Book Review on Vivek anand Jha’s Falter & Fall–A Poetry Anthology

Falter  and  Fall is  the  title  of  one  of  the  poems  in  this  slim volume   by   Vivek anand   Jha,   dedicated   to   his   former employer,  the  Indian  Air Force.  It  can  be  construed,  albeit wrongly, as ‘pilot-talk’ –make a mistake in the air and you have  to  crash-land.  However,  inspired by  the  epigraph –‘ The   world   plots   on,   while   poetry   stumbles   and   falls’, attributed  to  poet  Jayanta  Mahapatra,  this  eponymous poem which is the 20thin the collection of 51, links back to the  one Jha begins  his  book  with.  It  may  come  across  like an  expression  of  disgust,  bordering  a  bit  on  self-pity,  but actually  it  is  just  something  every  aspiring  poet  would identify with (he or she may be going through exactly the same feelings at the time of reading), or every established poet would associate with his/her past. The struggle to get a  toehold  in  the  rocky  and  slippery  ascent  to  the  peak  of achievement  from  the  basecamp  of  dreams,  is  a  known thing indeed.

There are 51 poems in this volume, randomly ordered, the guiding   emotions   behind   the   compositions   oscillating from elation to despair, despondency to ecstasy and from dreamy  optimism  to  realism.  Poetry,  not  being  bound  by rules, I cannot of course say that there could have been a possible  reordering  of  the  poems.  After  all,  the  human mind  never  behaves  in  an  orderly  fashion,  does  it?  Of course, the mind does struggle to find solutions and a via media  leading  to  a  mine  wherefrom  it  could  win  some peace  for  itself –like  one  learns  from  some  poems  in  the compilation,  cleverly  interspersed  among  the  highs  and the  lows,  the  ‘bitters’  and  the  ‘sweets’.  We  have Bhagavad  Gita,  which  the  poet  labels  as  the  ‘jewel  of divine wisdom’; Hanuman ,who is found in ‘every heart and home’ (this is an excerpt from the Hanuman Chalisa, for  those  who  know  this  Tulsidas  composition  by  rote); and the Seer’s Song which begins thus: Sing a song of glee even  in  hours  of  grief.(Mukesh’s  ‘Gam  jab  sataye,  seethi bajaana’ at once comes to mind).‘Global  warming’,  which  yours  sincerely  teaches  at university,   is   rich   with   imagery   and   metaphor,   even though  the  poet,  in  the  poem ‘Disposal’, writes  that  God granted him the gift of ‘irony, pun and satire’.  The impact may  not  be  strong  enough  to  convince  the  ilk  of  Donald Trump,  but  surely   any  lecturer  can  inspire  his  young students    to    think    seriously    about    contributing    to reshaping the world they would inherit from us. ‘Man to monster’  is  why  there  is  ‘Frost  to  ice’,  ‘Water  to blood’…anthropogenic climate change.  There is a poem which  laments  meat-eating,  as  vegetarian  animal-lovers are wont todo, silently and helplessly –for that is the best way  to  lament.    There  is  one  which  mocks  at  ‘non-conformism  for  the  sake  of  non-conformism’. There is a third which came across to this reviewer as a reminder of the   Hindi   adage –‘pal   mein   pralay   ho   sakta   hain’ (Apocalypse can occur about in a second).

While  there  is  no  leitmotif  as  such,  as  written  before,  the range of feelings expressed in blank verse and rhyme, is a representation  of  the  ups  and  downs,  rights  and  wrongs, highs   and   lows,   pains   and   pleasures,   which   are   the inevitable  opposites  of  human  existence.  Read,  absorb and  retain  the  take-home  messages  to  chew  on  and  pass on  later  to  friends  and  acquaintances.  You  may  not  be able to remember all the messages conveyed by Jha in this volume,  but  at least  remember  the  ones  in  the  poem –Disposal, which  is  my  favourite  one.  It  tells  you  that  the Biblical ‘Ask and it shall be given to you (Luke 11:19)’  is true indeed,  but  it  is  far  better to  believe that  we  ourselves  do not know what is best for us, and therefore it is advisable to  not  ask  for  anything  but  just  trust  in  the  fact  that  God knows  what  each  one  of  us  must have,  why,  where,  when and  in  what  form.  And  we  ought  to  try  our  best  to  prove the alliterative ‘Our hands heave to harm and hamper, not to help and heal’wrong in our lives ahead.

Author’s Bio

Vivek anand Jha, an Air Force veteran, is an Indian English poet, translator and editor. After serving Indian Air Force for twenty years he gave  up his job to devote  his  time  exclusively  to writing.  He  divides  his time between Darbhanga, Delhi and Gwalior.

He  has  a  Diploma  in  Electronics  and  Communication Engineering,   Certificate   in   Computer   Hardware   and Networking,  MA  and  Ph.  D  in  English.  His  poems  and articles   have   featured   in   numerous   journals   and anthologies.  He  has  authored  one  critical  book  on  the poetry  of  Jayanta  Mahapatra  and  edited  nine  critical anthologies on Indian English Writing. He  is  the  founder  and  chief  editor  of  two  literary  journals, Verbal Art& Phenomenal Literature published by Authors press, New Delhi

Title: Falter & Fall
Author: Vivek anand Jha
Publisher: Authors press
Available: Amazon

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