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.

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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

*****************

***********

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

 


 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

 ***************

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