Posts Tagged ‘Dr. RK Singh’

Some short thoughts on poetry, writing and research, and some issues writing “Tin Hinan”

July 15, 2014

Some thoughts on writing and poetry…


Very recently I have been talking with a dear friend, Dr. RK Singh, in India. We have mulled over topics for about 4 or 5 years now. RK is a well published and marvelous poet of short verse, including tanka. He is also known for his academic papers and books. But this sensitive man is a joy to engage in what we both love so much, which is poetry. Later this summer, I will review on this blog his latest poetry book: “I am NO Jesus”. I have read these poems he so graciously sent me as proofs, and I found myself totally captivated.

In his last email of this morning, RK said something about the difference between poetry and novel writing. Well, he didn’t actually state an opinion, or define the difference, but there is one I believe.

I have read that poetry is of the heart. But I think that can be applied to writing in general. Poetry appeals to many people because it usually (in its best state in my opinion) is short, decisive, heartfelt, impactful, and at times..perhaps the best of times…makes that connection between humanity. More than “there is nothing new under the sun”, it makes the links between our distant humanity. I think of the cultures around the world like the stars in the heaven at night: laying out in the desert, or in an area where there are no city lights, we have icy pinpricks of light too numerous to count, only defined by pictures and myths we hang upon these exploding and gaseous rocks.

I am not a trained poet or writer: I shoot from the hip in these things. And about that, I very recently broke my hip and now am facing a long summer of little activity and a lot of bed rest. But the upside of this is the chance to settle in with the books I need for further research and writing.

Seven years ago, out of the blue I suppose, I started writing “Tin Hinan”. Other writers probably will know the feelings of compulsion, where an idea, a theme takes hold of you and shakes you like a dog with a rat. I have said that this book wove itself one knot at a time, and very fast I had a rather muddy rug beneath my hands. I realize none of these things actually come totally out of the blue, but come from some experience that circles around your head, whether you realize its presence or not. For me, I would say that “Tin Hinan” was a continuation of my discovery and experience of the Hyperarousal Trance. I was a belly dancer at one important and informative time of my life, and from some beautiful and handsome Spanish flamenco male musicians, discovered that this was really ‘real’. That the ayoub beat led into a world of tangible mystery and exoticism. That our bodies and our minds conspired to raise us out of our humdrum lives, out of the usual patterns that we trod, and into something much different. I was trying to explain to Dr. Singh what this Hyperarousal Trance did, or was, (it is a brainwave sequence, called Theta) and how it made the connections between pieces of research in writng. Oh, it did a lot more than that, and belly dancers (besides these gorgeous Spanish men) understand the trance that movement throws one into, but it also has, or seemed to have, more application.

I found that this state of mind also could be applied to different cultural approaches. People have been confused, or at times, disdainful, of my cross cultural writings: I have written books based in Hungarian, Japanese, Turkish, Celtic and Berber cultures. This isn’t strange to me at all. It’s a continuation of interest in different cultures and a heavy dose (always) of the necessity of deeper research. And that is what it means to me to be a writer. And poet. And why not? Aren’t we part of the total mystery of humanity? Where are the borders for our minds? As writers and poets, don’t we strive to make those connections between cultures that are ‘strange’ and unknown to us? For me, I think this is a compulsion.

And, frankly, it is also necessary to rid your life of the people (and yes, family) that stand as obstacles to your creativity and productivity.  I no longer will tolerate this.  It took me long enough to find a purpose in life, and I am damned if I will let anything get in the way of this.  Including my own stupidity.  Writing gives purpose and JOY to my existence.  For years I allowed  others to either stop or attempt to detour this purpose. I see the angst of friends who are embroiled in conflicts that don’t give one damn bit of joy to their lives.   Life is too damn short for this.

In reading and reworking “Tin Hinan”, I have seen the necessity to go even deeper into this ancient culture, called Berber by the Europeans, and Imazighen (amongst other names…) by “The People of the Veil”. Perhaps it is the luxury of being able to slow down (a bad hip will do that…) and settle into the more descriptive and important things of a culture. I do know the Berbers bring to life the mysteries, the spirits of the deserts, especially the Sahara and the mountains of Morocco and Algeria. The Berbers I have known are some of the most gracious and hospitable people on this earth. I believe this is because they understand, fundamentally, the things that are important to survival and they shake their veiled heads (that’s the men, the women don’t wear the veil) at our modern silliness. Or perhaps they, being the ancient culture bred in some of the harshest conditions on earth, understand the true concept of humanity.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014



“Autumn Coming”

August 20, 2012

Well, it is.  Finally. 

Here in the south, we try to disappear during the months of July – August, try to find cool cover from the high temps. This year was unusual. Oh, we had hot weather enough, but August has come in as a surprise.  This is the month most dreaded, yet  the temps have not really risen above the mid 80’s for a couple of weeks. Morning lows are in the mid 60’s and that is rather unusual.  Perhaps we will have a ‘normal’ winter?

I broke my left wrist July 4th, and I am still recovering.  Typing has been just about impossible, but this morning I awoke with at least the title of a new poem-to-be:  “Hollow Eyes”.  Whether the rest of the words follow the title will remain to be seen. This lagging pain has stopped any poetic creativity for a while now.

I have a dear friend in India, Dr. RK Singh, who has not been feeling  well.  He is a famous poet, with many books and critical articles to his name. In my whinning to him about my own ‘lack o’ poetry’, he said the same thing.  Right now he didn’t feel moved to write poetry, and in the same email, he sent a wonderful, biting poem, that belied his condition.

And that is the way, I think, of poets.  This down time has forced me to read poets that I should have read before, or at least read them with more resolve.  Auden, Stevens, Pound, Marianne Moore, etc….and the Big Book of Poetry….”American Poets From The Puritans To the Present”….by H. Waggoner.  I can’t say I like them all, but it’s important reading, and reading something about their lives, I can see that some measure of pain brings forth some of their poetry.

I already know that “Hollow Eyes” will be about the darker side of humanity: about a black man running down the street in an Atlanta neighborhood, shooting at houses; about a ‘religious’ Jew who hates most of humanity and turned to sadism and depravity; about a relative who just hates. These people or events are all within my experience and I struggled to put a ‘face’ on this kind of violence.  The best I can do I think, is to see down into their hollow eyes and  perhaps see why they are so twisted.  Perhaps by seeing into that darkness, I can see through to some light of ‘understanding’.  Remains to be seen.

Lady Nyo


Autumn Coming


Bullfrogs bellow a different pitch

Autumn’s fast approaching.

And though they soak in a rocky pond

Summer’s heat they can’t escape.


Full moon reflects in half-sunk eyes

Perhaps fish mistake the moons of Mars

And in their algaed depth by night

They travel the cosmos past the stars.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012

Voluntary Simplicity, ecology and changing the patterns of our lives.

June 27, 2009

I have been thinking of a lot of issues, some not new, some dropped for other things, and some that will not stay down.  We can get detoured in life by personal issues, and we can lose the bigger picture.

Sometimes aging helps as we try to refocus our eyes, energies towards something that means more than what we see around us and what we are doing.  We live in the West surrounded with material abundance and a lot of spiritual confusion.  We can hide our behavior within the confines of Orthodox or Liberal religions, but that is a shell.  The true mark of a person is our relationship to the rest of the world, perhaps where we step out of the comfort or the boundaries of what we know and open ourselves to things alien and unknown.  Our experiences and influences should be challenged and growth is only possible when we do so.

Recently these things have come home to me as I find myself dissatisfied with what I see around me and with a yearning to do something ‘more’.  Perhaps all of us are influenced, affected by the current world economic situation. We should be.  Even if we suffer only a small fraction of what is happening, we can not stand aside and continue to ignore or to dismiss that events are world changing and earth shaking.

I believe we stand at a critical juncture.  For a while, it was a time of withdrawal, a time of research, a time exploration into those things of interest, but perhaps ultimately shallow and not supportive of life.  The dualism of our thinking (which pits materialism against spiritualism) must be transcended if we are to be generators of a new world; and there can be no doubt that we need to resolve and reform many things in this world.

It’s not only myself that has been pushed to this realization, but friends from some unexpected places.  Mac the Knife, a writer and practitioner of shibari  (  is turning some acreage into biofuel, a three year plan of organics that takes him far afield from what I know of him.  Jimi Tatu of  shibari fame and teaching is also presently working hard on their (his and Sumi’s) little farm.  Other friends are working in intensive organic gardens and turning their efforts to these things because they believe these things are the ‘stuff’ of a better life, a deeper committment to the Earth for better reasons.

Recently I found my old copy of “Voluntary Simplicity” by Duane Elgin.  I sat down to read this book, printed in 1981, and realized how much I didn’t understand when I first read it, (20 years ago), yet it did have a fundamental influence on me and propelled me into Quakerism, (which lasted for 12 years) and ecological issues which lasted longer.  I wrote for major publications on permaculture up until 2005, urban pioneering and intensive gardening, lectured locally a bit, but then put these issues on a back burner of life when other things became of interest.  Still, these issues were deeper and broader than what I was recently experiencing and they never stopped nagging at the edges of my consciousness.

Recently I received a lovely letter from Duane Elgin, encouraging me, thanking me for my passionate poetry in a compassionate life.  I was amazed.  And I thought a bit more about that ‘compassionate life’.  Really, what did my life account for?  And I wondered just how much compassion I really exhibited.

I had to think more on what I was doing.  Some recent influences helped, and a letter from Dr. RK Singh helped lay some of these issues bare.  When we think we are alone in our dismay and confusion, we can get overwhelmed.  When we realize that we are part of the bigger picture of it all, we can take comfort and ask for ideas and glean guidance.

I wrote to RK about my anger concerning religions….all religions, and I received this answer:

“I agree with you, Jane, that no religion is diseased beyond redemption. And it is the followers of religions, and their gurus, that corrupt and debase humanity to the lowest level. We see all around us in India the naked game of what you call “prejudiced rationalization for hatred and contempt” by the right wing political parties and groups, but the silent majority only suffers. I have been UNCOMFORTABLE with institutionalization of faith/religion/ideology as it ultimately corrupts and degrades humanity. Politicalisation of all such groups, without excluding fundamentalists,  in the  name of democracy has ruined the prospect  of living in the environment of  tolerance  and peaceful coexistence. Sometimes I wonder what will happen if the current trends continue for another five to ten years.
I have always thought I am a misfit in this world and have been living a life of helplessness. As I composed the following haiku this morning:

Not a day without
begging gods to solve problems–
faith in helplessness

We like it or not, the game of convenience has been  taking its toll, and willy-nilly, we all have been participants in it.


RK is writing about religions, he is also hitting at broader issues.  The web and fabric of all of our lives that ideology, religion, politics have impacted.  We can not avoid any of this. He is acutely aware of this.

I hope in future blog entries to write more about the fundamentals of Voluntary Simplicity because that is where I am starting. Well, my husband Fred and I are starting.  We know that we have gone far afield in this issue…and we need to regroup, rethink our lives and go forth with a plan.  With our friends above, and the understanding that we are not alone, at all, that others with consciousness are feeling these same Discomforts,  we can choose to make a difference in our lives and impact the environment around us.

It all is a matter of a further evolution, after all.

Energy of hope

expresses the dynamics,

We roll up our sleeves.

Lady Nyo

Poems from Dr. RK Singh

June 23, 2009

RK Singh has appeared here before and it is a joy and delight to post his poems  which he has  graciously allowed permission.

RK has many websites, is a prominent and distinguished poet from India and through many months of  correspondence, we have struck up a friendship.

Although already a published poet of over 34 books and 162 critical reviews,  RK has a great enthusiasm for new writers and I am deeply honored he reads my poetry.   I find his so fresh and provocative in the best sense for a poet:  reading his deeply visual poems, they propel me to write more, not to imitate, but to have courage that small poems can have the impact of those with  many more words.  RK’s work is so powerful to me, that clearly here, ‘less is more’.

It’s the Monsoon season in his part of India, and he is awaiting the rains.  The temperatures are soaring and humanity there barely breathes, awaiting the cooling, life giving rains. A few tanka that reflect those conditions but others of a different nature.  Dr. Singh is prolific to say the least.  It was hard to choose only  these, but like a box of Godiva chocolates, they are so rich  we best go slowly.  There will be many more later.

Indeed, the power of ‘small’ poems.

Lady Nyo


Layers of dust thicken
on the mirror water makes
the smuts prominent:
I wipe and wipe and yet
the stains stay like sin

When I have no home
I seek refuge in the cage
of your heart and close
my eyes to see with your nipples
the tree that cared to save from sun

In the forest of your hair
my finger searches
the little pearl of blood
that stirs the hidden waters
and contains my restlessness

When I inhale in
your mouth and exhale stroking
hair or caressing
I ride you into joy and
make you hail morning like earth

Winter is caught in
waves of narrow discussions
under the blanket
fingers move by nipples erect
without sensing sinsummation

Life limits between
whence the sun rises and where
it goes to relax:
joys of a fleeting moment
I see Aditi in her eyes

Will you marry my soul?
or lend me your body?
I’ve used it to the core
the rament is tattered now
even ghosts despise it

Burning without warmth
one more hot and sweaty spell
of summer, restless
down with stroke, without light, fan
exhausted, alone in bed

Slung-jawed awake
two grinning skeletons sit
bolt upright in bed
hear the shrieks next door but
too scared to call the police

The nightly ghosts crowd
my mind’s passage to forge
gods’ names in disguise
I fail to scan the face
of thought and life in the dark

Night’s prisoned friends
keep me awake with planes
flying over the Ashram
every now and then I watch
the direction matters

A cloud-eagle
curves to the haze
in the West
skimming the sail
on soundless sea

The chill outside
deprives me of the bright moon
I breathe in my fears:
asthmatic bouts haunt and
jealousy itches the throat

RK Singh
Copyrighted, 2009

Some websites of Dr. Singh’s to read more of his poems:—A-Collection-of-Tanka-poems&id=538863

Busy Workshop! and a Poem from Nick Nicholson…

June 15, 2009

Nick sent me four, and I want to put them all up,  but I want each of them to receive a good reading.  They are rich poems, and like many things, we can gobble them up and lose ourselves in the richness.

So, I will parse them out…one by one, and make them last all week. I will also post some of my own, later,  and others…(hint, hint) but I want to take this a little slower.

My profound thanks to all who are sending in their poems, to the readers,  and also to Dr. Singh in particular who gives us newer poets such great guidance in this heady issue of poetry.

Lady Nyo


I want to shiver on the edge of your mouth
gasp at the sight of your breast
swim in the wet sugar of your flesh
drown like a fool in your whispered words
crucify myself on the cross of your body

these are the things I want to say
but I don’t

Nick Nicholson

Copyrighted, 2009

Hearing from RK Singh this morning on ADJECTIVES….

June 15, 2009

Hi Jane, I read your poem with interest. I do not intend to criticize it nor do I want to comment on the poem’s merit. But I want to talk something different, perhaps in continuation of what i had written you earlier. How to revise or edit a poem?
Most of our poet friends spend a lot of energy and time in thinking about good ADJECTIVES. They try to write new phrases. In poetry as well as prose, I have often experienced the writing becoming difficult because the writer uses a lot of colorful, lazy, meaningless adjectives. If an adjective used is concrete and objectively strong, then it is something good. If it helps in making an image, it is very good.
It will be most effective if one could write WITHOUT ADJECTIVES. Adjectives are our enemy number one. The less we use adjectives, the better our expression. After all, it is only our subjectivity that we emphasize through adjectives. If it is used in a poem only once or twice, it remains memorable. For example:

This chilly night
she folds her arms and legs
resting her head
upon the knees and sits
as an island

–R.K.SINGH (First published in Timber Creek Review (USA), Oct 1996)

Ghosts rise to mate
in moonlight tear the tombs
frighten with fingers
rhino horns rock the centre
granite sensation

–R.K.SINGH (First published in SPIN (New Zealand), July 1997)

Let’s try to create images with plain English, using concrete, active verbs, rather than a lot of adjectives. This is what I learnt from my poet professor friend, late Dr Lyle Glazier (of Bennington, Vermont). This is how he had edited/improved my first collection, MY SILENCE.


Hi RK!

Good to hear from you.  As you can see, the Poetry Workshop has taken off, and there are alot more submissions.  We are making our way through all this, and learning as we go.

Adjectives, huh?  Well, I guess you are saying that casting out adjectives makes plain, or exposes the bare bones of a poem, and that has to be good.

“Let’s try to create images with plain English, using concrete, active verbs, rather than a lot of adjectives.”

I’m going to have to think about this, and how it’s applied, but I get a feeling of what you are saying.  We can cover over the entire issue with colorful adjectives, and I have done so before…I think it’s muddled thinking without a real point to the poem. Or so I think it is to me….  I have to think what you are saying on this active verb issue.

Glad you have surfaced because you always have something instructive and good to say on poetry.  And life.

I think what you say about adjectives will be picked up here and discussed.

Thank you, RK!  And powerful imagery in these poems….bare bones, too.

Lady Nyo/Jane


  1. R.K.Singh Says:
    June 15, 2009 at 2:59 pm editBut wherever adjectives appear they are really adding to the noun and used as a means of brevity rather than expansion, description or elaboration as in regular poetry.
    R K

More Good News From Dr. RK Singh….

June 9, 2009

Another letter from Dr. Singh this morning and this is not unusual between us.  When we write, we are like birds swooping in the air!  Then long stretches when we don’t write, but we get on with life.  But we think of the others poetry.  Most poets do.

I have more to think  of his than he has of mine.  Dr. Singh has many, many books published and many critical reviews.  The man is a powerhouse of poetry, and I stand in awe of his outlay.  He is a scientist, and his literature must mean his brain is fully functioning.

This morning he gave me permission to use his letters on my blog, which is of the most illuminating and gracious of permissions.  Every letter from Dr. Singh is an education in not only poetry, but humanism.  And of course, encouraging words to  a struggling poet.

Dr. Singh:

What you say about poetry, and especially tanka, is correct. What we read is generally depressing. As far as rhythm is concerned, I have been practicing free verse poetry and therefore free verse rhythm, which is  not free, as most people might think.
I had poet professor friend, LYLE GLAZIER, in Bennington, Vermont. I learnt from him how to edit a poem. Before I published my first collection, MY SILENCE, he edited almost every poem and showed me how he had done it, without damaging my own poetry in the poems. I also understood that if someone cared to count syllables of each line and maintained some kind of uniformity or pattern, he/she can ensure musicality in the structure. Later, it becomes ones habit, as it is in your or my case. You and i can write our haiku or tanka poems without  wasting time in thinking about words with certain number of syllables. These come to us naturally. Sometimes we may need to rewrite the poems for getting the (syllabic) balance (or musicality, as inherent in expression). The form takes care of itself when we are sure about our content. In haiku and tanka, it is what we call the perfect or haiku moment; the haiku or tanka poem happens naturally. By rewriting, however, sometimes we do improve the quality of what we compose. I maintain a variety with free form haiku/tanka and 3-5-3-5-5, 4-6-4-6-6, and 5-7-5-7-7 pattern–whatever naturally happens. Yet, one can make the poem better by editing, revising, rewriting, as and when feasible.
All those bred on English literature, including American lit., have metaphors appearing to them naturally. But the skill lies in creating images, the haiku or tanka becoming an image as a whole. Your poetry appeals to me because you are sensuous; the lines in each poem create a sensuous feeling and image when you are brief and effective. I am yet to achieve that level which happens effortlessly.
I will definitely write on the entries on your blog. You may also use the contents of my emails the way you like. Who knows whatever we do today becomes significant tomorrow?

Oh dear RK!  Although he refuses to allow me to think him a mentor in poetry, but says we are ‘colleagues’,  each email from him is a deeper education into poetry of all forms.  I especially want him to expound on this issue of “not free in freeverse”.  There is something very important in there.

His main blog:

I am so delighted that Dr. Singh will be contributing to the Lady Nyo blog.  This can only improve the issue of poetry and poetry discussion.

Lady Nyo.

A poem of Dr. Singh.

From ” Sexless Solitude and Other Poems”


It’s  all linked but I don’t understand
or don’t want to understand because

I am too much with me and worry
about her dying libido and my

own shrinking sex amidst salsa chill
Bihu fever, Vishu rituals

ringing emptiness day and night shake
the age-wrapped youth for single-edge play

in forked flame carve image of heaven
to challenge the jealous God undo

sins of races flowing in my blood:
I love Him through the bodies He made

but they don’t understand redemption
in churning and parting of the sea

they don’t rejoice in the flames of henna
on her palms nor let the lily bloom

in the valleys use the clefts and cliffs
To deface beauty and spike voices

don’t condemn me if I am not white
The water still flows in my river

RK Singh
Copyrighted, 2009

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