The body can arch
In pain or in pleasure
Both fictive mendicants
Of the coin of life.
On the 21 March – World Poetry Day - four of us poets sat in the hallowed confines of the AC auditorium of All India Radio, Panaji. We were invited to read our poems to an invited audience. The performance would be recorded and broadcast on the relevant channels later.
The four of us did not know each other initially. But at the end of the recording we felt we were on the same poetic page. Dattaprasad Jog who anchored the show shared his ghazals in Marathi. Ramesh Ghadi moved the audience with his poems in Konkani, bringing into the rarefied space the dust of the Goan earth. He beckoned to the dead to return to relive their childhood in Goa.
Smita Darshetkar who recited her poems in Hindi, was transfixed by the sea. She said the sea calls out to her but there were so many responsibilities she had to fulfil before that. In another poem she reflected on a humble stone/brick on the new Mandovi bridge. She envisaged how when the bridge would be inaugurated with great pomp, no one would remember the ordinary brick.
I shared my poems in English written in Delhi. Ironically when I was being recorded by AIR Delhi, I read my poems on Goa. This is perhaps because the writer/poet writes best from the third space. But the themes were universal. ‘Quila Mubark’ was inspired by the Red Fort, New Delhi. It describes how the fort is a ‘trope of a nation / but with access denied.’ ‘Jasmine City’ describes amma from Chennai selling gajras of jasmine at the kerb in Delhi. In ‘Sleeve of Care’ I wrote about how the homeless can sleep anywhere. Though Delhi is usually recalled for its opulence and excess, the very poor also try to make a living, selling ice creams for example.
My last poem ‘Dependant’ speaks of how, while having lunch at Andhra Bhavan, New Delhi I am enamoured by a woman wearing a beautiful pendant. Jog introduced my poetry with my lines quoted in the epigraph above and followed it up quoting another short poem of mine:
9 to 5
The needs of a man
Don’t fit into a suitcase
Nor a lunch box
For that matter.
Earlier in the day I was at a seminar where I spoke on ethics and media. I dwelt on the ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry. Plato wanted poets (like Homer) and historians (like Hesoid) banished as they distorted the nature of reality. Aristotle defended poetry saying it helps mould character. Since I was reading on World Poetry Day I prefaced my paper with Jorge Luis Borges’ poem ‘The Accomplice’ to argue we are all accomplices of the media.
The multilingual mehfil painstakingly organized by AIR, Panaji on World Poetry Day was not publicized by any of the local English dailies I came across. This led to a meagre audience for the significant event.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender St. Inez, Goa on 1 April 2018. Pix source granadaciudaddeliteratura.com