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An Exclusive report on Festival of Poetry by Bhawani Cheerath in India’s national daily “The Hindu” on Friday 24,2005
* ‘Colours of poetry’ by Bhawani Cheerath
* EXPRESSIONS OF VERSE: It has been a labour of love for Rati Saxena. And it showed in the novel event put together to launch the bilingual web journal dedicated to poetry – www.kritya.in, the first of its kind, the poet-researcher turned academic avers.
* Rich fare -Dr. Ayyappa Panicker will talk poetry, Kavalam will act poetry, B.D. Dethan will paint poetry,’ said the intriguing invitation card, which whetted one’s curiosity. There were more offerings on the platter: Rabindra Sangeet, budding writer Kalyani’s sensitive poetry reading, a Punjabi play, a high-decibel rendition of his own poem by D. Vinayachandran, recitation of the passionately committed poem of Punjabi poet Paash, to name a few.
This maiden effort, according to Dr Saxena is meant to be a window for the poetry lover. She tells you that Hindi poetry, now available on the Net, is usually the contribution of the non-resident Indian who is unable to keep in touch with the new poets, styles and trends.
* Translations in Hindi and English will knit poetry lovers from all corners of the globe. The Indology scholar adds, every corner of the country will be represented in Kritya and true to her words, the next issue will focus on poetry from the North-Eastern region.
& the New
By N Marion Hage
The term underground took on a bad connotation when it became associated with malicious groups, but it once referred to cool people doing cool things, specifically in music and art. Fans want more than is available to the masses, the equivalent of artistic fast food. In the past, they drove to obscure towns and visited backrooms, wherever fresh art and poetry were being served, aware there’s more to life than what “pop culture” offered. Now they go online. Creative minds push expectations and boundaries as a rule, and are always far ahead of “corporate America.” Formulaic trends stifle artists who long to branch out. By the time “cool” catches on and corporate forces jump aboard to capitalize on something fresh, cool stops being cool. Markets contentedly milk dead cows and push out cheap imitations of less creative minds, as long as the audiences buy. But audiences are becoming more sophisticated and discriminating, sickened of the hack-work of commercialism. Underground poetry and music are not new. They’ve co-existed since the earliest days of radio, giving us the best alternatives to mainstream canned noise, pabulum, and wooden formats that choke discerning listeners. Today’s radio offers no formats for the Bob Dylans or Allen Ginsbergs of this generation, two music/poetic counterparts made famous by the 1960’s Underground. What was once limited to local coffee houses has spread to the Internet, where entire chat rooms turned into forums where poets gather daily. Poetry is exploding on the Internet, luring new audiences, international audiences. In these new platforms, people can share their wares in real time. Because of this, these mediums continue to grow and change as technology allows. Creative minds forever look for new ways to express their artistic gifts, and if you are creativity-starved, I invite you to join the feast. Brilliance and healthy alternatives to mainstream mush is only a mouse-click away.Here is a partial listing of some of the coolest places on the planet: One of the best interactive communities on the ‘net is Absolute Write Water Cooler, the creation of author Jenna Glatzer. Absolute Write’s lively poetry forum is moderated by William Haskins, a genuinely unique and brilliant mind with a penchant for starting interesting threads.You’ll find people at all levels of the poetic ladder there, pros and amateurs. If you are established or want to test out your own creations, try Absolute Write: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forum display.php?f=14 The Argoboat Poet Society was founded by the engaging mind of Argo Spear, a profound thinker who created a mythological story of poetic voices, including Lyn Lifshin, who is arguably the most prolific poetry writer in the world, coming from around the world to unite in an adventurous journey. Climb aboard at http://users.skynet.be/spier/argoboatindex2.ht m#poets
If you are looking for unique flavor, Kritya Journal was founded by author Rati Saxena, a scholar recognized throughout India and one of the loveliest souls in poetry. Each issue is published in both English and Hindi. Try a different spice with Kritya: http://www.kritya.in/ Some like their poetry mixed with art, photography, commentary, and short stories. Andwerve Literary Journal from Los Angeles offers all of these. Andwerve is the handiwork of Nate Nieman, who, with the help of Jose Deerborn, put together a literary showcase to bring in talent from around the world. Renee Ballerini, the publisher of Literati Magazine from Italy, recently joined the staff as the new managing editor. Andwerve’s staff pours infectious enthusiasm into its work, pushing beyond the bounds of ordinary. Each month it features established and new poets and has poetic roundtable discussions. Andwerve is the hub of the vibrant “worldwide poetic wheel,” providing the best of new and established artists and writers: http://andwerve.com/june06_issue Final Thoughts: The Poetic Underground is a response to a growing need. Those who were familiar with the music of the late ’60s consider this the pinnacle of music creativity. Corporations came in, lassoed creativity, and wrung it dry of inspiration. They bought up television and radio stations and dictated to the hearers what they could listen to. Markets think money, not sense. Artists can’t exist in a cage, and think creatively. They will always looks for a street corner, abandoned building, or chat room on the Internet. The web allows for exploration where markets are afraid to follow.
Recommended Literary Links and Poetry Links
There is a lot of poetry on the Internet. And yes, a lot of this poetry is “personal poetry” and some of it is quite simply bad. However, there are a number of excellent on-line poetry forums, and here are some of our favorites. We hope you will take the time to explore these links, which are categorized into Literary Sites, Resources for Writers, and Individual Poets’ Sites. This page is updated monthly, with our “picks of the month” appearing first under Literary Sites. Kritya, edited by Rati Saxena, is an on-line poetry journal that publishes poetry in English and Hindi. We highly recommend that our readers visit Kritya often and keep up with what’s happening in Indian and other poetic circles overseas.
Writing as reconciliation
Aswathy Karnaver Express-News
20 Jan 2012 12:01:35 PM IST
As we joined the young writers and researchers from Korea to wait for Wolsan Kidong Kim at the hotel lobby, the air of veneration was quite palpable. The grand old poet walked in, steadying himself on a walking stick and smiling heartily.
The small crowd soon settled into the coziness of the dim-lit lobby to listen to the checkered poetics of 74 long years, narrated in undiluted Korean.
One of the most distinguished and respected voices of his country, Kim was born in an undivided Korea in 1938. His writings – poetry and essays – bear the scars of a severed soul. More than half a century later, his voice does not crack as he recounts how the war between North and South Korea (in reality a proxy war between the super powers of USA and USSR) rendered him homeless and in charge of a family of widows and orphans who no longer had a roof over their heads. All in a matter of eleven days and he was all of 16 years.
Kim interrupts the translator, Emma Cho, to add a point and we wait. “The war had started on the same day as my 12th birthday,” he says. “It was the most colourful period of anybody’s life, teenage. And it was lost to me, in suffering and helplessness. But, later, it became the source of my writing,” he says and as the translator gets to work, he gazes into our eyes to see if the agony is conveyed at all.
A representative of his publisher sneaks in a bottle of water without hindering her friends from the filming the interview. The ailing bard is happy and takes some water. He has been out all day long, attending readings at the Kritya Poetry festival 2012 and the stress was evident in his laboured manner.
Yet, his interest is piqued at the reference to the Wolsan mountain in South Korea.
“Wolsan is related to my poetry. My village is in the valley and the mountain is holy to us. As a child, I climbed the mountain everyday. And it is also where I dreamt about my future and nurtured my hopes. It is at the core of all my poetry,” he says, as if, thinking aloud.
“It is also important in other ways. I had a master as a young poet. She called me Wolsan, recommending readers to watch out for me. She asked me to adopt it as my pen name and I did. Wolsan is an image for my poetic philosophy, wherein, my poetry is like a shadow of the grief-stricken childhood. The mountain of grief is much like a cold, misty hillock. But it also promised the hope of a sunrise to a young poet.”
And a sunrise he did seek out and embrace. Before he crossed his teens, he was chained to bonded labour for seven years to a wealthy household in the village, for he had borrowed rice from them to feed his homeless family.
Throughout his youth, he was forced to do menial jobs. Yet, when the opportunity to enter a university in Canada came his way at 52, Kim knew he had all the time in the world to start from the scratch. He went on to specialise in theology and made a promise to himself that he would pen all that his postulations as books. He kept writing them over the years and finished the last one, the 250th, in 2011.
“I did learn English while I lived in Canada because it was terrible to survive without knowing the language in the initial years. But, I have lost touch and cannot remember any to speak to you now,” he laughs.
Politics has never had a direct bearing on his poetry, for “it is not the job of the poet to lead propaganda” he clarifies. “Young poets of Korea ought to be truthful to their history and document it in their writings. Young film-makers in Korea do make movies on war, but they are honest representations of reality. When old people like me talk about the war, they frown and ask why should an old war be talked about any more. But, we cannot afford to forget. Only literature can preserve memories,” he says and the young, jeans-clad translator smiles in embarrassment as she translates the words.
And then, he quotes a poem that Tagore once wrote to the people of Korea, saying that his country was like a lamp in an age of darkness.