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  • By Ram Krishna Singh
    Dec 31, 1969
    "I'M NO RIVER by R.K.SINGH" All poetry is – or should be – written in love of the world. All poetry is in some sense erotic. The act of love, as opposed to lust, and the act of the imagination, as opposed to technological invention, occupy the same area of human consciousness. They are acts of mutuality and exchange, from which all participants derive value and understanding, and so are indispensable. Yet they are human endeavours too, and always contain the germ of their own impossibility and failure, which is the theme of many of the tanka contained in Ram Krishna Singh’s latest collection I'M NO RIVER. The level of diction is simple and consistent, especially considering that even though its imagery is natural, the poems are primarily made up of straightforward observations. Plain language, and repetition reinforce the simple nature of tanka, whilst simultaneously undercutting the philosophical or rational nature of the poems’ construct. "Stains of dried dewy/ tears... More > on the eyelids tell of/ the load on her mind:/ clothed in spring the willow twigs/ reveal the changed relation" This is what tanka is all about: a momentary embrace of the mystery inherent in the process of self-actualisation; a disguised direct address begging forgiveness for those tendencies towards insularity and over-intellectualisation. A celebration of the difficulties of selfhood, or whatever it is in us that calls us to a greater awareness of ourselves and the world of which we are a part, as described in the following tanka: "Standing at the edge/ I long to float with waves and/ wave with instant wind:/ on the dream water’s breast/ I read tomorrow’s wonder" In this poems the poet casts around for some kind of relief, some sign of hope. The tanka takes place at the moment when the poet, standing on the shore, allows his mind to wander over various thoughts. One of them is the longing “to float with waves”, another is that he sees on “the water’s breast” what the future has in store. All these thoughts and more flash through the poet’s mind. The following poem seems to come out of nowhere: "Drinking evening star/ blue green patterns before eyes/ no meditation/ no god visits to forgive/ the sinning soul in solitude" The poem seeks to bring precise expression to something previously unstated. In this respect, then, the tanka tells us “This is what is inside you. This is what it is all about”. For Singh, writing is an art of discovery. Some events, some people, are, for him, so charged with passionate complexity, that only the process of verbalising them allows him any measure of understanding. He writes about what he knows, getting it factually correct, then follows where the words and music lead. Knowing and having lived with ill health and in darkness, the poet can savour both the light and bitter experiences that life brings. So loneliness appears microscopic as one of life’s problems: "Awaiting the wave/ that’ll wash away empty hours/ and endless longing/ in this dead silence at sea/ I pull down chunks of sky" Life can either get better or worse. Life’s flame can either be extinguished or kept ablaze for the greater responsibility that ensues. Reviewed by: Patricia Prime< Less
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Product Details

First edition
August 21, 2006
Saddle-stitch Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.39 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
8.5 wide x 11 tall
Product ID
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