Poets Translating Poets, Nov 2016
A rainbow blooms slowly over a darkening sky, and sweeps across untenable ideas that are darker still. The weather is clement, welcoming, the trees so beautiful in their collective grace! It's going to be a beautifàul festival of poetry.
Poets Translating Poets, Max Mueller Bhavan, Kalaghoda, Mumbai, Nov 26....bringing together a plethora of poetic activities, discussions, à, readings, film...
Poetry & Conflict. Nov 26. Or 26/11 as it is better known.
Poetry & Conflict - a session bringing together poets from Mizoram, Orissa, Bangladesh, Kashmir, Hyderabad, and moderated by poet, author, activist Nabina Das.
A glimpse of her 'fierce eloquent and solid panel', as she puts it : Sajjad Sharif from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Kedar Mishra from Odisha, Shafi Shauq from Kashmir, Dawngi Chawngthu from Mizoram.
Nabina Das steered the session in her trademark free flowing prose and verse style, reciting from memory, recounting experiences and creating a seamless narrative with participating poets.
Mizo poet Dawngi Chawngthu brought forth the idea of women's empowerment by questioning the narrow confines within which girls were supposed to remain, and held it up for scrutiny. Simple, lucid, heartwarming, and ready to be embraced. Her poems will be the pollen carrying new ways of being for women and girls in the land.
Kedar Mishra, the poet from Odisha, spoke up for the rights of the vulnerable, the tribal & the down-trodden. He reiterated the power of poetry as a veritable force in ringing in change, transferring power, and infusing hope in people.
He gave us two lines of a unifying verse that had kept villages together in troubled times : 'Gram chhadibo na..... Maati chhadibo na... (hope I've remembered right the simple yet powerful lines that flowed like a wave through entire villages in Orissa during an uprising).
Kashmiri poet Shafi Shauq shared thoughts about how poetry is inextricably intertwined with conflict in the beautiful but troubled valley, where every breath is poetry, every breath is also a resonating struggle for existence - a conflict! I came away with images (self-constructed) of chinar, chirag, a chiaroscuro of juxtaposed imagery.... games of the light and the dark....
Bangladeshi poet Sajjad Sharif spoke of the Bengali's love for language and how it had shaped even their freedom struggle, their very idea of identity is linked irrevocably to 'Bangla' ! Poetry as a search for the truth, with the highest truth being freedom, is united in endless ways with conflict.
Poetry & Conflict also saw an immensely beautiful depiction on celluloid, in the documentary 'A Night of Prophecy', by Amar Kanwar. In this film poetry plays a central role in interpreting events. As the FilmsSouthAsia.org site puts it :
'Through poetry emerges the possibility of understanding the past, the severity of conflict and the cycles of change. The film travels in the states of Maharashta, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, and Kashmir. Through poetry you see where all the territories are heading towards, where you belong, and where to intervene, if you want to. The narratives merge, allowing us to see a more universal language of symbols and meanings. This moment of merger is the simple moment of prophecy.' Unquote.
If you haven't seen it, please go right ahead and watch it on YouTube.
Another highlight of the day was a workshop 'Mixing Poetry with Music' by Nicolai Kobus, where one learnt enchanting ways of bringing a poem to life with simple elemental music. A truly enriching experience.
To wind up reflections on the beautifully poetic day - Nov 26, 2016, one must thank friends, poets, authors for their warmth .... Nabina Das, Arunava Sinha, Hemant Divate, Kedar Mishra, Sharon Irani, to name the ones i met.....
And good wishes to other friends whose sessions I missed, wish it were possible to attend all!