“The goal of my presence in the world is to make it possible for everyone to write poems. And not just that.
The happiness. The answer.”
Robert Kelly, Going To The Poem
We had already had our monthly poetry reading at British Council but Sivakami and I, over a detailed discussion felt that we needed to read other writers, poets (for now). How long were we going to write our poems, read them, look at them from our Poetry Circle’s critical angle, make creative modifications and then, idly wait for the next poetry reading session the next month?!
That is how this idea of reading other poets started. Yes, you might ask. We do read other poets at home. Why take the trouble solely for something we can do within the comfortable confines of our homes?
True, you might be reading. But, do you ever wonder as to why a poet may have written a poem in a particular manner? Would you have read a poem, loved it completely and wanted to share the joy with a fellow poet or poet lover? Well, this poetry reading was entirely for that desire, for that need to connect with friends who may think entirely differently from you about poets and poetry but, you stay connected because of that love for poetry, yours or somebody else’s.
After a successful poetry reading on the beach a week ago, we thought that slightly greener surroundings would help us in our endeavour to touch poetry a wee bit more and satiate our poetic cravings. That is how Zaitoon Cafe in the IIT campus, Chennai was decided upon. And what a splendid choice it was!
Pankajam Kottarath, published poet was already there when Sivakami and I reached the IIT premises. There was no shortage of poetry books to be read (courtesy: Sivakami Velliangiri, poet and poetry activist). We started off with the book we had left incomplete on the beach, 40 Under 40 by Nabina Das and Semeen Ali. Pankajam read Abinav Datta’s poem, Epitaph since she had written a poem on the same topic some time back. A witty poem, it in fact made a mockery of an epitaph and was a delight to read.
“While they sang
I bet on a crow
on the cross,
for it to interrupt .
No one stopped singing.
All I could think of was:
And so I made one for you;”
This was followed by Plus Sized Poem written by Chandramohan S who writes about how his poem refuses to yield to stereotype norms of poetry writing. There are pretty references to cosmetic surgery and the like and how his poem creates itself without making use of the fancy alterations that some people resort to.
“This poem has cellulite
at its rear end
this poem does not opt for
To make oneself
eligible for international prizes.”
By the time, Vasanth Dev, former Cinematographer and Director of Photography arrived with a poetry book in hand. He read out lines from Robert Kelly’s Going To The Poem from the book Cinema Lingua Conjunctions 42 and all of us were floored! And, I am not exaggerating. Just read these lines:
“A poem is to prose fiction as video to film: direct, present, dyslexic as life, noisy, sudden, easy, almost impossible to exist. What could be easier than a poem!”
“Nowadays everyone can afford a poem.”
“ A line of poetry is the shortest distance between two silences.”
In the meanwhile, Sivakami read a poem from the book, The Wife of Winter by Michael Dennis Browne.
“A measure of freedom,
messy as weed,
the delight it is
to be horizontal
by nothing but sunlight.
opens like a flower
as he floats.
He doesn’t know
he is floating
in this poem.”
Pankajam read one of Akhil Kayal’s poem, When She And I Go Together
“what is it
the sales guy
only speak to her
when we buy
the curtain for my house?
My guess is
it’s the same thing
that makes the silly broker
he can only look at me
as we try
not to see a house
for her to rent.”
And I read, Nivedita and George Everette Jr.’s poem, A Mother’s Moksha from the book Family Matters.
“My Kanna had a life force just like mine,
We treated everybody with compassion;
We never caused harm to anybody;
We believe truth is multi-faceted;
There are many ways to reach it.”
Time passed us so fast and we did not even realize that it was past our lunch time. Though our minds and hearts were full with poetic content our tummies groaned. Unwilling to permit food hunger to destroy the joy of our interactive poetry session we quickly had some food and ended the poetry reading session for the day.
Of course, we are coming back again. With more people, with more poetry and more poetry lovers. Many persons expressed interest online and will be joining us the next time. Do join us then and share the passion of words!