Book Review of The Dance of Peacock by Vivekanand Jha

Jha, Vivekanand. The Dance of Peacock. USA: Hidden Book Press, 2013.
ISBN 978-1-927725-00-9 (pbk.)
Reviewed By: Dr Shamenaz, Associate Professor & Head, Dept. of Applied Sciences & Humanities, Allahabad Institute of Engineering & Technology, Allahabad
The Dance of the Peacock is an anthology of English poetry from India by Vivekanand Jha. It is the poetry collection consisting poetry composed by Poets of 21st century. He has dedicated the poetry collection to Maa & Bapuji.
The Dance of the Peacock is a symbolic title used by the Editor. It is so because as peacock is our national bird and its dance is a spectacular display in the same way the book is showcasing contemporary Indian poetry in English by Indian and diasporic Indians. As India is considered as a country of unity in diversity so in the same way the anthology is the celebration of this diversity; focusing poets from many different states of India having different mother tongues and poets of diasporas, residents of United Kingdom, United States and Canada. The book not only includes many renowned poets but also newer, unknown or neglected poets.
The anthology consists of 151 poets from various parts of the world: A J Thomas, Abhay K, Aftab Yusuf Shaikh, Aju Mukhopadhyay, Akhil Katyal, Akshat Sharma, Allabhya Ghosh, Amalan Stanley V, Amarendra Khatua, Amarendra Kumar, Ambika Ananth, Ami Kaye, Amol Redij, Ananya S Guha, Anita Nair, Anju Makhija, Anna Sujatha Mathai, Aparna Kaji Shah, Arbind Kumar Choudhary, Archna Sahni, Arman Najmi, Arundhathi Subramaniam, AshaViswas, Ashoka Sen, Ashoke Bhattacherjee, Asoke Chakravarty, Bibhu Padhi, Binod Mishra, Bipin Patsani, Bishnupada Ray, C D Norman, C. L. Khatri, Chandini Santosh, Chandra Shekhar Dubey, Charu Sheel Singh, D. C. Chambial, Debjani Chatterjee, Deepak Thakur, Devashish Makhija, Durlabh Singh, Geetashree Chatterjee, Gopa Nayak, Gopal Lahiri, Gopikrishnan Kottoor, H K. Kaul, Harish K Thakur, Hazara Singh, Hiranya Aditi, Jayanta Mahapatra, Jaydeep Sarangi, K N Daruwalla, K. Pankajam, K. Satchidanandan, K. Srilata, K. V. Dominic, K.V. Raghupathi, Kanwar Dinesh Singh, Karan Singh, Katta Rajamouly, Kavita Jindal, Khurshid Alam, KK Srivastava, Krithika Raghavan, Kulbhusan Kushal, Kumarendra Mallick, Lakshmi Priya, Lalita Noronha, M. V. Sathyanarayana, Malay Roy Chaudhary, Mani Rao, Menka Shivdasani, Michelle Cahill, Mihir Chitre, Mohineet Kaur Boparai, Mona Dash, Monika Pant, Mukta Sambrani, Mustansir Dalvi, Naina Dey, Nandini Sahu, Nikesh Murali, Nuggehalli Pankaja, O.P. Arora, P C K Prem, P K JOY, P K N Panicker, Pashupati Jha, Poornima Laxmeshwar, Prabhanjan K. Mishra, Prabhat K. Singh, Prahlad Singh Shekhawat, Pramila Venkateswaran, Prathap Kamath, Pravat Kumar Padhy, Preeta Chandran, Priscila Uppal, Pritha Kejriwal, Puneet Aggarwal, R C Shukla, R J Kalpana, Ram Krishna Singh, R Raj Rao, Raja Nand Jha,

Rajashree Anand, Ramendra Kumar, Ranu Uniyal, Ravi Shankar, Rizvana Parveen, Romi Jain, Rudra Kinshuk, Ruth Vanita, Samartha Vashishtha, Sarada Purna Sonty, Satish Verma, Seema Aarella, Semeen Ali, Shamsud Ahmed, Shanta Acharya, Sharad Chandra, Shefali Shah Choksi, Shloka Shankar, Shobhana Kumar, Sindhu Rajasekaran, Smita Agarwal, Smitha Sehgal, Sneha Subramanian Kanta, Sonjoy Dutta-Roy, Sonnet Mondal, Soumyen Maitra, Sreelatha Chakravarty, Stephen Gill, Subhash Misra, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Sunil Sharma, Sunita Jain, Syed Faizan, T. Vasudeva Reddy, Tejdeep Kaur Menon, Usha Akella, Usha Kishore, V.V.B. Rama Rao, Vandana Kumari Jena, Vasuprada Kartic, Vibha Batra, Vihang A Naik, Vinay Capila, Vinita Agrawal, Vitasta Raina, Vivek Naraynan, Vivekanand Jha & Yasmin Sawhney.

Jha has tried to explore and also discussed hidden talents in the cerebrum of the contemporary Indian English poetry. He believes:
“Thus this compilation of poems will give a rich variety and
freshness to poetry lovers. I don’t know how others will
receive this contemporary, which is now left to the ravages
of time, but to me it is a dream come true, though I admit,
am a mere instrument of representing to a galaxy of coveted
and legendry poets in the worldwide panorama of Indian
English poetry.” (xvii)

So it is an attempt by Jha to show all the colours of the contemporary Indian English poetry. There are wide ranging theme in the anthology ranging from nature, social, political to subjective.

The very first poem, ‘Concentration’ by A. J. Thomas is a subjective poem dealing with Hebrew ideology. The next poem by him is ‘Desdemona’ which is a classic dramatic character by Shakespeare. The poet, Abhay K. has tried to describe the history witnessed by the city, Delhi, about an historical monument and other important place in his poems; ‘Delhi’, ‘Qutub Minar’ & ‘Shastri Bhawan.’ In contrary to this Shanta Acharya’s has describe about a Western city London in her poem, ‘London Eye.’
Anita Nair, Gopa Nayak , Poornima Laxmeshwar and Yasmin Sawhney have written some subjective poems like, ‘Ministry of Deceit’, ‘Hello Lust’, ‘You Said I Agreed’, ‘Whisky Whispers’, ‘A Time of Celebration’, ‘I Had Put Mehendi That Evening’, ‘The Night’and ‘A Letter’ and ‘Ode to Daughter.’ Their female sensitivity and emotions are clearly reflected in all these poems.

Amol Redij through his poem, ‘Gendercide’ has highlighted the issue of killing of baby girl still prevalent in the Indian society. In the same way Semeen Ali’s has also raised her voice against female subjugation in poems like ‘The Red Wall’ and ‘Closed Mind.’ Semeen Ali through her symbolic poem has revealed the women’s lives which are confined to the four walls of the houses. Tejdeep Kaur Menon has also raised the issue of women’s security and plight in his poems, ‘Charcoal’, ‘Have You Been Raped’, ‘Me, Myself’ and ‘Oysters in Pain.’
K. Satchidanandan has translated some of the Malyalam poems in English viz, ‘A Man with a Door’, ‘A Discourse on Non-violence’, ‘Burnt Poems’, ‘Gandhi and the Tree’, ‘Old Women’, ‘Self’ & ‘Stammer.’ While Shamshud Ahmed’s ‘Empty!’ is a subjective poem in which poet seems to be nostalgic about his childhood. It is also a poem which is a kind of self assessment.
Poets have always used various symbols to convey their feelings and emotions, in the present anthology also there are some symbolic poems like ‘The Unborn Poem’ by C. D. Norman and Gopal Lahiri’s ‘Stiching Stars.’

Ashoka Sen has translated the Bengali poem of great Rabindranath Tagore into English named as ‘Africa.’ While there are some poems based on love as theme, for eg, Ambika Anand’s ‘When in Love’ and ‘Life Reasons’, Deepak Thakur’s ‘Of Sky and Earth’
C. L. Khattri’s ‘Peaceful Soul’, ‘River’, ‘Walking Alone’ D. C. Chambial’s ‘Om’, ‘Beyond the Yonder Hills’, C. D. Norman’s‘Eternal Dust’ and ‘Concealed Wound’ , Kulbhushan Kushal’s ‘The Perils Ahead’ and Karan Singh’s ‘To Lord Shiva’ are philosophical poems. These writers have poured their religious feelings into their poems. While Debjani Chatterjee has written, ‘Angulimala’ and ‘Ravana’ based on villain in Indian mythology.

Deepak Thakur’s ‘On Death of Mother’ is a very emotional poem, it is an elegy based on a son’s love for his mother. The poet is missing his mother very much and asking her to forgive him because he was not able to cry much on her death. As he says:
Mother! Forgive me
I could not offer homage of tears
on your death.
Above lines depicts poet deep love for his mother who has died leaving him alone in this materialistic world.

The collection also includes poems of some great contemporary poets of India like Keki N. Daruwalla’s ‘Wolf’, Stephen Gill’s ‘Peace’, ‘Parents Had Sadistic Streaks’, ‘For the Baby Inside’, ‘My Dove’, ‘Flight of My Dove’ and ‘To A Dove’ and K. V. Dominic’s ‘Beauty’, ‘Crow, the Black Beauty’, ‘Musings on My Shoes.’
Khurshid Alam’s ‘Border’ is a very short poem but having a deep meaning in it. As the lines indicates:
Each border crafted on the land
engraves a ditch in the heart
then a heart is born
that tears the body
a terrible war is written
the divide cannot be unwritten.

Krithika Raghavan’s ‘A Song of the Fairy Queen’ is a ballad which is basically poet’s imaginary dream. The poem seems to be of romantic period. There is another poem, ‘Mystic Slopes’ by Sarada Purna Sonty’s which seems to resemble with William Worthworth’s famous poem ‘Solitary Reeper.’

Smita Agarwal has written some very beautiful poems like ‘The Map’, ‘Joyride (for papa)’, ‘Transformation’ and ‘Angrezi Vangrezi.’ Joyride (for papa)’: as the name indicates is a poem which the poetess has written in the memory of her father. In the poem she conveys her deepest love and gratitude towards her father whom she admires very much. She begins the poem, ‘Transformation’ with the quotes of Jefferson’s “...I can’t live without books ...” and Ernest Hemingway’s “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” ‘Angrezi Vangrezi’ is a satirical and humorous poem describing about the Indian way of speaking English.
Sharad Chandra’s ‘How Selfish is Human Love’ is a philosophical poem based on human emotions. He believes that human beings are selfish and their love towards their love ones is because of their own interest. As he says:
I say I miss you
but I do not miss you
for the sake of missing
I miss you because you are mine
you give happiness
care, comfort, and warmth
to a life otherwise cold and dreary.

Shefali Shah Chokri’s has written ‘Mirror Women’ in I, II, III, IV, V (5) volumes which begins with a quote, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the who is the fairest of us all?” These lines remind us of the famous fairy tale, ‘Snow White.’ Sindhu Rajasekaran’s ‘Mermaid’ is a poem based on poet’s imagination.

Sonjoy Dutta Roy’s ‘Come My friend in this Hour of Change ’is a symbolic poem in which poet is asking help from his friend. It seems that poet is feeling very emotional and he wants a final embrace from his friend. In poem ‘Words...’ he seems to be nostalgic for his past which he cannot get and in the poem, ‘To You Who Holds Me in Your Depths’ is a love poem.
Sonnet Mondal, the young poet from Bengal has written some beautiful poems which seem to be symbolic in tone like ‘Tyranny of a Hellish Sea’, ‘Broken Eggs’ and ‘Ruined Generation.’ In his poem he has thrown light on the present condition of increasing materialism in the world.
Syed Faizan’s ‘The Book of Life’ is a highly philosophical poem in which poet is asking very peculiar wish:
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.

The next poem of Faizan, ‘English Ghazal’ is an experiment; as the name indicated poet has used the term ‘ghazal’ of urdu literature in English and has tried to invent a new genre. In ‘On the Taj Mahal: A Sonnet’, poet has described the beauty of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal in a unique way.

“Plato believed that poetry and literature are inextricably tied up with the values and ideologies of the culture as a whole: art is not separate from the socio-political sphere. This is reflected in some of the poems by T. Vausdeva Reddy, who has written some inspirational poem based on Indian politics like, ‘Ashram’, ‘Liberal Leader’ and ‘Let Us Rise.’

Usha Kishore’s ‘At the Supermarket’ is a poem in which she has described the feminine beauty and grace of a lady wearing a beautiful saree. The poet has given a French title to her next poem, ‘L’ écriture feminine et indienne.’ ‘Vishwamitra and Maneka’ is a poem based on Indian mythology which is the famous tale of the beautiful apsara and the rishi. ‘Postcolonial Poem’
Vihang A. Naik, being a poet has deep regard and love for writing poetry and this he has reflected in all his poems in the collection such as ‘A Matter of Life’, ‘A Poem Comes Alive’, ‘Making A Poem’, ‘Aquarium.’

Vivek Narayan has written poems based on Victorian quality like ‘Ode to Cement’, ‘In Church’, ‘The Thief’, ‘The City’ and ‘The Government of Dead.’
Vivekanand Jha’s has written some remarkable piece of poetry like, ‘Sleep Indispensable’, ‘Someone Else’, ‘Elegy to Animal’, ‘Nature on Rage’, ‘Honour Killing’ , ‘Loveria’ and ‘Pay Perk’ which reflects his genius as a great poet.

Wordsworth, a poet laureate derived his inspiration from nature and still in the contemporary scenario, poets from all over the world see nature as an inspiring agent. In the present anthology, there are many poems which has nature as its theme viz, ‘The Mirage Tree’, ‘At The River Bank’, ‘Dusk’, ‘Leaves are Falling’, ‘Crows’, ‘Spring’, ‘The Unknowing Riverbank’, ‘A Sign of Winter’, ‘Fugitive Red Rose’, ‘The Rising Sun’ , ‘Courtyard Tree’ , ‘Drunk Deep the Nature’s Bounty’, ‘Dawn, ‘Autumn’ , ‘Secrets of a Storm’ , ‘Crow, the Black Beauty’, ‘Sunflower’ , ‘Twilight’, ‘The Sun’, ‘Moon’, ‘As the Birds Fly’, ‘Immigrant Dandelion’ , ‘Swan’ , ‘A Winter’, ‘Monsoon Blues’, ‘When Winter Comes’, ‘Lone Black Bird’, ‘The Butterfly’, ‘The Pine’, ‘Trees’, ‘Mother Earth’, ‘Song of Praise.’

Many poets have shown their love for writing poetry in poems like; ‘Write a Poem on Love’, ‘Postcolonial Poem’, ‘Ashamed’, ‘Poetic’, and ‘The World of Poetry ’,‘ When Poets Surprise the World’, ‘In the Words of An Innocent Young Lady’, ‘Poetry! I have Recognised You.’
Vivekanand Jha has tried to salvage the legacy, tradition and pride of English poetry of India. It is a great attempt on his part that he has thrown lights on those poets who although have produced qualitative volume of poetry and are on the verge of literary career but have been ignored in the literary world. He has included poets from all walks of life i.e., doctors, engineers, diplomats, bureaucrats, politician, filmmakers, management professionals and many more interested in writing poetry. He deserves kudus for such a great attempt in the field of Indian poetry.


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