Poetry Books with a Difference

I would like to share these poetry books with you, which touched me deeply:

41NExciOU6L._SR126,200_Stranger Paths: The Magic in the Madness Poetry Collection by R.J. Zarkani speaks eloquently about war-torn Iraq and the eternal emotional bruises that a little girl carried within her, wondering why her father told her to get inside when she wanted to see the “fireworks making a day out of night,” – a child’s perspective about war.

All the pearls in this book belong to the same string that broke and scattered. Zarkani’s yearning to meet the child who “swallowed the smoke” and got lost in the explosions didn’t wane years after she migrated to an alien land, in search of peace and freedom. Roots pull her; stars and the clouds appear familiar but there is a strange disconnect that seems inexplicable, as she was told “you don’t look like a terrorist!”

Superb imagery that R.J. uses blends in her reflections about “creatures crawled out of her book,” a book that calls her, visions that haunt her, images of the past linger, fairies that lived on her kitchen sink still sing; memories stand before her, trying to sweep her away into the world she still loves… ‘shoes filled with mud’ seem dearer… ‘rain in the desert’ – a childhood memory returns as Raghad writes the poignant story of the moments she treasures.

41TYVhHDryL._SR133,200_Journey to the Rainbow’s End: A Drag Queen’s Odyssey by Forrest Stepnowski is a brilliant anthology of blank verse and a short story that dwells on the hope of being accepted the way one is… “To be my own star.” It gives voice to all those persons of LGBTQ community, who slip into the abyss of self-loathing because of orthodox, judgmental society that spews hatred against them, declaring them “gay,” “immoral” and “abnormal.”

Each poem in this collection makes a poignant appeal to the society to understand the pain and ridicule that they have to undergo because of the apathetic attitude of the people around them, who push them into the closet, compelling them to face “The silent horror of being” and are forced to snub “the darkest secrets” but who crave for love to lead a normal life.

This is a distressing journey of emotional upheavals, a clarion call to find their own voice and light by breaking free from the shackles that threaten to suffocate them, by accepting that strength lies within. This book must be read by everybody as it contains profound words for those who look down upon other human beings.

51h1UkHNvmL._SR125,200_‘Open a New Door’ by Kim Blades and Robbie Cheadle is a collection of poems, inspired from life in Africa and people who make it good, bad or ugly. All aspects are portrayed in a plausible manner.

Both Kim and Robbie have a similar style of writing blank verse, some of the themes too are identical. Realism is the hallmark of their poetry, as they talk about life and people in clear words; imagination takes a back seat. Deeply moved by poverty around her, Robbie has highlighted it in many poems. If ‘The Boys under the Bridge’ brings out the plight of the homeless youth, The Silver Lining underlines the uplifting spirits of a youngster carrying a load of recyclables with abandon, The Beggar’s Child mocks at the apathy of the passers-by but ‘The Golden Light’ focuses on helping the underprivileged children of a school in a squatter camp with books – a wonder gift for them.

Kim seems to be an ardent animal lover because many of her poems celebrate wild life and give a vivid description of how a cheetah hunts its prey, how mother cheetah nurtures her cubs, how a lion lies on golden grass, even her Utopia mentions “stamping buffalo.” Iconic South African birds too catch her attention to inspire a poem. The opening lines of ‘Lessons Learned in a rural village’ seem to be inspired from William Blake’s poem ‘The Little Black Boy.’

Some of the poems are too personal and comment on how life unfolds, offering unforgettable memories, moments of exhilaration and dismay, travails of a working mother and insecurities of an empty nest but they all make life worth living. Heaviness of this book would linger around you even when you finish and put it away.

Thank you for reading this post. Do you have a book in mind that has touched you deeply? Please share your reflections.

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– Balroop Singh

 

 

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Past Or Present – What Is Your Choice?

Past or present?
While it is natural to think about the past, which holds our memories and mistakes and inspires us to learn from them to move ahead, living in the present is the most worthwhile experience.

Living in the present moment, far away from the broodings of past and the apprehensions of uncertain, unpredictable future is so prudent, practical and sensible. Yet we keep drifting back and forth, seeking solace in the past memories and living in the illusionary world of future.

Why do people dwell in the past?

  • Stressful events of the past cling to us, making us think what went wrong, who was at fault.
  • Guilt doesn’t dissolve till we have ruminated enough, fixed responsibility or found a solution.
  • Negative thoughts are more powerful and require extra energy to dispel them.
  • Some hurtful memories keep haunting us.
  • Some shocking discoveries about the family could be difficult to forget.
  • Emotional distress takes a longer time to heal.

If you too get mired in the regrets and hurts of the past, I must tell you that I have not come across a better description of living in the present:

“I lit the candles and said out loud, “what am I waiting on? Someone to sell them in a garage sale for a quarter after I die?” And it was beautiful. And the smell was even more incredible than I remembered.”–Paula Heller Garland

Whenever abrasive past stands before me, I talk it out of my mind. I write a poem on the shadows of past and bury this demon with more words.

I savor the present moment. This is the only asset in our hands. Live it happily. Give your best to this moment for you will cherish it tomorrow.

I have always lived in the present, accepted the misfortunes, made peace with the disappointments, delighted in its little blessings, found happiness in whatever the present moment has offered and sat in the shadows of sadness to let the dark moments of my past pass by.Make peace with your past

Living in the present

  • Keeps us focused
  • Frees us from anxiety
  • Encourages us to put in our best
  • Makes us emotionally strong
  • Improves our mental health
  • Gives happiness that lasts

What prevents us from living in the present?

We are constantly judging ourselves, we keep talking to ourselves, finding fault with our decisions and disturb our own serenity of mind.

Past connects us with our present, which could be distressing due to our own faults.

It also depends on the kind of personality we have. Some people are brooders. They are prone to negative thinking. Doubts dominate their thoughts and anxiety flows in their veins. This anxiety ruins the little moments we could savor!

Research has shown that focusing on the past reduces the power of positive emotions.

It is very natural to think about the future and onerous to forget the past completely. Present stems from the past and steers us into the future. These links cannot be snapped. Perfectly fine! Don’t snap those links.

Living in the present doesn’t mean de-linking from the past or stop planning for the future. It just means protecting our mind from negative thoughts, leading a more meaningful life, staying focused on our goals, hoping for the best and be happy.

 “If you are depressed, you are living in the past
  If you are anxious, you are living in the future
 If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
 –Lao Tzu  

Do you live in the present?  Do the ghosts of your past haunt you? Is the planning for future overwhelming?

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.