Poems Homing on Songs and Letters
Yogesh Patel
WHAT SURVIVES IS THE SINGING/LETTERS HOME by Shanta Acharya/Jennifer Wong Indigo Dreams Publishing/Nine Arches Press, 2020, 82.72 pp., £9.99/£9.99
June 2020, volume 44, No 6

Shanta Acharya exercises her poetic licence by quoting Elizabeth Jennings, ‘We have a whole world to rearrange.’ While she dismantles our perceptions, she rearranges her sentiments and opinions as poems laced with observations. A reason is given by the title of one of her poems,  ‘Not Everything Begins Elsewhere’ (p. 66). The idea is to make you confront your reality. Therefore, we see some impelled violence described in her poems elsewhere. In that, she has also a warning:

The world may appear to be your oyster

Remember it is not yours to keep or conquer. (p. 67)

The following lines capture what is Acharya’s core quest:

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer––

It sings because it has a song. (p. 44)

She has songs to part with, but they have spanning wings of views about everything around us, often political. To anchor us in this, her first poem takes us through the dooms of Brexit and influx of migrants, but it has hope: ‘a crack is all it takes for light to get in.’ Poet’s defiance is the light that tries to get through the crack. What is there to challenge? The distortions or fakery: ‘the quality of darkness is how it lets us see.’ With her light added through the crack, she wants us to see differently. This is the journey in this collection. A pondering poet often discharges a Guru’s wisdom: ‘When fate deals you a losing hand, play in silence.’ Emotions and passions also run riot: ‘barbarians run the city’, ‘a daughter, perfect almost, yet relegated/to live in the shade…’, ‘chasing other people’s dreams’, ‘a slow sclerosis of vision’ of the world, or ‘humans pretending to speak’.

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