A poetry book with an expansive scope can sometimes offer a more complete feel than one with a narrow focus. Vijay K Chopra’s collection Colors of Leaves fulfills this promise, offering something for everyone. Introspection and heartache, as well as lighthearted verse and ribald love poetry, all can be found in this, Chopra’s first book of collected poetry.
The poems’ wide array of subjects and styles helps to give a sense of the fullness of a life and the range of moods and emotions experienced in that life. For example, Chopra offers a page-long, heartfelt, free-verse poem about absent love (“Looking for You”), followed by “Gift Wrapped,” a very short poem in which rhyme is used to create a jarring, and poignant, final observation: “Life is a zero sum game, we know/Its built-in checks and balances/Show no net loss or gain/Perhaps that is why/All my wishes get delivered/Gift wrapped in pain.”
The honesty and emotion of this poem is representative of the strengths of Chopra’s verse — although it also demonstrates a common and unfortunate weakness: The verses deliver an awkward sense of rhythm that undermines the fluidity of the rhyme.
Chopra’s sense of humor is evident throughout the book. Aside from being a welcome counterpoint to the more serious poems, it also allows Chopra to indulge in styles not often seen, such as his “Limericks with Oxymoron Absurdities.” (However, while the poem is creative, it violates the traditional limerick meter.)
Chopra’s poetry is entertaining throughout, despite one or two small but distracting copyediting errors, such as the use of “epithets” instead of “epitaphs” and the flaws mentioned above. But his voice is confident, assured and guided by experience. Colors of Leaves is a testament to the richness of his life and will make readers more fully appreciate their own.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.