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Introduction: Poetic Mind of K. V. Dominic by P. C. K. PREM
Dominic considers multiculturalism or unity in diversity as the essence of existence, the real beauty of oneness. The symphony and harmony in nature are symbols of unity in diversity. Multiculturalism is visible everywhere — from microcosm to macrocosm, from individuals and families to the entire world. The human organism certainly displays diversity, but still, wide-ranging organs work for the whole in perfect harmony. If a man upholds harmony in each wing of life, a meaningful synthesis will work for a dignified cause. Like many poets, he affirms that materialism distorts, rather kills principles, values, family, and social relations. Corruption is the hallmark of contemporary life where poets, as prophets, must perform social duties, he exhorts at many places. And the advent of terrorism and religious fanaticism disturb him. He calls it an irony that a man does everything in the name of God.
K. V. Dominic has published three poetic collections: Winged Reason (2010), Write Son, Write (2011), and Multicultural Symphony (2014) so far, and each volume exhibits the poet's anxieties for the little aspirations of an ordinary man who works in the fields and factories and who does not live a comfortable life.
Dominic's Winged Reason is a collection of poems of earthly imagination. Lofty thoughts and ideas are not the areas of his poetic forays. Dominic is worried about the social life of man. If a man is happy in a society and earns his livelihood, he makes a wonderful world. Winged Reason conveys a definite message. His second collection of poems Write Son, Write carries the thought process forward, and again the poet raises issues concerning man, life, and god. He is truly realistic and down-to-earth in the sense that the words with the tonal values do not distract the readers with multi-faceted meanings. In Multicultural Symphony, thoughts of love, fellow feelings, social anxieties, and compassion present universal feelings of human sentiments. He attempts to recognize pains, sufferings, and anguish of men, who work hard, live a miserly life but contribute to the building of vast empires, nations, and rulers. However, no one really thinks of the wellbeing of the poor and hardworking people.
The poet believes in simple, straight, and unadorned language while displaying genuine anxiety for the socially neglected segments of society. He is more interested in conveying feelings, thoughts, miseries, and the little joys of life rather than the craft and style of poetry. He is genuinely interested in life of men and considers it a poetic forte when he says:
A poet should be responsible to his own conscience. Otherwise, he cannot be called a poet. I do agree with Jayanta Mahapatra that the craft and style of language are only frills of poetry. A poet is a creator, a representative of the Almighty Creator. His duty is to recreate the world in the minds of the readers with added beauty. He has to present before his fellow beings an ideal world. Let me make a criticism of my poems, as Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Laureate, has always been doing to his poems. As a poet, I am responsible to my own conscience and I want to convey an emotion or a message often through social criticism. ... poetry should be digestible as short stories and novels are. I adopt a conversational style in poetry, which again attracts the ordinary readers. Here I am influenced much by the Victorian poet Robert Browning.
I believe what he says, and he proves it. Poetry, if serves humanity, will make a permanent impression, he feels. He concentrates on the miserable conditions of the poor and feels emotional attachment. He constructs a philosophy of life worth emulating. In the sufferings of man, he finds hidden zest and meaning for life. The relation between God, Nature, and Man is the theme in Dominic's poetry. The poet believes that Man learns many things from Nature and non-human beings. Unfortunately, human beings break the flow or rhythm of a system. Dominic's poetry appeals to reason and feelings rather than imagination. Dominic's poems 'instruct' and 'delight' — the twin purposes of poetry — and thus, social thoughts predominate his poetry.
Disease and the System
He is ruefully conscious of the rampant corruption whether political or religious. Whatever concerns a man's life, living, and society is the theme of his poetic creation with minimum use of similes, metaphors, and images. In a long preface, the poet makes a statement about poetic morality, theme, and philosophy of life in totality while underlining the miserable conditions of the poor in the world. In the background of each poem, the otherwise invisible and unobserved existence of obtrusively stark realities of life of hard working poor people, and the utter darkness they confront around, challenges a sensitive mind and makes a powerful and permanent impact, and thereafter, eloquently speaks of the power of poetry, its beauty, and strength. Intensity of experience and sincerity in depiction beautify social realism in Dominic's poetry. Out of curiosity, when I probed further, he wrote to me:
The major theme of my poetry is the eternal relationship between Man, Nature, and God. Though baptized a Christian, I am primarily an Indian. It is my duty also to propagate noble values to the rest of the world. Advaita seems to me more reasonable and acceptable than Dvaita. I find the eternal affinity between Man, Nature, and God. Man is not given liberty to kill other beings nor is he allowed to uproot plants and trees for his luxuries. The Creator has given man permission to use plants just for his survival. That is the law of Nature. Are all creations — plants, animals, planets, stars — created solely for man? I have respect for Hinduism and Buddhism as they believe in Ahimsa.
Dominic is deeply aware of the hiatus between the rich and the poor and the degree of prejudice, injustice, and exploitation that governs the lives of the poor. He the agonies and sufferings of women, old men, and the downtrodden with aching intensity and depth. Rural life is ideal, simple, and innocent, where no evil ever enters, but urbanites appear cruel and unsympathetic, materialistic and avaricious.
One may find it difficult to agree with the poet but deep down, truth reveals hard realities of life, where the cultured and the civilized dictate principles of life. In fact, life in totality without philosophic nuances is the subject matter of Dominic's poems and through an objective and realistic evaluation in social perspective, if efforts are sincere, a man's life can be happy and meaningful, the poet asserts.
Man and the World
Dominic is fundamentally a poet of humanity and his subject is 'man' and 'society'. His compassion and sympathy are concentrated on man and this quality makes Dominic special. His humanism is transparently perceptible, the moment one goes into the emotional areas the poet's verses create. A journey into the heart of the poems is an experience of not only unique stillness but also one feels a terrific eruption of feelings, volatile stirring of suppressed emotions, and restrained but transcendent creation of an affectionate and rich world.
The poet does not take the reader to regions beyond sky or probes into the depths of heart. He is definitely not worried about the other world. Ideas of love, birth, and death do not create ripples in the poet's mind and heart. Intellectual strength, capacity, and physical limitations of Dominic try to understand the known and required essentials of life of a poor man. He wishes to explore the realistic needs of man and wants to share a few moments of joy and happiness with the neglected segment of the society.
He experiments with multifaceted experiences and incidents of life, and the itch drives the poet to the heart of the society where a man lives, flourishes, and suffers. At this moment, the poet intellectualizes life where facts and truths in little fragments surface. Life turns out an indefinite mystery. Bereft of philosophic undercurrent, the little verses of Dominic are highly subjective with an objective outlook. He may appear personal in the depiction of life of a particular section of the society, but if understood properly, he speaks for the whole humanity and invokes sentiments of love for humanity. In one of the lyrics, he asks: "My dear fellow beings/when will you learn/the need for/multicultural existence?" In beautiful and subtle words, he talks of unity in creation:
The creator made no divisions except man and woman he made the division to continue creation In truth they are one two sides of the flow
In the third stanza, he says:
Multiplicity and diversity essence of universe From atom to the heavens multiculturalism reigns This unity in diversity makes beauty of universe.
("Multicultural Harmony", Multicultural Symphony 15)
At times, he interprets a man's life from experiences gathered after conscious and careful understanding of man and life.
Many poems indirectly deal with societal setup and man's behavior and attitude in the collective endeavor to make society a better place to live. The wretched and desolate living conditions of the poor disturb the poet and he tries to hold the rich responsible for the sufferings of the subjugated and the poor. It appears the objective of the poet, wherein he makes genuine efforts to look at the issues in the contemporary context and tries to find relevance. It is quite appropriate to recall the words of the poet:
Poor people are strangled through taxes and their governments do nothing for their welfare. The government is always with the rich, caring for their comfort and luxury. The rich can evade taxes, exploit the weaker sections, torture and kill anyone they like; they get the protection of police; can escape legal punishments ... It is the duty of the rich as well as the developed countries to alleviate the miseries of the poor. (Preface, Winged Reason, 13)
Unending worries of getting a loaf of bread and shelter occupy the poet's attention and lead him to a calculated, perhaps even manipulated criticism of society. He says, "Very sorry ma / I will never waste / any food in future / Ma, we shall keep / a portion of our food / and send it to / those hungry mouths" ("Hungry Mouths", Multicultural Symphony 50). A greatly personal indictment of the rich, whom he finds morally responsible for the injustice perpetrated on the poor and the helpless, might appear unjustified to many, but beneath the surface, the poet's genuine anxieties for the well-being of the vulnerable section of society cannot be underestimated. He talks of the universal problem of hunger, ailing many countries, and the exploitation of the rich, perhaps the rulers.
Anguish of Eroding Social Values
Injustice, exploitation, and poverty are the recurring themes of many poems while he quite earnestly talks scathingly of the dirty politics and degeneration of value-system. Interestingly, Dominic says it in simple words with straight meaning, but an inherent irony underlines the essence of social thought. One, at times, wonders whether one is reading about the miserable plight of the poor or it is an appeal to humanity to look below and ameliorate the pathetic conditions of the poor class. An element of insightful sarcasm with an integral sense of ridicule shocks a discerning mind. The poet, at times, appears unrealistic and unaware of the truth of life, a bitter and unkind truth.
Social criticism in lyrics provokes a sensitive man to deliberate on the injustice and inequality prevailing in the society. A poet often sings through lyrics a long and continuous song of pain and anguish and attracts a man, who empathizes with the poor and the exploited. Such lamentations appear jarring and monotonous, for ostensibly the poet delineates a poor, exploited, and crippled society because it finds no solution to the problems of livelihood and the need for a comfortable and happy life. Materialistic aspirations mostly remain unfulfilled. The strong in the society flourish and appear to relish rampant corruption and greed.
One is constrained to observe that none speaks for the rich, who, one ought to agree, at one point of time in the not very distant past, must have worked hard to earn and amass wealth so that posterity lives a happy life. Instances are many if one throws a glance outside.
Another inherent flaw in such poetry is a lopsided understanding of issues of hunger and poverty, exploitation and political corruption, which lead many poets to view life differently without invoking critical thinking faculty. At times, the poets genuinely try to find solutions to the depressing situations, but many a time, evaluation and scrutiny of social and economic spectrum is incomplete and consequently results in unwarranted criticism of the rich and the powerful. The poets appear maudlin in approach to grueling conditions in which people spend lives and die slowly. Even a hardcore socialist would not agree that there is some ideal situation where poverty is non-existent.
Emerging Gulf – The Rich and the Poor
An awful gulf between the rich and the poor is eternal and despite efforts of the saintly rulers and sages, or rulers with average intelligence, the gap remains. Poets are inveterate optimists and, many a time, aspire for something unattainable and wish others to do so. Therefore, the rich, the powerful, the elite, and the sophisticated are the target of criticism and ridicule. It is the predicament of the poet that regardless of true sensitivity and a genuine desire to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and the neglected segments of the society, he is incapable of translating sublime thoughts to a reality of life.
Like any true human being, he is legitimately distressed and impatient. The squalor and extreme deprivation appear to hurt not only the poor man's soul, but it is also physically torturing. He thinks of the poor and goes through a nightmarish experience of unrelenting anguish. In straight words, like 'an obese boy' and 'a bony child', he vividly describes a sense of prevailing hunger on one side, and immediately, he talks of nauseating richness. In "A Nightmare", when he tells us poetically of 'a wedding feast, ragged girls, garbage bin, public school, legacy of the west, liquor and leper', an inherent agony upsets deeply. In sleep even, the poet feels the heat, and the picture he conjures up is a commentary on the poor man's life. Horrible dreams at night create distress in the tranquil mind of the poet who gets up as:
The siren sounded at five And I woke up from the nightmare
("A Nightmare", Winged Reason, 23)
Thoughts of miseries continuing for generations upset and fill heart with disgust. If one looks at the realistic scene he paints about the poor and the downtrodden, one notices that life for generations has been a continuous journey of hardships:
Not far away were the slums of the city;
("A Nightmare", Winged Reason, 23)
The truth that "I had a nightmare the overnight; / I was a hawk hovering in the sky" stuns and reveals a shattering situation inside. The poet's anxiety about the contemporary issues confronting the country is quite genuine, but it is heartening that the teacher's mind of the poet also shows the way to serious problems facing the nation and he alerts a man to the handicaps. In another verse, "Harvest Feast", the poet hints at the effective education system the nation ought to adopt. He is enthusiastic and believes that if the future generation gets appropriate education, it can definitely prove effectual, and one can manage and take care of the perennial shortage of essential commodities, and then indirectly, he tells of the utility of vocational activities and agriculture-related work.
Practicable efforts to curb the tendency of the hoarders to create continuous shortages in food grains will prove effective if rulers take strong measures. If dignity of labor finds favor and definite plans emerge, the measures would encourage constructive thinking and humanity can hope to live happily:
how education can be vocational;
("Harvest Feast", Winged Reason, 35)
Excerpted from "Philosophical Musings for a Meaningful Life"
Copyright © 2016 S. Kumaran.
Excerpted by permission of Loving Healing Press, Inc..
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Table of Contents
Foreword by Dr. Stephen Gill,
Introduction from the Poet,
About the Editor,
About the Poet,
Chapter 1 - Introduction: Poetic Mind of K. V. Dominic by P. C. K. PREM,
Chapter 2 - Humanism in K. V. Dominic's Winged Reason by Dr. S. Kumaran),
Chapter 3 - An Angel in Flight: A Critique of K. V. Dominic's Winged Reason by Dr. Sudhir K. Arora,
Chapter 4 - K. V. Dominic's Multicultural Symphony: A Critique by Dr. Sudhir K. Arora,
Chapter 5 - K. V. Dominic — A Humanitarian in Conception and Socio-Consciousness: An Analytical Study of Write Son, Write by Dr. D. C. Chambial,
Chapter 6 - K. V. Dominic's Winged Reason: Poems of Man's Earthly Life and Painful Realities by P. C. K. Prem,
Chapter 7 - Social Criticism in the Poetry of K. V. Dominic by Prof. T. V. Reddy,
Chapter 8 - Concurrent Predicaments and Urge for Philanthropy in the Poetry of K.V. Dominic by Dr. Sugandha Agarwal,
Chapter 9 - Poetry for a Better World: A Critical Look at the Poetry of K. V. Dominic by Rob Harle,
Chapter 10 - A Requiem for the Disconsolate: K. V. Dominic's Poetry as a Social-Criticism by Dr. J. Pamela,
Chapter 11 - Poetry for a Meaningful Life: A Critical Analysis of K. V. Dominic's Poetry by Bhaskar Roy Barman,
Chapter 12 - K. V. Dominic as a Social Critic: A Study of His Poems by Dr. S. Ayyappa Raja,
Chapter 13 - Philosophical Voyage of K. V. Dominic by Arbind Kumar Choudhary,
Chapter 14 - The Poet of the Marginalized: An Analysis of Dr. K. V. Dominic's Poetry by Anisha Ghosh Paul,
Chapter 15 - K. V. Dominic's Poetry: Rebellion and Reticence on Winged Reason by Joe Palathunkal,
Chapter 16 - Critical Analysis of K. V. Dominic as a Philosophical Poet by Patricia Prime,
Chapter 17 - The Relation between God, Man and Nature in K. V. Dominic's Poems by Mahboobeh Khaleghi,
Chapter 18 - K. V. Dominic, the Messenger of Humanity, Peace and Harmony in the Universe by Sangeeta Mahesh,
Chapter 19 - Philosophical Musings for a Meaningful Life: An Analysis of K. V. ominic's Poetry by Dr. Radhamany Sarma,
Chapter 20 - The Landscape of Kerala in K. V. Dominic's Poetry by Anisha Ghosh Paul,
Chapter 21 - Eco-Critical Perspectives in the Poetry of K. V. Dominic by Dr. S. Barathi,
Chapter 22 - Ecological Issues Reflected in the Selected Poems of K. V. Dominic by Rincy Mol Sebastian,
Chapter 23 - Ecological and Social Issues in K. V. Dominic's Multicultural Symphony by Dr. Arbind Kumar Choudhary,
Chapter 24 - Holistic Musings: K. V. Dominic as a Poet with Purpose by Kavitha Gopalakrishnan,
Chapter 25 - Interview with Prof. K. V. Dominic by Prof. Elisabetta Marino,
List of Contributors,