Book Review: Knocking Vistas and Other Poems

Review by: Bill Waters

Knocking Vistas and Other Poems
Ram Krishna Singh.
Authorspress, New Delhi, 2024
$25.00 Pb; 94pp
ISBN 978-93-6095-669-1

R. K. Singh’s latest volume of poetry is not easy to categorize because this widely published, award-winning poet has magically squeezed the entire world into it.

Visually, the poems in Knocking Vistas are bare-bones, relying on line breaks and expanded spacing between certain words and phrases to frame the structure. Punctuation marks and capitalization are used only as absolutely necessary, which has the effect of inviting — even requiring — the mind to linger on lines and the mental images they create.

Bill Waters
And there is a lot to linger over! This thought-provoking collection portrays life primarily as an overlapping collage of battlefields. Gaza is the obvious one; less overt are the arenas of politics, religion, technology, psychology, sociology, the media, sexuality, and the aging human body. At the heart of the majority of these poems is the ongoing struggle to cope with (and make sense of) the blunt truths and sharp pangs encountered over a long life.

The first 34 poems of this book require only a page each to communicate their messages, while poems 35 through 38 break the single-page barrier to create a different kind of reading experience. “Melting Elements”, called “an experimental long poem”, fills 14 pages with alternating stanzas of five and three lines each. “Love Hides” is a haiku sequence of 3 pages. And “Knocking Vistas” is divided into two separate poems: the first a grouping of five-liners spread over 13 pages, and the second a grouping of three-liners, spread over 16 more.

The book concludes with a laudatory essay entitled “The Narrow Road: R. K. Singh’s Haiku, Tanka and Beyond” by Kevin Marshall Chopson, poet laureate of Gallatin, Tennessee. “The melding of the literal and metaphorical into a space that is beyond language that grounds us in the now but is simultaneously transcendent,” says Chopson, “is quite the trick. Ram Krishna Singh is able to do this in this poetry, particularly in his own species of haiku. In this regard, Singh has become a master magician, an alchemist — taking base metals and turning them into gold.”

Knocking Vistas offers a penetrating perspective on life through the eyes of one who has seen it all.
Bio: Bill Waters is a broadly published poet/writer, perpetual reader,  talented editor, and renowned haikuist. He lives in Pennington, New Jersey, USA.

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