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Contours of Shiv K Kumar’s Poetry: Relocation and Rediscovery by P. V. Laxmiprasad and Sr. Candy D Cunha (Eds.)


Contours of Shiv K Kumar’s Poetry: Relocation and Rediscovery by P. V. Laxmiprasad and Sr. Candy D Cunha (Eds.)

Reviewed by

Dr. D. Uma Sankar

Assistant Professor

 Department of English

Anurag University

Telangana, Hyderabad, India


Contours of Shiv K Kumar’s Poetry: Relocation and Rediscovery | Academic Book | P. V. Laxmiprasad and Sr. Candy D Cunha (Eds.)

Authorspress, 2019, pp. 135, INR 800

ISBN: 978-93-89615-24-1

Shiv K Kumar needs no introduction to the readers. He was an authority in all genres of literature. He was well versed in three languages. An excellent academician and researcher, Kumar was equally at his creative best as a writer of extraordinary potentials. He was a poet, story writer, novelist and an accomplished translator. His publication output speaks of his genius and class in the literary world. It is recalled that Shiv K Kumar did his PhD under the dynamic supervision of Prof. David Daiches at Canterbury University, UK.

The book under review Contours of Shiv K Kumar’s Poetry: Relocation and Rediscovery was jointly edited by Dr.P.V. Laxmiprasad and Dr. Sr. Candy D Cunha from India. This critically edited volume consists of thirteen well-written papers by eminent critics.

To begin with, Kumar’s poetry is a journey of common man from disillusionment to realization. Poverty, superstition, injustice, hypocrisy, double-dealing, failure in love and sex and frustration in conjugal life, beauty and joy, pains and suffering, decay, death and resurrection – all come within the purview of his poetry. Kumar’s love poems are bitter repercussions of failures, and inconsistency on the part of female partner that lead to frustration in life. His love poetry does not bloom in beautiful gardens, but has originated from thorny ways of life, thus it is called the poetry of pain and suffering. Some of his love poems are “Returning Home”, “Married too long”, “To a Young Wife”, “My Co-respondent”, “A Dark Mood”, “Back to Back”, and “Commitment”. He scrutinizes the cause of failure in love and sexual frustration in married life. His treatment of love, sex, betrayal, and resultant frustration is superb. Kumar holds the view that sexual appetite is so natural that it should not be suppressed. Sex is a means to reach the heights of sublimity. He thinks it should not be considered as dirty and as a sin, as our gods had also enjoyed it. Kumar’s poetry can truly be summed up a voyage from mirage to reality. He is philosophic and deliberates on life and death, and existential issues crop up. Failure, futility and aversion result in revulsion in his poetry. There are dark thoughts about death and the bright side of life too is visible in his poetry. Intense melancholy, thoughts of suicide, anxiety, hopelessness, defeat, death and sex in Kumar’s lyrics disturb. All these remind me of T.S. Eliot 21st Century life in despair, disappointment and frustration. An amalgamation of East and West go together in his poetry. As for this edited but critical volume of essays, we reckon that all the critics have explored certain important elements which have been relocated and rediscovered. The contours of his poetry have been best highlighted through a solid criticism. To begin with, Assif Mammo is an authoritative critic on IEP and he critically evaluated Shiv K. Kumar’s important element of poetry i.e., Death. He observes that Death has become a constant theme of poetry because he has been deeply obsessed with Life also. Next, a scholarly paper by Palakurthy Dinakar is on Indian Sensibility in the Poetry of Shiv K Kumar. Through his poems like An Old Dry Well, Trafalgar Square, The Taj, Sunday Morning, Shimla, Ruins at Agra, Deja Vut, An Indian Mother’s Advice to her Daughter before Marriage, A Tibetan Refugee Woman on a Delhi Pavement, This is Hazari Court, Delhi, Sunset Over Simla Hills, he evokes Indian sensibility. He expresses an energetic assertion of cultural identity through the presentation of Indian landscape and its culture. Kumar sensitized his poetry through Indian images. Lily Sharmila is another critic to study the verses by Kumar. She held that the poetry of Shiv K Kumar is live, dynamic and universal in character as it fits into the poetic world of past colonial era. The sublime principles are always in poetic mode generating and promulgating immortal verities. The verse acquires the flash of brilliance. They are a paradigm to past and present. They act as a new way of thinking for the intellectuals. They present a framework for the robust history. To continue the criticism, Mahendra Jagannath Dutte is another critic to work on the poetry of Shiv K. Kumar in terms of material world and spiritual world. This theme hold paramount importance for the poet presents his thoughts on bipolar worlds. According to Dutte, overcoming the material inclinations he has made his journey towards spiritualism following the Buddhist philosophy, he tries his best to perceive the realities of death and materialistic world. His earlier poems depict he was disgusted and sad in his earlier phase of life and while living in New York but in his later poems he advocates the preaching and doctrines of the Bhagawadgita, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata to create interest in the readers of spiritualism. He illustrated the teachings of Buddha in many of his poems. Arti Chandel is a competent critic of IEP who worked on Man-Woman relationship in the poetry of Shiv K. Kumar. Arti observes that Man-Woman relationship, the centre of human-life, is the core of Kumar’s poetry. The charm of this relationship, its complications, and differences between the partners, their separation and resultant suffering, frustration and anger in male partner is predominantly witnessed in the concerned volumes of Kumar’s writing. There are poems that verse beauty of this relationship, softness and madness of love, desire to be together all the time and apprehension of separation. Mrs. S Malathy who worked on Kumar’s poetry for Post-Colonialism has explored the element. Kumar explores the myth about the contemporary world and relates its reality. As a creative genius he grapples with ideas and abstractions, images of men and women on several planes of complex emotions that centre around human activities such as love, sex, companionship and problems relating to his own work of art. As a seeker of innocence, in a world that has been already bedeviled with hypocrisy, corruption and violence, he makes a subtle attempt through poetry; to attain his primary commitment is remarkable. Miss Prasaja VP is a potential critic and worked on inter – She noticed that textual elements in the certain select poems of Shiv K. Kumar. The range of possible inter-textual features in Kumar’s poetry brings out his meticulous scholarship and splendid craftsmanship. The poet seems to believe that a poem should establish a sound relationship with the past. His powerful inclination to explore the ideas and thoughts of dead poets and amalgamate it with his intense imagination makes him distinct from his contemporaries. Pradeep Kumar Arabati has worked on a few select poems from the collection Losing My Way by Shiv K. Kumar. The poetic premises of this collection have been examined in terms of autobiographical and confessional elements. He evaluates that a shrewd and critical reader finds confessional and autobiographical elements in his poetry. His poetry gives a new sense of distinctiveness and direction to postcolonial Indo-Anglian Poetry. Besides writing his poetry on the theme of Nature, he has thematically dealt with social, moral, human, and religious perspectives. Like many other Indian English poets, he also depicts Indianness in his poetry in both his content and themes. Sheeba S Nair is another stalwart critic on IEP. She has explored a very important element that dirge of life and inevitability of death – crucial for all living beings. According to her, death and darkness are closely associated terms and for reason unknown or may due to the absence of light, human beings believe that the dead souls whom we call as ghosts make their appearance only after midnight to haunt and hurt the living. Shiv K. Kumar too shares the same view and the very first poem after which the collection selected here for study has been titled records this faith.

N. Asharudden is another critic who explored the highlights of Kumar’s important theme of poetry i.e., Death. Shiv K Kumar was the post-colonial writer, his whimsical experience on postmodern life becomes the major reason to draw out the various themes of life in distinct vision. This analysis in the theme of death on the book, Where have the Dead Gone? & Other Poems is purposeful because the general discussion on any author is most probably a common or broad thought which may fail to present the unique quality of author. In this concern, this analysis is very particular about single theme to unpeel the common views on Kumar. Anju S Nair is another critic to trace out the beauties of truth. According to her, the poet’s wide and observing eyes persistently wander to absorb the multiple realities of life. Most of the themes bring out the innermost realities of life, and the imperfections of human beings that are sometimes hidden due to the futility of life are seen through a microscopic eye of the poet. The hopelessness of life is the image that is implanted in the lines of the poem ‘Indian Women’. The tedium of a pilgrimage proves to be a revelation to untold truths. True to her observations, it is finally truth that makes a pregnant living in the world. R. Karthika Devi has worked on the songs of Night from Kumar’s collection Losing My Way. Thus, Kumar, notwithstanding his obsession with the thought of death, possesses a comprehensive heart and soul to enjoy and celebrate both high and low, the great and the common, the abstract and the concrete, time and eternity and the spiritual and the materialistic with both philosophical and the casual tone during the phase of night of his life. X. Anita Arul traced out the autobiographical element from the Post-Colonial perspective. Shiv K. Kumar’s poetry stands as a testimony to the true self-revelation of the post-colonial poets. His poetry depicts the true bondage that lies in the familial relationship in Indian culture. His attachment towards the society, the sufferings of the people, the real contemporary situation and the satirical thought show the daring capability of the poet.

In conclusion, we hold that Shiv K. Kumar is a scholar-poet. He wields an enormous strength in the use of language with scholarly effectiveness and authority. Kumar not only paints word-pictures but also creates splendid metaphors effectively. He is a poet of images and similes and absorbingly both Western and Indian in his treatment of themes of style.

He is disappointed, ruthless, agonized, protesting and experimental and nostalgic and predominantly philosophic about life and death. He is autobiographical, confessional, natural and geographical too. Impact of Western education was profound on his poetry. A teacher who scaled heights of excellence in creative writing, Kumar will go down in the annals of IEP. His contribution is indeed an eye opener for other teachers to get inspired. His poetry is relevant to the modern times as it has withstood the onslaught of times.  He expresses an assertion of cultural identity through the presentation of Indian landscape and its culture. In his later poems, Kumar advocates the preaching and doctrines of the Bhagavadgita, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata to create an interest among the readers in the world of spiritualism. He illustrated the teachings of Buddha in many of his poems. In yet another dimension, Shiv K Kumar is the poet who holds the voice of all genders and sexes in his writings. He is undoubtedly a great poet beyond the dimensions of time and place. As Surjit S Dublai remarks: “ Elements of both Western and Indian origin, [thus] combine in Kumar’s poetry to provide an ecumenical duality of distinctions between sacred and profane, sublime and mean, good and bad in strictly human terms. The genesis of his sensibility and the scope of his subject matter alike make him a writer of worldwide importance. Autobiographical elements, a marked feature of post-colonial poetry as well as literature, run deep through the poetry of Shiv K Kumar. Kumar’s poetry stands testimony to the true self –revelation of the post-colonial poets. There are many religious, social, and philanthropic undertones in Shiv K Kumar’s poetry. He depicts the objective, unbiased and dispassionate version of truth and the importance of understanding the concept of Karma-Yoga. The style of Kumar’s poetry is governed by a powerful overflow of thought. The ‘feel’ of originality dominates his oeuvre of poetry. To that extent, it evokes a sense of empathy between the poet and the readers.