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A Madcap Dance Of Perfected Eccentricities


Yogesh Patel

TICKER-TAPE
By Rishi Dastidar
Nine Arches Press, UK, Year 2017, pp.80

VOLUME XLI NUMBER 5 May 2017

Language is a plaything in poets’ hands,                a raw material shaped into a sculpture. How far the poet engages with this challenge varies across the spectrum of this genre. Poets like Dastidar are not bothered about assuming the role of ‘legislators’ as Shelley would have it. Nor has he planned to be different, but he naturally achieves this as poet Mona Arshi observes in the blurb, ‘There really is no one else currently writing poetry quite like this.’ By implication it also means that this is not the collection one would decide to sit down with the cocoa, have feet up, and relax to enjoy it. There is a heavy demand on readers to initiate them into Dastidar’s cultural expose. For example, take his humorous poem, ‘A shark comes to dinner’, p. 16. You have to be in the know that it refers to Woody Allen’s famous quote in Annie Hall, ‘A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies.’ The idea quickly borrows from the world of advertising and Marshall McLuhan’s play of words in ‘massage the message’ and ‘the medium is the message’. References just don’t stop there in the poem. The poet plays with the expression, Johnny-come-lately, i.e., someone who has only recently started a job or activity and has suddenly become very successful. It morphs into Jawsy-Come-Lately for the date that takes over like a shark. Also pops up a command of cookery expert, Elizabeth David, famous for her Mediterranean food (replaced with ‘words’), ‘Calm’. At this point the poet settles down with yet another reference, this time on Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who formalized the modern system of naming organisms: He looked over and tried to drool attractively. You’ve never seena mammal wish so fervently to tell Linnaeus to stuff himself, Hence, while the poems are supremely executed and structured with the apparent fun and witty observations sprinkled in, they are not in the mould of simplicity of his some other excellent poems, such as ‘All the laurels in the world, and you give me these?’ I woke up this morning thinking I’d won the Prix. This is where love and capitalism has got me, having me on that I can win a horse race in Paris, when it’s obvious I’m only any good ...


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