Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Love and Poetry Thinking about Meerabai

Love is one of the oldest theme of poetry. In fact, poetry is traditionally considered as an expression of love. This is the reason why writing love poetry is one of the most difficult challenge for a poet today. It is so easy to slip into a cliche or be sentimental in your treatment.
Yet there is no denying the fact that some of the greatest poetry in the world is love poetry: Lorca, Neruda, Paz, Meerabai, Kabir and of course Ghalib.
I believe Meera composed the finest love poetry in the world. Why? Because most of the others mentioned above were unable to transcend their masculine consciousness. Masculine love poetry is always tinged with the violence of lust and certain roughness which reduces the beloved to an object of sexual desire. Meera wrote magnificient love poetry without attempting to write like men. and thats what gives her poetry certain delicate elusive beauty which the male poets lack.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Metaphysical Poets and Ghalib

Ghalib and Metaphysical poets? A friend suggested that there is a connection or similarity between these two poetries. Perhaps he implied that there is a shared ground between the Urdu ghazal tradition and the Metaphysical style. I dont think there is much of similarity between the two. The Metaphysical poets were avant-garde of the times, trying to reinvent the language of poetry to suit intellectual and cultural pressures of the times. Ghalib's poetry is stylistically far more conservative as he does not inflict violence to the language using far fetched and outrageous metaphors or `conceits'. The eternal and universal themes of love, death, and god can be found in any two tradition. Sher in Urdu ghazals come closer to the witty neoclassical couplets of Pope or Dryden which aspire to express `what oft was thought, but n'er so well expressed'. Besides, the religious poetry of Herbert and Crashaw is hardly as profound and dark as that of Ghalib. Existential agony, dark vision and unsettling expression of suffering that we find in Ghalib is far removed from the smart ingeniousness and cleverness of Donne and Marvell. I personally feel that Ghalib is far greater poet than the Metaphysicals.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Poetry and Fame

If it took hundreds of years for the Metaphysical poetry to receive the appreciation it deserved, if Emily Dickinson, Blake, Hopkins and Kafka died totally unknown, what chance do you stand Sachin.
Well these cases gives you a hope, that perhaps after centuries you will be received in a better way. By then you will be dead centuries back and it will make no difference to you.
Does fame make any difference to a poet's life? Fame does not cure the suffering and loneliness of being. Yes, though the temptation of fame is great, one should not expect it to cure your pain.
Appreciation? What is it? If poetry is a cry of pain, what difference does it make if you are told that you cry well or cry badly?

Metaphysical Poetry at the turn of 21st century.

Teaching Metaphysical poets to MA part one students these days. It made me think on how a mode of writing which was considerd marginal and freakish for hundreds of years, suddenly became an object of admiration and a model in the twentieth century.
My own poetry resembles metaphysical mode in many ways. I have written on the things like spam and corrupt floppy and cyber porn and even `alu vadi' ( paatra in Gujarati) an Indian recipe. These guys used all the learning and scholarship to do violence to the language of poetry and even then their expression of love, devotion, death remains remarkably precise. What is remarkable is that their imagery sounds far fetched and their poetic logic seem to carry things too far, even after extreme avant garde movements like Surrrealism and Dadaism. I think thats what makes them so very interesting.
The Metaphysical mode is the avant-garde of the seventeenth century because it aims to include and absorb everything thats considered `unpoetic' into the language of poetry and inflict great violence on it to express its meaning. Perhaps this is the reason why Sachin is so terribly interested in them even today at the turn of the twentifirst century and understand why Eliot was so excited about them almost a hundred years back.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Disillusionment at Three in Noon

Vasant Panchami: onset of spring and the season of marriages begins.
Season of love poetry.
Poetry is essentially an expression of grief.
If it does not come as a leaf on the tree, it better not come at all. But if it can come as an idle tear to the music of heart breaking, then nothing better.
When I read what Camus had written about love in his Sisyphus, I could not understand it . He had written that love heightens the sense of the Absurdity. Today it is clear to me. Tears increase clarity of eyes. You see things properly. Good vision after all is mandatory for good poetry.
Realization. Poetry is a form of realization. And realization is a product of disillusionment. Moksha. Moksha is the ultimate realization. When you realize that nothing really belongs to you it is then you are extinguished like a candle in the wind. You become silent like a cracked bell abandoned in some deserted temple. Nibbana.
This silence is the ultimate poem.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

poetry and me

One of my teachers whom I hold in high esteem once said that he was now no longer interested in the literary approach which analyzes `language of literature or poetry' but he is interested in the `man-behind-the-work'. I disagreed. I felt that this belief is rooted in medieval bhakti notion of the poet as a saint and this attitude meant `saint-mongering' of some form. I felt that it is the special use of language that is important in poetry.

Today I feel both of us are wrong. The poet IS the Work and the Poem IS the poet. If the poem sounds dishonest and superficial, the poet must be the same too.

My poem IS Sachin. The mythical, surreal world on my poems is the world I inhabit: the world I discover, reveal through my writing, in a way.

I used to believe that the poems are not `expressions' of the self but `inventions'.
But today I feel that my poem IS my self itself

The Morbid and Sordid poetry of Sachin

Today a friend said that if you get a job at MS, you must admit that there is still some room for merit in this world and your poems will get less morbid.
Well, Sachin's poems are Morbid andSordid and cant help it.
I am too disillusioned about things to believe that getting a job or being a father or being loved is going to cure me of my suffering and pain.
Why is my poetry so `morbid' and `sordid'? I dont know. My poetics, my shastra of kavya is built on my vision of the world which is sordid and morbid and all that. So I try to incorporate as much `unpoetic' and `unaesthetic' elements as possible into the grammar of poetry. The grammar of poetry, for me, is that it is a language of symbols and images. It is a `second degree' language, language within the language, a dialect without the region, an idiolect without the speaker.
But I am NOT believer in the idea of `Pure Poetry' in the Symbolist fashion because I dont like the idea of Purity at all. I am great beliver in the essential Impurity of things.