Poetry in its most virgin sense,
Has nothing but attention as its defense.
It cannot escape its unnatural flow,
Crammed inside a box by some conflicted foe.
Marginalisation means – the social process of becoming or made to seem less important. As discussed in my previous post that an exceptional poet may need a tinge of insanity to be more creative, do we need equally insane audience to appreciate it? Why poetry is being marginalized? What makes it less happening than other genres of literature? Whilst going through one such blog, I was actually dumb stricken to find people who don’t like reading poetry as they can’t get it or call it intolerable, ( http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/Actually-Dont-Like-Poetry/35950) unnatural and a waste of time.
Reading further I came to know the various reasons that make people not to like it much. The poetry may be unnatural for our brain as it doesn’t inherently rhyme, for some it is merely a practiced art, too dreamy for realistic people, hard to understand symbolism, lack of logic , sometimes lack of grammatical rules even, have to dig deep to understand what lies beneath and so the list goes on.
Few opine that it has to do with industrialisation, commoditisation and many such ‘sations’. Poets were originally healers in early societies; they had status, and their task was, through the power of communally understood language, rhythm and image, to knit together entire communities through the evocation of shared experience. All types of communal trauma could be mastered by this means, but now it is more of a fame game.
Not to blame the naysayers, I remember in my school days, I seldom understood poetry; as they were meant to be crammed and to be recited for a competition only, with suitable gestures made by various body parts. Nevertheless, this usage didn’t end there, till it was totally marginalized by movies, browsing, chilling out and shopping.
People prefer watching and laughing on the wit of Two-and-Half -Men than appreciating the wit of John Donne and T.S.Eliot. Poetry needs interpretation, analysis, patience and above all, a right bent of mind to do the labour. These naysayers lack the power to imagine, appreciate the abstract beauty of a verse and succumb to the idea of ‘poetic justice’ or to the justice to the poetics.
No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness
Aristotle (384BC-322 BC).
Depression, madness, insanity, paranoia and schizophrenia are the themes which have been intertwined with creativity throughout the history of poetry. The incidence of mood disorders, suicide and institutionalisation was 20 times higher among major British and Irish poets between 1600 and 1800 according to a study by psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison. The evidence of a link between creativity and mental illness has mostly been anecdotal in the past, although there have been some studies showing correlation.
Socrates declared, "If a man comes to the door of poetry untouched by the madness of the Muses, believing that technique alone will make him a good poet, he and his sane compositions never reach perfection, but are utterly eclipsed by the performances of the inspired madman." Aristotle asked, "Why is it that all men who are outstanding in philosophy, poetry or the arts are melancholic?"
The notion that creativity and insanity are interconnected has been reflected in the writings of many writers, artists and philosophers over the centuries. Robert Burton in the seventeenth century noted, "All poets are mad." Some artists observed that insanity ran in families. Poets generally think out of the box, are unconventional and try to transform the world around them. The creative person wants to change reality to beautify it or enlarge the field of human knowledge or experience in order to provide usefulness, understanding and predictability or to evoke a universal response. The turbulent lives of great poets Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell also seem to testify to a link between creativity and psychic instability. But can a connection between mental disorder and enhanced creativity be identified? Is there really a connection?
It is widely accepted that insight gained through intense, extreme, even painful experiences can add depth and meaning to creative work. Poet Anne Sexton explained how she used pain in her work: "I, myself, alternate between hiding behind my own hands, protecting myself anyway possible, and this other, this seeing ouching other. I guess I mean that creative people must not avoid the pain that they get dealt.... Hurt must be examined like a plague.”As Sylvia Plath later said, "When you are insane, you are busy being insane - all the time...”
Part of poetry is making words do more work than they usually should do and so looking for every angle of what a word might mean, the brain starts working like as well - over-analysing everything and zooming in to minute details. In a way we may say that all great poets may be depressed people but not all depressed people can be great poets. So being insane is not that harmful as it seems, there is creativity in insanity.
Mountain Echoes 2011, a four-day festival from May 20 – 24 was held to promote the Bhutanese literature. The India-Bhutan Foundation, in association with Siyahi, united some of Bhutan and India’s top literary talent in a packed series of workshops, discussions and theatrics in various locations across Thimpu, the country’s capital for Bhutan’s second annual literature festival.
Lam Kesang Chhoephel, a freelance translator and consultant conversed with Dasho Sheruk Gyetshen, secretary of the Dzongkha Development Commission on the underlying tenet that humanity is the yearning for happiness and the rejection of suffering. Bhutan’s Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, author of Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan provided insights into Bhutanese culture and society and revealed her inspiration for writing the book.
Presence of literary personalities, including publishing giant and author of The House of Blue Mangoes David Davidar, author and columnist Shobhaa De and bestselling fantasy novelist Samit Basu was icing on the cake. They engaged with the audience and each other on various literary discussions. Memoirs and biographies were also discussed, as Pulitzer award winner Kai Bird and journalist Namita Bhandare joined with Tehelka Magazine’s Gaurav Jain to share their experiences. Davidar returned later with writer Namita Gokhale, and His Excellency Pavan Varma, India’s Ambassador to Bhutan, delighted the audience with much-anticipated excerpts from their new books and Dr Nitasha Kaul, a Kashmiri writer, released an anthology of poems written in collaboration with students at the University of Bhutan.
Namita Gokhale, Writer and Festival Director, expressed her joy on opening the second edition of the Mountain Echoes 2011. She informed that it is fast becoming a prominent event in the literary calendar of the world and will eventually progress with time. The whole event was considered “another success story” by organisers and certainly provided the Bhutanese literature a pedestal to showcase its literary talent.
ISSUE-XIII of The Enchanting Verses International has been published and can be viewed online. Mateja Matevski has been awarded the honour of the Enchanting Poet for this issue and Nathalie Handal has been featured as Editor’s Choice. Other poets featured in this issue are Rita Dahl, Gopikrishnan Kottoor, Hemant Divate, Sharmila Ray,Mr P.Gopichand & Ms P.NagaSuseela, Prabal Kumar Basu, Ambika Ananth, Priti Aisola, Sheeba Rakesh, Santosh Alex, Shigufta Hena Uzma, Himali Singh Soin, Ramesh Anand, Deepak Chaswal, Neelam Chandra, Susheel Kumar Sharma and Girish Kute. Books reviewed in this issue are Ineluctable Stillness and An Armless Hand Writes by K.K. Srivastava(reviewed by Wendy Mary Lister), Complete poems of Chiu Pin (Reviewed by Dr. Sandra Fowler) and Between Shadows and Light by Mala Janardan.
The issue can be read at
It is also our pleasure to announce that Patricia Prime, one of our Enchanting Poet award winners has been chosen for feature in the Macedonian Stremez literary Magazine. Her poems as published in The Enchanting Verses will be translated along with her bio into Macedonian and will appear in the pages of Stremez 2011.
FROM EPIC TO HAIKU
Poets and writers like Homer, Dante Alighieri, John Milton, Vyasa and Valmiki perhaps used their spare time speculating, perhaps gazing at the stars in wonder or just the brick walls or thatched roofs and at the marvels of nature and an eternity just thinking and aspiring. They wrote long poems, namely epics which still are one of its kind and none dare to follow them in their intricate and immaculate aesthetics. Epics like Iliad, Odyssey, Mahabharata and Aeneid were read by people of those times and are still able to capture the imagination of people young and old.
Now with incredibly fast paced life and technology, aspiring writers and readers spend much of their time social networking on sites such as facebook or Twitter. Does one ever ‘stand and stare’ at things now-a-days without being considered a weirdo of some kind? Shrinking interests have shrunk the verse too. Micro poetry like haiku, senryu, sapphic, tanaga, tanka, quincouplet and byte are what one would term the ‘in’ forms of poetry. We can find poets and readers enjoying it in clubs, parties and reading sessions as it saves time, energy and easy to email or text.
What about the rhythm, rhyme, music, poetic diction and resonance, aspects of poetry which differentiates poetry from other genres? What about the imagery of ‘azure blue sky’ and its comparison to the beloved’s eyes, the free fall of imagination and beauty of saying a thing in umpteen ways. I agree, we may feel compelled at times being short of words or may just not have the patience and resort to one liners .For some they might act as teasers, a brainy thing, simple and much easy way to deliver emotions but the whole process takes away the beauty.
Poetry is all about emotions, feelings and delivering them in a rythmic form, a form that plays on our senses, so why not let it flow without restricting it with commas, periods, colons or for that matter even words till it merges in the sea of our understanding and appreciation.
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