Saturday, May 27, 2017

In the dark times will there also be singing?
Yes there will also be singing.
About the dark times.
-Bertolt Brecht
And this is what we witnessed in the three- day Poetry Festival from 7 to 9 April, 2017 at Triveni kala Sangam. Expressions of dissent, acknowledgement, bonhomie, emotions in all forms-raw, naked, subtle and razor sharp.
Here was a microcosm of The India that every true Indian heart yearns for. The three- day celebration –Vak: The Raza Biennale of Indian Poetry 2017, organized by Raza Foundation was a respite from all the mayhem that one has been reading, witnessing morass and hearing on TV channels, in the newspapers and at every drawing room conversation. The festival was a realization that not all is lost. Some sense of morality, freedom and conscience does exist even today amid this morass. Eminent and budding poets from all over the country came together under the banner of Raza Foundation to share their expressions and voice their opinions. What was indeed noteworthy was that the gathering in that auditorium comprised poets from different parts of the country and not once did anyone feel a sense of isolation, alienation or marginalization in any way. It was heartening to listen to the voices from different cultures and regions as a collective whole. A number of myths were shattered. A number of myths were reborn in refreshing avatars. There were poets belonging to different religions who presented poems in languages we don’t generally associate them with.  Rajathi Salma the celebrated Tamil writer, whose debut novel The Hours Past Midnight has been listed for the Man Asian Booker Prize presented her poetry in Tamil Language. Hers is one of the first novels by a Tamil Muslim woman. Abhishek Shukla was one of the several esteemed poets who presented his poems in Urdu. A number of panel discussions took place ranging from Poetry as Memory, Poetry Freedom and Poetry as Conscience . It was overwhelming to hear the voices of dissent, of anger, of disturbances, of conflict and collective resonance in these times. However there were a few voices that echoed the sentiments contrary to what the popular voices in the panel discussions spoke about. A noted sociologist said-Poetry should only be read for the sake of entertainment.It is not capable of arousing a sense of morality.
The translations of poems helped in understanding the nuances and subtleties of other native languages along with the rhythmic charm of listening to the intonations and music of the native languages themselves. I am thankful to VAK for giving me the opportunity to present the translations of the ghazals of Shamim Hanfi.  I shall always cherish the memories of meeting such poets like Sachidananda, Manglesh Dabral, Keki Daruwala , Salma and many more who made the three days truly memorable. I am sure the voices will reach out far and wide and bring about a definite positive change in society one day. A day will come when we shall transcend all barriers of religion, Languages, cultures, popular myths that tie us and cripple us at times, prejudices and be born again with a sense of a collective conscience that we belong to one country yet we have our individual differences we are so proud of-our individuality.
Admission into time and space of a poetic sensibility requires a belief in one’s sense of judgment creating an awareness of the self. These reawakening and stirring of the soul lead us to believe that we  are so incomplete. Yet, far from indicating that we flawed, they fill us with desire, ignite our emotions, fuel our passions, and catapult us out into a new world where journeys are begun, connections are made, and  our divine sense of incompleteness persists.

It is events like these that can help in writing a better history of our times.  

Love is all there is, three cheers to VAK! 

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Sketches in literature

Sketches in literature : Shamim Hanafi writes definitive profiles of writers, evaluating their contribution