I wouldn’t want anything else
but you, my love.
Your presence is all I seek
even if my love appears to you
all Latin and Greek.
Know that I love you with all my soul
in part and in whole.
It doesn’t matter that your body ails.
I can sense your thoughts,
feel your emotions.
So, fret not. I want not
any more than I already have.
You are my life, my wife.
What more can I ask for!
Two souls connected with hope.
They nailed her in.
Not new to the vicious game.
She had been nailed in.
When academics she wished to pursue
the world had nailed her desire.
To no one she could display her aching ire.
Weaving dreams in tinsel town
she fell in love,
was pulled down.
Was the love of his life.
Sadly, he already had a wife.
Nailed in again!
Political play, all that she could get,
the tricks of the trade,
had to face humiliating tirade.
Nailed in again!
she faced them all.
Every fatal fall
burnt her, bruised her.
Every harrowing hurt
enraged her self-respect,
encouraged her will power,
dislodged her scheming enemies
and, she stood up tall
rising from the ashes.
They nailed her in.
This time she had the final laugh,
they nailed her in
when she had already left
the mortal staff.
(Offering a tribute to a powerful woman leader who had the guts to make her mark in a male dominated political arena)
5th December 2016
The theme for the poetry reading was ‘BIRD’ and guess what? Three birds turned up. All females. Ha! Ha! Maybe, the male birds just did not feel like writing about the birds and the bees I guess.
We tarried a while before beginning our poetry session. And when we knew that the others could have been delayed or might not come due to other engagements we started off with our reading. And you know, when women get together they can bring the roof down. It is a different fact that the roof legally belonged to the British Council Library and we could not attempt such an act.
So, we tried hard to keep our poetry chatter as subdued as possible.
But then, birds of a feather flock together. And flocking birds don’t lie low. So, we just went about our business of reading, writing poetry and indulging in some healthy criticism on how to make our poems better.
So, here goes…
Pankajam Kottarath, a poet with many books to her credit read out her poem. It reminded me of the times I studied Keats and Shelly in school. It had a feel of times gone by.
Just quoting a few lines for you from the poem, I Know Why The Birds Sing.
“Perched on trees by the rivers’ rim
dazzling in robes of ornate hues
rainbow wings and glossy bills
gushing notes you sing in tuneful voice
like a midnight choir from afar
to awake me from ardent dreams.
in the silence of wastelands
you sing to flowers wild
like a fragrant vile
with a beating heart
for nature to hear your secret ails.”
I know why the birds sing.
Sivakami Velliangiri, poet and poetry activist for the past 30 years read out her poem, Jade. Such a sentimental poem, it was touching to say the least.
“Two hand-hatched eggs confined
to space-less cage like Andaman cellular jail;
wing span stubbed,unable to throb
unused cholesterol , into my care, on my lap
meant to sing in the Silent Valley
deserted by your mother parakeet at Moolimangalam
a lightning bruised topless coconut tree,
you were meant to eat grains, fruit and chilli
not a paste of dhal rice that blotted your throat-insides
on the floor of your cage. When I rushed from the Airport
there were a hundred parrots already on the telephone wire;
my children had you cold in their arms.
You came, stayed with us, finished your Karma
then left us with emptiness.”
Finally, I read my poem titled, Soaring In the Skies.
“How much higher can I fly.
There will be a dawn
when I shall have to fly low
when my tired flapping wings will slow.
The feathers in my wings, faded.
the colours in them jaded
no longer resembling my earlier self
I close my tired wings.
reflecting on memories
of an era I cannot savour anymore
I shiver in nostalgic pain.
My birdie mate beside me sits
pecking, healing my worn out body.
Looking towards him with gratitude
I ready myself to soar the skies once again.”
We are meeting again next month. Those interested, please do come. The day and date will be put up at the earliest. The theme for the next month is ‘Edges/ Edges’. Write a poem based on the theme or if you wish to read out a poem written by some other poet on the same theme, you are welcome to share the poem by reading it out to us.
Until then, be good and stay blessed.
We had been acquainted online and had been in touch with one another for a while. We were hoping to meet too someday but did not expect it to happen so very soon. And, what a pleasant experience it was!
Being a poet myself, I have always appreciated all forms of poetry but Haiku has always intrigued me because it is indeed very difficult to be able to express oneself with so much intensity in just three lines! Of course, Kala Ramesh would say otherwise, Haiku exponent that she is!
Having been in the field of music, art and poetry for most part of her life, Kala Ramesh comes across as a very seasoned soul. Today, she is not just an expert in her field but also teaches haiku, tanka (a Japanese poem in 5 lines), haibun (comprising of prose and haiku) and renku (a Japanese form of popular collaborative linked verse poetry) to children, undergrads and senior citizens. She has created the ‘Rasika’ form, an eight verse renku fashioned after Matsuo Basho’s (the 17th-century Japanese haiku master) non thematic style.
So, when the extremely enterprising and talented Mocking Birds team in Chennai organized a Haiku With Tea, I was definitely not going to miss it.
Kala Ramesh was going to recite a few Haiku poems from her recently edited anthology of contemporary world haiku, Naad Anunaad. What added to the charm of the event was that her verses were going to be supported with dance imagery by Srekala Bharath, well known Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer and teacher. She is also by the way, sister of famous ex cricketer Srikkanth (that I got to know much later after the programme).
Just imagine! You get to hear soulful poetry and beautiful classical dance at the same function where the power of word and dance dazzle the audience. Wow! Who could even think of missing this!
One after the other Haiku verses were read in the soft resonating voice of Kala Ramesh, some like a whisper that made you perk your ears up while others made you laugh or shake your head in appreciation.
This was followed by a thematic dance by Srekala Bharath and her pretty little students based on the verses that Kala Ramesh read.
Chennai based poet Sivakami Velliangiri was there too and we enjoyed the programme a lot.
Thank you Kala Ramesh for giving me an opportunity to be part of this beautiful programme. Thank you Srekala Bharath for that impressive performance.
It was that time of the month. Poetry reading time! So, we gathered to read, to understand, to appreciate, to improvise.
What makes the Poetry Circle readings at the British Council different from other poetry reading events is that here, the poets lay bare their wares and then, the poems are scrutinized, with fellow poets gracious in their praise and criticism. There is no place for any kind of ego hassle or pride to disrupt the poetry readings. No wonder, only the bravest among them all dare to come for the poetry readings!
Of course, we have poets who like to read poems from books they have come across and share it with the rest. This helps in expanding poetic horizons. And we did that too!
The theme for the poetry reading today was ‘Festivity’ (since October this year has been filled with festivals and celebration).
Poet Sivakami Velliangiri wrote two poems on the theme.
I shall the quote the smaller poem titled, CELEBRATION.
to my brother’s house.
Memories search for childhood.
Silver and gold tinsels find nesting
places. The tree is a pot stand.
What does it matter?
Supplications constitute festivity.
In this small town of so many churches
which church do I belong to?
It has to be brick.
And the steeples have to proclaim
the baptism of a baby
Christmas has come.
Mr. Chandramohan Naidu, a multifaceted personality read some poems of Kamala Das and Maya Angelou. A real pleasure it was to hear the poetry as the emotions of the poets overwhelmed us all.
Shri Paniker spoke about how certain aspects of poetry could be entirely subjective, but be a poem of emotion in its own right. The poetry reading gave rise to several other topics that poets and writers write about now-a-days affected by society.
Finally, I read out my poem titled, CELEBRATION.
Bland it was
until you came.
Crawling into my womb
you made my bored interiors
as if I was enjoying,
praying in a festival.
Until we walked
hand in hand
around the sacred fire
I only celebrated myself,
my void, my solitude.
Today, I happily indulge
in marital festivity.
with my mound of words,
my prism of perspiring perspectives
I was indifferent to life,
arrogant to opinion.
Now, evolving, changing,
humbled, I celebrate.
What can be more inspiring and joyous when creative people get together to talk unabashedly about poetry, art, life itself in the confines of a place that lets you be You! Our Poetry Reading today only confirmed the fact why poets need to get together to celebrate!
See you next season. Happy Diwali.
Oh! Lord Ganesha,
your long elephantine trunk
blesses me limitlessly;
those big flappy ears of yours –
“Listen” they say, “talk less; forget the ‘I’, the ‘Me’.
That precious ivory tusk which you broke
to pen an enormous mythological tale still stands true
teaching me to make good with what I have.
That broken tooth makes me understand
God resides even in that special child.
Lord Vinayaka, Ganesh Bhagwaan, Humble pranaams
from a chastened devotee on your special day!
HAPPY VINAYAKA CHATURTHI DEAR FRIENDS.
MAY LORD GANESHA BLESS YOU!
It just fit. Shailimar Times! Out of the blue!
Never thought of writing news in verse. But, here I am doing it. And, a regular weekly column at that.
I need to thank my dear friend Sonia Rao for being so adventurous and trusting of me. Just imagine! You are the Editor of a famous website Mumbai Mom. Com
when suddenly, you are suggested a weird idea of writing The News This Week in verse format and you are giving it a shot without a clue as to how the readers will respond!
Well, the readers seemed happy looking at the comments posted on my FB timeline.
So, without mentioning anything more, just go ahead and look out for this weekly column every Sunday at Mumbai Mom.Com for the news headlines that passed you by during the week.
The first post of Shailimar Times (yeah, Shail-i-maar Times) can be read here in the link below.
When I saw a foreigner with a hat placed perfectly on her head and a long stylish chain dangling from her neck, lipstick and eye liner in place, I least expected the person to be the one I was to be meeting along with Sivakami on 9th August, 2016 at Amdavadi, T.Nagar.
I had met innumerable writers and poets before so, it wasn’t that I was over-awed or something. It was just that she seemed to pop out from the pages of history, an old timer writer, poet, novelist and translator from every angle!
What stood out (for me at least) as a stereotype perception of well known writers transformed into a tale of thoughts and emotions which I shared along with Sivakami with Priya Sarukkai Chabria.
For the uninformed (like I was earlier), Priya Sarukkai Chabria’s books include translation The Autobiography of a Goddess Andal (2015, Zubaan university of Chicago Press, with Ravi Shankar) Bombay/Mumbai: Immersions (2013, Niyogi Books, non -fiction with photographer Christopher Taylor), Generation 14 (2009, Zubaan-Penguin, speculative fiction) Nor Springtime Yet: Poems (HarperCollins (India), 2009), Dialogue & Other Poems (2006, Indian Academy of Literature) and The Other Garden (1995, Rupa&Co., novel). Awarded by the Indian Government for her Outstanding Contribution to Literature her works’ translated into six languages. She edits Poetry at Sangam (www.sangamhouse.org) .
Exhausted after attending the Bangalore Poetry festival, she was still exhuming the poetry fumes carried over from there, a kind of hangover that seeped into her persona and into our conversation. It was no wonder then that we began discussing poetry and poems impromptu; what kind of poems appealed, which didn’t, why not and the like.
It was a pleasure interacting with her. Of course, quite unlike us, she seemed to belong to a different class altogether, constantly caught in the world of words, passion and the literary life, travelling from place to place, putting words on fire wherever she went.
I got to share my Sahitya Akademi poem, Wings Of Flight with her while Sivakami shared some of her poems like The Great Compound Wall and On A Strike Day. We had a good time reading poetry, reading thoughts, reading life itself. It was then, that we discovered that all of us, irrespective of our standing in society have this vulnerable self that is waiting to get healed; and writing poetry was a great way of doing it.
After a light lunch we had a long drive and Priya promised to remember and keep in touch. It was a day that went well. There is nothing like sharing creative thoughts and emotions with personalities in the same field who have seen it all, done it all. One really benefits talking to them.
Thank You Priya. We hit it off well. Hoping to meet you soon again. And this time when we meet, your reading of Andal is due!
Quoting from her book of poems, Not Springtime Yet, from the poem Ushas.
“My sister Nritti and I, Ushas, we
weave darkness and light. She’s The
Night who comforts through
darkness, lifting it, letting it run
through her fingers and I’m The
Dawn, smoothing brightness
across the bed of the sky, arching to
tuck it into the horizon, awakening
life to life. She’s said to turn reality
into dreams and nightmares. I
reverse her flow, I demand the other
terror: action. Between the two of us
goddesses there’s not much to choose…”
Saturday 6th August, 2016, an exciting theme event beckoned me. It called for poetry presentation on the topic of beauty and the pressures of looking good in society. And yeah, you got it right – it was about women!
Apart from the theme that interested me, the fact that certain speakers were also going to voice their views on the above mentioned topic confirmed my place in the crowd.
Sharada Vijay and Nandhitha Hariharan were the hosts for the event. Quite unlike other formal hosts, they put you at ease immediately irrespective of the fact whether you were performer or part of the audience.
The speakers belonging to different professions spoke about their views on beauty standards and how it affected them in life. Sruthakeerthi, an entrepreneur spoke eloquently about her attitude towards beauty, towards her body and society in general.
Swetha Sudhakar, a transgender spoke about the travails she has had to face for asserting her place in society. Her Tamil poetry was nice.
Charulatha Rangarajan’s claim to fame was her donation of her long hair to help cancer patients make wigs. She spoke quite dramatically. Her Tamil poetry was indeed a pleasant surprise.
Rutika Saraf, a fashion blogger spoke about how she encountered the needs and desires of women wanting to keep up beauty standards irrespective of age or generation.
Sharada Vijay, spoke about her long battle with physical abuse and how she came out of it scarred but willing to survive. The event was proof of her will to survive despite all odds. Her poetry was not the stereotype kind. It hit you in the face, made you feel uncomfortable and churned you inside out.
Nandhitha Hariharan, just out of her battle with depression read out her poem that made you squirm in your seat, reprimanding you internally to think twice before you used the word, ‘Slut’ again ever in your life.
Many other poets came forward to read out their poems related to the theme of beauty.
I was one among them. Incidentally, the poem that I read was composed almost a decade back and was mysteriously titled, Mirror Mirror on the Wall!
POETRY COUTURE was in whole an interesting concoction of creativity, poetry and feminism.
A pleasant evening, the first Wednesday of the month, time for the regular schedule nay tradition of Poetry Reading at the British Council Library. It is something we poets in Chennai who are part of this religious poetry readers group look forward to every month, especially for the ones who come from afar only to read and savour poetry for what it is.
The theme for the month was Euphoria, already set by Vasanth Dev during last month’s Poetry Reading session. It is not a compulsion that one should write or read a poem on that particular theme but it makes the session more interesting when one gets to read and hear different perspectives on the same topic.
Geetha Paniker was already there when Sivakami Velliangiri and I arrived. As we got comfortable Paniker Sir also arrived. This time it seemed that many of the regulars were caught up with work but were kind enough to let us know about their forthcoming absence with regret simultaneously promising to definitely make it the next time.
I was asked to read so I started off with my poem titled, Euphoria.
between my father removing his hands
from my cycle, letting me free
and the high that I experience as I fly
like I have biked all my life!
That one insane glance
at the white shining statue
of the Lord in the temple;
from famine like eyes
The sensitive sensation
of holding a part of me
in my arms.
The emotion of ecstasy
as my child fills his stomach,
milky protein pouring
into his tiny mouth.
The literary orgasm
that I experience
as I relish a poem
from deep within.
Geetha Paniker then read her poem, Untitled which ravished the soul completely so much so that each one of us saw different meanings in it.
On the wings of a mystic retreat,
my soul flutters in an enigma,
heart erupts into a million sparks.
I am held captive in the twilight,
to the charm of the enchanting moon,
intoxicating me to a trance.
The whisper of the waves
in mystical silence of the night,
bleeding core finds its vicinity
soul seeks comfort
in sanctum of the ocean,
as a magical feeling opens within me,
releasing warmth and energy.
Being in the moonlit beach,
I breathe life for a moment,
the flawlessly shimmering waters,
reflect euphoric poetry,
from the depth of the ocean.
Sivakami Velliangiri read her sweet poem titled, Para-Gliding Over The Pattaya Sea. Only she can write such kind of poems!
I’m eager for a take-off, my husband frowns
I think, well now he is afraid of losing me.
What about my sari, what if it lifts up?” he asks,
Men, they have queer thoughts and worries.
I am not bothered, but he is conservative
so I borrow a churidar from one of the girls
wear it under my skirt. First of the women
in the team to take off; a matron hoists me up,
supple hands, then I am in midair high up
without my spectacles to see the sea. My fingers
might get the cramps, I think of my children
I hold on to dear life.
when my son sees my photo
on the coffee mug.
Back home, he said it was a photo trick.
Finally, Paniker Sir read out a poem in Malayalam written by Achutam Namboodri which he had successfully translated into English giving it the title, Within The Family.
I shall quote just a few lines since the poem is long.
“Release me from this cage
let me fly about freely in the sky.”
Is my daughter singing
what she learned in her text books
in the voice choked with sighs?
The electric flow generated
when those sweet sacred moments
touch the inner core of my heart,
lights up the whole world.
When the magnetic forces
in the milky-ways of the present
shower compassionate care on the small, small flames
rising like bud-shaped folded hands
in the ocean of tears
the infinite shades of imagination
swoon in the aroma consequently generated.
Two hours of poetry reading had passed us by leaving us with just enough time to read a few poems by other poets and fixing the theme for the next month.
What I particularly enjoy about these poetry reading sessions are that they are totally bereft of any ego hassles. We read. Other poets re-read. Improvisations are suggested. And poets are open to healthy literary criticism. What else is needed for creativity but to stretch its arms and embrace the warmth of others!
That’s all for now for this month from the Poetry Reading Circle at BC.
Will share more poetry moments with you next month.