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Kavitha Gopalakrishnan’s Review of Critical Perspectives on the Poetry of R. K. Singh, D. C. Chambial and I. K. Sharma

K. V. Dominic, ed. Critical Perspectives on the Poetry of R. K. Singh, D. C. Chambial and I. K. Sharma. New Delhi: Access, 2011. Pp. xii + 340. Price: Rs.900. HB. ISBN: 978-81-921254-9-7.


Kavitha Gopalakrishnan



The book under review entitled Critical Perspectives on the Poetry of R. K. Singh, D. C. Chambial and I. K. Sharma, is an honest attempt made by its editor Dr. K. V. Dominic to try and give their rightful place in the poetical canon of Indian English Literature. The editor himself states: “The chief motive behind my editing such an anthology is a retaliation, reaction or solution to the question, as to why in the list of the prominent poets, Prof. R. K. Singh, Prof. D. C. Chambial, and Prof. I. K. Sharma could not find a place” (vi ).

The book has two interviews and twenty-eight critical articles by various contributors who include stalwarts, writers, professors and research scholars. The articles cover each poet extensively. They deal with various aspects of the three poets whose poetry signifies the new momentum that English poetry has now gained. The first eight articles deal with R. K. Singh the poet and his poetic output. They unravel various aspects of the poet. There is an article which makes a comparative study between the poetry of Shiv K. Kumar and R. K. Singh. Fifteen articles of thirty are devoted to D. C. Chambial’s poetry. Apart from this there are three articles solely on the poetry of I. K. Sharma and two articles that make a comparative study between the poetry of I. K. Sharma and Mahanand Sharma.

The introductory article by P. C. K. Prem is a curtain raiser to the poetry of the three stalwarts. He states that “Indian consciousness is the hallmark of their poetic strength.” He further adds that the clarity, genuineness and simplicity of poetic art is what makes them truly distinguished. He draws a comparison between the verses of the three poets, which present “the cities, filth in politics” and “their search of music and rhythm in life (2). He very clearly delineates the “dissimilar similarities” in their poetry:

I. K. Sharma visualizes a world where peace and harmony prevail. R. K. Singh is a superb artist in the delineation of a moment’s experience and he is totally committed to life in all its shades. Chambial has an inherent ability to stun the readers with the sparkles of images and holds the view that the victory of man is the ultimate reality of human existence. (14)

Among the eight articles on R. K. Singh’s poetic oeuvre, Patricia Prime notes how Singh’s  poems are noteworthy for their straightforward observations that are translated into poetry through simple, plain language that is, very often than not, “begging forgiveness for those tendencies towards insularity and over-intellectualization” (17). Citing from Singh’s poetry, Prime states how tanka and haiku deal with ‘everyday things’ and yet “reveal these things to be mysterious and extraordinary” (19). In the next article, V. V. B. Rama Rao delineates R. K. Singh’s poetic oeuvre by analyzing his collection Sexless Solitude and Other Poems. Rao citing from various poems of this   collection shows how “the scabrous and scatological are part of the actuality around” (24). He emphatically states that all the poems in the collection “without exception stimulates us and provoke thought as to what existence is both in actuality and ideal in the poet’s imaginative perception” (29), and all this without moralizing and preaching. The authors Jindagi Kumari and Rajni Singh surveys the poetics of R. K. Singh which is “oriented towards beauty, self harmony and peace with its base in Indian thought and cultural which considers search for beauty or truth as chief aims of life (40). They give an overview of R. K. Singh’s poetics—the theme dealt, the formal features used, the symbols recurring, the analogy engaged, the philosophy alluded to and so on in a detached manner. Next, is an interview with R. K. Singh done by K. Rajani. We get a wonderful definition of poetry straight from the horse’s mouth. Singh says that he thinks that poetry “lies in articulating momentness of a moment as lived or experienced and in continuity of memory, which is free to make illusion of truth or reality, and truth or reality of an illusion (48). He clearly states that he doesn’t believe didactism and moralization through poetry. G. D. Barche next delves on the stylistic interpretation of R. K. Singh’s poem “Sexless Solitude.” The writer analyses the lines of the poem and “unfolds the two streams of life that have flowed from time immemorial”—“the life of restraint and discipline” and “the life of worldly pleasure” (60). He highlights the significance of the use of colour, the necessity of contrastive parallel structures so as to suggest the two-tier pattern of life. In the next article, Barche analyses number of capsule, i.e. short of R. K. Singh in his recent collection Sexless Solitude and Other Poems, highlights the fact that the poet “has tried to protect two categories of people in two sets of poems, viz. one, the Sanjaya Type, i.e.–those who remain detached and can see things as they are and two, the Dhrutharashtra type, i.e. who get attached to things and fail to see their real nature. In the next article, Ruchi Bangar claims him as a “socially conscious man” (81), who seem to draw the attention of the reader towards the issues plaguing society. In the next article, the writers Jindagi Kumari and Rajni commendably surveys the treatment of myths and use of rituals in the poetry of R .K. Singh and Shiv K. Kumar, and states that, they “emerge as realists and rationalists” in their treatment of myths (95).

The major part of the book is devoted to the analysis of the poetry of Duni Chand Chambial. Dr. K. V. Dominic in his article critically analyses the thematic content of Chambial’s poetry, and brings out the “subtle and concrete imagery, and the beauty of his simple, sonorous, rhythmical diction” (106). In the next article, P. C. K. Prem focuses on the main feature of Chambial’s poetry viz. “intellectual probing into lives dilemmas in the contemporary scenario” (107). In the next article, Satyendra Kumar explores the poetry of D. C. Chambial with the stylistic approach. He describes Chambial as an “exiled Prospero performing from his shack with no Ariel or Caliban to carry out his commands . . . . Kumar after thorough analysis of the lexis, lexical devices (vernacular items, expletives, verb, adjectives, verb, adjectives, noun, conjunction, etc.); stylistic devices (syntax, capitalization, punctuation marks, morphemes, inversion, repetition of phrases, stanza scheme etc.) and semantic devices ( emotive meaning, cognitive meaning, connotative words, signs, symbols, enjambment etc.); confidently states that his poetry “shows a chiseled workship” (149). In the next article, Mandira Banerjee and Rajni Singh focus on the fact that Chambial is a poet of social reality. They state that the poet is “grieving at the crumbling of human values and hypocrisy and cynicism that are rampant in the modern society” (152). He exhorts his readers to face the adversaries with a positive frame of mind. In the next article, Rachna Singh infers that the “poetry of Chambial is a glimpse of the infinite in the midst of the finite things of the universe” (170). Sishu Paul Sehgal shares his interview bytes with Chambial. The extensive interview covers myriad aspects of the poet and his poetry. The poet’s thought on creativity needs to be placed on record—“creativity is an endless work like the flow of a river. As long as one is sensitive to one’s hinterland and life around one goes on creating something new” (189). His definition of poetry is also noteworthy: “a good poem is one that uses imagery with economy of expression and compels one to think and refracts its meaning(s) like light reflected from a diamond–one that is not plain/flat in its language” (188-189). In the next article, Madhavi Nikam and Sudhir Nikam place him among the leading poets and state that he is “one of the forceful voices in the literary gamut” (190). In the article, the writers explore the “various themes style and imagery in his latest collection of poems, This Promising Age and Other Poems (2004). They state that the collection reflects the present day social milieu, the mechanization of the mind, heart and body of human beings and degradation of values in modern life. In the next article, Tribhuwan Kumar, emphatically states that “the poetic canvas of Chambial is so diversified and rich that his works can be viewed and evaluated from kaleidoscopic point of view” (199). This article too analyses the collection The Promising Age and Other poems and states that the poetic oeuvre of Chambial is strengthened by “universal philosophy of life and death” (204). He also draws a parallel between Wordsworth and Chambial in his article. He also shows how Chambial has the metaphysical quality of “unification of sensibilities, ideas and images. In the next article, Sashi Nath Pande studies the poetry of Chambial very closely and says that” It (poetry) shares the thematic and technical quality of almost all the great and established twentieth Century British Indian poets but with a great difference that unlike them his poetry is free from obscurity, pedantic use of language and allusive use of images and metaphors” (224). In the next article, K. Vani uncovers “the poets struggle against oppression and violence, both through peaceful means and through the deployment of counter violence” (226). He shows the poet’s adeptness at conveying the gross exploitation that is prevalent in today’s society.  In the next article, Nalini Sharma shows how Chambial is a poet with a difference as his poems have “aesthetical appeal and exude the divinity of his soul” (235). In the next article, P. V. Laxmi Prasad, discusses the philosophy of life in the poetry of Chambial. He states that the lines in the poetry of this master writer “are not streaks of imaginations . . . but are infact, accurate revelations on the life of eternity. Suresh Chandra Pande in his article analyses in detail the collection “Before the Petals Unfold.” This is a collection of nearly 58 poems. His poems is stated t have puns, aphorisms, sublimity and connotative words in plethora. In the next article, Aju Mukhopadhyay ruminates on the poetry of Chambial. He analyses the3 poems in a detailed manner and says that “the central motive force of Chambial’s life is to see and meet the Beyond, beyond his poetry, to escape into eternity” (273).

Next, we have three articles that study the poetry of I. K. Sharma. The first article by O. P. Mathur states that “Sharma’s own experiences cover a kaleidoscopic range of objects, both inanimate and animate. Their visions are conveyed through . . . irony, satire, pity, sympathy, admiration, and adoration” (228) which help the readers to gain wisdom. In the next article, N. P. Singh states how the recent poets do not write in the comic mode, and how I. K. Sharma is different in this respect. Satire, mock- heroic expressions, irony is rampant in his poems. His comic vision helps see the problem and evils of the world in a lighter vein. Singh states that, “the poet loves the colour and excitement of the world we live in and he can visualize the sensory richness of the human drama that the comic mode can perceive with trenchant clarity” (290). V. V. B. Rama Rao makes a deep study of I. K. Sharma’s corpus of poetic creations and portrays him as a “large-hearted sensitive humane personality” who is blessed with several epiphanic moments and impressive intuitive depth.

The next two articles make a comparative study between two poets, I. K. Sharma and Maha Nand Sharma. The first article studies the use of wit by the two poets and the second one studies the use of sarcasm by them. In the first, the writers Ram Kulesh Thakur and R. K. Singh discusses the concept of “wit” and how the concept of wit has evolved over the times.  They then go on to show how wit helps the two poets to “achieve wonderful intensity, tone, rhythm, setting, exposure of culture and society, dialogue, or form” (318). Their “poetic wit is distinguished by brevity, eloquence and surprise” and also “plays a role in the formulation, transmission, and conservation of their cultural wisdom” (318). However the two poets differ in the use of wit in their poetry. Maha Nand Sharma uses wit to inform and instruct and I. K. Sharma to amuse and generate humour. In the next article, the writers discuss how sarcasm is one of the prominent tools employed in poetic communication. They help the readers understand what sarcasm is and how it has evolved over the years. Their thorough analysis brings out the fact that “Maha Nand Sharma relies heavily on sarcasm as a tool to communicate,” while “I. K. Sharma uses sarcasm only as a catalyst to provoke the thoughts of his readers” (338).

Thus this mammoth book speaks at length on all aspects of the trio’s—R. K. Singh, D. C Chambial and I. K. Sharma–poetry. I cannot but agree with the editor’s words that this book “will be a great reference material for research scholars besides being an intellectual feast to the lovers of Indian English poetry” (ix).


Ms. Kavitha Gopalakrishnan, Assistant Professor of English, Viswajyoti College of Engineering and Technology, Vazhakulam, Muvattupuzha, Kerala, India.