Review of Vivekanand Jha’s Poetry Collection, ‘Falter & Fall’

Vivekanand Jha
By John Grey

Falter & Fall: Poems
New Delhi: Authors Press, 2017
ISBN-13: 978-9352075171
Pp - 88 pages Price: Rs. 250/$12 (USA)

            When reviewing a poetry book, especially one from the likes of Vivekanand Jha, I am always appreciative of those places where our thoughts, our experiences, even our use of language, align.  It gives me the comfort of knowing that poetry, like music, is somewhat of a universal language. But what entices me, what excites me even, is when thoughts, experience, language diverge from my own. In such a circumstance, I can not only appreciate the written word but educate myself in the process.

            Vivekanand not only takes me into his own artistry but his culture which, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I have been learning consists of much more than ancient texts and Bollywood. India has a thriving poetry scene. And, based on his collection, “Falter And Fall”, Vivekanand is very much a part of it.     

            He begins his collection with ‘An Elegy To The Poem.’ It’s really more of an elegy to the rejection letter to which I’m sure every poet who’s dared to send out his work, from Greenland to Patagonia and every place in between, can sympathize with. But, by the time I read my way to the likes of ‘Cut-Throat’ and ‘Disposal’, I am definitely on foreign but illuminating ground. The former is discourse on the slaughtering of animals for human consumption. Not quite a diatribe but lines that don’t exonerate ‘the chief justice of animals’ either. The latter is more personal, a deft composition on a relationship between man and a higher being and ends on the satisfying note of  “I decided to leave it all to the Lord/He bestowed in me what, unknown to me, I required.”

            In a collection of 51 poems, it is no surprise that the subject matter should take such an abrupt turn from the issues of living in the modern world to the spiritual. However, Vivekanand’s winning style involves the reader in his themes whether it’s the bloody insanity of ‘Someone Else’ to his intriguing  and unanticipated take on yoga that ends with the attention-getting description of the discipline as a ‘three pronged tyranny.”  The poet also takes on the more pressing issues of our day in the likes of “Global Warming” and “Dispossessed Motherland” with words of pithy understanding and undisguised rage. And he’s certainly not afraid to tangle with love and romance in poems like “Some Loss To Gain.” Or religion in his ode to character from Hindu scripture, “Hanuman.”

            I also appreciate the more abstract approach of a poem like “Colour” with intriguing lines like “color is as fictitious and gullible as the tears of woman and crocodile.”  And his ode to the “Bhagavad Gita” is an invitation to dip into the timeless wisdom of that sacred text.   

            In summation, “Falter and Fall” offers a wide selection in topic and approach. It’s definitely a volume for the library of any fan of fine poetry. Vivekanand Jha’s work is well worth seeking out on the internet and print, now and in the years to come. 
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About the Reviewer
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.  

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