Wednesday, 21 March 2018

AIR Live Recording on World Poetry Day 2018

It was a thrill to be recorded by AIR, Panaji today on World Poetry Day. This time I trialled a number of poems from my forthcoming collection Jasmine City: Poems from Delhi. 

In an ably anchored session by Mr. Jog the multilingual readings of poems from four languages in Goa, viz. Hindi, Marathi, Konkani and English captivated the meagre audience. The invitation came from Savio de Noronha, Programme Executive, AIR Panaji.

I read the following poems:

Quila Mubark
Sleeve of Care
Jasmine City

The poems will be broadcast at a later date in the respective language programmes.

The Poems

Quila Mubark

-Brian Mendonca

4 Bihar strikes 9
As a myriad pigeons
Guard the Peacock Throne
Bagpacks and suitcases
Sweep on inexorably
-400 ears
in the blink of an eyelid.
Gujaratis, Goans, Japs and jeans
Hamin ast, o hamin ast. o hamin ast
Trope of a nation
With access denied
-wisps of poetry
line sepoys' barracks.
The 'Stream of Paradise'
Connects with 'The Palace of Mirrors'
As a basement seraglio latices Vathek.
Eyrie of Emperors, axis mundi
Vestige of Eternity
on a grain of rice.

(Lal Quila, Old Delhi

4 Bihar: The regiment guarding the Red Fort
400 ears: 400 years since the red fort assumed prominence
Hamin ast o: If ever there was paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.
Stream of Paradise: lyrical descriptions of the opulence of the fort precincts
Vathek: Romantic figure in literature
eyrie: turret of the fort perched like an eagle's nest
axis mundi: centre of the world
Vestige of Eternity: from Blake
grain of rice: Just outside the fort visitors can have their names written on a grain of rice.

Sleeve of Care

-Brian Mendonca

The homeless
can sleep anywhere
in the night city . . .
-A young boy sprawled on a pavement
oblivious of the early morning traffic.
-An exhausted ice cream seller
atop his ice cream cycle box
(two boys atop another cart beside him.)
- A family living life on a road divider.
-or a youth curled up
in a discarded metal frame
of a traffic signal monitor.
The homeless can sleep anywhere.

(New Delhi

Sleeve of care: taken from lines by Shakespeare where sleep is referred to as having the ability to 'knit' up the 'ravelled sleeve of care,' i.e. forget your worries.

Jasmine City

-Brian Mendonca

Last evening
as I headed home after a swim
-I usually take the route
where the road curves by the place
where amma sells Jasmine flowers
in the April night.

-a stone's throw away
from Purana Quila
I asked her
where she was from.

She beamed from
her ebony visage
and said 'Chennai'
through her off-white teeth.

I paid her Rs 5
for two gajras
and another Rs. 5
for the other day
when at the traffic light
the auto had lurched forward
leaving her payment pending.

I felt touched
and humbled
by amma's humanity,
-'Mehnat ka paisa, kabhi nahi jaata.'
She had said.-
the soul of the South
and by the memory
of your voice.

(New Delhi


-Brian Mendonca

I'm dependent
on your pride of place
as the swell of the South
meets the arch of the North
in your dusky hue.

Her dark eyes
a milling cafetaria
as she whispers 'thank you'
to a zealous bearer.

I pause
for a mouthful
and then
you are gone

Pendant -

(Andhra Bhavan
New Delhi


Brian Mendonca

India awakes
to Bismillah Khan
as the shehnai subsumes
the pain of the nation.
Notes quiver
towards refuge unyielding
as Bairagi laments
the stench of burnt flesh.
Dagger to the soul
virgins disembowelled . . .

'Lagta heh abhi bhi kuch zinda heh
is desh mein.'

(AIR, New Delhi
2002, after the Gujarat riots)

The poem 'Bhairavi' was not read on AIR Panaji, because I did not find it.  I include it here. Pix of Brian Mendonca being presented with a memento by Mr. Damodar on behalf of All India Radio, Panaji at AIR Panaji studio on World Poetry Day, i.e. 21 March 2018.

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