P D Dawson
The Four Colors by Ankur (Poetry Review)
Updated: Feb 9, 2021
Split into four sections with each one represented by a different colour; this poetry collection is an intimate portrait from a talented poet who reveals himself to be a keen observer of the minutiae of life, as well as the possessor of a keen intellect and a poetic heart.
We get Green first which represents birth, Yellow (disillusion), Purple (rebirth) and Red (self-realisation). In the introduction, Ankur explains that though these poems are a particular colour, poetry, like life, is never that neat, and so parts of one may segue into another. He also explains that there is a circularity to them too. The very first poem, before we even get to Green, is a poem made up of two-line stanzas, and this was the first indication for me of Ankur's talents. Such simplicity is imbued here with great depth and wisdom. 'How will I speak and not be labelled,' then a line hinting of death and the need for the spiritual realm to carry on our beautiful existence. 'How will I die but waft out like perfume.' Oh yes, the problem of life and the inevitability that our bodies, unlike our souls, will not remain beautiful. This poem is full of questions and observations that are not only impossible to answer, 'How will I be a madman but not caged,' but deliberately flawed. I think Ankur is setting the theme for the collection with this first poem. Life is a contradiction that flows against itself, pleasure crashing against pain, and life itself too often existing in the mêlée between these two opposing forces.
The first line of the Green poems starts with, 'In the bowl of milk and prunes, there are many suns.' This opening line provides such a visual feast. I think of the sun's nourishment captured within, and I think of pure white against the darkness of the prunes. And I get a sense in the following poems of birth, and yet also of history always coming anew. And the emptiness of a place, the desolation that still holds beauty. In the poem Survival, he says. 'The dried ravines, though are not a bit less beautiful.' because 'new rivers shall flow.' That is the theme here, that rebirth is possible. And in Runningaway, 'I cut the apple in 2. Split worms, bleeding.' The opposite to milk and prunes, this is death, ugliness hiding in nourishment, the messiness of life finding its way into everything.
Yellow represents, though not neatly, disillusionment. 'unveiled as oranges stray, the dust storm will hide.' begins the disillusion in, Pinning A Butterfly. The following poems present life growing but stuck by forces, 'as if one has walked into frozenness' or 'between the stone slabs grew plants.' I also notice how many of the poems feature sky and clouds, perhaps a subliminal or subconscious longing for the ethereal, 'The place where we climb to blue peaks shining purely.' And doors, the desire to see what's behind them, yet fear too, perhaps fear of one's curiosity punished by self, but unable to quell the satiated hunger. 'Let his nails claw the door open, let him dig into it, let him eat the rotten wood.' Also in, The Cynosure, 'I crumble in decay, standing there weeping but the tears do not water a single seed.' Perhaps then saying, that pain and suffering do not always bring about rebirth, or grow our inner wisdom. That synergy once more of being captured in the mêlée between pleasure and pain, beauty and ugliness.
Purple (rebirth) and we start with the fittingly titled, The Return of Life. 'the flower will choose to live and find the lips to kiss her.' The rebirth of nature, or the constant revaluation of our place in life. Sometimes understanding can bring about a kind of rebirth. The moon also features in many of the purple poems, which makes sense as the moon is cyclical by nature, a form of renewal. 'When a sliver of moon throws her hair down.' And rain too, needed for growth and rebirth, 'how tastes the water, and where do clouds rain.' Through the evocations within these poems, I sense Ankur's love of nature, yet an unease too, at its often perceived ugliness. Nature is, after all, often ugly as well as beautiful.
Finally, we round off the collection with, Red, which is self-realisation. So it means the discovery of self or the grasping of wisdom. To have acceptance of how things are. The flower, if you like, grown from the tears of the self. And it's worth pointing out that I can only scratch the surface of these poems with this review, so I'm merely trying to capture the essence, if at all possible, and I'm sure in many ways I have failed. Needless, however, to say that these poems are rich and remarkable observations of life, that are both imaginative and varied in form. The many ways in which Ankur gives a sense that the world is poetry in motion is wonderfully satisfying, and the myriad ways in which one can interpret them also nods at their brilliance.
In closing, I thoroughly enjoyed reading, The Four Colors, and the pleasure of contemplating the rich and complex emotions they evoked, which I hope I have captured some semblance in this review. The collection comes highly recommended by me, and I hope it manages to find a much wider audience, as this beautiful poetry deserves greater recognition.