Writing a poem?

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15/03/2015 by Siddiqui Fayesal

Writing poetry is all about squeezing the moment. Coming from me, you shouldn’t take it very seriously since I’m not much of a writer so writing poetry is something that lies in the realms of the dreamlands. Since it comes from Prasoon Joshi you might want to pay attention to it.

He says that one needs imagination to be a poet. He says that if I can see things a little clearer that what another sees then I’m a poet. It reflects very well with what Auden said about poetry in his tribute to Yeats when he called it a mouth. Similarly, Prasoon Joshi says that it is never necessary to ‘write’ poetry to be a poet. One can be a poet without writing poetry. One just needs the vision and the power of analyses to see the colour in a grayish fabric.

In a way, one just needs to stop, see, smell, analyse and simply be.

I attended the Jaipur Literature Fest recently and returned a very happy man. It was a journey that I will remember for a very very long time. I’ll write about it in detail later, and for now I’m only going to concentrate on Prasoon Joshi who had a small session talking about poetry and what it means to be a poet in the world where rhetoric is lost under the weight of materialism and short cut happiness and 2 minute attention spans.

He spoke about his involvement with the movie Delhi 6. He stressed on the magic of words to get a point across. At times, he says, that the audience does not even realize what it actually is. An example he gave was about the usage of the word “genda phool” in his song from Delhi 6. He says it’s a juxtaposition of character. The flower is used for Aarti as well as during the funerals. It resembles life and death, positivity and negativity with ease. The words are used to signify that the relationship between the “susural” and the character is like that of genda. It is neither white nor grey. An area in between. A something that cannot be defined without adding a shifting boundary. A poetry is the form that speaks clearly and cleaves through the life’s rigmarole with the help of metaphors.

He maintains that Philosophy is a greater part of Poetry than it is said to be. When he was asked to write a poem for the Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan, a movement towards a cleaner Indian Society, he lets the objectives of the idea take control. It does not mean that he is advocating a political party. He says that poets have to be philosophical and poetry has the ability to become a great dialogue for any kind of people.

He says that poetry can say things that couldn’t be ordinarily be said. It has the quality to redress. It was basically the reason why poetry evolved as a mode of transmitting ideas. During the rules of Kings and Queens, when the poets were invited to events and baithaks, they got away saying things that a normal court member couldn’t without getting under intense scrutiny.

Poets used smoke screens and metaphors to transmit ideas and build revolutions. After all, what is the meaning of using a metaphor if not for a reason to get under the skin of words and weave it into a flurry of actions which the words don’t really mean?

When speaking of metaphors I can’t continue without speaking of Nolan’s Interstellar. Despite being told off by a few peers that my conclusion of its story is flawed, I am still going ahead with the rebuttals. Space odyssey and father-daughter drama? Now, that’s a metaphor to talk about. The medium of the storytelling is so strong that it overshadows the core idea!!! Usually, a stunt like that might negate a point, but, it doesn’t do that to Interstellar. It makes it even more poignant. It makes it even more strong. I might be wrong, of course, but the beauty of the movie lies in the gravity of the script that transcends space travels and erupts into a story of a mere daughter and her father.

Nolan’s Interstellar was one of those poetic journeys that haunt you even after the last syllable has been heard, read and understood. It is an experience that is capable of only being felt in person. No matter how beautiful a rhapsody I weave it’ll never be good enough for someone who hasn’t seen it and felt it.

Coming back to the main ideation of Poetry as a metaphor now. It affected the masses like a charm where direct dialogue did not. It made that difference between a regular newspaper report and a couplet that fires you up.

Sample this:

Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab humare dil mein hai,
Dekhna hai zor kitna baazu-e-kaatil main hai.

See what those 2 lines just did? Anyone understanding basic Urdu or Hindi will get it; the sudden warmth glowing deep inside. It awakens the most primitive desire for action. Written by Ram Prasad Bismil during India’s freedom struggle. It’s a beautiful poem. Read the full poem here.

Writing a good length of poetry is easy. What is difficult is to give double the punch in half the lines.

Siddiqui F.
(21.01.2015)

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