The Rapids: An innovative jazz of poetry

The Rapids: An innovative jazz of poetry

Handle with care! Imtiaz Dharker, a winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014, aptly captures the range and dynamics of this collection of poems, “Yogesh Patel raids diverse areas of experience and many literatures to make a ‘jazz of poetry’. These poems travel with a Freedom Pass and a crow-sharp eye through Greek, Indian, African and Chinese myth, via the error page and cryptocurrency, all the way to the milk round and disrupted ecologies. They play on connections and disconnections, acting as improvisations that bounce sound and light into the broken corners of the world.”

This volume of poetry by Yogesh Patel is deserving of your attention, not merely for its wide-ranging and unprejudiced approached to the essence of poetry, but especially for its introduction to a new and refreshing poetry genre in the form of a Rapid. The birthright of this genre rests entirely with Yogesh and with it he opens a door to a wordsworthy challenge to all those whose poetic claims would encompass its short, sharp and profoundly discordant clarity. Under his guidance, from its early conception and somewhat formally defined profile it has quite rapidly evolved into its current dynamically adaptive format, as revealed in the ninety plus pages and profusion of Rapids among the fifty plus poems included. I suspect it is not by accident that the opening poem in this collection provides an introduction to the basic concept that underlies the Rapid.

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The Rapids: An innovative jazz of poetry
A poignant re-telling of complex realities, nature, human frailties

*(A classic song from Raj Kapoor’s 1955 film Shree 420 is about one’s ultimate identity. मेरा जूता है जापानी/ये पतलून इंगलिश्तानी/सर पे लाल टोपी रूसी/फिर भी दिल है हिन्दुस्तानी/ My shoes are from Japan, pants from England, my head boasts ushanka, yet at heart, I remain a Hindustani.)

Poet Steven O’Brien writes: “To come across Yogesh Patel’s poetry is like a door opening to the fresh light at the end of a dark corridor. There are poets of the east and poets of the west, but in this collection Patel shows that he is a poet of both sensibilities. In this way, the subtleties of Indian poetic form and tone are gently entwined with those of the English tradition to form a new, delicate and original utterance. Daring, sophisticated and playful – Patel’s poetry is a calligraphy of the soul made visible. It is a rare achievement.”

Poet George Szirtes adds: “Yogesh Patel’s poems are pieced together as fragments of a range of cultures threaded on a sensibility that is philosophical and universalist. The poems take you to places of high tension then turn away to face others as if the world itself were restless and constantly on the move. It is like being engaged in an overheard dialogue with language.”

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The Rapids: An innovative jazz of poetry
Poet Ravi Shankar on displacement as a source of parody

Poet Martina Evans, on reading the collection, commented: “The Rapids is well named— what an exhilarating journey, such a light touch while dealing with profound themes and so very musical. I have never read a book where the notes are also poems! I loved your description of the Rapid form and the responses from other poets— like birds singing to each other. All of it is just so engaging.”

Thankfully, four pages of explanatory notes are provided to explain the complex marriage of imaginative freedom and linguistic discipline required to create a successful Rapid. Among these notes are impressions gleaned from a variety of sources and hence provide a variety of impressions.

These include:

Debjani Chatterjee MBE, FRSL, who writes: “The Rapid is much more than the sum of its structure and layout. Its subject matter and revelation are important. Its teasing, its insight and its surprise element, the enjoyment in the ghazal-couplet-like individuality and connectivity – all these are part and parcel of the challenging new form of poetry.”

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The Rapids: An innovative jazz of poetry
Vivek Narayanan on his Ramayana and poetics of multiple locations

Fiona Sampson MBE: “In The Rapids Yogesh Patel unveils a vigorous new poetic form, which looks set to give writers and readers pleasure for years to come. What doubles the pleasure is the way these poems bring the human and natural worlds in together on a single, generous breath.”

And Yogesh himself, who provides six guideline core rules and eight guideline observations on “what makes a good rapid”.

In total, this is a book to enjoy, to unpick, and to encourage good careful reading and better inspired writing.

by Brian D’Arcy

Brian D’Arcy is a prize-winning poet with an Irish heritage and music. His latest collection is ‘Ghost Horses Dancing’, published by Sixties Press.

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