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Echoing the Strong Voice of Protest
|by Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar|
Songs of A Dissident (Collection of Poems)
Songs of a Dissident is a wonderful olio of protest poems by Scott Thomas Outlar who, having survived 'the fire and the flood', has vented out his 'Shock and Awe', his anger and indignation at the cruel activities being carried out in the world. Happenings around him in his milieu seem to have far-reaching impact on him. His poems are born out of his sensibility, nurtured and matured, in the gloomy atmosphere of his time. A rebel poet, yet of compassion and universal outlook, Outlar out-shadows the grey thoughts of the nefarious people whose evil intentions always keep looming large over the process of maintaining the global peace and harmony. All the poems of this collection, woven well, deal with grave issues - Government corruption, the dealings of the Federal Reserve and international banking, having the will to overcome problems with strength of character and consciousness, sense of empowering the individuals. They present vignettes of human life passing through myriads of trajectories and penumbras of modern complex experiences, sweet and bitter, abrupt changes in and collapses of order, political and social, moral and cultural and personal disappointment of the poet and his agony.
He has depicted the heart-wrenching, eerie scene caused by the devastation of the war, in the following lines taken from the same poem-
Ecological concerns can be witnessed in his poetry. Wars have affected everything. Their bad effect is palpable in our life. Even nature is not spared. Let us see here-
The poet is a man of strong zeal and enthusiasm, imbued with sense of hope and optimism. He voices his angst and protests against the 'spiteful intentions' of the world mad with power and at the same time he wants those relegated to abyss to rise up again to their feet to cope with the perpetrative forces of the world. In spite of the mass destruction, loss of lives and properties, the victims must not lose their hope because
His poetry bears out his revolutionary instinct. Socialistic and revolutionary urges, with satiric undertones mark most of his poems. He is disillusioned with the world, as he feels frustrated, cheated and betrayed in the lurid game of power politics. A note of bitterness and pessimism can be felt in the poem “Absolute Zero”-
Political aggression in hand in glove with corporate sectors, social injustice, scientific and technological advancement are some of the remarkable happenings that have misbalanced the proper Order. Growing sense of capitalism has baffled and confused the people. Humanistic concern is on the wane, dignity of man is pushed to its nadir. However, the poet believes in revolutionary optimism. With his optimistic zeal, he wishes to bring about big transformation in his society. His poem “Sucked Dry” has his hope of survival in the tides of turbulent times-
His poetry is laced with bitter and severe criticism and irony. His comments are direct and explicit. He is very critical of communal strife among people in the name of caste, creed and community and bigotry as is happening around the globe. He makes scathing assault on the political system headed by “Fat Cat Politician / perched atop the congregation” and the money monger ‘Jackal’ of the corporate world, ‘snake oil salesmen’ with ‘Vials full of drugs’. In “Venom Laced Jackal Fangs”, he depicts a scaring picture of such people and their evil intentions-
The people have to realise their dignity, goodness and indestructibility of their inner strength. They have to muster courage and cope with the divisive forces. The lines grabbed from the poem “One Foot in front of the Other”, a very exhorting poem, are reflective of determination, resolution, faith in oneself, confidence, encouraging attitude they must adopt and exercise till the last drop of blood-
In the poem “Feudal Futility”, he expresses his awe and sock at the people who take interest in the news about ‘Royal family / of this or that European country’, Kings and Queens/and Princes and Princesses/and Royal courts and henchmen / and mafia and control freaks / and psychopaths and elitists / and governments and bureaucrats / and law enforcers and pigs’ who have oppressed, suppressed and tortured the common people for axing their grinds. He expresses his surprise -
‘Sacrificial Lambs’ is another poem of growing resentment and protest. He compares the common people to ‘Lambs’, symbolic of innocence, mute, submissive, negligence etc to be sacrificed at the altar of royal interest and greed. They lay down their lives
He is not glorifying their sacrifices. Rather in reaction and disgust, he is taking them to task. All the controlling forces from political social, religious to the authoritarian have been bitterly satirized and exposed to the world.
He further describes it as It is ‘kin to both the vultures/and the serpents’-
In his poem “National Amnesia” , he has raised some national issues, including the ‘national anthem' , 'especially the brutal, nasty, hard-hitting, / hard-edged, gladiator style contests' with troops facing each other for war. His poetic self is very critical and disapproving of any sort of war in the name of nationalism. What he wants is the peace, prosperity of the country and that is possible only when the middle class of people prosper and do better in their life. He believes in total uplift of bourgeois section of society.
Cultural and moral downfall of the Americans has also bothered the poet. To see this degeneration of the people, he unlocks his deepened sense of agonised feeling and desperation. In “Reboot in the Blood” he puts a question mark on America, calling it a country of dullards indulged in drinks. He validates the sole reason for the generational digression with sarcasm and bitter irony-
Political upsurge, social injustice, economic depression, unemployment, woes and suffering of the poor, their misery and wretchedness and other affairs and events find realistic portrayal in his poetry. In the poem “Feeding the Beast” he expresses his disappointment at countless problems his country is faced with. He speaks out openly-
He doesn't like torture, lies, back-stabbing, murder, rape, emotional hurt, cheat, deceit, unemployment, hacking and whacking, dirty politics , torture and gimmicks by CIA agents which have defamed his country. With his revolting attitude, he wants the people to
He believes that when corruptions are galore, the country is no more. It has to collapse. Thinking of the myriads of problems he becomes prophetic. He remarks in his poem 'The Days Are Numbered'-
In the poem 'The Good Old Golden Rule" he gets suggestive and protesting when he asks the people to
Because 'The system run by the sold out sycophants of Satan'. He is fed up with distrust, political opportunitism, sinister manoeuvre against the authority and domination. He comes up with an idea to put an end to this entire chaotic situation. He expresses that 'The simplest solution is to just pull the plug' on all chaos. He also suggests-
“Money Trail” best sumps up the poet’s thoughts and idea. It has all the themes of his poetry put together in this very poem dealing with ‘fall collapse’, ‘controlled demolition’, ‘national security blackouts’, ‘whitewash investigations’, ‘Machiavellian tactics’, ‘Bush/Bin Laden connections’, ‘Halliburton’, ‘Black Water’, ‘Saudi influence’, ‘The Federal Reserve’.
The last poem of the anthology is 'Artificial Dye' in which the poet expresses his stand with explanation and clarification. Though he is a poet of protest and resentment, he doesn't lose his temper. Expecting a 'Revelation', 'Renaissance', 'Revolution' what he does is point to take note of-
His reactive thoughts coalesces into positive vision of a 'New Age' where Atlantis will be reborn, all the chaos will be pushed at the alpha point, omega order will be restored and he and his people will have a country of their choice. With the hollowness of capitalistic, political and corporate order of the times exposed, he, now has a sanguine vision of a better nation grounded on social equability and equanimity.
(An abridged version of this review was published in Asian Signature, Third Volume,No 2, (August) 2016)
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