*Currently Reading: The Hundred-Year-Old Man who climbed out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
The Dance of the Peacock: An Anthology of Engish Poetry from India – Edited by Dr. Vivekanand Jha
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. 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.
I Have Blinded Myself Writing This– Jess Stoner
Amazing book. This book sits somewhere between fiction, lyric, or poetry. Her use of illustrations is well done. It’s a really beautiful book. The overall concept/theme of the book hinges on the narrator’s odd health condition in which she loses memories each time she gets hurt physically; a small cut could cost her the name of her brother. Follow Jess Stoner on Twitter at @jesslstoner
The End of the Alphabet: Poems– Claudia Rankine
Anyone who knows my literature tastes knows that I am head-over-heels-absolutely-obsessed-with Rankine’s Don’t Let me be Lonely. If I haven’t forced you to read it, bought it for you as a gift, or brought it up ten times in a conversation, don’t worry, it will eventually happen to you. Back to the book at hand- I found it very challenging but in a great way. She uses punctuation unexpectedly and the vocabulary is well thought out. The story sort of follows a woman overcoming troubles but I felt like it was more about emotions and imagery than a story line. It might take a few reads for me to grasp the full extent of the story, but I wouldn’t mind putting the extra work in.
Plot– Claudia Rankine
This book was very much like the above- The End of the Alphabet- but a bit more comprehendible. The story follows the conception, pregnancy, and birth of a child. Again her vocabulary is absolutely amazing. She picks the perfect word every time. Her writing style kind of reminds me of “Not I” by Samuel Beckett. But in a good way.
13 Fairy Negro Tales – Inua Ellams
If you haven’t check out some of this guys spoken word poetry, then get to googling. Supposedly he started writing this as a dare because a mate claimed he couldn’t write a book of “fairy tales” or something along those lines. Either way, this short book is worth the read. I will say it is better to hear than to read but still the musicality lifts off the page.