Ms. Pandey’s latest chapbook isn’t just for readers who enjoy free verse poetry, but for anyone who may fear that they are alone in feeling despair over the direction our country or world is taking today. Thirty-three poems gathered together under the title of Who am I? Who are We? speak to many romanticized notions citizens might find breaking apart when reflecting on some of our very uncitizen-like behaviors.
In “Intimate Violence,” Ms. Pandey writes: “But where is the outcry against the men, the porno voyeurs, extramarital affairs….where is the head-coach enlightening them…That children are not their punching bags.”
Her free verse poems skillfully capture instances of incivility that shatter delusions of perfection to highlight a more barbaric reality for our modern times. Any notions of a romanticized humankind are splintered in “The New Darkness” as we “…forget the world view/brought to us by astronauts,/crawl into tribal caves/where outsiders are/enemies to fight…” Ms. Pandey follows this poem with one entitled “Integrity” that delves more fully into questions swirling about elected leaders.
Her writing is straight forward, coherent, and yet ponderous. In “How Much of My Own Life have I let go Unused,” Ms. Pandey speaks of modern day international connections made very real through the merchandise and marketing of the twenty-first century. She insists we expect perfection in our purchased goods while “…forgetting we are imperfect ourselves.” Here the reader begins to detect an action plan: “Grasp that the world needs all of us/and make the best of what we have.” For a few moments, the chapbook moves from the question of Who are We? to Who am I? and Ms. Pandey relates, “I’m a Person of Average Tragedy.”
She is certainly not a person of average poetry, for her work is enlightening and thought provoking on a variety of topics. Many readers will find a kindred soul in Ms. Pandey’s outlook on matters that some may be inured to, but which this poet finds questionable and worth examining. After all, according to Socrates, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”