Distinctive Poesy by Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.
R.K.Singh, I Am No Jesus and other selected poems, tanka, and haiku, Editura
StudIs, Irasi, 2014-08-03
fresh bones and designer’s dress
hopes, cataract vision
any better the face of the body
if there is a soul, the soul hears
map guides the mind’s midnight
the destination is different
know the end of journey
get down when the train stops
too descend. (I Too Descend)
R.K.Singh displays his psychological
intensity and depth of understanding with brevity of expression. No wonder
Internet attracted his poetry to one in far away Rumania and a reader translated his
poetry into a language they called Crimean Tatar. RK (herein after called so) carved a niche
for himself The latest collection of this collection of poems, tanka and haiku
has a rare distinction. RKSingh (hereinafter referred to as RK) has carved a
niche for himself in the Parthenon of Indian English poetry with the
publication of five collections: She
Hides; Man; Pied-eyes; Inverted Images and Seasonal Grace. In Dec. 2006, in an interview by Arbind Kumar
Choudhury RK placed before his
interviewer his first ars poetica. Here
are a few of his averments:
I write to seek a release from myself as
much as from others; to feel free by unburdening myself in verses; to
experience an inner balance, feeling, probing, sensing, recalling, or whatever.
A good poem generates some physical,
emotional or psychosexual sensation, stimulates some sensuous, spiritual or
exalted pleasure, or provokes some ideas.
I have no taste for didacticism in poetry. I
love brevity, rhythm, and “colouring of human passion”; personal, lyrical,
honest and free expression, with seriousness in reflection and interpretation.
Poetry lies in creating the image (like the painter who celebrates sensuality),
and in capturing momentness of a moment, which stirs the mind.
…But here [in the body of
the poet’s total work till 2006] one may discover my formal taste, personal
vision, and sexual orientation rooted in Purush-Prakriti union. It is
significant for open eroticism, seriousness, candor, and exaltation of Rati.
I believe in unity of mankind and equality
of sexes, and am secular and non-moral in my attitude and values.
The poem cited as an epigraph is from R.K’s
I AM NOT JESUS. In 2014 this poet acquired yet another feather in his cap. I AM
NOT JESUS, a collection of selected poems, tanka and haiku is translated into
Crimean Tatar by Romanian Taner Murat and
illustrated by Shikova Ildrovna. This
book has twenty-nine selected poems, thirty one numbered tanka and eight-nine
unnumbered haiku. In this book poet RK, after proven prowess, enlarged his prolegomena
of his poetic composition:
Genuine poetry happens as an event to be
truthful, clear, courageous, and honest to oneself; to be open about things one
often tries to conceal. Poetry provides
an opportunity for expressing one’s intimate
moments with the same passion while talking about the interwoven outer
I also view it (poetry) as the expression
of cosmic, organic, erotic life, creating its own forms, expressing itself and,
in being expressed, finds its voice.
My experience convinces me that we are not
limited by what we are, but we are limited by what we are not. Poetry becomes a means to overcome this
limitation, and thus, allows us
not only to ourselves but also to expand on
what we are
This means we should remain open to healthy
revisions that we can make to our way of thinking, and incorporate new
perspectives into our outlook. In other words, we should not let our rigidity
destroy our potential, but rather we should evince forward-looking, tolerant,
and open mindset if we wish to create future.
RK being an academic professionally has
shifted himself into his lecture mood.
The up and coming poet, learning the craft of writing out his
imagination and mind, would benefit by ruminating on these ideas and profit
himself in his own way. At the end, in
all humility - humility is endless – in peroration he says:
I don’t know if my poetry fits in what I
think at the moment, but poetry does help us to traverse the boundaries of
hesitation to see the joy of fulfilment.
The first poem is not easy to understand
for all if one goes alone by the title.
‘Merkaba’ is the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot. Once
understood it sets the tone of the poems to follow. The poem takes us back to the Hebrew prophet
and we feel that the state of reality today is not different. The speaker of the poem today suffers from
the same third-rate villains. New sins,
new horrors and new villainy have come up if that were to be any change. The celestials fume in the zoo of
humans. There can be nothing promising. Heaven itself is a mirage. No water for the
parched. Here is the poem itself:
They say my birth was a heavenly event
here I am suffering third-rate villains
that erect walls to stop the chariots
from Merkaba: the angles fume but who cares
heaven is a mirage in human zoo
‘New Year’ is about degenerating sex
jeering and it is an itch. There can be
no fresh petals with mantra and mirror for god is silent – never perturbed –
for His is the kingdom though it is not said so. The very brevity of the poems is their strong
point making us think, think and think
again. ‘Nude Delight’ talks of sensuous sweetness and the littleness of every
moment. The divine is coiled – a
beautiful trope - for the coiled serpent is torpid. Brevity is the soul of the poems. Many words
convey less, the fewer the better would
be an inspiration to fathom the deep.
In the poem ‘Stranger’, the speaker is one
and a half scores old and has no feeling of belonging. He lives between cold
walls, candles put out, with no roof on
the head. The more one thinks, the
more one is perturbed, fuddled and dumbfounded. The illustration shows the man
with no roof on his head, his chest /hear sullied.
‘Avalanche’ is what it would be. The land is trivialized. There is breathlessness at midnight. This is the state of the present. The tumbling mountain opens the wound. Man can only be the silent stranger with no
hope, no succour and no light even at the end of the tunnel.
‘Return to Wholeness’ is the genuine effort
to achieve the ultimate goal. Restlessness and negative vibrations make man look
at the east only to protect his body, withstand the yelling jackals outside and
read philosophy. Body is precious as our
culture told us aeons ago. sharreramaadyam khalu dharma saadhanam.
The speaker does what he could – went to Hsu Chicheng. One must return to wholeness. The speaker remembers Buddha.
to hear the whispers in all
the edge of life and loss
From being a particle, an atom, one should
get back into wholeness. Vishnu Sahasranama
the myriad appellations of the Supreme Lord says the He is both ‘aNu’ and ‘brihat’. The ultimate
objective is to get into the wholeness.
With growth, fruition is still a long way
ahead. The first step towards
realization is the capacity to feel. There is realization in the poem, the
title of which is title of the book, I Am
suffer all what he suffered –
hope for better days ahead
failures, ennui and blames
Capacity and willingness and sacrifice –
feeling the pain of crucifixion are the ways to soar upward.
of Self’ is about
helplessness. The speaker doesn’t know psalms, does not know any goddess to
worship or a mantra to chant to overcome fear. That is the valley of self:
I seek freedom for myself
my ordeals are mine alone
in the valley of the self
I must learn to clear the clouds
This ennui which is suffering one
Earlier, for one of his collections, RK
chose the title Sexless Solitude. The title poem, usually, is the one the poet
considers his best to illustrate his point of view, his world vision and his
own individual stamp, his signature-tune, if you will. The endeavour is to tune
in into the reader’s mind to make sure that the complex web of feeling is put
across. In this collection the poem is included as ‘Solitude’. The earlier sex
is removed but solitude remains. Sexless Solitude is a coinage to
signify a state of mind when solitude takes the main stage with sex driven into
a no-loner-significant-part to play.
This, paradoxically, makes existence significant. There are moments when
the reader feels that the poet in RK is tossed on the tightrope of spirituality
and the sexy but surely this volume bids goodbye to the tossing. The scabrous
and the scatological, normally vulgar or loathsome cease to be so with a
widening of the intellectual horizon.
Sin becomes behovely, as that great Saint Juliana of Norwich convincingly declared: “Sin is
behovely, all shall be well and all manner of things”. There is no more tight-rope-walking, and
hence the pronouncement in the title composition:
I don’t seek the stone bowl
The poet’s vision has come to full
maturation of the kind of ripening attained by mystics after a strenuous effort
at understanding the ultimate reality.
All the poems display this maturation as seen below in the sampler from
the slim collection of poems included in Sexless Solitude.
In this new collection, there is one poem which is of
delight and joy. ‘From the Window’ is relaxation both for the poet and the
reader. What are seen from the car’s
window are the very common ones to things very substantially joy giving and sublime. Tall houses, trees, people, birds and beasts are
common. Suddenly there is a take off to
the high, elevated region. The speaker
Watch the moving mass of clouds
nature’s wonder on the edge
twinkle in colour like
The last line is the landing
from the heights of joy.
The poem ‘Eyeless Jagannath’ is a frank admission of man’s helplessness to comprehend the mystical
thrills and depths of existence.
Headpiece filled with straw, standing on the precipice of physicality,
man is Prometheus bound. The title could
be construed differently, (I’m) Eyeless! Jagannath! or, one may prosaically
attribute ‘eyelessness’ to Him. In the procession, the Supreme Lord of the
Universe promenades in effulgence. The poet feels eyeless:
this could be an explanation for the earthy actuality. There is a sense of bewilderment that, in
spite of His Lordship, there should be so much gloom and emptiness both within
and without. RK is rightly attracted by breathtaking splendour of the promenade
– the rath yatra – the Lord seated in a fabulous chariot drawn by innumerable
devotees. Man’s existence between
physicality and the ‘eylessness’ are poignantly communicated like the pithy
grand declarations in the Upanishads, the mahavakyas, RK’s admissions of frailty, bewilderment and cerebration. He impresses the reader with the genuineness
of his feeling:
On the brink of what, if it is not on the
edge of sanity and saintly insight!
Body – A Bliss is a feeling of complacent physicality.
Lorca rises up from the physical to the metaphysical in a sudden flash
in the line quoted ‘To see you naked is to recall the earth.’ Body shines momentarily and passion does not
last long. This is a truism no doubt but
the understanding is valuable. Erotic love is valuable.
strip naked in
It does us good
to remember that ‘parts arouse dead flesh’. Three things are signified in the
brief flash: movement, journey and evolution.
realization is the function of the body. shareeramaadyam khalu dharma sadhanam. The body is the primary requisite for dharmasadhanam, achievement and fulfilment of dharma – in one word,
The speaker’s love and affection for the
young one in the poem is a blessing and really a benediction.
I want the best of life for you
but you must be patient and who what you
I can’t create the fruits
I may create space
for you to stand but I can’t
become the legs
you must run the race
on your own and be
what you dream
the redness of mars
and the whiteness of moon
merge in you
you have worlds to conquer
and miles to go, my dear
you must rear the goose
and have the gold each day
There is frank admission with no scheming
inept hiding, in the poem ‘I Can’t Hide Tears’.
The speaker is conscious of his limitations – he is no Jesus. He is the common man. The poem opens with the speaker revealing his
bent of mind. He is just human, with no strength
drawn from any divine source.
I could not make my bedroom church
reading psalms and Lord’s prayers
the light of my lamp and
the potion of my cup couldn’t
lift my soul mired in passions
and silence of the morning
…. …. ..
in verses I can’t hide fears
my face I despise, can’t find
freedom from the chemicals
sprayed in the air and the smog
the terrors of death are real
the traps overwhelm, I can’
escape my own creations
the bed, the flesh, the serpents
that seize the house of God
I can’t redeem, can’t save
the soul in battle with me
in bed I can’t sing and praise
This is human condition.
The concluding poem ‘Rainbow’ is about the
fallacy and fecklessness of make-up, and using things like hair dye. Finding
the colours to match the rainbow is impossible.
This is practicality nothing to do with faith or faithlessness.
Tanka and haiku, both are Japanese verse
forms from the very distant past. Tanka
is a five line poem and haiku of three.
Nowadays many Indian English poets are giving expression to their
observations in these forms. As ‘snap shots’ or flashes of lightning expressing
a mood, an observation or feeling these are unique.
I think that the review cannot be complete
without a brief note on the illustrator too.
There are illustrations for ten poems with the titles placed
overhead. These the handiwork of Alsou
Shikhova Ildarnova aid the assimilation of the feeling of the poems, give
inspiration to think deeply and help looking up at wider horizons. The abstractions are a treasure trove in and
by themselves when carefully viewed.
These poems need to be studied slowly, fathoming the depths delved by
the poet and shown vividly in illustrations.