Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Guest of Honour Speech Sunday 26th April 2015 at IIC
Dear friends and fellow poets,
My thanks to Mr. Pawan Jain, Aagaman, and Sanmati publishers for inviting me as Guest of Honour for this event, which is being held to honour poetry and those who choose to write it, in whatever form and in whichever language.
The launch to take place today is of an English poetry anthology of poems by 45 poets, titled " Purple Hues", and " A Phase Unknown, Woman, a Tribute” (an anthology of short stories & Poems). And Preeti Daksh’s collection " कुछ तेरी कुछ मेरी". There is also a poetry recitation contest for budding poets.
When youthful voices are willing to experiment and produce new work, we must encourage them. For we need Poetry more than ever today when the race towards materialism and fundamentalism is hardening us, filling us with greed and hatred. Poetry brings culture and compassion, and reminds us that we do have a softer, more vulnerable side.
Poetry has one major advantage over other forms of expressions --- it shoots from one heart, straight to another heart, in fact, a few words of a poem can convey so much more than reams and reams of writing. Poems create a mood, a feeling, an atmosphere of romance, and transport us to a space where we can forget reality. But that is not all. Poetry also makes us challenge society and its repressions, its bondages, its un-fairness… makes us come face to face with the reality of our lives. It has as many varied themes as the many aspects of each individual life.
People talk a lot today about what is called the Indianization of English Poetry. You and I write our poems in that language. What this really means is the assimilation of English as a language into our own writing of poetry in a way that it becomes more ‘comfortable’: reaches a wider audience, is read and understood by many more, and allows more Indians to take to writing in English with comfort and freedom.
I am a poet first and will always call myself a poet, and I write both in Hindi and in English. This is because I can feel the rhythm of words in the air, the way they tumble over each other, waiting to be heard.
And I know, that though people applaud poets and poetry, there is not much done to further poetry either in the publishing of poetry collections or the sale of them. So, Those like Aagaman, who organize Literary and Cultural Events, and Sanmati Publishers, who encourage poetry through the publication of anthologies and collective works of individual poets, receive the gratitude of all of us who believe in poetry and its need for furtherance in today’s world.
I would like to end this address by reading out a poem of mine, on how a poem takes flight.
It is titled ‘One Poem’
A poem is fluttering its wings
The desire to fly so intense
That the body is still
In the hope of taking flight
And in the emerging silence
One can only hear this.
The fluttering of these wings
As though there echoes
In the universe the music
Of just this one poem.
I wrote it originally in Hindi, so I would also like your indulgence to allow me to read the Hindi poem to you.
एक कविता अपने पँख ़फड़फड़ा रही है
उड़ने की कोशिश है इतनी तीव्र की
सारा बदन थम सा गया है,
उड़ान भरने की उत्सुकता में
और उभरते सन्नाटे में
सुनाई देता है बस
इन्ही पंखो का फड़फड़ाना
व्योम में गूंजता हो मानो
इक इसी कविता का सरगम.
~ आभा आयंगर 'अनकही' २ मार्च २००८
Whatever we do, we must always use our language with care and we should not dim the intensity of the poetic gaze.
Thank you very much and congratulations to all participants.