‘Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary’ – Khalil Gibran
Poetry can mean differently for different people. It can touch hearts and minds at all and any moment. Even for those who claim to be not too poetic, a good poem can almost brush away inhibitions and if nothing else, lighten the soul a bit with meaning. Yes, the National Poetry Month celebrated every year in April is about to end, but that doesn’t mean that the flow of words ever will.
However, as an ode to the month, we bring to you a feature of five poets who may not be legends already, but who have definitely started charting their path towards poetic bliss. Five ordinary individuals who have an extraordinary talent with words and rhyme and schemes. They may be people you know from every day, some a teacher, some a working executive and some a writer. But they each have a common thread. The thread of poetic excellence that makes them stand out a bit and taken notice of. This is our humble quest in the pursuit of keeping words alive and remembered. In brief conversations with the poets of today, we hope to remove the layers of routine and mundane and find the special within.
Neha is a HR professional but poetry is also her forte. With a published book called ‘The book of 24 love poems’, Neha also has her poems available on Youtube.
“Love and inspiration. I used to be or let’s say was molded to be more of an essay and prose person by English (A) syllabus of WBHSE board that required lengthy well studied analyses and appreciations of works of revered authors. But each time life vetted out an intense experience because of my better or worse choices, mostly when I was deeply in love with anything- friends, work, place, person or falling apart and self-studying natural human responses to certain situations, the understanding happened to manifest in words with a rhythm & flow that we call poetry.
Of course, good teachers, fellow poets and writers who express well have inspired too. Writing what I truly feel about in a logical manner helps me keep in touch with my own feelings & self. This is essential for me for after being in dark spaces where I was losing self because of not great choices of associations, I realized that being in touch with self is true bliss. Even mansions seem empty without the inner self. So writing like anything else well and truly done brings self-awareness. That is its greatest inner reward & service to the world in my understanding.“
“I cannot recall exact details to be true, but as a teenager I maintained a journal to pen down my daily experiences, thoughts and feelings. I started writing jingles then. It was around the same time that I started to maintain a separate golden-red diary to write poems. Apparently, my mother discovered my poems when I was in class 11 and send one on war and peace called “6th August 1945 when (without my knowledge) to The Statesman office. It was selected to be published in their “VOICES” section and many of my classmates and school teachers came back to me with appreciative feedbacks. This led to my name being recommended for various intra and inter school collegiate creative writing events.“
“The modern and post- modern era has created space for our innate freedom to express itself in some ways, however, it cannot be denied that increased work hours and demand for more productivity has also brought about self-limiting stress in certain areas of our life. This challenge, to my mind is an opportunity in disguise. So I do believe that poetry or for that matter, any kind of fine art is a way to sensitize people and bring about awareness in a stress free and fun manner.
Having said that, it’s true that some write out of personal ambition or glamour i.e, writing for sake of it and not out of intensity of feeling about a certain subject or to serve. These kinds of works are seldom impactful. But those written from the depth of human heart and mind, those that come close to articulation of realities well expressed in silence, echo for long.“
You can find Neha’s book on Amazon and pothi.com
A senior freelance feature writer with a decade of writing experience, Surela finds her heart in poetry.
“I write poetry for myself. One can delve into my thoughts and find a bit of me in all my poems. When a thought or line gets fixed in my mind, I take a notebook and write it down. I let this thought brew in my head. When I feel what I am thinking will look good on the page, I jot it down. Then of course, edit it several times till I am thoroughly satisfied. Even my instant poems are well thought out in advance.
Being a diehard romantic also helps! I find love almost everywhere- nature, animals, human relationships and even in drops of rain. I love watching rain just as I admire the arrival of a storm. Little things move me like the petrichor, a dancing peacock, lyrics of a meaningful song or just an emotion that is tickling the corner of my mind. Writing poetry gives me unparalleled joy! That is when my soul talks to me and I reciprocate.“
“I first started scribbling poetry in my own diary as a student in school. Some of which found space in my school and college literary magazines. That gave me a moral boost to keep writing poetry. I wrote poetry in both Bengali and English. My maternal grandmother Sadhana Mukhopadhyay was a prolific poet and writer. I believe poetry is the biggest gift from her. She taught me to love poetry. At high school we had critical appreciation of poetry and my teacher Mrs. Jila taught us from ‘Palgrave’s Golden Treasury’. It was a Bible for all literature lovers, especially poetry. A bit of genes combined with encouragement from my teacher helped to give wings to my imagination.“
“Writing poetry being a medium of self-expression is multi-faceted just like any form of art. If we look back to the freedom struggle, there are several poetries that made our blood boil with patriotic fervor. Though written for a definite purpose back in those times, it is still relevant. Coming to the present times, poetry which celebrates women, talks about her rights and emphasizes on the hypocrisy of the society is closest to my heart. After all poetry has brought in a fresh wave of ‘positive’ feminism. The word that was toxic has become a badge to be worn with pride. Songs are nothing but poetry set into tune and are easily remembered! I view poetry as a medium in which you can both rebel and conform to societal norms. Writing poetry is the best way to get yourself heard!“
You can read Surela’s work at:
Jemma R Furnival
A writer, her first book was called The Panther and The Mouse. 2 more books are coming out this year and Jemma is quite a poet buff herself @poetry_jrfurnival
“It depends on the poem, as they each have their own inspiration and motivation for being written. Poetry helped me as a child and teenager to process grief following the sudden loss of a close sibling. It gave me an outlet to safely express my emotions, thoughts, memories and feelings and allowed me to ask the questions and say the things I couldn’t ask people or say out loud- like why this tragedy happened. Since then, poetry has helped me endlessly.
I find that sometimes my head can feel full, of thoughts, experiences, ideas, questions etc. and poetry and writing is a remedy for decluttering my headspace. It allows me to get what’s whirling around in my mind out, and on to paper – which I find soothing and therapeutic – almost medicinal. Poetry helps me to express myself with my writing where I’m not always able to do so with my speech.“
“I started writing poetry and stories when I was very small, probably about 6. I used to write them by hand in my school books and also on my dad’s computer. When I was small I was always writing poems and short- stories and trying to read them out to my family. It was in the end of July 2020, that I began sharing my poetry with others through my IG account.”
“I think poetry absolutely can be used as a tool to raise awareness and bring social change. Poetry is experienced by the whole body – not just the ears, so when somebody reads about their passion for change or anger at something in the world, that is something that is not only heard but also felt by the listener. In sharing feeling we share our humanity and thus our compassion and understanding. I think poetry can impact both society and individuals in this way. Poetry impacts myself personally. For example, I have been moved to tears by poetry and I have also laughed my head off. It has the ability to transform an entire mood, a thought, an opinion and even beliefs. Poetry is so much about our humanness – the parts that make us feel, the real stuff.“
A teacher who found her love for poetry reborn after an illness Jaya ma’am is special because she has been my English teacher in school. But little we knew back then her skill as a poet too! Today many of her poems are in published the ArtoonsInn Poetry Parlour.
“I write whenever I can eke out time from a rather busy and demanding schedule. Writing serves as a therapy. I am a part of several writing platforms and often write using the prompts given by these platforms. Writing provides me with a kind of catharsis and I feel a sense of deep satisfaction when I have written something.“
“I started writing when I was around 9 or 10. I had written a poem about Raindrops that was published in the Children’s page of The Statesman. Thereafter I kept writing but they remained within the pages of an exercise book. I was always a voracious reader and that naturally led to my writing. Once I started working, I had stopped writing because I rarely got time. However a serious illness in 2016 forced me into a sabbatical from work. That is when I resumed writing.“
“I honestly don’t like to be overly moralistic. My poems express my thoughts and beliefs. I like my poetry to provide hope to people and I hate highlighting negativity because we have enough of that. I just want readers to believe in the goodness of life, to be hopeful and to believe that with faith and hope we can make a difference.“
Dr. Fatema Lokat Kantawala
A dentist by profession but writer by passion Fatema’s poems and thoughts are well penned at #fatemadiaries. As she says, ‘I am doing my bit to make smiles through my work and words.
“Everything in and around me inspires my thoughts to be worded into poems.“
“I always wrote stories until poetry started rhyming with me since January 2019. As said by Charles Baudelaire, “Always be a poet, even in prose”. On another note, I don’t know how everything started coming together in a simple language of words to motivate myself and inspire others.“
“For me writing has been a medium to help me fight my inner fears and voice my opinions. It makes me feel liberated. I have penned poems on social causes too but I am not very sure if people like and share or do they truly feel the motive behind it. On a personal level poetry has given me a different outlook towards looking at my surroundings.
My poems are very simple and connect with readers as I write about my own everyday experiences. When you read them you feel a vibe that will connect with your own story.“
You can read her works in the ArtoonsInn Poetry Parlour.
Each of our poets shared their personal journeys that led them to love and write poetry. We wish them luck and a hope that they continue to keep the music of poetry alive. Finally its apt to sum it up in Neha’s words, “Writers have upon them an inner responsibility to write from a place of true guidance, for there are young and vulnerable minds out there who may get influenced. They must be careful to send out the right message and have integrity to walk the talk/writing, for it is from there that true power to reform arises.
It is easy to remember a song than a text, for music and art relaxes the mind and makes it more receptive. Poetry with its rhythm and flow has the same effect, so can remain etched in memory longer.
This quality has to be used to make the right waves. The best poems come from a creative frenzy, effortlessly. It’s not the madness of an unsound mind, but the dropping of orthodoxy of a free spirit in expressing itself, sharing the potential with everyone around.“
Of course, its hard to not fall in love with the music of words. But then are you listening?