Dancing the Light
Poems from Australia and India
Edited by Robert Maddox-Harle & Jaydeep Sarangi
Book Review by Anjana Basu
The study of poetry is and should be a complex and dynamic discussion. The study of healing, likewise, should be deep and wide-ranging. This anthology gathers the seeds of those conversations together through its introduction which expands on why Cyberwit and the two editors chose the theme that they did.
The poems in this anthology have been chosen with a very special purpose. They celebrate the talents of Indian and Australian poets who have carved out their poems with light as the central theme. Be it the light of nature or that of the spirit or just plain illumination. The anthology actually showcases for the most part the more lyrical works of its contributors.
It begins with poems that find music in the world about them, Adrian Rogers Boticelli’s Dancing with Venus for example, or Malsawmi Jacob’s Dance with Me and Padmaja Iyengar’s Dancing the Light which gives the anthology its title. Then we hear poets on nature, egrets and birds flitting through the light of the world and the sunbeams dancing on various types of water, from oceans to fjords.
The happier side of love plays a part with love letters and whispered conversations between lovers. Or the sensuality of secrets as in Basudhara Roy’s poetry. Togetherness and love are ‘just a poem away’. Of course, quite obviously in an anthology of this sort all the poems cannot have their theme based dance or light but attempts have been made to keep light as the background mode even though on some occasions, as in Brian Daly’s The Ball, the fascist in jackboots dancing with the lady to his left whom he gradually sways to far right, may seem somewhat of a stretch. Saima Afreen’s meditations on the Calcutta Rickshaw Puller too deal with the torment of humanity as does her To the Twisted Feet of a Ballerina. To dance requires effort, we must be reminded, as the lightness of motion of a man who is reduced to skin and bones by his work.
The anthology explores the lyrical side of its poets through rhyme and often through the old fashioned style of word usage – words like ‘gay’ appear in their original non-queer form. Many of the poets are quite unselfconscious about being that way since it brings the verses closer to the old forgotten art of odes and sonnets.
Despite the cultural differences between the two places, there is a harmonious unity in thought which has been carefully explored and put together by the two curators / editors of this anthology. Separated by distances yet bound together is the leitmotif.
Possibly what makes the theme so appropriate is the timeline during which the book was brought out. The February-2020 of a world struck by coronavirus without India yet being under lockdown and Australia taking tardy steps towards containment. Added to that is the fact that many poets explore the dystopian side of the world order since in the current scheme of things we appear to face a world where ‘the centre cannot hold’.
A few poems authored by Jaydeep Sarangi from the anthology:
Cycle of Stories
It was dark again
Noise had a rise and fall.
We spent long hours
looking into each other’s eyes.
She later told me
she didn’t even remember
when we fell asleep.
Morning is a fresh memory
Night is a forgotten page.
Forefathers are Worried
The dead sob for the living
my grandfather cannot rest from
of what we are doing.
Trees are fading
smoke is taking over
rivers are streams of industrial waste
e-wastes and plastics are opening jaws.
People are disconnected
smart phones are proving
to be unsmart, a drug.
injurious to health.
We are living junk.
no past, no future
use and throw away into the bin.
Game called Love
With you I first visited
Temples and ghats.
My weather was you.
Today, I watch the last leaves
Falling hard against the ground.
You suddenly stopped sitting with me
Speaking to them
Alone I sit.
I remember a quiet kiss somewhere
Senses forgotten, only a bit of cold.
Book published by: www.cyberwit.net
Jaydeep Sarangi is a bilingual writer, academic, editor and translator with several seminal books to his colourful cap. He has delivered keynote addresses in several national and international seminars and conferences and read his poems in different continents. He has been anthologised widely in several shores. One of the reviewers has made an honest observation by calling him Bard on the Banks of Dulong. Sarangi is the Vice President, GIEWEC (head office at Kerala) and a founder member and the Vice President of SPELL (Society for Poetry, Education, Literature and Language), Kolkata. Anchored in Kolkata, his poetry defies boundaries and resonates with global experiences.
About the reviewer
Anjana Basu is a renowned novelist, poet, reviewer and travel writer.