Dandelion Seeds

First published in the “Briefly Reviewed” section of Frogpond 39:3, Autumn 2016, pages 120–121.     +     +

Dandelion Seeds by Arvinder Kaur (2015, Aesthetics Publications, Chandigarh, India). 132 pages, 4¾×7˝, perfectbound. ISBN 978-93-83092-42-0. Price and ordering information not supplied.

Readers will find many lovely poems in this book, interspersed with photos of dandelion seeds by Tejbir Singh. The book’s 164 haiku appear at two per page, with eight tanka at one per page, all in English and Punjabi. Forewords by both Angelee Deodhar and Alan Summers, an introduction and afterword by the author, and afterwords by both Kala Ramesh and Paresh Tiwari all add up to being too much and are each peppered with typos, sometimes subtle. Many terms from the author’s native India are explained in a useful glossary, but for some reason it omits such terms as “dupatta,” “bindis,” “koel,” and “pashmina.” For better typography, I also wish the poems had used proper em dashes instead of single hyphens to indicate the cut, and that curly or apostrophes had been used instead of straight ones to elevate what otherwise looks like a professionally produced volume. The poems, though, are routinely fine, as in “tree swing- / in and out of sunshine / my outstretched toes” and “scattered petals… / this sudden longing / for my aborted child.”