Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Issue 15 Released

Art on cover and throughout book by Cindy Rinne

Great new writings by:
Cindy Rinne
Dave Maresh
Ginny Short
Jeff Nazzaro
Susan Abbott
Ken W. Simpson
Tamara Hattis
Tim Robbins
Tara L. Carnes
George Freek

Snag your copy at Rainbow Stew

Friday, February 23, 2018

Review of God Too Awaits Light

God Too Awaits Light by Ram Krishna Singh. Joshua Tree, CA 2017. Pb, 66 pp.  $4.00

Reviewed by Patricia Prime, New Zealand Poetry Society

Ram Krishna Singh has authored 160 research articles, 170 book reviews and 42 books. His published poetry collections include My Silence (1985), Above the Earth’s Green (1997) and Sense and Silence: Collected Poems (2010).

Writing as a poet of vast experience, Singh tackles the intriguing questions about our humanity with warmth, insight and critical precision. He shows us a fresh way of looking at ourselves and details the pleasures and pitfalls of the lived life. He also roams far and wide through their contexts: love, peace, anger, prayer, from love to psychology.

God Too Awaits Light is a collection of short poems. Singh is an expert scene-setter, imbuing his work with brief moments of movement that the reader observes for a minute, and is left feeling for a long while afterwards, as we see in the following poem:

The wings of my thought
are too short to climb God’s height
or blue deeps of peace:
I stand on the edge of
earth’s physicality (p.7)

Here is the gentle, self-directed irony of a mature voice: a voice that expresses delight in his contact with God. The poet is keen to ensure that events – and the feelings surrounding these events – are preserved in some way. In the following poem, for example, there is rhythm in the house caused by its small movements:

elements clack
in the small house shudder
the harp and strings (p.7)

There is some wonderful material in these pages which brings life to a simple performance of prayer, in which the poet is unable to contact God:

on the prayer mat
the hands raised in vajrasan
couldn’t contact God –
the prayer was too long and
the winter night still longer (p.13)

Singh’s use of sound to stitch his words over lines is glorious. His ability to give us the unadorned and the prettier parts in the same small verse, making an elegy, a love song or a prayer, is remarkable. Here, for example, is his thought about people who worship god in prayer, although their hearts are not pure:

psalms or no psalms
workers of iniquity
shoot their arrows
with praising lips and god
flees to see their shrewd schemes (p.21)

In the following two love poems, the concentration on capturing the ephemeral and holding it tenderly on the page for the reader to appreciate is very clear. The poems sparkle with connection, and with the ache of simultaneously ageing, loving and presence of the other:

as I repose in
the wrinkles of her face
I feel her crimson
glow in my eyes her holy
scent inside a sea of peace (p. 36)


love is the efflux
from her body spreading
parabolic hue –
enlightens the self I merge
in her glowing presence (p.37)

In these five-line or less poems there is no punctuation, nothing holding the poem down on the page. There is a haiku-like quality to the concentration of images in the poems. The light touch of the poet as he observes the candle lighting the dark in the following poem is so deft, so graceful, it is no more than the shadow of something otherworldly:

awake in dream time
I look for the candle –
love’s invitation
lighting up in the dark
and sing the body’s song (p.45)

Singh uses the shadowy effect again in a poem that features “a cloud-eagle” and a “soundless sea”, suggesting the setting that is perhaps beside the beach:

a cloud-eagle
curves to the haze
in the west
skimming the sail
on soundless sea (p. 55)

candling in vein
leave marks of teeth on her neck
utter holiness (p. 56)

These are poems about being wholly present where you are, literally, absorbed in life , but they are also a meditation on ageing and one’s own mortality. The poet’s relationship with his wife invests the poems with a tender poignancy. But lacking an anti-ageing potion or the nectar of the gods, we have only poetry. No doubt, Ram Krishna Singh’s poems will nourish our hearts and minds.

All that is left to the reader to decide is whether these short poems are tanka, haiku or a hybrid. The following three-line poem, for example, is in-between a haiku and a tanka:

float over the hill
the autumn circle of smoke –
her long hair streaming

Readers will surely enjoy soaring with these poems and rediscover within
themselves – be they male or female – elements of the divine whose presence lifts
us out of the humdrum and gives us wings. -- Patricia Prime, New Zealand Poetry Society

Click here to purchase God Too Awaits Light, $4.00