Poetry has the potential to be both therapeutic and cathartic, allowing poets to wade through ontological meanders in their lives; to find answers to nagging questions of the moment; seek clarity in the midst of obscurantism; comfort and solace in troubled times; peace and tranquility in a world gone haywire. Versification provides a vehicle for the transportation of diverse attitudes, frames of mind, and fresh insights. Paradise of Idiots accomplishes this feat. The poet speaks in a confident tone of apocalyptic utterances: advising, warning, denouncing, protesting, and chiding. This long poem harbors the twin virtues of germaneness and clarity of diction. The poet willfully eschews the irksome ineloquence and syntactic sophistry characteristic of traditional poets. He dialogues with the reader like our traditional guardians of the word, the griots, did in a bygone time. Passion, energy, and cutting irony are the hallmarks of this didactic poem. The poet subscribes to Salman Rushdie’s pronouncement that “a poet’s work is to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.” In this poem music becomes a quest for the authentic self; songs serve as opium imbued with the power to transform feebleness into fortitude, despair into hope, paranoia into valor, and cowardice into audacity.It is a tale of bittersweet truths. The poem resonates with the defiant voice of a son-of-the-soil at odds with a world gone topsy-turvy.
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Published May 28, 2010
History, Literature & Fiction.