Running In Circles by Mamta Prasad

Running In Circles

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Prasad’s debut collection of poetry and prose is a long rumination on love, language, life, and the universe, filled with bright, colorful paintings and photos.

This compilation comprises seven loosely organized sections, with Prasad’s photographs and illustrations interspersed throughout. The poems mostly cover love, sex, relationships, family, spiritual matters, and the universe; the best feature descriptions of nature with striking, beautiful imagery (“So I go back to hiding in umbrae, swimming in fathomless oceans”). Such images are often bogged down, though, by surrounding lines featuring vague philosophical digressions or clichéd aphorisms (“We close our doors and shut the windows and expect to be elevated”). Prasad touts herself as “old school,” and it’s not hard to see why—the poetry’s style and subject matter are reminiscent of Buddhist poetry, the beat poetry of Allen Ginsberg and Philip Whalen, the early work of Leonard Cohen, and Arthur Rimbaud’s illuminations. The problem with such similarity, though, is that the poetry doesn’t feel fresh. Prasad’s wordplay and rhyming can be captivating at times (“A sonata of parodies, paradise and perdition”); however, it’s mostly tiring or cloying, as in lines such as, “It would be ironic if something dawned on you at sunset.” The book is also full of unanswered (or unanswerable) big questions on love and the nature of the universe, such as “What is love? Is it blind?” or “Are we governed by our brain or by our heart?”; unfortunately, readers have probably read them before elsewhere. Instead of probing these questions and exploring the possibilities of their answers, the author mostly just proffers them and moves on. As a result, most of the collection is somewhat scattered and unfocused. However, “Colorfooled,” one of the final sections of the book, stands out, with its short poems introducing and interacting with vibrant, abstract paintings.

These poems often address big themes with brio, but the collection as a whole covers well-trod territory and lacks consistency. 

Pub Date: March 9th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4828-5118-2
Page count: 162pp
Publisher: PartridgeIndia
Program: Kirkus Indie
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