Khanna, a native of New Delhi, offers his debut collection of poems about love and loss.
Grouped into four subsections—“Love,” “Youth,” “World” and “End”—Khanna’s poetry tends to rely on wordplay that can be amusing the first time around, although it loses its charm the more it’s used. In the poem “Marrymaking Nod!,” the line “So you charm me with your nodding yes” concludes each paragraph in a way that at first seems coy, then jokey and finally somewhat annoying; successive poems use the same format. Elsewhere, in “One-Sided Love,” a lover is at first “like a weighing scale and frigid,” then “like music-furniture and frigid,” and eventually “like an ATM and frigid.” Several poems suffer from what appears to be a translation issue. Missing articles and conjunctions distract further, as in “Babe in the Woods”: “Like an invitee refusing to join club” and “I am reduced to fig in the storm.” Other phrases don’t make much sense: “I am sunrise solution,” “His pidduism makes Indians one-liner abler.” Yet in this slender collection there are also moments of vulnerability that glisten like starlight on sand, particularly when Khanna mourns his father in the poems of “End”: “I am your offshoot / I offer you tribute / You kept rowing the boat / You were all things, all persons to me / You made everything well for me / like a God’s bliss.” If Khanna were to gain a firmer grasp of English and eschew the easy puns, clichés and self-pity in favor of a more personal approach, he could blossom into a more assertive, readable poet.
A decent first effort marred by a few dull streaks.