Bunch of Blooms: Poetry by K. Pankajam

Bunch of Blooms

Poetry by K Pankajam
Publisher: Authorspress, New Delhi
Edition 2017
ISBN-13: 9789352075928
pp 110
Price ₹ 295.00 INR

Review by Prof. R. K. Bhushan Sabharwal

Creative Writer, Poet, Fiction Writer, Book Reviewer & Course Writer

K Pankajam
Bunch of Blooms is Pankajam’s latest poetry book which has received the attention of renowned scholars. Her very brief Preface, a gem in the casket, is an evidence of the poet’s utmost humility and intellectual maturity in which she has clearly stated the purpose and function of a poet and her poetry. Pankajam says:”Poems in this collection are divided into seven sections. The thematic dissection is not fortuitous, but deliberate as I wish to serve the readers a piquant reading with variety and would feel happy if this is achieved.” She further says: “Themes stem from my observations especially social concerns like lawlessness, the dismal tale of women, etc. I am sure I cannot change the world through my poems, but I believe it is my duty as a poet to hold a mirror to show what is happening around and thereby make the readers sensitive.”

R. K. Bhushan Sabharwal
I deemed it really essential to quote from the Preface to write an honest appraisal and review of this remarkable poetry book of Pankajam who is now well-known among the finest poets, especially women poets, of Indian English Poetry. She has truly succeeded in fulfilling and achieving what she declares in the Preface. This is the poetry of ease and spontaneity marked by extreme simplicity and rhythmic beauty, open mind with no masks of manner and mannerism and naked head; it is a bunch of celebrations and her blooms, though bound with a silk ribbon, sway in the soft, soothing breezes adoring the gardens, meadows, hills and rills, owned and inhabited by the innocence of singing birds and trees, enchanting and enticing beauty of the Marina Beach, rainbows, fireflies, peacocks, jasmines, trees of sorrows, stormy and tempestuous aspects of Nature, leading to the glades in the delectable company of the dancing soul of the poet.  In this respect, Pankajam has a closer and intimate kinship with the best of the English Romantic and Pre-Raphaelite tradition. These are the poems of intellectual behavior in emotional tranquility for spiritual love and enlightenment to sensitize and transcend humanity at the receiving end.

This is the immaculate art of the Divine in the movement, music and dance of the vibrant colours, scents and flickering lights with which Pankajam fills the Endless Endowments, the first section of the book. She is bold in her honesty when she says-

            “I furtively wear the hat of a poet
            to tell the world, truth clothed in lies,
            so far unsaid, muted, half-said or shouted….”

                                                                                    -My Experiments With Truth p21.

One can imagine the poet wearing the hat to speak the truth. Here the empowered woman is out to awaken and enlighten the world. In “Sorrows of Jasmine”, the poet is at her simple best in delicate and tender grace of images, thoughts and emotions, style and spirit woven in the ecstatic romance of feminine beauty loaded with the intoxicating fumes of “the heady scent.” It is a total picturesque beauty of a woman, beginning and ending in human world and more so, above all, truth and beauty of LIFE ending in dust. As we reach the end, dust vanishes, the charms of magical beauty, in its divine light, haunt the reader. Even when Pankajam’s pen pauses-     

            “Down on the earth below
            the sheet of paper before me remains virgin
            as my pen pauses to get fully inspired
            to prove its realm of resplendence.”                      -p31


The poet pauses for a while, demands a minute to tell us about the “bright fluorescent colours,” “sense of aesthetic beauty of the Peacock”. She feels awe at “the flawless creation, incredible.” She feels His Presence like a Pantheist. Her love of Nature in all its purity and sacredness, elevating and transcending, is revealed with utmost ease and exquisite simplicity in all her poems. For her, “Every Life is a Poem” studded with “Pearls”. However, she is sad and becomes sorrowfully contemplative in her yearnings in “Wishes Immaculate”. This is a sumptuous feast of intoxicating sensuous and sensual delights.”Wishes Immaculate is a poem of noble and lofty thoughts in which the poet yearns to break all the shackles of misery and money, lust and sin, fear and falsehood and she wants to “hold a magic wand to ward off evils” so that she returns to the land given by her ancestors-”pristine nature pure and unmolested” and must fulfill her mission before she leaves. Then we read the poems of deep sympathy and love for humanity overpowered by the devastating natural calamities and disasters when we are all “brothers-in-distress” when “religious barriers vanish”-

            “to fortify human bonds
            change the common convictions
            and fight natural calamities jointly.”
                                                                                                -p 51

In the Section, “Hearts’ Affairs”, the poet tells us that love between the poet and the poetry has a sanctity and splendor that inspires zeal in us to treat life as a celebration. Love itself is an eternal poem that unfolds the coloured and colourful reflections and images in rich diversity of love and lust that-

            “dissipates upon fulfillment,
            no selflessness, no sacrifice,
            only passion and joyousness;…”                          -p 55

However, love that feeds and feasts on lust stands impoverished and famished. Love may be blind Cupid merrily engaged in sowing seeds of desire in Venus, yet “To Live is to Love”-a powerful expression of love in life:

            “love all and dream your morrow
            for to live is to love, dream and laugh.”                 -p 59

Pankajam captures the shine and shyness, beauty and blush, glow and gloom, desires and dreams, moods and movements- all let loose from body, mind and soul when love touches, caresses, sighs and stares. Amidst all this playful hide and seek of love’s lease, “Life is a Celebration” and the poet says-

            “I celebrate life
            Life waits to celebrate me.”                                     -p 63

Her treatment of love is fine, free and fiery. Thus she acquaints and awakens us to the bliss of tender graces of love.

When we reach ”My World”- the 4th Section- the bi-lingual poet, Pankajam,  says in simple and elevating tone-“My Soul Belongs Here” because she comes up with the essence of her being as a woman, a human, a poet and a lover-

            “Though in four tongues I read
            speak in three and write in two,
            I dream in only one
            The one in which my Mom prayed.”                      -Mother Tongue p 69

This four line lyric, if sung to the accompaniment of music, shall lift us to unknown heights. The poet has expressed and explained many levels of her greatness. She risks defining the meaning, purpose and function of poetry on clearly sound footing. Her reflections are original, clear and self-explanatory. She is very brief and concise when she defines it all simple unrestrained flow of thought about poetry and prose; her own poetry deviates nowhere from what she says with authority.

In the fifth section, “Pristine Thoughts”, the poet tells us how deep thoughts are expressed in apt words. “Gratitude”, indeed, is a marvelous poem in which she has a strong conviction that happiness completely eludes us in life without a feeling of gratefulness. Gratitude is absolutely essential to life of happiness in love, achievement, friendship, distress and difficulty, touching comforts of dears, pride in being a part and belonging to this wonderful world full of intense movement of beauty in the profoundly rich colours of light and fragrance and the rhythmic radiance spread around in the unceasing magic of the daily procession- all for the ecstasy of the soul to make the poet feel blessed! This is , in fact, a precious secret about which we are consciously ignorant. Pankajam warns us against the Third Eye of Man and reflects how man is a puzzle, an enigma. This sections is a prelude to enter the world of man in the next section- “Tools of Sin”.

The poet feels intense pain when she portrays the miserable and deplorable plight and poignant life of a woman. Her understanding of feminism, femininity, womanism and womananity deserve high appreciation as it is more objective than subjective. Today when all platforms are being used to highlight and expose the naked truth about the daily life of women subjected to socio-economic, professional and physical humiliation day in and day out, we hear about the disgusting and savage atrocities being inflicted upon women depriving them of their right to live a free, dignified and happy life to enable them to give their best to the harmonious growth of human life, these poems forcefully convey the protest and give the message of understanding, sympathy, care and love. “The Misogynist Society”, “Caged Bird”, “Aftermath-the Turmoil”, “She is Vulnerable”, “Break all Shackles”, “Being a Woman”- all are poignantly expressive and meaningfully suggestive poems for the contemporary situation. But “Is This Too Much to Ask For?” is complete in every respect to define the great role, function and simple expectation of a woman from man. Wonderful! She says:

            “My expectation genuine
            a fair share of space in your life,
            to respect me for who I am,
            my inner universe,
            my chastity, my loyalty…
            ……………………………….
            a loving pat in secret,
            a gentle rubbing under the table
            to appreciate my new dish and be a solace
            to me in my solitary penance
            and tell me: Is this too much I ask for?”

                                                                        -Is This Too Much I ask For?  p 99/100

The poet suggests that the reality which a woman faces in daily life is very disturbing and she tolerates and endures and loses the best of herself. In spite of the loud proclamations of radical transformation in the status and security of women, things are worsening for her..

This leads us to the final seventh section of the book- Pocket Poems. These are eleven three line poems with distinct meanings to sum up this poetic venture. Reading these in the context of the previous sections, it becomes a philosophical end to the epic of LIFE, a POEM! It may be specially observed that the seven sections are consciously logically sequenced to communicate the message of the lavish beauty that begins the course of life and the course it follows to its tranquil short and sudden end! The reader heaves a sigh of relief, of course, with a bright broad smile to express heartfelt Gratitude!

Its poetic virtue is sure to be a lasting delight for the poetry lovers and even for the general readers.

The publishers have also  taken care to bring out the qualitative and aesthetically appealing edition of the book.

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