Book Review: Capitals by Abhay K

Capitals (Poetry anthology)
Author: Abhay K
Year of publication:2016
ISBN 978-93-86141-11-8
Paperback, Pages: 395
Price (Kindle): $ 9.99

Abhay K
Capitals  is a poetry anthology edited by the diplomat and poet, Abhay K. It is divided into four sections as per the continents: Africa, Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe. Each section consists of captivating poems about the capital cities of various countries situated in each respective continent. This anthology is the product of the tremendous contribution of eminent global poets’ works.  The poems in this anthology precisely point out the hindrances/problems and achievements/progress at the social, economic, political and human mentality/psychological levels in each continent through the capital cities.

Suffering /pain, fallen cities, corruption and the saddening effect left by colonization predominate in the Africa continent. These traits are respectively revealed by the lines from the following poems:
1.Poems for Abuja by Jumoke Verissimo (page 3-4):


Barren land with blooming flowers
Is this how you will continue
Take from others

2.The City by the Atlantic by Mariama Khan (page 16) :

now the city of saints has a monster soul

3. Gaborone by Abhay K (page 39):

While the culprits flee to jungles of Mokolodi
in wagons, sledges and bakkies

The three Dikgosi close their eyes

4. What is Left of Africa by Jekwu Ozoemene (page 57-58):

Whose son are you?
Before I could muster an appropriate response
He mockingly slips away

Despite all the above difficulties the bright side of Africa ,its beauty  and the sense of patriotism of Africans  are revealed by the lines of the poem,
Buyenzi, Bujumbura by the poet  Abdoul Mtoka  (page 21-22) :

Buyenzi has beauty
Although people do not see it
It has a classic personality
I carry it in my heart
Thus, the poems about African capital cities project Africa continent as one that is plagued by scarcity of basic resources, degrading morality, dishonest practices and identity crisis brought by pre-independence scars. However, even if life in Africa is full of hardships, many Africans still have a strong sentimental attachment to their native lands.

North America and South America continents are characterized by hope, liberty eradication of evils, building of new cities and memories of struggles and lost civilizations. These are highlighted by lines  of the following poems:

1. Marcus Garves stood on Basseterre Bay Road by  Imruh bakari (page 91-93):

He stood to speak
of hope

He stood to speak
of self-expression and liberty

He spoke
of the ungodliness
that is inequality

2. Belmopan by Abhay K ((page 94):

the new city square built with grey stones
its broad steps, a reminiscence
a nostalgia of the Maya civilization

Self-progress, growth at an individualistic level, recognition of human efforts and the positive aspect of American culture are nicely revealed through the poem, On Ottawa by Scott Alan (page 138):

because in our city
everybody arrives as immigrant
but becomes a component
of its flourishing character

Therefore, the poems about the capitals of American countries highlight that human rights, freedom, innovation, remembrance of Native Americans, emotional independence and individual human efforts are highly valued in America continent.

Family ties, injustice, beauty in softness of natural landscapes, and urbanization are striking features of Asia-Pacific continents. These are respectively indicated through the lines of the following poems about the capital cities:

1. Abhu Zhabi by Navid Haider (page 165):

If only my father could once again see,
the tallest towers of Abu Dhabi
If only now my father could see
the breathing scars of Abu Dhabi

2. Bhaghdad Lapidated by Salah A. Hamdani (page 171):
Betrayed city
unfasten our childhood from the terraces of Al Rachid

Violated city
you have nothing but the names of your walls

3. Canberra by P.S Cotier (page 184):

raucous cockatoos , who know little
of decorum, and parrots courtesans
of the sky. Are you a city, Canberra,
or a garden?

4. Delhi by Abhay K (page 225-226):
I am a city of cities
A city of invaders, conqueror,
merchants, immigrants – 

Hence, poems about Asian -Pacific capital cities show that various regions of these continents have suffered due to destruction and loss caused by invaders or conquerors in the past. However the humane ways, collective thinking and care as well as the exotic and mystic beauty of Asia-Pacific have been preserved up till now.

The individualistic approach, existentialism, loneliness, materialism and awareness of illusive side of religion are some important aspects of Europe continent.  This is clearly revealed by the lines of the poems:

1. The Dockhand by Joris Lenta (page 255):

Everybody loves him because he’s willing to shoulder anything
without ever complaining

2. Monaco by Abhilash Surendan (page 302):

amidst so much of affluence
I felt lonely
like a fly on the wall glued to money

3. Vatican City Vision by Pat Boran (page 334):

and with this palace for the millions at the heart of which
in his chains of faith the solitary prisoner endures.

The stability, peace and beauty of Europe are beautifully described through the lines of the poem Andora: The Voice of the Mountain by Ester Fenoll Garcia
(page 256):

I tirelessly stroll
through wild woods
that fill my life with peace.

Thus, the poems about the main European cities depict Europe as being individual human being oriented, practical, human beings feeling isolated in hectic
fast- moving societies with the existence and presence of God often being questionable and spirituality being overshadowed by the value for wealth.
The careful planning of the cities contributes to the beauty of Europe.

The language used by the poets in this anthology produced by Abhay K varies from simple to complex, and direct to metaphorical. The writing style of the poems is spontaneous free verse. Words flow beautifully to show the readers glimpses of reality of various regions of the world. The tones in the poems vary from those of grounded realists to those of the wise visionaries. The moods of the poems whether serious, sorrowful, cheerful or nostalgic are like eye-openers for the readers.  Capitals can be considered as a masterpiece of the literary world as well as the world of tourism.  This valuable gem of knowledge will undoubtedly continue to enchant poetry lovers and travellers from generation to generation all around the globe.

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