled with dirt and double standards. It reminds us reading lines of T.S. Eliot’s – Wasteland where the world is filled with dirt. His last poem ‘Shastri Bhavan” reveals the truth of “priests’ of politics who “plan and plunder”.

Aftab Hussain’s only poem “Kamithapura” speaks volumes. The red light area has beautifully portrayed. A pious poet who lectures sermons at day on squares, in disguise visits Kamithapura at night to meet his mistress. He celebrated his birthday in 3 by 4 rooms with a “fair girl” where he notices a mark on her arm, the one that her mother gave her. He saw her when she was seven and after a gap of 15 years he saw her which made him dumb.

Anju Mukhopadhya’s ‘The Paper Boat” is a beautiful short poem depicting childhood reminiscences. The poet has sailed the boat in his childhood and has arrived at his youth age at his doorstep, with full gear inviting him to set out for some new adventure.  Another poem “Insect’s Nest depicts reality. The poet compares man’s construction with insect’s nests which too is fragile and ‘brittle’ and will soon disappear in a moment by nature’s fury. The ending has a moral ‘Why bother about any mark made on lime’? The poet’s pen ends in a question which has already given an answer. ‘At the River Bank” portrays picturesque view about side of river bank which flows silently and the surrounding is motionless. The fisherman is tired and a naked boy looks his figure in the water reflecting his image.

Akhil Katyal’s poem ‘Moments before she died” is an autobiographical poem describes his experience of death approaching to his beloved. Helpless man can only wait and watch the parting of soul from the body. His next poem “I have Crammed into PCO Booth’ describes the old phones two decades back when there was no “buttons’ only ‘winding arcs’. As he has to work in this call centre he has to adapt its tune. Ending is in dilemma ‘Will hi’ do or “will bye do’?

Amalan Stanley V. has beautifully described “Millipedes” which is his acute sense of observation of a small insect and his fondness to live in cemeteries to personify the dead ones. “The Well” is a short poem describing its quiet and darkness and it ripples only when it being pumped out to the neighbouring paddy fields. The fish in a small well tumbles and misses the aquarium and the poet compares himself with fish and wonders his being in this world. His last poem “Bouquet of Weeds” remembers his father, who was buried a decade ago, addresses to the weeds which has stretched its roots deep in the cemetery. The poet consoles himself that at least the weeds have the chance to lie beside him. The poet captures graphic images and in an eco-friendly tone takes care of the green weeds blooming on the cross. The last line is again captivating for he cares the weeds because “they are nurtured by same minerals and organics that once nurtured us-“my brothers and sisters”.

The poem in a sentimental journey has travelled down the memory lane where a signpost of deeply felt emotions digs deep inside. Ambika Ananth’s poem: ‘When in Love’ …describes poetess longing for lover’s company and has no identity of her own. She alone in the wide world searches for that “safest haven’ where love is universal truth. “Cold Fury” describes the incident of sudden floods at Andhra Pradesh in 2010 which engulfed the innocents in minutes. Merciless nature’s fury turning villages “into ice-cold graveyards’, helpless man can only watch with aching heart their kith and kin in a distorted stage. Her next poem “Life’s Reasons” is an excellent poem portraying the reality how helpless mother reacts at the sight of her newly born abnormal child. But soon the bond between mother and child tightens as his “hungry fish-mouth clamped itself on her breast”. She consoles herself accepting all the faults for no one is perfect in this world. Some are imperfect from inside and some from outside. ‘Love’ binds the two making a team. Her poem ‘Distorted’ displays the atrocities laid on women in a patriarchal society. Gender discrimination in India and the Third World countries is not a big issue. Different dark phases of women have been explored. Her fate is ‘just to receive and accept’ in a compartment of old rigid dogmas; with a distorted self image.

Amol Redij’s “Gendercide’ has drawn a real picture of birth of an unwanted girl child. Her cries made her mother happy but soon the voice was stopped by an old lady who was screaming loudly to see the sight of a baby girl. She arranged milk not in bottles but in litres, and her diplomatic plan to silence the little one was fulfilled.

Anju Makhija’s “Pickling Season” has produced a mouth watering recipe of mango pickling in the summer season. Her next poem “Black N’ White’ pays a tribute to Dom Moraes; who looked young at old age and ‘digested literary issues”. He was the guiding spirit to encourage her in the field of poetry. Poetess often recites his poetry and his number is still in her telephone directory. His death has stopped her pen.

Debjani Chatterjee captures Indian mythological figures: ‘Angulimala’ who strips the fingers of every passerby to make a garland during the age of Buddha is lying today beneath his own blade. The poem portrays that power diminishes with the passing of time. The poem ends with a question that fear still persists and no finger is safe today. ‘Ravana’ also depicts Ravan’s super human power and immense courage which makes him a hero. All the Haikus are excellently composed. ‘IBC’ and ‘Cancer’ touches to the heart in just 3 lines.

Deepak Thakur’s ‘On Death of Mother’ has written in a heart rending tone yearns to “offer homage of tears” to his mother. On that day the crowd and the rituals abstained him to offer his homage of tears. He feels her presence in the kitchen and he wants to cry in ‘a dark sunless room”.

Geetashree Chaterjee’s poem “My Roots’ has a diasporic touch that misses her roots in a foreign land. For long she saved her penny with a hope that one day she will meet her dear ones. Their absence has pricked her heart which is bleeding along with tears. It makes her feel rootless in her native land. ‘Dusk’ and ‘Autumn’ also portrays her pessimistic views. ‘Twilight” describes a very real poem of parting souls at youth age meets at old age. The description of old age is excellently portrayed. ‘Withered by pain and wrinkled with grief’ they have tasted the pangs of separation and deprivation. The value of “silence’ is portrayed in the last lines with 3 interrogatives: ‘Would silence have prevailed’? ‘Like this”? ‘Had we met age ago…”? It is truly matching with the proverb that “Speech is silver and silence is gold’.

Gopa Nayak’s ‘A Time of Celebration’ describes a time of union of longing hearts which were separated is now meeting, hence it’s a time of celebrating. In the poem ‘I had put Mehndi that Evening’ depicts inhibited sexual desires of women who yearn to plunge into the river of love. She has applied Mehndi that evening with a hope that she would ‘caress” his hair and wanted to see the power of Mehndi. The poem ends with a sigh that she wanted to be a woman that evening for she had put mehendi… ‘The Night’ describes her   marriage which broke her dreams. Her dreams of feeling her fingers in her hair were shattered. Like her heart bangles also broke into pieces. Her ‘diamond ring felt like a noose” but she has to sleep with a stranger.

K.V. Dominic’s poem “Beauty” describes the importance of the inner beauty. In the first few lines a young girl complains her mother for not making her beautiful and her mother gives excellent examples to console her. Great men like Lincoln, Gandhi, Shaw, Serena or Kalam are known for their deeds. Bodily beauty fades with the passing time like flower. Remembering Lawrence and Keats at end for ‘beauty is truth’ makes the poem more beautiful. The poem, ‘Crow the Black Beauty’ describes in a metaphorical tone the color prejudice. A crow is never remembered by a poet. They remember ‘Skylark, Nightangle or a cuckoo. There is always discrimination between black and white. The question is thought provoking that ‘Why is White attractive and Black disgusting? “When will the Black and the White dwell in the same house and dine from the same plate? Racism, color hatred still persists though we are living in a technological age.  Another poem ‘Musings on my shoes” praises shoes, which is always ignored and a metaphorical poem where a shoe is compared to women. A shoe that lifted him from dust and mud, seldom he heeded to ‘terrible tearful travail’. The last lines reveal the truth of the poem ‘Mothers and wives when old age weak Become burden to sons and husbands.’ A beautifully written poem depicting reality with a slight pinch of irony.

Rizwana Parveen’s poem ‘Alienation’ describes sorrows and pains of labourers, who are devoting their life in building skyscrapers. They have no time to achieve their goals. They left their family and home and living an alienated life. With too many mouths to feed, burden heavier than the shoulders, forced to leave their house.  Toiling hard in sun and rain, building skyscrapers but no home of their own. They are like aliens in their own homeland – disheartened and depressed. Using a very simple language the poem has spoken volumes. Her second poem ‘Desertion’ resembles Oliver Goldsmith’s ‘Deserted Village” It describes short and uncertain span of life. A house once full of laughter and mirth now gives a deserted look. It is inhabited by vultures, and eagles; the place of worship is ravaged and ruined. There is mournful cry everywhere and all the dreams are shattered. Her third poem “Loneliness’ again describes sadness.  Her life is full of darkness, forsaken and forlorn. She stood like a lamppost on a dark night- watching life pass by and fear battering her. Thoughts reminiscing her past memories and now loneliness are engulfed from all sides.

At last she surrenders to her circumstances. Anita Nair, Jayant Mahapatra and many more have penned their poems in an excellent way. The Anthology has delightful varieties of subjects with words artistically arranged. This collection of poems is a welcome addition to the corpus of Indian Poetry in English as it records the natives as well as the diasporic experiences in a faithful and ardent manner. Vivekananda Jha, the editor of this anthology has done meticulous job for collecting a galaxy of legendry poets. I wish him all success for his laudable work.

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Sanober Kahkeshan is an Assistant Professor, Dept. of English, Takshashila Mahavidyalaya Amravati, MS, India.

The Dance of the Peacock: Treading in Different Paths

The Dance of the Peacock: Treading in Different Paths

A Review by Nuggehalli Pankaja

 ‘Poetry includes whatsoever of painting can be made visible to the mind’s eye, and whatsoever of music can be conveyed by sound and proportion without singing or instrumentation.’ This mammoth anthology of poetry containing the poesy of 151 poets from various parts of the world stands as testimony to the above definition of the famous critic Leigh Hunt. Flutter, dazzle  of the colorful wings of the peacock the celestial bird  abounding in Ujjain-the homeland of the great poet  Kalidasa and also celebrated in his immortal works, dances through the pages made alive  with different chords- various rainbow pens!  Each feather-the emblem of   Krishna, prances likewise to the rhythm of every lyric emanating from hundred and fifty-one heartstrings!

Going through the   poems contributed by poets in all walks of life, one cannot but admire the hard work and intense interest invested by the editor Vivekanand  Jha  while bringing out this stupendous work. It is no joke to unearth poets known-unknown and bring them into limelight; Sort of research work requiring good amount of patience – dedication, and vision. Vivekanand Jha has proved himself worthy of the task. Right from the start he was in constant touch with the contributors, informing them  of the progress made, thus involving each one of them with his project;  So much so  that, in no time we found ourselves identifying with the anthology! Hidden Brook Press of Canada – a prestigious publication, should be congratulated for their commendable offering to the literary realm.

The poems therein make good reading, flowing as it does from various pens nurtured by different climes; Rich in variety, they are thought-provoking. Though one can discern similarity in subjects, like ‘Poetry-Love-Mother, Rape, Death’ etc, the approach being different, are quite appealing, making an impact on the emotions, bearing out my observation that ‘Poetry is imagination carved in emotion.’ I mention a few poems here to impart my view-point. Ambika Ananth’s  poem ‘COLD FURY’   is woven with pathos,  bringing the gruesome picture of the sudden floods  in Andra Pradesh  before the reader’s eyes: ‘The dead are dead- The living feel more dead With an ice-block for a heart Seeing the decaying flesh Of their very own kith and kin.’ Another poem of hers-‘LIFE’S REASONS’- Very heart rending- the young mother’s feelings, as her hopes droop to despair with the ‘imperfect child’ making its entry into her hitherto happy life.  Her agony, and the fierce love of a protective mother is beautifully drawn, making the reader’s heart writhe in pain: ‘Is this a punishment, a retribution and for what..?? she cried hoarse, feeling a desperate need to die when. . his hot, hungry fish-mouth clamped itself on her breast. a deep connection ran through her she cuddled him closer, their hearts beating together she saw him with the eyes of a mother’ .

Ami Kaye’s poem-‘A SCENE FROM A MUGAL GARDEN IN A MINIATURE PAINTING’ is a fascinating poesy! It is more like a painting in words, justifying the saying that ‘Poetry and painting are sisters.’ Subjectwise, Geetashree Chatterjee’s   ‘MY ROOTS’ is very good, while her another poem ‘TWIIIGHT’ is pregnant with deep emotion. Gopa Nayak’s   ‘I HAD PUT MEHENDI THAT EVENING’ is a sort of cry of a woman’s heart- a woman in full bloom!  Her another poem ‘THE NIGHT’, also throbs with feelings intense! Debjani Chatterjee,s  ‘TANKA’ and  ‘HAIKU’  make pleasant reading  with well brought out thoughts, especially  ‘MY CUP OF TEA’,  ‘SCHOOL BELL HAIKU’ and ‘RECOLLECTING YOUTH ‘–. ‘O Jasmine garland Wilted in white hair you scent My memories green.’ Anita Nair’s ‘HELLO LUSI’ is a poem with depth; one other small poem of hers–‘WHISKEY WHISPERS’ has the charm to overpower the reader though the contents are ambiguous.

K. Sachidanandan’s  Malayalee translated poems are catching, especially  ‘GANDHI  AND THE  TREE’, and ‘OLD WOMEN’. The pathetic state of old women is brought out with deep empathy.” Friendship is the gift of the almighty to mankind, as such, should be cherished; not everyone is lucky enough to experience that unique bond.  H.K.Kaul   has expressed his feelings in a striking way   through his poem- ‘ON THE SLOPES’. ‘BROKEN IMAGE’   by K.V. Raghupathy is poignant subjectwise, whereas Kanwar Dinesh Singh’s Haikus are like a breath of fresh air, while M.V.Satyanaraayana’s poem ‘STREET CHILDREN’ is effective in bringing out their sordid state.

‘HAVE YOU BEEN RAPED?’ of Tejdeep Kaur Menon is, as the title itself suggests, about the ghastly crime committed every other day. The beginning itself is intensely painful as he questions the perpetrator of the heinous crime- ‘My sister was raped. Yours? Never. Your sister should be safe Like in  a match  box. A harsh tug will shred her, The winds drop her into oblivion, Nobody wants a torn kit!.’ The poet has compared her to a new fragile kite launched in the firmament! ‘SOULBLIND’- of Vasuprada Kartic stands out for the depth of thoughts assailing the helpless second sex, concluding with a note of mockery at man’s blindness when it comes to women! ‘GENDERCIDE’, written by Amol Redij, brings tears to anybody’s eyes for it is about a custom of silencing forever the newly born baby girl in a huge round vessel of milk, the young mother’s tears? Nobody cares; But the old lady who was hurling curses at her, now sits back satisfied. ‘FIND YOUR LEVEL’ by Shanta Acharya , is the monologue of a river as she speeds along.,   The idea is very good, and absorbing, ‘She hums as she skips along’. ‘Everywhere I GO’- Sneha Subramanian Kanta’s  poem is pregnant with deep meaning. ‘SECRET OF A STORM’ by Hiranya  Aditi   is penned in a picturesque  way.

A young girl writing like that is highly creditable indeed! A promising future can be envisaged. ‘KAMATHIPURA’, is an extremely powerful poem written by Aftab Yusuf Shaikh. One has to read it to feel the agony terrible! Finally, the poems of Vivekanand Jha. What catches the reader’s attention is the thread of humane feeling running through his poems. His  ‘ELEGY TO ANIMAL’  pours forth   his sympathy   towards the mute beings, while ‘HONOUR KILLING’   pinpoints the cruel fatwa of certain societies; The poem  ‘SOMEONE ELSE’  brings out a stark picture of  the gruesome plight of the  unfortunate girl ravished  without pity.; Last stanza of the poem cannot but leave an indelible stamp on any  sensitive  mind: ‘Her only guilt– She was the daughter Or sister of someone else, Not of the passers-by.’ ` HOW TRUE!

As mentioned above, the editor has covered a wide range of subjects, even to graveyard, honor killing, not to mention puranic subjects like Menaka and Vishvamitra, etc; Repetition of certain common-current themes being as Bacon says-  “The same feet of nature may be seen treading in different paths” To sum up,   Poetry is a medium wherein, the innermost thoughts flow uninhibited, thus unknowingly revealing the poet’s state of mind, desires-disappointments, mental conflicts etc;. Perusal of the poems of even   old poets substantiates this theory. Perhaps that is why poetry is said to be the outlet of emotions in all forms, portraying the unfathomable imagination of the poet.

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Nuggehalli Pankaja (b. 1929) is an established writer both in Kannada and English. She has many Kannada novels, children’s books, collection of humourous works, short stories and dramas to her credit. Two popular Kannada movies- Sepoy Ramu and Gagana were based on her novels. English publications in Deccan Herald, Times, Illustrated weekly, Women’s era, Mirror, India-Review etc are widely appreciated. She was conferred with ‘Excellence in World Poetry Award’ by the International Poetry Academy.  She is mentioned in ‘Women of India’, ‘Reference Asia’ and ‘Who’s Who’ of Central Academy. Recipient of many prestigious awards, she has been honoured by various literary organisations. http://nuggehallipankaja.wordpress.com/


The Dance of the Peacock: A True Celebration

The Dance of the Peacock: A True Celebration

 A Review by Gopikrishnan Kottoor

 Debjani Chatterjee calls the collection ‘A celebration in diversity’, while also feeling that ‘not everyone will agree with the editor’s choice of poems’. The book of poems  has 151 contributors.

Indian poetry is going through an  obtuse phase at the moment. There is no warrior who’ll defend ‘true poetry’,  no one who really  cares  for the Indian English poetry stuff. Here Jha’s efforts are laudable. Jha also says that he has picked up poets who have been consistently ignored despite the large numbers of poetry volumes that they have brought out’. He says his work will ‘help to shine light on their work too’.

Now we have a medley. So much so, it puts a reviewer like me in a tight spot.

A poetry editor has a prime responsibility.  When he puts on the mantle, he should  attempt total justice to his role. It then gets hard not to be a ‘ helper of friends’. It is difficult not to fall into the trap of accommodation.  This has been the problem with the editors of some other recent Indian English poetry anthologies too that have been severely criticised for ‘accommodation,’ giving wrong, utterly wrong leads.

We  have, in this massive missile of an anthology, established names and small fries running side by side. Here’s the rough summation of the book: 20big names, 20 medium, 20 running round about to make it,   and around ninety odd ‘ignored  poets’ of which say, seventy would have been better if  left  ignored, but for whom the editor has offered wanton space with  much compassion.

Now, here’s the random harvest. Akhil Katyalis a possible future voice.’I’ve crammed into the PCO booth/ closed the wooden flap behind me/ and now every number I dial is fear’. Nice take. Ameranda Khatua’s ‘Injury Time’ looks like he is trying to make a poetic mark. He has flair. Ami Kaye impresses with her‘A Scene froma Mughal Painting’  “in the background/ minarets have turned red/ from the sun’s farewell… there’ll be no more beheadings tonight”. Her ‘ Ghazal of the Rose’ is inviting enough. Her ‘Morning Raga’ is also sensate ‘The hundred mouths of morning/ open their soft dark sleep to welcome/ the splendour of the sun.

Anna Sujatha Mathai, though a seasoned poet, disappoints. Archana Sahni’s Lady Hanuman is original. Arundhathi Subramaniam’s ‘Return’  is  deft and  endears   ‘After so long you’ll be here again/ And I’ll have to relearn how it works’, and  ‘Watching the Steamrollers Arrive’creates turbulence ‘Names have started their dissolve…’ . The poem’s closure is effective. Asha Viswas, long neglected, has a wonderful poem ‘Another Vignette’ where every stanza is arresting with stellar images ‘The air is full of the moaning of the bees/ and the purple flowers assume/ a deepening shade of the dusk. A spider web holds a heart on a string’. There is typical Jayanta here with ‘A lone funeral pyre breathes quietly in the peepuls’. K Satchidanandan makes one feel as though he is trying to breed in his poems a pastiche of Latin American poetry ‘A man walks with a door/he looks for its house’ – It isn’t at all original. Others like Mani Rao, Menka Shivdasani, or K. Srilata have certainly not put in their best. Mustansir Dalvi emerges fresh and strikes deep with, ‘You said You would kill it this morning. Its’ still around. It crawls’. Nikesh Murali is another fresh voice that reads well. Prabanjan K Mishra’s ‘Dung Woman’ shows maturity and accomplishment. He is a poet who deserves more attention. PK N Panicker’s ‘Little Blue flowers’ is dainty.

Ravi Shankar looks good.  His poems ‘Breast Feeding at the Blue Mosque’or ‘The Condition of Certain Evenings’ startle and never quite leave. Rudra Kinshuk has coloured sparks. Padhi does not quite come out of Jayanta’s clutches. Ruth Vanita can cast an occasional spell as with ‘Ancestry’. Vivek Narayanan’s ‘In Church’‘ In a few minutes this empty classroom will take the form of a house of worship’ eloquently reveals his talent. R Raja Rao, as usual will want to make you puke. His poems make you think that he is attempting  homosexuality, even on paper.

Now the sad part. Because we have hundreds of pudding poets who litter everywhere, with a lot of self-praise and unappeasable desire to see their names in print, a major chunk of what passes for our poetry makes its weird atmosphere with diffuse narrative that drags aimlessly without being pleasurable to the senses or the intellect. Several such, revel in their prosody of statements, leading to monotony and dullness. A discerning reader may spot some of them here.

I’ve skipped many poets who did not appeal to me on first reading. Perhaps, I also said my heart about many poets who might seem bright to other readers. Of course,my tastes are not final. To everyman, his mind. But, all said, this book of poetry creates a mysterious open sky feeling.For one who’ll tread carefully, this dancing peacock will offer splendid beauties, and reward with treasure.

All said, Jha has done us proud. Well edited and presented, this is significant work indeed – A true celebration.

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Gopikrishnan Kottoor has several national prizes of the British Council-Poetry Society, India, for his poetry. He has ten volumes of poetry. His poems have featured inter alia, in Orbis (UK), Verse (Seattle), Nth position (UK), The Illustrated Weekly (India), Ariel (Canada), and anthologies by Bloodaxe (UK), Fulcrum (US), and Poetry Society, (India).  He has published novels (A Bridge Over Karma, Hill House, Presumed Guilty), and plays (The Mask of Death, Fire in the Soul, A Woman in Flames). He edited A New Book of Indian Poems in English and founded Poetry Chain. He was poetry editor for The Southwest Poetry Journal during his MFA stint in Texas State University, USA. His poem, Father, Wake Us In Passing, (translated into German), won him a poetry Residency, in the University of Augsburg, Germany. www.gopikottoor.blogspot.in.

The Dance of the Peacock: An Admirable Ensemble of Poetry

The Dance of the Peacock: An Admirable Ensemble of Poetry

A Review by Krithika Raghavan

‘The Dance of the Peacock’ is an admirable ensemble of poetry edited by Dr. Vivekanand Jha. It is a breath of fresh air with new outlooks and styles in Indian poetry. It features 151 poets from many different states of India as well as UK, Canada, Unites States and other countries around the world.

The poets range in age from 15 to 92 and the topics, the feel of poetry and their approaches make this anthology diverse in more than one way. It is also mentioned in the Introduction that the poets featured are from all walks and talks of life.

The title is fitting- seeing that the peacock is the national bird of India and its dance is herein displayed. In this review, I have chosen a few poems which have left a profound effect upon me. I have, however, tended to concentrate on descriptions and imagery throughout this review.

A poem with a marvellous simile and descriptive adjectives, ‘Not a legend’ written by Amarendra Kumar, has the perfect beginning-

“You’re not a legend

That grows like a beard…”

 The poem “Cold Fury” written by Ambika Ananth (to those who perished in the floods in Andhra Pradesh) drives home its message of horror through the sheer power of its description-

“Cold, solid marble like eyes,

Open yet closed to the world..”

“Word(l)y Mess” written by Amol Redij is a witty poem skilfully written, cleverly curtaining the truth in its last few lines, giving more meaning to the poem than previously imagined.

“The Unborn poem” written by C.D. Norman describes the beginning of a writer’s block in the first few lines and effectively ends the poem by posing a clever question. The “Courtyard Tree” written by Charu Sheel Singh is a treasure trove of woven graphic imagery and intersected verbs. It ends with a most impressive metaphor- “Cocktails of heavenly creation”

“Drink Deep the Nature’s bounty” by D.C Chambial gives a relaxing description of the nature with astounding imagery. The Tankas of Debjani Chatterjee capture the needed emotions in five lines, effectively creating an image in our minds.

“Autumn” by Geetashree Chatterjee holds a most creative personification and has a ruminative end. “A Lovely Poem is like a tree” by Harish Kumar Thakur gives a poetic approach towards a tree and gives a beautiful end-

“But lo! The word, the verse has its edge

It prays, it sings, it soothes, and glorifies

The man, the life, the tree in pledge.”

The string of haikus written by Kanwar Dinesh Singh captivates a reader’s imagination well. “Gifts of nature” by Katta Rajamouly uses refrain effectively to convey the moral of selfless help.

“When Winter Comes” written by Monika Pant feels nostalgic and ends with a pang and a rather haunting end-

“An era gone, a mystery unravelled,

A city reborn;

We both cry for we remember too much.”

“Sleepless Nights” written by Nuggehalli Pankaja delivers an astounding comparison to drive home the poet’s feelings-

“Can one imagine

Starless sky

Or

Moonless night?”

“Lackluster daze” written by Vitasta Raina paints a dull picture effectively using creative words like ‘droning night’, ‘unexcited stars’ and ‘pastel afternoon’. It creates a sense of background to the poem.

“Nature on Rage” by Vivekanand Jha painted a clear picture of destruction. The poem also has a creative usage of various figures of speech: The first stanza has a smattering of alliterations, followed by inventive personifications to end the poem with a subtle cacophony, effectively resounding destruction.

There are a few other poems which deserve mention, such as ‘Postcolonial Poem’ written by Usha Kishore, ‘Freezing Fantasy’ by Seema Aarella, among others.

Overall, this anthology has been an enchanting and jovial read. I congratulate Dr. Vivekanand Jha for accomplishing this rather arduous task fabulously.

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Krithika Raghavan is 15 years of age, a student studying in Bangalore. She has been writing since she was 11 years of age. She is on Wattpad, poetry.com, Writer’s Cafe, Muse India, Mibba, and many more.