Archive for March, 2018

METVERSE MUSE GOLDEN JUBILEE ISSUE 2018

March 30, 2018

MM GOLDEN JUBILEE 002

I gleefully received my copy of the Metverse Muse Golden Jubilee Issue, FIFTIETH ISSUE, March, 2018 ISSN 0972-5008-33 late yesterday, March 28, 2018 from my mailbox. I am deeply thrilled to see my name in the CONTENTS page (3); METVERSE MUSE EXECUTIVES page (9) – under OFFICIAL CRITICS to include Mr. Bernard M. Jackson (England), Ms. Patricia Prime (New Zealand), Dr. V.V.B. Ramarao (India) and Mr. U. Atreya Sarma (India); LIFE MEMBERS page (11) under Canada. In addition, I am overjoyed to see my sonnet poems in iambic pentameter on pages 390-392:

  1. CELEBRATE THIS NEW YEAR -2018
  2. WHEN I SPEAK OF HISTORY
  3. WHERE HAVE THE ROSES GONE

Sincere gratitude and thanks to Editor-Publisher, Dr. H. Tulsi , and my lit-friend Mr. Atreya Sarma of Muse India for the invite on this voluminous muse platform book issue.

My first impression of the front hard cover of this book, with photo of Dr. H. Tulsi as Editor (recent at the age of 81 years) and her Terza Rima Poem, ARTISTIC ART DEFIES DEATH , and ”Presenting over 1750 Poems in structured verse by World Poets representing 65 countries” leaves me bubbly in excitement. And I am more in awe at viewing the photos of the SPONSORS OF METVERSE MUSE on the back cover, with an end note highlighting the Editor as OWNER AND PUBLISHER…”Composing, layout and alignment, placing of photographs etc….” all work done on your personal computer. “Edited by Ms. Dr. H. Tulsi.”

This fiftieth Metverse Muse Golden Jubilee Issue absolutely epitomizes the enormity of your (Dr. H. Tulsi) work as editor-publisher with spiritual guidance of Saraswati maa. May the Trivedi oracle of Saraswati mata, Lakshmi mata and Parvati mata continue to BLESS YOU for your glowing literary endeavours.

……………………………………

 

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RAIN

March 13, 2018

 

CHILDREN IN THE RAIN

And the rain begins to fall

drip-drop it speaks to my window pain

and I listen to its guttural song

from corrugated roof tops

rain meandering in the drain

children playing

jubilation erupts in the yard

laughter echoes in the air

rivulets of cracked earth

wet tongue of soil

Oh Mata Durga

what more joy

can we ask of you

with your tears

from the untouchable sky.

 

SYRIAN REFUGEES

March 13, 2018

SYRIAN REFUGEES.PNG

Syrian Child

My

feet

are wet

squishing mud

from incessant rain

I walk for a new tomorrow

tears that I well are for my pain in search of freedom.

 

Give me Hope Jordan

At

each

border

I see light

glimmer of promise

barbed fences let the candle dim

the walls cannot hear me crying to cross to Jordan.

 

NOTES SHARED FROM WORLD VISION NEWS STORIES

(https://www.worldvision.org/refugees-news-stories/syrian-refugee-crisis-facts#start)

How is the Syrian civil war affecting children?

The Syrian civil war has stolen the childhood of millions of children and affected their long-term physical and mental health and prospects for the future. Many children caught up in this crisis lost family members and friends to the violence, suffered physical and psychological trauma, and had to leave school.

  • Diseases and malnutrition: Children are susceptible to ailments brought on by poor sanitation, including diarrheal diseases like cholera. They may miss vaccinations and regular health checkups, especially in cut-off areas. In poor housing, cold weather increases the risk of pneumonia and other respiratory infections.
  • Child labor and child soldiers: Many refugee children have to work to support their families. Often they work in dangerous or demeaning circumstances for little pay. Warring parties forcibly recruit children who serve as fighters, human shields, and in support roles, according to the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report.
  • Child marriage and abuse: Children are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation in the unfamiliar and overcrowded conditions found in camps and informal tent settlements. Without adequate income to support their families and fearful of their daughters being molested, parents may opt to arrange a marriage for girls, some as young as 13. In 2016, rates of child marriage reached 20 percent in Lebanon and over 30 percent in Jordan.
  • Lack of education opportunities: At the end of the 2016 school year, only 61 percent of conflict-affected children had access to some form of schooling. More than 760,000 displaced children had missed an entire year or more. In Syria, the war reversed two decades of educational progress. One-third of schools are not in use because they have been damaged, destroyed, or occupied.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Dot and the Line by PG Rama Rao

March 3, 2018

The Dot and the Line by PG Rama Rao.PNG

BOOK REVIEW: Leonard Dabydeen

Author: PG RAMA RAO

Paperback: 58 pages

Publisher: Global Fraternity of Poets, Gurugram, India (August 10, 2017)

$12.00       ₹ 140.00  

Language: English

ISBN: 978 938375538 7

BOOK REVIEW: Leonard Dabydeen

“Whole life is a search for beauty. But, when the beauty is found inside, the search ends and a beautiful journey begins.” Harshit Walia : https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/7142044.Harshit_Walia

This book, The Dot and the Line is an intensely euphoric and aesthetic collection of 57 poems in a paquet of 58 pages by Dr. P.G. Rama Rao. It is his sixth poetry anthology, since underscoring his retirement from the P.G. Department of English, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, India in 1995. He treasures a scintillating career as a teacher of English and American Literature. And this book implodes a rich, feisty outlook of his unequivocal creative impulse. It is as if Rama Rao found that maxim of beauty deeply within himself, only to carry on by leaps and bounds in a philosophic enthrall under a banyan tree, while playing poetic innings as an octogenarian.

True to an idiom, a book should not be judged by the title on its cover. And the title, The Dot and the Line of this book by Rama Rao, almost brought to surface a memory of the Classic 1965 Norton Juster work: A Romance in Lower Mathematics – the love story of a straight line being in love with a dot. However, it is not until the book is opened to its title page inside cover, that the visual changes. This book, ‘The Dot and the Line’ and Other Poems by P.G. Rama Rao takes the reader to a new poetic frontier.

The dot and the line have a mathematical connectivity. According to Steven Bradley of Web Design blog (2010), “Dots working together can form an endless variety of arrangement and complexity. They can become lines and curves. They can form complex shapes, patterns, textures, and any other structure imaginable. Dots in combination can even imply direction and movement, bringing us to lines.” (http://vanseodesign.com/web-design/points-dots-lines/) This being so, and contending that Einstein says that “logic will get you from A to B, Shirley Dent (2009) of the Guardian booksblog consummates that poetry and mathematics have an undisputable love affair. (https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2009/feb/04/maths-poetry-pi-fibonacci) Almost an amour propre.

Within this concatenation of poetry and mathematics, author Rama Rao has evolved a subtle, aesthetic and spiritual assemblage of poetry in this book, ‘The Dot and the Line’ and Other Poems. In the words of Wordsworth, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” And in the benevolence of Tagore, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

Let us take a look at the title poem, The Dot and the Line (pp. 1-2),

 

In my long search

     For myself,

   I chanced upon

Several Who’s Who’s,

And Encyclopaedias.

 

As I laboured through the

   Pages of those volumes,

I discovered a dwarf vertical

   Line, with a dot hovering

Above, popping up frequently.

 

The capital ‘I’, egoistic and

Aggressive, demanded my

Attention, but this small ‘I’

Seemed to say timorously,

“i am what you’re looking for”.

For some mysterious reason I

Identified myself with it but

       Wondered, “Am I fated

To be a little letter in a great

Book of billions of letters?”

 

   The ‘I’ said in gentle tones:

   “I may look small, but I’m

   A combination of dot and

   Line, which form the basis

Of everything in the universe.

 

“They make art and letters,

Maths and sciences and,

In fact, the dot makes the

     Line, and together they

Work many, many wonders.

 

“The dot makes a circle and

The globe, and the celestial

   Spheres, the smallest dot

   Is the atom, which makes

The galaxies and the universe.”

 

With this title poem, author Rama Rao evidently echoes the cornucopia of Life. The poem ratchets powerfully his self-realization, which crystallises the foundation for building blocks of the ‘other poems’ in the book; a philosophical confidante.

And with erudite poetic intuition, author Rama Rao takes the title of this book, ‘The Dot and the Line’ and Other Poems to this poem (p. 3), Am I a Little Vertical Line? musing (“Like a youth of ancient Athens who had/A stimulating session with Socrates.”), becoming emphatic in the second stanza (p. 3),

 

   I travelled back in time

And discovered “dot and line”

   In my mother’s womb.

The wriggling line was little,

And the dot full and still;

The little line joined the dot.

 

And author Rama Rao holds affirmatively to the thought that,

 

The potential universe is the atomic dot;

Vedic “Purnam” (SELF) is the metaphysical dot.

     The dot is the most perfect of all things.

     The dot is God Himself radiating grace;

At the moment “I’m” a humble vertical line,

But hope to merge in the “Great Dot” some day.

 

Thus lighting the spiritual amphitheatre as we continue to view the heart-throb of more poems with a random scythe and an esoteric eye. In the Dot-Line-Dot (p. 6), the author speaks of “God’s grace” to fetch a mysterious notion (of the dot) “Bothering his mind.” In The World of My Vision (Inspired by Gurudev Tagore) he says (p.7),

 

I have a vision of a world governed by

Love, tolerance, peace, and bliss as the

Directive principles of its constitution.

Discrimination based on race, creed,

Class, and gender is not known there.

 

Here author Rama Rao appears to nuance socio-political rhetoric in poetic narrative versification. Perhaps his exuberant academic career of being a Fulbright Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor in the University of Massachusetts in Boston in the late 20th century, in conjunction with his home-run work on Hemingway papers, and tour-de-la-tour in several highly acclaimed academic institutions around the world, would suffice for his visionary world view.

In this poem, The Buddha and Valmiki (p.19), author Rama Rao tells a story of his respite under a peepal tree where he was “disturbed/By a cuckoo’s song”. He reminisced that,

 

   I opened my eyes

   To espy this bird,

And saw a cruel hawk.

Swoop upon a squirrel.

 

Rama Rao was so overwhelmed with grief, cursing the hawk for its cruelty, he assiduously declared (last stanza of this poem),

 

   I set out to become

     The Buddha but

Ended up as Valmiki,

And wrote this poem.

 

Valmiki was the great composer of the first Sanskrit poem (the Adikavya) known as the epic Ramayana (the story of Lord Rama).

In our continuing engagement of human activities in this new millennium, we encounter atrocities and anomalies that deeply affect our good standing as human beings. The eye of author Rama Rao does not fake pretense over our actions. Here in this poem, Doom and Bloom (p. 39), he espouses that,

The world does bloom

   As each day dawns;

   Put to flight are all

     Shadows of gloom.

 

In the words of T.S Eliot (1888-1965), “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

In the last poem of this book, ‘The Dot and the Line’ and Other Poems, author Rama Rao speaks to the title, The End of the World (p. 57) in stanza 2,

 

It has survived deluges,

Wars, volcanic eruptions,

Plagues and earthquakes;

Still life goes on.

 

We continue to speak of symmetry in an asymmetrical world.

In this book, ‘The Dot and the Line’ and Other Poems, there are five Japanese Haiku poems defined by their syllabic count of 5/7/5. They reflect a bouquet of intensity in nature with aplomb directness, including Bronze and Gold (p. 16),

The small-minded boast

Unlike the kind and worthy,

Does gold sound like bronze?

[From the 16th century Telugu sint-poet, Vemana]

And ‘Vaaman’(p. 29)

Three feet fill three worlds;

Haiku is poetry’s ‘Vaaman’;

Three lines mean so much.

Vaaman’ signifies the name of Lord Vishnu.

And, Greatness (p 32),

 

What makes for greatness?

A large heart and a high mind

Make one wise and great.

 

And, Movie Screen (p. 36)

 

   Wars are fought on it;

The movie screen stays peaceful;

     Let’s keep our mind so.

 

And, Seer’s School (p. 50),

 

Where did they study,

The vedic seers of yore?

   Spirit’s intuition.

 

When author Rama Rao first posted a caption of this book, ‘The Dot and the Line’ and Other Poems on FaceBook towards the end of 2017, the cover caught my attention. I suggested in a comment that it would be interesting to do a book review. I was more than surprised, in fact overjoyed, to receive four of his latest books of poetry in the mail. Including this title. The exhilaration and jubilant feelings I have experienced in reading and reviewing this book are beyond expression. Any poetry enthusiast or English Literature connoisseur will unequivocally be overjoyed to have this book in their reading gallery. It is certainly worthy of digesting; every poem a must to read.

****End****

 

 

 

Importance of Holi

March 3, 2018

HOLI

 

In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna said to Arjuna:

Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer, whatever you give, whatever austerities you perform, Arjuna, do that as an offering to me. (9:26-28)

 Holi or Phagwah is a festival celebrated by Hindus (and often by non-Hindus) in nations all across the global hemisphere. In many parts of India it is recognized as a religious holiday festival. In other places, such as in the Caribbean, in Guyana and Trinidad, it is a national holiday. In its religious context, as legend would amplify, the Holi festival orchestrates the life of Lord Krishna and his love for Radha, with honey-blossomed amour, amitié et dévotion. In bhakti exuberance it is the the triumph of good over evil. It also marks the arrival of Spring in accordance with the Hindu calendar (Basant Panchami).

The key tags around the Holi festival are #Hiranyakashyap (demonic King); #Prahalad (King’s son, devotee to Lord Vishnu); and #Holika ( with a boon that she cannot burn in fire). And the legend takes us to the story of this demonic king, frustrated and helpless in winning his son to follow his evil ways, decided to engage his sister, Holika to find a way to destroy Prahalad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu. However, Holika coaxed Prahalad to join her in a bonfire game, hoping to have Prahalad cremated in the fire. It turned out that Holika died in the fire and Prahalad was saved as a result of his devotion to Lord Vishnu. Hence the Holi celebration by farmers and people everywhere in believing the moral of the story, that good conquers evil by love, friendship and devotion – the triage of dharma.

My own sacrosanct art of living life-style is a strong belief in the triumvirate, philosophic and spiritual Charlemagne of love, friendship and dedication or devotion to family, friends and community. Notwithstanding my human ambilavences, agonies and ecstacies growing up. I was not born with a spiritual gold spoon. And even by choice or design I spent my best years surviving in a small grocery (cake shop) store with a grandmother who could not read nor write, but I had every cue for good upbringing, along with two other brothers. We never knew our biological parents until later years. And our country was a colony of the British empire. Our village was known as Poor Hall – a village of sugar cane workers and farmers, Indians (out of Indentureship from India), and some few other peoples. When the festival of Holi was celebrated, as I best recall some 50-60 years ago, there was an abundance of love, friendship and dedication to involvement in community that made indelible marks in nurturing who I am, or wish to be, today.

During the Holi festival (better known to us then as Phagwah), the entire community, as I nostalgically recall, would be involved with splashing coloured water in groups, join the male folks who sang chowtals down each street in the village, with a Head person collecting money (I believe to buy some spirited drinks). In little family groups, there would be singing, dancing and feasting on special foods like gulab jamoon, mithai, prasad, phoulourie all through the day and night of the celebration. There was no evidence of political distress or talk about overseers and drivers who were appointed as cane-cutter Head-men for a few days. Before I left the village in August, 1969, I recalled two incidents where I attended the community mandir and spoke to villagers on the Life of Swami Dyanand Saraswatti, and The Light of Truth by Jawaharlall Nehru.

For almost two decades, I lived in other communities on the Corentyne coast and the urban areas of the city of Georgetown, studying at the University of Guyana and teaching. Even attending village mandirs. But I never celebrated Holi in the spirit and festive camaraderie again. But I espouse the triad spiritual philosophy of love, friendship and dedication as if it were

I left Guyana with my family in 1983 to make a new beginning in Canada. I share the festive spirit of Holi with family, friends and community where I live. But quite unlike the way it was when I was growing up. I never returned to Guyana.

 

Give Me Hope

I

sometimes

wait for me

to act alone

but the world disagrees to set me free.

I cannot listen to my song alone

no audience

comes to me

without

hope.

 

[p. 6]

(From my book: Searching For You, A Collection of Tetractys & Fibonacci Poems, 2015)

 

Holi Celebration

As

full moon

waxed and waned

with fire burning

Prahalad brings time for celebration.

 

[p.12]

(From my book, ditto)