Feature

3rd Vol,No2  (August 2016)

Feature —— Contemporary poems inspired by paintings or contemporary poetry on visual.Edited by Dhruva Harsh

 The Roman poet Horace set down in his Ars  Poetica (c. 13 BC) the dictum “ut pictura poesis”–“as is painting, so is poetry”–the two arts have been wedded in the critical mind. Poets and painters sometimes turn to one another for inspiration. Poets have used arts inspiration for centuries and writers turn as well to paintings for their inspiration. John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is one famous example, but even ancient poets such as Homer have turned to artwork as a source of stimulation for their writing. Poets have used art as inspiration for poet’s paint’, and many other writers and artists have commented on the parallels between these two modes of expression.” . In Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art, Jan Greenberg explains her belief in “the power of art to inspire language”. She notes that “What the poet sees in art and puts into words can transform an image . . . extending what is often an immediate response into something more lasting and reflective.” . This lesson allows students to harness the power of visual images to inspire their own poetry.

A poem based on a picture or work of art is called an ekphrasis. Though the term literally references the descriptive aspect of ekphrastic writing, the poet Alfred Corn states in his essay on the history of ekphrastic verse, “Once the ambition of producing a complete and accurate description is put aside, a poem can provide new aspects for a work of visual art. The primary system the verbal (ethnic) language code and the visual code, are composed of sets of basic elements (“dictionaries”3 ) that can be syntagmatically and paradigmatically arranged – through the sets of rules complementing the system – into larger entities, images (signs).4 Consequently, the signs weave texts – separately visual and verbal – but they are also able to create intertexts of indistinguishable verbalism and visuality of their components.

Poetry created under the influence of painterly representations, or its opposite, painting, inspired by poetic accounts. But the relation of language to painting is an infinite relation. It is not that words are imperfect, or that, when confronted by the visible, they prove insuperably inadequate. Neither can be reduced to the other’s terms: it is in vain that we say what we see; what we see never resides in what we say. And it is in vain that we attempt to show, by the use of images, metaphors, or similes, what we are saying; the space where they achieve their splendour is not that deployed by our eyes but that defined by the sequential elements of syntax. Nonlinguistic systems differ from languages, depiction from description, the representational form from the verbal, and painting from poems, primarily through lack of differentiation – indeed through density and consequent total absence of articulation) – of the symbol system.

 Responding to old and modern paintings, I’ve chosen contemporary Irish poet & artist Mike Absalom.  His paintings offer the viewer an explosion of colours which are bold and divergent. The sensory and even the sensual become idealized, image becomes symbol, and physical experience is superseded by mental states as we are thrust deeply into the self-contained emotional worlds of their varied personae. Each painting provides a direct sense of how the artist viewed each scene, interpreted through his eyes, mind, and heart. This radically idiosyncratic, emotionally evocative style has unique way of expression. The inner spirituality of man and nature led to a fusion of style and content that resulted in dramatic, imaginative, rhythmic, and emotional canvases that convey far more than the mere appearance of the subject. used an impulsive, gestural application of paint and symbolic colors to express subjective emotions.

He creates an ideal reader or viewer who is parallel to the speaker of the poem.  The poet makes the reader or viewer enter, first, the world of artistic expression and, secondly, the realm of the combined painterly and the poetic imagination. The reader or viewer is experiencing, a trance-like frame of mind. Such a state can be justified by the hypnotic qualities of the woman’s gaze (your white shadow)but also by analoguous attributes of the painting itself. Another element that singularises his poem is the fact that this time Mike goes beyond the usual concentration on the moment. Obviously, the incentive lies in the temporary act captured in the painting, but the poet employs here a general reflection on life that is symbolised by the act of telling. Similarly to the strange land the speaker enters, the reflection of the painterly is also “timeless beyond the momentary momentousness of transitory experience.”

The poems are illustrated by the paintings that directly inspired by his thoughts.

“Your White Shadow’’ (Painting & poetry by Mike Absalom)Mike your white shadow

Last night under a huge sky
I stepped outside and peering upwards
saw you float silently past,
in the white and soundless shape of an owl,
eyes glittering with moon dust,
seeing me, and not seeing me at all

 You are a seeded sphere of life tumbling on the moon’s breath,
a silent incantation as you pass me by
casting your white shadow against my black darkness.

I am entranced by the beauty of your form.

Your dandelion clock counts imaginary hours
but each one is registered in a living breath
as if there is some sense in that childish tally.
And always I am entranced by the beauty of the form.

Last night under a huge sky I stepped outside
and peering upwards saw you sail silently past
in the white and threatening shape of an owl,
eyes glittering with moon dust,
seeing me, and seeing me too well.

This morning you are gone
like fingerprints on a river.
It is hard to gather you as evidence.
I have looked for moon dust
but all I find is empty bottles.
You will say they are mine.

Last night under a huge sky
I stepped outside and peered upwards
You floated silently past,
in the white and silent shape of an owl,
eyes glittering with moon dust,
seeing me, seeing me ,
And not seeing me at all.

“Icarus.”

“The Winged Messenger of Death,Mike icarus
Blue Bottle by name,
Crept across my Blank Sheet of Paper
With Effortless Effrontery.

It is Pretending to be a Beetle.

But you see,
There are no Flies on me,
Nor will there be,
For I am the Sun King!

I have Spied Immediately
Icarus,
Bundled up Beneath
That Undertaker’s Black Carapace,
Which Almost,
But Not Quite Enough,

Conceals
The Presence
Of an Emergency Parachute.

Crash and Burn Fly!
The Sun King is Swatting for your Finals.”

                                              

       

“Return to Sender”

In the old shack in the apple garden Mike Return to sender
The spiders lie dead, undormant, in their silver webs.
Like last year’s postage stamps.
No longer valid.
Out of date.
Not going anywhere.
Return to sender.

The webs remain
Like silk bedspreads on vacated holiday beds,
Cold, a week later.

Old age comes young to some.
Particularly to spiders.
And to lovers.

“Long   Live   the Republic! “

Even the Disillusionment of Dusk,long
When the Black Bard grins
From the some Sinless Bardo
Like a Plague-Fly,
In Rabid Anticipation of Something,
Anything,
As long as it is Untoward,
Even THAT
Fails to iron out
My Dissolute Propensities.

It offers a Deep Dream Landscape
For even Darker Deeds
And Coldly Bodiless Connections
With Careless Hot Flesh Errant.

Even on a Hot Summer’s Day
The fire burns
In its black, ornate Fireplace of Empire.
I keep it burning
Flickering, flaming,
Watching its Slow Death as it expires in emberyonic intensity.

I need to see
Such a Slow and Ineluctable Disintegration
Of Logs and Other Heavy Wooden Things.
They bring to mind
The Tree of Life
And all other Proximate Realities.

Wave the Flag!
Life is a green and orange wave!

Long Live the Republic!

‘’Anaconda”

On the other side, mike Anaconda
in the deadness of night,
the darktime stories always begin
with the discovery of a corpse.

I open my eyes and discover my own corpse
lying on a red sheet,
and yellow sunlight is spilling down the wall like breakfast.
Must I always be late for the day?

Too much bottle!
It is hard to go to bed sometimes
and so I was up till the grey part of the morning trying to make it softer,
but with only moderate success,
unless you count visions as a soft option.

I am accompanied late at night by old versions of me,
lonely old wraiths looking for satisfaction,
and it seems any satisfaction will do.
What do they want satisfied?
I am not yet prepared to ask.

I walked the house and felt the velvet curtain of night
touch my unclothed body like an impertinent cat.
Shadows brushed me and tried to enter,
but I am not unskilled in making myself impermeable.

These others are after all just the spent echoes of earlier ones
but in my darkness they jostle to take solid shape
and occupy space that is rightfully mine.

However, thanks to your tutelage
I am not without compassion.
I reach into the darkness, hoping something soft to stroke is there,
and not a blackberry bush or a stoat
or an anaconda.

 

 

‘’Where I to stand still’’mike where i to stand still

“That the autumn breeze carries away tomorrow
would be more than evident, were I to stand still.
But I cannot stand still!
Like all deep water predators,
I am mortally afraid
that the absence of forward momentum.
will result in my suffocation.

‘’Old    Thoughts”.

mike old thoughts

These are old thoughts,
The ones that wheel and circle;
Like kites scraping the sky,
Scenting death.
They want to dine on the carrion of the Past
Down here among the nematodes and worms.

And here, under my feet,
Are the old stones; the decrepit pathways;
The tracks remaining best forgotten, circling, circling around,
Leading me back to where I am not.
To where I have no right to be.
To where I never was until today.

Once you walked here with me.
Now I am dead and you are gone.
Walk on. Walk on.

These are old thoughts,
Like cobwebs in an abandoned room
Where the spiders remain only as mummies.

Walk on, walk on.
Old loves are hungry ghosts.
Don’t feed them.
There is nothing left on the table.

‘’Crab-apple Juice” 

There’s still enough juice in the old crab-applemike crab -apple juice
for a gullop or two of scrumpy,
but who to drink it with now?
Since parts of me began to drop off
I have been careful to abandon
the careless abandon of my springtime
when we hitched up Motorways out of our minds
and drank ourselves into the unknown,
silly on thin air and laughter.

Your news came to me,
triple filtered and sour
years later.
You must have been old
when you died.
I only remember you young.

Now you are stretched out for ever
on the faded candlewick of a cheap motel
holding me as a mummy holds on to life
And we listen uncomprehending
to the alarum of sparrows
that has broken our day.

The years have shrivelled away like old fruit
and now they scatter further
like dry leaves in the wind.
Just like us, dear.
Still, there’s enough juice in this old crab-apple
For a mug or two of scrumpy with somebody.
Surely?

“Unused Prescription” 

 There were love letters in your desk,mike unused prescriptionfly-blown sheets of endearment
carelessly stacked.

It must have been an exasperating vigil,
waiting so long for fulfilment,
and then to find the words
as useless as a prescription left behind in the medicine cabinet
after the patient has died.

Or recovered.
In love I suppose that is the same thing.

I burned them.
I do not need another prescription for misery.

Cremation is satisfyingly final,
like burial at sea.

“Is it Old Age that is Beautiful” mike is it old age that is beautiful

 Is it Old Age that is beautiful,
or just the place I sit
in the Sally Garden
as we nod goodbye to the passing sun
this stub-end of a hot day in Mayo?

Among sleepy cats and donkeys
and bumbled-bees and caorógs
I feel the wind sugar-warm on my old flesh
and the sky leaks its last colour
over the shadowy edge of the world
into yet another unknown.

Is it Old Age that is so beautiful?
Or just the enchanted garden where I first noticed it was with me?
I said to the Scorpion: Oh Death where is thy sting?
He replied: Right fucking here Mate!! Just you bloody wait!!!

“In the Bemused Triangle

Let us split to the land,mike in the bemused triangle
You and I.
We’ll be free
To split logs and infinitives.

Between the secret lairs of the Badger
And of the shy Catamount
We’ll chew willow bark for our health,
And drink from amberoid streams,
Filling our open nostrils
With the pongity-ong-donk of Skunk Cabbage.

And to be sure,
We’ll get very very drunk on the smell of Arum Lily Dust.

We do not need the Old Rules.
Or the Christmas stinks of the Admass.
In Shligo, Roscommon and Leitrim
We are the Blow-Ins
Of the Bemused Triangle.

“Words of Love

A scrap of poetry motionless in the hedge, mike words of love
camouflaged,
I thought it was a leaf,
until it rose into the air and began to sing
and I recognised your voice,
emerging sweetly from the pile of gibbles
you call your sauntering outfit.

Since you took me to your bed
I have learned words I never heard before.
Your mood,
so infinitely dark,
glitters with a sharp grief
far blacker than the midnight caoróg’s shell.

I’ll add in your aspiration,
hopeless as the toy sword
on the arse end of a gary-gowlan.

And from the dusty kippins
as you light a malm of turf mole,
a rising cloud of bees
transmutes into a hundred clumsy blue bottles,
good not for honey
but for the maggoty tidying up of corpses.

And now you want to die?
What kind of a response is that
from a beloved dictionary?

“Can a mind really be bent to such fury by a dream?”

Can a mind really be bent to such fury by a dream?canI leave my bedroom and stagger,
draped in the flapping silk night-shirt I wear for boozing, hiccupping between the gaunt lupins and the haggard tulip stems, a shaking Shaky Paddy
following the turbulence of the concrete path.
Springtime is long-gone now and June has scorched the flowers black. Somewhere down here, if I am lucky,
I might find the graveyard calm of a dead garden.
Somewhere down here I might find a kind of sleepy
cemeterious tranquillity.
The slug hordes that came in April and slaughtered my young hopefuls have been burned and trampled by the sun’s jackboots.
Their corpses lie like fallen shoes on a battlefield.
I need to sit among gravestones and read the dates of strangers.
After a night listening to familiar voices there is no peace.
Up on the telephone wires
the snappy chatter of the swallows chide me from a safe distance. They are damn little house-martinets trying to provoke a reaction, but their self-righteous chatter in the morning
is as hard to swallow as a mouthful of worry beads
bitten from a rosary.
Dream on birdlets, and die.

The clouds have returned,
not shipped here in dignity from the cool Atlantic
but boiled off from the skin of some hot steaming African ocean. They are from beyont and leer down at me in my rage, simmering like overdone proverbs in a cauldron.
A breeze slips out from the willows and the clouds move off like a grey invasion of warble flies over the sweet bogland towards the smoky Dublins of the East.
I can smell sulphur and volcanic ash
but I know that they have not come for me.
Can a mind really be bent to such fury by a dream?

 

 Some interesting questions arise as we contemplate the relationship between the poem and the picture. Is the poem simply an objective verbal description of the work of art, or does the poet make conclusions about what the painting means? Could you reconstruct the painting from the poem without seeing it? Why does the poet dwell on some features of the the painting and ignore other aspects of the picture? Do you agree with the meaning the poet “reads” in the painting, or do you think the writer misreads it or warps the scene depicted to personal ends?

 

 

3rd Vol,No1  January 2016

Writer Jatin Bala is a symbol of Revolution by Surabhi Bhattacharjee.

The Partition of Bengal which was once the part of India and later Pakistan when Partitionjatin bala took place in 1948 while two decades it became independent nation called Bangladesh. Predominantly Hindu West Bengal became a province of India, and predominantly Muslim East Bengal now Bangladesh. It can be easily compared with the partition of Germany into East Germany and West Germany but with more disastrous consequences to follow. A massive population transfer began immediately after partition. Millions of Hindus migrated to India from East Bengal. The majority of them settled in government refugee camps of West Bengal.
Jatin Bala, one of the leading Dalit Writers of West Bengal had spent about ten interminable years (1954 to 1963) at the Kunti Transit Camp (under the Triveni Police Station), the Bhandarhati Work Side Camp (under the Dhaniakhali Police Station) and the Balagar Refugee Camp. He had been left an orphan at a very tender age—his mother passed away when he was one and a half years old, and he lost his father at four. Being a child of a refugee family, and being an orphan, he had nowhere to turn to for any kind of help. He supported himself as best as he could by working at various odd jobs. The money that he earned in this manner was barely enough for subsistence. Yet he determined to continue with his education at any cost. Very often he ran out of money to buy the oil which was required to light the lamp by whose light he studied in the evenings. Refusing to be deterred by any adversity that came his way, he ran to the Balagar Railway Station, and completed his studies by the light from the lamps by the railway station. His life as an orphan refugee child was full of anguish and torment. .After a long struggle, finally the poet, famous short story writer, novelist Jatin Bala obtained an M.A degree in Bengali Literature from the University of Calcutta. He started his career as a teacher and later he joined The West Bengal Government’s Youth Welfare Department as an Officer. Now he took the retirement from his service and as a dedicated soul he has been giving all his time to his creative writings. He believes Truth is the word and word is the weapon———-

“And the dot of the word is a sparkling
from which a revolution grows
And the word creates a verse
And a verse is a sharpened weapon”(A verse as a Sharpened weapon)

The pathetic journey of his life started with as a refugee Kunti Transit Camp,tribal-eye located at the village of Nasriel, under the Triveni Police Station in the district of Hoogly. An entire truck was filled with refugees who had just disembarked at the Sealdah Station—in the dark of the night the truck carried them to the banks of the river Kunti and dumped them there without the due formalities. They were plagued by extreme hunger and thirst, the helpless destitute lay still on the ground, like lifeless forms, waiting for the dawn of a new day. But the morning saw the arrival of government officials with files in their hands, in which they busily proceeded to record the number of refugees at the site. They departed with promises of soon delivering tents and the implements required to put up the tents. The makeshift tents arrived, the homeless, suffering men rushed about, trying to put up the tents as soon as possible. The yellow tents of the refugee camp provided a semblance of sanctuary for the men who had been forced to leave behind their homes and had to fight to survive amidst mindless, intensely violent riots. Only people who have themselves experienced first-hand, the uncertainties of a violence driven, horror- filled life, will truly grasp the depth of the relief experienced by men who had spent nights agonizing over whether they would ever be able to steer their wives and children to safety and certainty. Lorries continued to ferry truckloads of refugees from the other side of the border every seven days, for the whole of the ensuing month. The banks on the river Kunti, Kunti Halt Railway Station and the land adjoining both sides of the railway line were soon filled with the yellow tents providing temporary shelter to almost two thousand five hundred refugee families. Each member of the refugee camp was provided with a “cash dole” of six rupees a month. For daily necessities like rice, pulses, salt etc. The Refugee Camp was on an arid land, there were no trees or vegetation of any kind near the Camp or in the area surrounding it. The homeless, helpless refugees, struggling for survival in an alien land, were almost roasted alive by the heat which enveloped them from all sides. Plagued by burning hunger and thirst, tortured by thoughts of an uncertain future, hemmed in by the oppressive heat, the refugees continued their ceaseless fight for survival. The abysmal indifference of the Government towards the dismal plight of the refugees made life exceedingly tough for those marginal men. Alongside, the inadequate arrangements for providing water or sanitation at the camp, made life like a living hell into which the refugees were dumped by the authorities, and then left to feed for themselves. Another event that terrorized the residents of the Kunti Refugee Camp was the regular murder of the residents of the camp. Every night, one or two of the residents of the camp were regularly murdered by unknown hands. The government took no initiative whatsoever to either prevent or solve those recurrent crimes. Soon, another tragedy struck—an unknown, unidentified disease spread across the camp like wildfire, claiming as its victims countless children and aged men and women. The doctor appointed by the government made some cursory investigations which proved futile and inconclusive. The deaths continued, the homeless, helpless men and women continued to suffer, continued to grieve. The government officials refused to allow the heads of the refugee families to go out of the camp and try to eke out any form of living. Even begging was prohibited. His eldest brother, being the head of our family, could not leave the camp at any time—every three or four days men from the office of the superintendent of the camp would arrive at the camp, attendance record in hand. The wretched, half-fed men waited patiently in their furnace-like tents for the arrival of these men—if for some reason, the head of any family was absent from these attendance recording sessions, the officials from the camp superintendent’s office would immediately strike off the entire family’s name from their register. The “errant” family would, from then on, be deprived of even the meager “cash dole” that it had been receiving from the government .The very inadequate “cash dole” provided by the government at the end of every month was barely adequate for subsistence. He has been a witness to the struggles of his eldest brother— the brave freedom fighter who now fought to make ends meet with the paltry “cash dole” that he conscientiously collected every month. Refugees of that accursed camp who struggled to survive against, like beaten rabbits these men silently endured all the sufferings, all the ignominy that was tribal-eyeheaped on them. Tired, worn out eyes stared at a hopeless future—every breath of theirs was dogged by an uncertainty which was gradually sapping their life force. Suffering, uncertainty, fear of death, a deep seated anxiety engendered by an admixture of reasons rendered the lives of the people at the refugee camp a living hell.In his own words

Those who are labourers ,monthly slaves,and the bidi-workers,
Rickshaw-pullers,and the buyers of broken glasses and of torn,
Dirty papers,and the ignored hawkers,the boatmen,the pickers
Of scattered papers and sweepers,peasants,and fisherman and
Weavers,and blacksmiths,and potters;are human beings;
And those who make the slender-wicks for lighting lamps;are
The working class people of earth ,and they are manufactures;
They are creators;
As if they all should open their mouths for protesting—
Those who are the source of human civilization,
Should have gotten the language through the verse of min.(A verse as a Sharpened weapon)

The Refugee Camp was in a particularly dismal condition during the monsoon season. The rain poured through the flimsy roof of the tent, drenching the miserable men, women and children who were huddled together—their meager possessions, their clothes, the bed on which they slept, nothing was spared by the callous droplets of the splashing rain. The entire camp became a wet, muddy hell. Cooking became impossible. People fell sick and died in hordes. Nobody cared.His family stayed at the Kunti Refugee Camp for three years. After that they were transferred to the Bhandarhati Camp in the Hoogly district. The living conditions at the Bhandarhati Work Side Camp were as hellish as those at the Kunti Refugee Camp. In addition, the rules of this camp compelled every resident of the camp to contribute manually towards the construction of the irrigation canal that was being built in the vicinity of the camp. As soon as the irrigation canal was completed, the government decreed that the refugees in that camp would be relocated in different camps in various other places, and that the Bhandarhati Work Side Camp would be dismantled. The refugees demanded that they be properly rehabilitated. The authorities at the camp refused to pay any heed to their demands. Instead they demanded that the refugees empty the camp immediately. It had been raining heavily, a thunderstorm was on its way, but the government officials refused to see reason. The residents of the camp, left without any kind of choice, staged a protest against the arbitrary decision of the camp authorities. The camp authorities retaliated almost immediately by unleashing a violent police force on them. Policemen from the neighboring Dhaniakhali Police Station arrived right away in large numbers and unleashed violent atrocities on the unsuspecting, defenseless refugees. The unarmed and defenseless refugee men and women were mercilessly beaten up—the police baton targeted the private parts of both men and women, leaving them groaning in indescribable agony. Brutality ran rife. Homeless, helpless, agonized refugees were forcibly herded into trucks which then ferried them to refugee camps across the state. The inhuman atrocities that were committed at the Bhandarhati Work Side Camp on that day have very few parallels in human history.

Oh,my word,oh my comrade,oh my soldier,
Please tell me——
How does the line of sound of melody
Draw the beauty of art in the waves of wind
Which surges like a tide?
It becomes the verse of life—-
It is the weapon for the victory of war—
Oh,my word ,please give thy force in us
So that can collect the successful thunder
From the place of solitariness;from the
Untrodden region of silence:(A verse as a Sharpened weapon)

His family next found itself at the Refugee Camp near the Balagar Railway Station, under the Balagar Police Station, in the district of Hoogly. The Balagar Refugee Camp was wholly unequipped to support any kind of human habitation. Yet, the homeless, rootless refugees were forced to subsist amidst those inhospitable conditions.

The award winning writer Jatin Bala is a symbol of Revolution  in West Bengal. The long trouble tossed road of his life inspires him to write. The sorrows and pangs of his life motivate him to write. The riots which had swept across the East Bengal in the wake of the Partition of India forced his family to immigrate to India, and take shelter in government refugee camps. Being a child of a refugee family, and being an orphan, he had nowhere to turn to for any kind of help. The money that he earned through various odd jobs was barely enough for subsistence. The feeble voice of protest of the refugees was smothered once and for all. Nobody, neither the government, nor the ordinary citizens were concerned about the fate of the wretched refugees, who were doomed to suffer in silence. He is true poet of revolution; his poetry dedicated to the great soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country and countrymen. In his language ” The Word is a complete Awakening; it can help the inflaming slender-wick to blaze too; ————–

“And the dot of the word is a sparkling
from which a revolution grows
And the word creates a verse
And a verse is a sharpened weapon””
A long silence is freed by the word
it gets fresh with the sweat ,with
the blood and with the tears—
it is war-front of life;
awaking the revolutionists;
a new era—–
The undiscovered truth of society
has been approaching!———–
oh, my words oh my comrade ,oh my soldier
please tell me
how does the line of sound of melody
draw the beauty of art in the waves of wind
which surges like a tide?(A verse as a Sharpened weapon)
He thinks ” Our Indian literature beautified with a lot of new horizons, our lives cross the unknown harbour gazing of consciousness turns to the farthest zone, and the fame of rotation growing in our blood, awaking the united fight; now spreading the revolt and revolution and revolution, in the village and in the unbars, by which we can obtain the whole human right.”
”Our life cannot be a rivulet
it is stagnant ;only recognized as a filthy pool,
no current in the water; not any wave;
no tide and no ebb.
Here is a fence made of bamboo-sticks tightened
With indecent rags containing a few holes;
There are earthworms, insects and ants lying in
with the sign of blood;
And here come starvation , poverty, disease and moans
Awaking twenty four hours around our life
Causing grey soon;
yet we are surviving over a valley of debris.
———-only hatred, only oppression and only
the heaps of tyrannies accumulated around us
continuing to generation after generation
Each breath gets only poison in the air
rains of fire are falling only
no new leaf grows in our trees of dreams.(The Life but Smeared with a stagnant Myth)

Whenever he looks back to those days, whenever he thinks of the immense mental and physical sufferings endured by the men, women and children at the camp, his blood runs cold, a deep dejection plagues my senses, and he surrenders himself to incessant bouts of weeping. All through my adult life, memories of those dreadful days have pursued him relentlessly, like hounds from hell. He had never, ever had even a moment’s peace. His horrendous memories have made his life a living hell from which escape is impossible.

 

2nd vol,No1  July 2015

“Colours ” of Ekant Srivatsava
  Edited by —-Dr Santosh Alex

Contemporary Hindi poetry has come a long way from Chayavadi kavitha, tribal-eyePrayogvadi kavitha to Nayi kavitha etc. Contemporary Hindi poetry has its share of young poets . Poets like Ekant srivatsava, Bodisatwa, Badrinarayan etc have made their mark in Hindi poetry.
Ekant Srivatsava is one of the young Hindi poet who has carved a niche for himself in contemporary Hindi poetry. In his poetry at one place you can hear the sound of the fruit falling on the mud and at another the voice of a bird can be heard. Ekant’s poems transponds the readers to the thriving village life, local, the nature and the human relations. His poems stands for love, harmony and peace, preciously the qualities conspicuous by their absence today.
Ekant came into the limelight with his poems titled “colours ” ( six poems ) . These poems were written on six different colours. These poems written in the ninetees were an experiment in Hindi poetry and later on it went on to win the RamVilas Sharma Puraskaar.
Going through the poems , I find the poetic persona in a contemplative mood. Images are drawn from nature yet these are not nature poems and also it gives the readers a sense that the poet is a keen observer of the world around him.
I would like to discuss about the poem titled Red. In this poem on one hand the poet relates the colour to the pomegranate, the reddish eys of the sister and the King grass hoper, on the other he speaks about Tesu- the red coloured flower and the Sindoor.

The poet relates the colour to the objects and situations he came across in life wherein the poem elevates to a different altitude altogether. The sister in our family is less pampered compared to the brother. The reddish eyes of the sister smbolises the agony and pain she goes through, the reason could be many.
Moving on the poet relates the colour to the King Grasshopper , the queen butterfly and takes the reader to their childhood days. Its evident that the King grasshopper and the queen butterfly are red in colour. Children tie messages and threads to its tail, also they catch the butterflies . Thus the poet connects the colour Red to one’s childhood days.
Further the poet relates the Red colour to nature and nativity. Ekant speaks about Tesu, which is a kind of Red flower seen in villages during spring. Mentitioning about Tesu the poet connects the village,the flower and the colour Red. The poet denotes the importance of nature and man . Rather it could be said that the flowering of Tesu announces the arrival of spring.
The important fact in the poem is the Sindhoor . Red is the colour most commonly associated with joy and well being. It is the colour of celebration and ceremony. A red carpet is often used to welcome distinguished guests. Red is also traditional color of seats in opera houses and theatres. Scarlet academic gowns are worn at by new Doctors of philosophy at degree ceremonies at Oxford University and other schools. In china , it is considered the colour of good fortune and prosperity and it is the colour traditionally worn by brides.
In Indian tradition the married woman is supposed to apply Sindhoor on her forehead. This denotes the bonding of the husband and wife. Shrivatsava takes the poem to a different terrain when he say “ Death too stands fearing it.”
Sindooor or vermilion holds lot of importance in Indian society. The tradition of application of sindoor in the parting of hair by married Hindu women is considered extremely auspicious and is being carried on since centuries.

In traditional Hindu society, wearing sindoor is considered must for married Hindu women. It is a visible expression of their desire for their husbands’ longevity. The lines of the poems goes like this –
Actually it is the colour
The mother puts on her forehead
Death too stands far fearing it
It denotes that her husband is till alive.
( Red, Ekant Srivatsava )

Thus Ekant Srivatsava concludes the poem with an important aspect related to Indian Culture. It’s the brilliance of the poet that by the different situations and things mentioned in the poem he connects it to the colour Red and the poem takes a different turn altogether.
Similarly in the poems titled Blue, Yellow, White , Black and Green the poet surprises the readers by the way he relates the colour to different objects and angles and human emotions. These poems are very close to the nature, yet the poet is successful in not making the poems fall into the category of Nature Poems. Its beyond doubt that the poems titled “ Colours ” make delightful reading.

Red
This is the colour of the pomegranate flower
This is the colour of that woman’s cheerful heart
Which is breaking
Like the ripe pomegranate.

This is the colour of my friends smile
Whose lips are red due to beetel
This is the colour of the wept eyes of a sister.

This is the colour of the King grasshopper,
To its tail
The messages and thread are tied.
This colour is of the queen butterfly
Whom the child is taking home.

This colour is of that fire
Which is knows as ‘ Tesu ‘ 1
And as it sparks the spring arrives.

Actually it is the colour of that milky way
Which mother applies on her forehead.
Fearing this, the death stands miles apart
And father is with the mother for ever.

1. Tesu : A kind of redflower

Dr Santosh AlexBillingual Poet , Multilingual Translator, Reviewer  and Essayist .tribal-eye He has an M.A. and Ph.D in Hindi Literature. His poems have been widely translated into various languages. He is the Member  of the prestigious Project reviews and Supervisory Group, HRD Ministry , New Delhi. His Bio Note included in the 2013 issue of Asian Admirable Achiever –international Research Journal published by Rifacemento International , New Delhi. Dr. Santosh translates post colonial literature in English, Hindi and Malayalam and has been enriching Indian Literature for the past 19 years . He  has  eight  books  in  Hindi and One in English in Translation.   .He is the recipient of Dwivageesh Puraskaar (National Translation Award) by Bhartiya Anuvad Parishad, New Delhi. Currently he is working as a Technical Officer in a Research Institute in Visakahapatnam.He was invited  poet for the 2012 schedule of Hyderabad Literary Festival & Young writers Seminar conducted by Sahitya Academy in Vijayanagaram during 2011 .  He can be reached at drsantoshalex@gmail.com. –

 

1st Vol, No1  November2014

Sahira Thangal edited by —-Dr Santosh Alex

Malayalam poetry is very vibrant . Its has its share of women poets who have carved a niche for themselves in contemporary Malayalam poetry. Saheera Thangal is one of the young Malayalam poet who preceeds women poets like Savitri Rajeevan, Vijayalaksmy, Anita Thampi and Rose Mary . All these poets explore women’s psyche in their own styles and ways. Sahira too explores the women’s psyche in her poems. Also the interrogation of patriarchal practices and canons are evident in her first poetry collection .

Sahiras poems speak on intense feelings of love, pleasure, sex, social elements and femininity. They have been compared to Kamala Das’ English poetry by critics and reviewers. Her poems are lyrical and brief in nature. Her romantic expressions can be seen in the translated poems given below.

Petals

The first petal opened with love
The second opened
with lust .
The third
was hurrying to share
motherhood.
I plucked each one
made it into a special meal
and served it.

 

Gardener

A poet searching for the poem
at a poetry meet.

A raga searching for the heart
at the end of the song.

The fingers caressing
the broken strings of veena
to compose the song

When they insist for you
the singer puts the ghazal to sleep
and climbs down the stage.

The gardener
puts the flowers to sleep
with the green cover.
Your voice

Give poems
otherwise rain
will get offended and leave
without raining.
The sea
would send the wave back
The sky would laugh
like darkness.
Stars would look at
you and will wipe the tears.
Only the koel
would keep on asking
where did it loose
its voice.
You are supposed to
give the answer
and I am supposed to
listen.
Search

I don’t have a
personal address
I have lost my name, zodiac sign
and date of birth somewhere.
A small dove
shows me the way ahead.
It sits inside
and leads the eye.
Just before reaching
the target
it becomes a siren.
When he comes

When he comes
the siren of the train is heard.
Cyclone becomes kiss and follows her.
When the doors of the fort
is opened one by one,
the light comes out from bondage ,
hugs her
and she turns into a Lotus.
Echo

It’s enough if you are present
in any of the rooms
of this huge house.
I did not tell you to
always sit besides me.
Be at a distance
where you can hear
my call.
I would rather love death
than the voice
which hits the wall
and echoes.
Who is Watching

 

Who is watching whom ?

The night is watching the day ?
Eyes are watching the mind ?
The peacock feather is watching the peacock ?

The honeydrop is watching
the redness of the lips ?
The fingers are watching the touch ?

Your love
watches the sorrow of the poem ?

Whom are your seeing
Who is seeing ?
Bridge
The gunpowder godown
caught fire.
Your dreams were responsible for this.

It could not be put off
by the sea
nor could be covered
by the sky .
I am bewildered.

There is a bridge ,
One can travel only to the other side.
Even though I run far away
the eyes follow me.

Your cry
becomes a ghazal
and is chasing me in all directions.
Sahira Thangal

Sahria Thangal was born in Palghat in Kerala . She was working in a Dubai based company as an Advertising Executive and has re located to Kerala. She is an Young Malayalam poet who has Published 2 collections of Poetry. “Njan enna otta vara “ and “ Ashrama Kanyaka ” and one Novel titled” Rabia ” in Malayalam. Her Poems have been translated into Hindi and English. She was Awarded the Emerging writers award by Government of Kerala and Arabia Literary Award for poetry. Currently she is working as a clinical psychologist in kerala.