Tag Archives: book review

News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousnes

news ofPaperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Counterpoint; First Trade Paper Edition edition (August 29, 1995)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0871563681

ISBN-13: 978-0871563682

.

Review by: Robert Hambling Davis  .

News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness is an anthology of poems that support the premise that human consciousness is only one of the many forms of consciousness operating in the universe. The National Book Award winning poet Robert Bly selects and introduces the poems in this anthology, which offers a historical perspective that moves from an 18th century preoccupation with the human self in a time of alienation from the natural world, toward poems that celebrate the consciousness of non-human life species and even so-called inanimate objects. Hence the title, “news of the universe.” Bly contends that the poetry that matters the most today, or at least in 1980 when the anthology was published, illuminates the fact that we, as homo sapiens, must find our place in the world by acknowledging that we are but one of thousands of species, yet we have the power to destroy all species, including ourselves. Most of the poets in News of the Universe are western poets, including Milton, Blake, Whitman, Wordsworth, Keats, and Yeats, but Bly also includes poems by Rumi, Kabir, Mirabai, and other eastern poets of a mystical bent.
 .
I bought this anthology soon after Sierra Books published it in paperback. I keep my copy on my nightstand, and like to read a few poems before turning out the light and falling asleep. The book helps me to remember my place in the world, by making me try to see it from an imaginary perspective: that of a bee, a horse, a rock, or a cloud, as I view the world around me each day, the world I don’t want to take for granted. To write this recommendation, I went through my copy of the book again, trying to find a short poem that best summarizes the gist of the collection, and chose this verse from Rilke’s Book of the Hours:
 .
    I live my life in growing orbits,
    which move out over the things of the world.
    Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
    but that will be my attempt.
.
    I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
    and I have been circling for a thousand years.
    And I still don’t know if I am a falcon, .
    Or a storm, or a great song.
.
.
rhdavis-1Robert Hambling Davis is a fiction editor of The Fox Chase Review. He has been published in The Sun, Antietam Review, Memoir (and), Philadelphia Stories, Santa Monica Review, and elsewhere. He’s been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and received three Delaware Division of the Arts grants, two for fiction and one for creative nonfiction. He was a fiction semifinalist in the William Faulkner Creative Writing Contest in 2002 and 2012, and a creative nonfiction winner in 2013. Robert helps direct the Delaware Literary Connection, a nonprofit serving writers in Delaware and surrounding areas. He is a member of the Delaware Artist Roster, and has given writing workshops and readings in the Mid-Atlantic.

Solitude and other poems by Rajender Krishan

solitudePaperback: 164 pages

Publisher: Cyberwit.net (July 5, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 8182534143

ISBN-13: 978-8182534148

 

            Review by P C K Prem                                

A journey into the ‘inner world’ works as a tranquilizer to a disturbed man the poet avers. Rajender Krishan, a product of Delhi University, a marketing professional since 1968, solemnized inter-religious marriage and is now, settled in New York, USA.    Before migrating to USA in 1989, he worked in poultry farming, advertising, and eventually entered sales and marketing.  Since 1989, he is engaged in work relating to antique reproductions and consultancy in Real Estate. Settled in USA, an admirer of Kabir, a great Hindu mystic, he believes in the freedom of expression.   Poetry, photography and visual art are passions. Unpredictable destiny of man and society, and its predicament worries him. He inspires writers through famous website Boloji.com, a notable endeavour.

A maiden poetic venture ‘Solitude and other poems’ a collection of more than fifty poems, he communicates experiences with intensity, notices every incident, watches man’s movements closely and gives aesthetically pithy and perceptive lyrical treatment.  RK’s curiosity in mysticism and philosophy amazes as he looks beyond worldly limits. Understanding of mysterious power determines human life and destiny he believes in a straight and forthright manner.

He believes in the indestructible inner self –soul/ Atma and realizes that ‘the ethereal/apparently caged/ behind the skin’ is eternally free.  A thought of oneness with the world grants freedom when one abandons incarcerated existence. Eagerness to probe the mystery of life continues even in routine acts, ‘That’s why /on a chosen path the lines on the soles/keep treading and digging /the labyrinth of life /-Maya-/in quest of Nirvana (salvation) 12  Wholesomeness in acts grants freedom minus sufferings.

              Inner self is a mirror giving true image of the central man and reflects individual interior and exterior, ‘with a motley/ of pretenses and beliefs/ wearing different hats… cannot conceal /reality from /the mirror’s revelation (Mirror 42) The nature in fury, thoughtfully offers glimpses world’s origin and the ultimate end.  The principle of creation and devastation with inkling of lethal inundation in ‘Deluge’ as if sage Markandeya witnessing the spectacle of devastation is quite apparent. Anarchic life after the great creation, preservation and the ultimate dissolution is the eternal divine plan of the Lord a man should understand. Deluge’ and ‘Realization’ 14 unfold a cosmic plan.  Solitude is transitory and ethereal but saves a man from a distressing existence and he says –

.

…cannot let go

this singularity of life

where I experience

the essence of freedom…

of you perpetual presence. 4

.

             Invisible power is the fountainhead of energy outside worldly subjugation without dogmas and thus, anarchic living no longer disturbs, as identity is integral.      Unhealthy, sordid and detrimental living conditions make peace illusive.

Without ever thinking salvation beyond bondages, a man lives within the limits of self-dictated rules of life. What a tragedy and contradiction!  Despite chaotic living conditions, man can live a better life if he understands the message of nature.

****

If a man comprehends ‘self’, he knows God’s (divine) plan. Living in silent areas of existence, bestows serenity.  He is conscious of life’s rationale and transience but forgets the eternal truth of life and death.  Past does not enlighten but distracts growth.   A wanderer’s life infuses meaning, for it is away from the feelings of ‘dead yesterday’ and ‘unknown tomorrow’ and tries to ‘Look beyond /the dichotomy of life.’ 40

A man should comprehend the celestial design and utilize inherent energies realistically without gridlock. Nature reveals ancient wisdom.   Man must understand the intrinsic energies, listen to inner voice, know the ambiguity of inscrutable existence, choose the right path, pursue a principled life, live in harmony and it will lead to a wisdom phenomenon and so he tells,’…awaken and arise/ Listen to your inner voice.’ To know self –who am I, ‘A naked Self /clothed by masks /of thoughts, relationships /…the dual of opposite/what really I am?’ 27 is an eternal question and a journey perturbing a man and answer leads to freedom ushering in renaissance.

Cleanliness, truth, dignity, right attitude bereft of hate and greed give purpose if a man follows teachings of virtuous saints like Buddha, Christ and Kabira, and wise people.  A man goes beyond confusion of ‘this or that’ with the power of ‘self preserving silent prayer’ as quietness of the imploring words soothes, creates understanding and infuses resolution and faith.

****

Knowledge of social realities and system grants identity and existence to man and he moves towards a collectively predestined objective.   Questions on destiny and life, creation, annihilation appear disquieting and efforts to get out of ephemeral joys and sorrows fail, for man’s choice is incorrect.   Man suffers from ‘great insecurity, permanent crisis and the absence of any kind of status quo’ says M. Sturmer, ‘We do not know where we are going. We only know that history has brought us to this point…if humanity is to have a recognizable future, it cannot be by prolonging the past or the present. If we try to build the third millennium on that basis, we shall fail. And the price of failure, that is to say, the alternative to a changed society, is darkness.” (Age of Extremes 585, London: Abacus, 2002)

The poet shows awareness of the social deadlock where man has uncertain joys and sufferings abundant. Embedded in the eternal plan, hunger, material hunger and greed are born of desires unlimited but the man fails to satisfy the inner man.

.

Hunger departs
with the sensory cessation
the Sovereign
leaves the corpse
moves into a new abode

.

Hunger is the cause of human activities, joys and sufferings insatiable, for the mortal frame does not recognize satisfaction. It refuses to accept truth of hunger and the singularity leads to sufferings where conflicts govern.  The poet is disturbed at the multifaceted hunger a man nurses, for it is the origin of unethical life and living rejecting a virtuous and principled life.  Mother earth is immaculate in its movement, and moves in a fixed free pattern but man refuses to recognize the phenomenal truth of freedom and loves to work under restrictions. He loves living in ‘society/hoodwinked/ and disillusioned’ discarding ‘universal freedom’. 94

Man philosophizes on life but fails to restrain feelings and thoughts, prefers ubiquitous, disgusting and appalling social system. Russell said long back, ‘The modern-minded man, although he believes profoundly in the wisdom of his period, must be presumed to be very modest about his personal powers. His highest hope is to think first what is about to be thought, to say what is about to be said and to feel what is about to be felt; he has no wish to think better thoughts than his neighbours…’ (In Unpopular Essays 66 London: Unwin Books, 1968)

****

‘Politics’ enters human relations and hurts warmth, gives birth to distrust and lies. Politics and lies in relations sow seeds of dishonesty. A modern man manipulates relations and consequently, it results in hatred, loss of confidence and faith. Relationships also suffer in an appalling and rash materialistic contemporary structure and credo of earning and amassing.  A tragic and biting ‘Irony’ it is where parents are apathetic.  Parents are the elders who should guide and teach youngsters the art of life or else –

.

…parental neglect

Mutates the toddler

Into a disgruntled person

Discarded to live a life

Stuck in the grooves of

Coercive and manipulative societies 102

.

A lackadaisical attitude of parents destroys children’s future.  Elders must offer quality life to children.  He feels upset, for the American society has little hopes to offer to future children. Apathy of parents and American society shocks bringing psychosomatic disorder in the children.

.

… dead children

Leave behind

Devastated parents; grieving

How to console them?

The surviving children

Still in their formative years

Are they doomed to swallow

the venom of traumatic afflictions? 112

.

A deplorable and perilous living pattern is also entering Indian society, and he   cautions against the lethal ambush.

Questions of life and death perturb, and the poet falls into metaphysical ponderings. The self-righteous thought of merger of ‘self’ and ‘the inner self’, the image of the Supreme Lord assures as he finds deliverance and harmony in solitude, and discovers fresh meaning. He is sincere and frank, and anxieties about existence seem strongly genuine. In an unobtrusive way, he establishes a mute relationship with every lover of verses, and it speaks of bona fide elegiac power and still stays away from moralistic perspectives.

.

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Solitude-Rajender-Krishan/dp/8182534143

.

pckAn author of more than forty-five books in English and Hindi, P C K Prem (p c katoch) a post-graduated in English literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh   has brought out nine volumes of poetry besides books on criticism in Hindi and English.  Katoch Prem is a poet, novelist, short story writer and critic in English from Himachal Pradesh, India

 

 

 

 

 

The Psychologist and the Foreign Language Teacher By Wilga M. Rivers

ThePsychologistAndTheForeignLanguageTeacherCvrHardcover: 220 pages
Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr (Tx); 1St Edition edition (June 1964)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0226720950
ISBN-13: 978-0226720951
.
 .
Review by S. M. Page
 .
Halfway through the second chapter of The Psychologist and the Foreign Language Teacher, I began having flashbacks.  Putting on a coat and tie.  Walking to class on a clear bright day, carrying a briefcase.  Walking to class on a rainy day, whistling, holding an umbrella.  Entering the classroom and being called “Prof” and “Teach.”  The scent of chalk-dust, the sound of books opening and pens scribbling.  The satisfaction I feel when I am helping somebody learn something and I see the look on their face when they realize they have learned something.  The cortical sensation I get from stimulating conversation with my advanced students.  Having students come up to me after a class and saying, “thanks.”  I haven’t taught in two-and-a-half years, but I realize how much I miss it.  The book is intelligently written and the “audio-lingual” method is clearly outlined and explained.  She is correct in believing that the translation method does not work well.  It makes the student lazy and creates too many steps in the neural pathways.  The only comment I would make to the author is that the drilling method is only appropriate for the beginner student.  I taught many methods, Berlitz style drilling, grammar methods, and natural-speaking methods.  The latter seems to work the best, but only on the post-beginner levels.  After the first few months the drilling becomes unnatural and a bore.  She does bring up a lot of clever points, most notably:
Language is speech . . .Language is a set of habits . . . Teach the language, not about the language . . . listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  These four skills must be learned “in that order” (that is the way children learn). . . mastery of the skills must be accompanied by familiarity with the culture the language represents, as well as a larger view of life resulting from the realization that there are many cultures and value systems, some far different from our own . . . Learning to make responses in situations which simulate “real-life” communication situations . . . When language is in action, there is always a speaker.  He is always somewhere, speaking to someone, about something . . . and word-lists pairing foreign-language words with “equivalents” in the native language should not be used for teaching purposes.
The book is a technical but good read, and I would recommend it to anyone teaching a foreign language.
 .
 .
S. M. teaching Engilsh2No one knows where S. M. Page came from or where he is going, but it rumored he likes Motown music, and that he is part Shawnee and part Apache.  It is also reported that he was recently been seen riding his Harley through a mountain pass, wandering a patch of woods with a notebook in his hand, sitting on a beach watching a sunrise, entering a movie theater with his wife, walking his son to school, cheering in the stands of a football match, teaching English to employees in a South American corporate bank, and standing on a stage playing bass in a rock-n-roll band.

The Gold Cell By Sharon Olds

The Gold Cell coverSeries: Knopf Poetry Series (Book 25)

Paperback: 112 pages

Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (February 12, 1987)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0394747704

ISBN-13: 978-0394747705

.

Reviewed by SM Page

Last week I picked up Olds book, The Gold Cell. Jeez. I was devastated. Her writing is riveting, dense, stark, brave. With titles like, “The Abandoned Newborn,” “The Pope’s Penis,” and “Outside the Operating Room of the Sex-Change Doctor,” she tackles topics not normally taken on by other writers–and if they are, not tackled as well. Her poems are snapshots come to life, with vivid scenes like this:

..

The young man and I face each other.

His feet are huge, in black sneakers

laced with white in a complex pattern like a

set of intentional scars. We are stuck on

opposite sides of the car, a couple of

molecules stuck in a rod of light

rapidly moving through the darkness. He has

or my white eye imagines he has the

casual cold look of a mugger.

The collection is nicely organized, starting with the narrator’s childhood and passing through her adolescence into adulthood. She observes her parents aging and watches her children grow. She is graphic and real, and withholds no feelings or character description even if it is taboo. When Olds covers topics written by a million other poets—first kiss, first love, first sex, alcoholic father, anorexic mother, and abandonment—She handles them deftly and newly. Most writers can only dream of being the same caliber as Olds.

 

Check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Gold-Cell-Knopf-Poetry-Series/dp/0394747704

S. M. Page foto (1) SM Page is from Michigan. He has Shawnee-Chickasaw genes from one side of his family tree, and Apache-Mexican from the other side.  He is the author of The Timbre of Sand and Still Dandelions. He holds two AA’s from Palomar College, a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from Bennington College. His critical essays have appeared regularly in the Buenos Aires Herald and the Fox Chase Review. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Full Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. He loves his wife, family, friends, travel, and adventure.

 

 

Mechanisms of Desire by Rob Harle


HARLE 2 COVERMechanisms of Desire
by Rob Harle

Publishers: Spinning Spider Publications

PO Box 20182, Nimbin 2480, Australia

Year: 2012

Language: English, Pages 82

ISBN: 978 –0–646–57481-3

 

Review by  P C K Prem                                     

Rob Harle, an Austrian poet, artist and reviewer underlines anguish, traumatic pleasures of contemporary life born of longing and faith. Man’s destiny is an expansion of technology, its convolution and cerebral outlook, and mark of archaeology as an advent of digital techniques resolve man’s growth. “Mechanisms of Desire” is philosophic in essence.  Highly mechanized world does not instil hopes, for a programmed structure, and its movement in absolute stillness turns dreary. In nerve shattering routine, an individual barely feels relaxed. Upsets and tediousness, weariness and consequent blackout of thoughts assume deadly proportion disallowing time for joy.

An instinctive wish for joy abundant in man is alive but worldly encrustations hardly permit man to run wild, for a life of ennui in contemporary psychic scenario censures and disturbs. To ‘satisfy my primal desire for adventure / for life remains alive,’ for it signals extreme pressure to run away from the current boredom and go wild as words like ‘a shiny, red apple’ create stunning and graphic sensuous images in “Primal Desire.”   Harle reminds man of the original sin –Adam and Eve.   

A hunt in spiritual marketplace tortures since modern inner malady inflicts wounds invisible in “The Long Search”. A man goes back to gods, deities and gurus as if it were a forced flight from doomed living to clandestine and makeshift asylums but phony gurus assault as ‘the exponential abstractionists’ threaten. 

 preaching with uncontrollable passion

gathering blind sheep around him

flogging them with raging lies

 …              …

as they sat in the warm dust,

riddled with fear.           

    In vacillating faith, life appears a journey in a long dark tunnel, and search for survival and revelation distresses. Futility and immorality injure psyche of a modern man as a world of Cyborg machine, technology overwhelm, and if a man operates in a certain region, it is a dead mechanism, for ‘white laboratories’ and ‘contemplation’ speak enough.

 Hideous manifestations emerge

oozing from milky white laboratories,

a new concept for contemplation,

 …    …

Immortality

files in the cold steel fractured face of humanity.

                        (False Narratives)

Man understands innovative dimensions of morality the modern lords of society profess. Material growth and glossy lifestyles bring no joy as glitzy attributes characterize life and still man lives fetidly and refuses to look beyond fabricated glare. A saga of repulsive living in the contemporary scenario –

creates individuals by design

renewed with each flip over. (SuperGloss) 

 Unethical living disheartens and therefore, a poetic frustration and philosophic anguish fails to bring innovation as ‘Maggot-ridden fat of the long-dead body of god /oozed over me, stinking of stupidity.’ Poet regrets pretence and priestly demeanour of people in authority and thus, crucifies humanity.

The priests sodomize their young charges

forcing fear into their lives,

violating them again and again

until fear is all that’s left in once trusting hearts.

Nevertheless, life moves on with plenty of sodomy and solemnizing.

                                (The Scourge)

              Here, ‘the priest’ is a metaphor for the elite, the sophisticated, the educated and the ruler of contemporary life, for each one enjoys infringement of private areas of a person  and so sex and sleaze continue to guide the arbiters of society -a massive system.   ‘The Solar Oracle’ is a gloomy scenario modern gadgets create. Certain outrageous lines stun as lethal metaphors shatter faith.  

global voyeurism opens windows

change gender, trans-gender

cut – filter – distort – recompose

as virtual orgasm penetrates the digital twilight.

An apparently entertaining life in reality suffocates and destroys with classic impurity of soul and body. ‘The Dark Night of the Troll’ tells of perfunctory rascality, for ‘Hiding in seedy back-street alleys / intractable vagrants’ makes life of dwellers miserable and excruciating.  

We must have happy subservient trolls

we must help these tormented wretches,

help them emerge from their Dark Night.

   ‘AI and Joan’ forlornly derides acumen of a man as ‘Homo Electronicus’ reorganize contemporary life otherwise  ‘… the impression of an age’ would  emphasize continual ‘changing, turning, calculating’ for simulated astuteness works wonders while life in a society remains a crushing burden and nobody anticipates a ethical formation sans human beings. Defeat, collapse and delusion haunt modern transcript of man and creates a tedium and archetypal dullness. In “Time To Leave” lethal thoughts in devastating words restructure the entire edifice of thought sequence and so a hypocritical approach to life of ennui lengthens out infinitely while sanity and wisdom become irrelevant driving man to suicidal precipice. The thoughts that clones masturbate without ever ‘achieving orgasm’ speak of incapacity ‘in social intercourse,’ despite perception of ‘cultural theory.’  Insensitivity of man remains a frightening characteristic and he is least worried to guard man from imminent disintegration but relishes in killing finer instincts.

…revealing the wisdom inherent before the staining

before the dangerous assault of mind

before the destruction of creativity.

             In a disastrous cycle, fraudulence ridicules linguistic niceties a modern man often enjoys, who loves to live in vague connectivity and links, and howls about the framing of a new charter and guidelines but is conscious of annihilation.  Ultimately, nature as physician tells man to search meaning even in social despair and distortion as sickening spread of supermarkets squeezes human warmth in a grisly hurry but man wishes living in neurotic lifestyle and illusion and therefore, the search for green pasture proves futile. A contemporary man is stuck up in muck of frightening apathy and sham. In utter anarchy, inertia and perceptible stupor life is vile –

drugged, strapped down, electrocuted

incessant blurred nightmare.

today i realised i was still alive. (“Diary Entry”)

     Life appears mordant, diseased and onerous agony of hope amidst moral mayhem but man envisages a better life.  Art, dance, music, painting and sculpture demonstrate phony incline to social realities, and man in ignorance, struggles to forget anguish of living while avoiding straight encounter with finesse of arty aesthetics.   Man lives in a highly mechanized and computerised world and feels proud but inwardly a sad man, he does not know about tomorrow and so lives in tragedy.  “The Transfiguration Of Calliope” paints a dismal picture of life present and future and then, man runs back to past to re-energize present perhaps.  Realities of supermarket in “Paracetamol” prove nauseating, leading to a shocking finale when a man moves ‘to reach for the toilet paper/ and Paracetamol.’ No therapy or reprieve cleans an indistinct life in a mechanized version.

   A widely travelled artist/poet, Harle encounters scenes of mechanical comforts at Airports and aircrafts and finds people of arrogance and plastic smiles throwing bright glances with a frustrating towing. Ennui in expertise documents modern culture, and society cherishes chilling experiences.   A culture of fast food and artificial smiles chases in “Fat Duck Road” signals no acquittal since synthetic outlook determines life sans warmth.

  “A New Hymn” and “Kafka’s Prophecy” speak of modern intensity of agony, affluence, knowledge and misfortunes.  A man travels from one hugely dark area of knowledge and physical joy to death, light and joy leading to melancholy and desolation notwithstanding positive results of demoniac machines, for he rejoices in synthetic desires of material without faith. “Twitter –Twatter,” strengthens callousness in reiterating the terrible influence of contemporary mindset, technological progress and cold-hearted –

Surveillance, paranoia, cameras, Google Earth
spy force in disguise.

data base explosion, exploitation
profile
stop, buy, consume, be silent

  Supermarkets talk of challenging phenomenon of selling goods irrespective of the consequences and therefore, a man celebrates repulsive flaunting of retail mechanism signifying a terrific onslaught of science and technology.

I am so happy to be a marketing pawn,

even though the radical deconstruction of capitalism is nigh.  (“Retail Therapy”)

   Age of computers, electronic gadgets and science opens new vistas, and stir human beings to amass more amidst overwhelming inventions in science. Peace and exclusive space for lonely moments prove a mirage underlining man’s aspirations and ensuing disgust.  

the dark black-hole of our bio-quantum computer

is a mysterious worm-hole for neuroscientists

which reveals emptiness.

Squaring the measure of emptiness…

(“Sound and Fury”)

              A man discreetly enhances the enormity of calamity but fails to visualize.  A man keeps hopes and aspirations integral, lies embedded in time wishing to reconstruct dissolution as others make a choice and so, “Being” generates an artificial imprint. “Unfolding” is emblematic of detachment, a revelation of eternity if one comprehends the inscrutable scheme of nature, seasonal changes and perfection in cyclic movement, irrespective of hazards.  If “The Old Man and The Vineyard” speaks of surface shine, a subtle requiem also tortures, for past gives relief from a harrowing present.  

When a man forgets past, he is condemned, for ‘ignorance of the past is also a major cause of the troublesome human condition’ observe Leslie Stevenson and David Haberman in Ten Theories of Human Nature (Oxford University Press, 2004). One recalls words of Confucius when he says that ‘it is unfamiliarity with the Way of the sages.’ Going back is a faint possibility.  “Rainforest Diary” reinforces a link between nature and man as living appears appalling. Tweeting and fluttering of birds no longer delight a man. Guarding environment from pollution brings no definite transformation, ‘investments to neutralise smears of smog /and the hardness of concrete life, /images for vicarious indulgence.’

   Philosophic and yet realistic without tantrums of intellectual strings, in “White Birds,” the movement of birds in search of safe location with the change in season alerts and warns man as nature performs well in the cosmic plan of creation.   

Irony discomfits in “Becoming,” a philosophic journey to the mystery and ‘absurdity of time’ and life and then, a ‘moving downward into a rainbow vortex/ explodes into pure light/and reaches the end of eternity.’ Harle scrutinizes thoughts from various angles that elude definiteness and justify analogous thoughts in lyrics.  Philosophic thought inGrowing Old (Time)” carries rational strain, and symbolically when the river meets the sea, egos die out.  If life is in motions, it has purpose, as stagnation is death and here, the poet reminds of Indian philosopher Dr S. Radhakrishnan.  

 Old human vessels sail slowly,

sometimes silently,

egos are the only terminal events in history

and dissolve when the river becomes the sea.

  Happy future appears phony and chases man even as he listens to raucous cheers in a computerized life. The word ‘troll’ in many lyrics looks as if  stacking bare necessities for transitory pleasures driving life like a trolley to gloom, cynicism and negativity as it throws side glances with a counterfeit smile.  Modern centres of joys and pleasure are in fact, “Places of Hell” one realizes. “Bags checked on Exit!” & “Security cameras in Operation!” express doubts and suspicions as market-fluctuations determine awareness. Many lyrics overtly reveal class struggle, a subtle transition from feudalistic thought pattern to industrial misery and capitalistic trends. Ultra-sophisticated markets and commercial swiftness scarcely permit man to live in grace.

I ponder the complexity of the future of evil,
having no part in its creation

with nerve cells of revelation.

                    (“X21 Reflects”)

 Now disturbed, uncertain and ostensibly confident intellect governs, directs, and makes life miserable amidst happiness.  In “Transition”, machines determine dirty, mucky and gloomy flow of life as baptising with doable piety continues.

 the shaman vanishes

into the musty dirt

of the lamp-black tunnel,

 …     …

in the collective post human transition. 

            In modern mechanism of restraint and control, freedom and liberty of man suffocates and virtually ends up in shackles of mortifying purported rulers of destiny of humankind.  A rebellious spirit surfaces and it refuses to obey any command of social, political, religious or philosophical authority, for it distrusts and rejects man’s independent identity.  Man-dictated dictums or diktats with strings of self-interests and perpetuation are unacceptable to a reasonable man.

 My right to life and love and death,

is carved in burning stone,

religious mythological falsity is no judge,

yet daily the puny God impostors

bring down their judgements,

acting as supreme false magistrates         (“The Bell Tolls”)

 Harle highlights a common human failing. A man knows he destroys nature, brings pollution, acts dishonestly, relishes corrupt practices, loves modern gadgets and behaves disingenuously but still talks against such human shortcomings. An offensive and unenviable situation it is and Peter Stoterdijk, a German philosopher terms it as ‘cynical reason’ or what he calls ‘enlightened false consciousness.’ Perhaps, a modern man is victim of this irreversible location and even if a man is positive, he fails.

He is aware of social and political realities and believes that art has a purpose in life. Enquiries into fresh areas of ethics and environment throw light on modern life. Impact of hypocritical lifestyle creates spectral existential situations.  Philosophical backdrop and construction exhibit unease of post modernistic cultural and literary trends.   Rob appears skeptical but is conscious of the social realities and truths where quixotic thoughts prove futile.  He is deeply experiential, and pragmatic aspects with a leaning towards structuring temperament, varied intellectual variations, and experiences with a tendency to contextualize originate. Evolution of life is multifaceted and therefore, interlinking of desires automatically constructs a mystifying framework where the formation confuses, for material concerns over weigh human element

pckAn author of more than forty books in English and Hindi, P C K Prem (p c katoch)   post-graduated in English literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh in 1970, taught in different colleges before shifting to civil services and then served as a Member, Himachal Public Service Commission.  With three books on criticism in English, seven novels and two collections of short fiction, he has brought out nine volumes of poetry.  Katoch Prem (a winner of several awards) is a poet, novelist, short storywriter and critic in English from Himachal, India

                                                            

 

Do Not Rise by Beth Bachmann

do not riseSeries: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 72 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (January 19, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963280

ISBN-13: 978-0822963288

Review by g emil reutter

 Some folks are comfortable with war as a basic function of humanity. There has never been a time when a war wasn’t going on somewhere. In fact when people are not engaged in war they normally turn on each other fighting over property, sex, love, glory, and greed. Humanity masks our jungle with the cover of civility. How civil? It may depend on what each individual considers civil.

Beth Bachmann is not comfortable with war. This collection is an honest reflection of the effects of war without any hyperbole. Bachmann reveals a beautiful compassion in these poems. There is no doubt in these poems that there is a cleansing coupled with the disturbance of war. Bachmann throughout this collection utilizes line breaks and pauses to breathe life into each of these poems.

Bachmann is very adept at utilizing language yet it is in the basic realism of her poems she draws the reader in:

.

meal 

Who belongs to this dead? Its leg

Is confused with another leg. Toss it

In the pile for sorting. Something’s missing.

Don’t let the dog walk off with my bones. Who

put out the red bowl of water? I need that

fire. The wood for gripping. The twisting

bandages. Barber, there are rabbits in my tulips.

Hand me the bag of human hair. Keep the teeth.

In this heat, too much blood burns.

Bachmann conveys the violence and survival of war in this poem that says so much in just a few words. In war too much blood burns, there is a sorting of body parts when collected. It is just a brutal fact. Pick up a copy of Do Not Rise, you may not be comfortable with it, but comfort is not what this book is about.

You can check out the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Not-Rise-Pitt-Poetry-Series/dp/0822963280

g emil reutter 2-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. He can be found at https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

The Spirit Bird by Kent Nelson

spiritSeries: Pitt Drue Heinz Lit Prize

Hardcover: 336 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (September 19, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822944367

ISBN-13: 978-0822944362

 

Review by Robert Hambling Davis

Like Lorrie Moore’s Birds of America, Kent Nelson’s collection, The Spirit Bird, features birds, or at least one bird, in every story. Each story is set in a different location, including Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Washington, and California. Many of the characters are avid birders, but the stories themselves explore the lives of lonely men and women trying to resolve their cultural and racial differences, or to overcome the isolating effects of past traumas by seeking a connection with the human community, or the natural world, or both.

In “Alba,” Último Vargas runs his own door-to-door movie business in the New Mexico desert, where he is forced to live and to compete with Netflix. “The Hotel Glitter” portrays a single Hispanic mother who commutes three hours a day to work at a hotel spa near Telluride, and must choose where her loyalties lie when her childhood friend shows up unexpectedly and creates a scene at the spa. “Who is Danny Pendergast?” features a man who can turn into a donkey, and Hakim, the Middle Eastern protagonist in “Race,” is a glassblower and runner who alters his priorities after surviving a clinical death in a marathon.

The fourteen stories are character-based, and most of them have open-ended conclusions, as if stand-alone first chapters of novels, leaving the reader to speculate over possible sequels. The metaphoric “spirit bird,” which thematically ties these stories together, shows what its different characters have lost, usually through emotional trauma, and what they must struggle to overcome to rectify their impoverished lives and feel a sense of community.

An avid birder, Nelson has identified more than 757 North American species. Birding, he says, has made him more “aware of looking,” and this practice “has meshed nicely with [his] writing.” He is a world traveler, with a doctoral degree in Environmental Law from Harvard, and one of the pleasures of reading The Spirit Bird is its detailed descriptions of wildlife. Nelson is also a mountain runner, a sport he’s trained in since 1996, and he’s run the Pikes Peak Marathon twice. Several of the characters in The Spirit Bird search their inner selves in ways reminiscent of the willpower and endurance of long-distance runners. Nelson’s short fiction has appeared The Best American Short Stories, The Best of the West, the O. Henry and Pushcart anthologies, and The Best American Mystery Stories. He has also published two novels, Language in the Blood and Land That Moves, Land That Stands Still.

His prose is well-crafted, and the collection won the 2014 Drue Heiz Literature Prize, which offers a cash award of $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. David Guterson, who wrote Snow Falling on Cedars, was the judge.

The Spirit Bird will appeal to readers who like stories featuring complex characters who seek new personal horizons amid natural landscapes.

.

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Spirit-Bird-Stories-Heinz/dp/0822944367

.

rhdavis-1– Robert Hambling Davis is a fiction editor of The Fox Chase Review. He has published in The Sun, Antietam Review, Memoir (and), Philadelphia Stories, Santa Monica Review, and elsewhere. He’s been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and received three Delaware Division of the Arts grants, two for fiction and one for creative nonfiction. He was a fiction semifinalist in the William Faulkner Creative Writing Contest in 2002 and 2012, and a creative nonfiction winner in 2013. Robert helps direct the Delaware Literary Connection, a nonprofit serving writers in Delaware and surrounding areas. He is a member of the Delaware Artist Roster, and has given writing workshops and readings in the Mid-Atlantic.

Triple Time by Anne Sanow

tripleSeries: Pitt Drue Heinz Lit Prize

Hardcover: 168 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (August 28, 2009)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822943808

ISBN-13: 978-0822943808

Review by g emil reutter

Through the winds and heat Saudi Arabia comes alive in the words of Anne Sanow. Triple Time is a collection of stories about expats and Saudi’s interacting cultures. It is in fact the clash of cultures that provides the tension and drives the movement of the book. The author who lived for two years in Saudi Arabia, brings forth an honest set of stories. There are the Americans, Mexicans and Yemenis. The lonesome desert farms, dreams to make a big buck and the rip off. Sanow gives us a view of Saudi Arabia only and insider could provide. In great detail she writes of those thrown together on weekends for sex and parties for there is nowhere else to go. The parties of the expats fueled by alcohol and drugs and the loneliness of existing in rules, just not for the rich.

There is no feeling sorry for the characters in these stories, no empathy either. They exist in this land by choice and willingly call Saudi Arabia home. Yet Sanow communicates the hope and desires of these people who live in a land and for people who have no respect for them.

There is the story of the two wives of a Saudi, one native the other American. The conflicts for the grandmother of the children, the divided heart of the American wife who desires to return home, to a home she never actually had.

Sanow meets the cultural conflict head on using the exotic landscapes, high rises and market places of this strange and mystical nation. Her characters pulse with the heartbeat of reality, a reality she has converted into fiction as only a person who has been there can do.

You can check the book out here: http://www.amazon.com/Triple-Time-Pitt-Heinz-Prize/dp/0822943808/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417357615&sr=1-1&keywords=triple+time+by+anne+sanow

.

g emil reutter 2-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

Einstein’s Beach House – Stories by Jacob M. Appel

einsteinPaperback: 188 pages

Publisher: Pressgang (December 5, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0984940588

ISBN-13: 978-0984940585

Review by g emil reutter

.

In Einstein’s Beach House, Jacob Appel, tackles family relationships, love affairs intermingled with hedgehogs, turtles and mental illness. Of Rabbis and conductors, child advocates and child molesters. These eight stories flow nicely in a matter of fact voice of the author, who no matter what the topic is, makes sense of it all, or does he?

The title story is set at the Jersey shore when a couple finds out that their home, which has been the home of the family for generations, was once Einstein’s beach house. The father, who is out of work, begins to give tours of the house at twenty five bucks a head. His wife is not approving but accepts the cash until a knock comes to the door and it is Einstein’s niece who has come a knocking. Appel is a master at character interaction, defining the family relationship between parents and children in short order.

Appel writes quirky stories, humor pops up in unexpected places and the stories flow with great energy. It is in these dysfunctional stories Appel tells us it is ok to be who you are, no matter who you are. He leaves us sometimes with joy, sometimes with broken hearts but always writes stories that keep moving even when death is just around the corner.

.

You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Einsteins-Beach-House-Jacob-Appel/dp/0984940588/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417220259&sr=1-1&keywords=einsteins%27s+beach+house+by+jacob+m+appel

.

g emil reutter at Chop Suey Books-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA). https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

 

Baby Makers by Gita Aravamudan

baby makersPaperback: 200 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins India (July 15, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 9351362930

ISBN-13: 978-9351362937

 

Review by Ananya S Guha

 

The Book ” Baby Makers ” is a conscience stricken book which talks about surrogacy in entirety, including ethical issues. The book anatomizes surrogacy laws in different countries, in Asia, USA and UK. It speaks of commercial surrogacy and highlights aspects such as ‘ surrogacy tourism ‘ which is a booming and lucrative industry in India. The book unleashes a narrative power to tell stories of individuals who come to India from the USA, Japan and Germany in search of surrogate ‘ mothers ‘, couples who do not have children but are desperately seeking joys of motherhood, or fatherhood. This is the inner pathos of this explosive book.

Elsewhere in India couples go to different locations such as Bangalore in search of ‘‘baby makers”. But who are they. In India they are the down trodden who just need to improve their pecuniary conditions and have a decent living. This is the tragedy, but it is also the reality- a vicious cycle engendered by poverty, and family encumbrances. But who are the ‘ money makers ‘? Are they not the doctors and the posh hospitals? Indian laws allow commercial surrogacy, but are ambivalent regarding laws about the children, which country they belong to, their passport and visas etc, making the whole issue complex and ambiguous. More often than not foreigners who come to India chasing dreams are not aware of all the laws. All they know is that commercial surrogacy in India is relatively cheap as compared to that in the US. However in countries such as the UK commercial surrogacy is not permitted.

The ethical issue that the book raises is: who is the mother- the surrogate or the intending? Cannot the surrogate mother also experience the delight of motherhood? Does she not have a right to it? Examples are cited as to how hollow a surrogate mother can feel, once she hands over the child to the intending mother. Ethical issues are associated with medical questions. The sperm is the man’s, but the eggs or the womb is that of another woman. Who is the ‘ mother ‘?

This further complicates ethical issues. Social and economic conditions in India compel people like Bina to go to Mumbai in search of better jobs and surrogacy! Bina after earning some lakhs is able to buy a tiny flat in Mumbai, irrespective of the fact that her husband simply sits idle.

The book covers all the technicalities of surrogacy, fertility, insemination and subsequent delivery of the child. It covers issues such as the immediate need for breast feeding. For a couple from Chennai who live in London, the disapproval of their parents/ in laws become insufferable. Out of sheer desperation they go to surrogacy and get twins. Finally of course they spill the beans.

In The US in the nineteen eighties a mother who took the help of a surrogate mother, suddenly did a volte- face, questioning the right to motherhood, making it a national issue and ruckus.

The underlying pathos of this very well written book is ‘ why ‘, why do people come to surrogacy, whether the facilitating mother, or the intended mother? The former does it for pecuniary reasons, the latter because she wants to be a mother. It is an issue involving women. As usual women have to bear the brunt of suffering. This is the larger irony or tragedy that the book charts out.

Cathy and her husband come to India from the USA in search of a surrogate mother. In the US it is too expensive, they are middle class. They overcome ‘ culture shock ‘ and live in Hyderabad for a considerable period of time. But Cathy is always admonished by fear- what if?

Gita Aravamudan, the noted journalist, asks many questions- those related to surrogacy laws, those related to medical laws, the ethical issue (who is the mother?) and those related to sheer monetary exploitation by doctors. It is a book full of pathos and if I may call it- ‘ tragedy ‘. The tragedy lies in a poverty stricken India, it lies in the presence of unscrupulous middle men and women.

This is India. This is a must read book.

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Makers-Gita-Aravamudan/dp/9351362930

.

ananya– Ananya S Guha works at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) as a Senior Academic. His poems in English have been published in International / National Journals and e zines. He also writes for newspapers, does book reviews and writes on matters related to education. His recent works appeared in the Harper Collins Book of English Poetry edited by Sudeep Sen. He also writes book reviews, articles for newspapers and articles on education, distance education and vocational education.