January has indeed been a delectable fest of poetry, in Koshur Qalam , a Facebook group of writers from Kashmir. It warmed my heart in this chilly month. Intellectually stimulating, immensely enriching and wonderfully edifying, the delicious imagery and metaphors, the lilting rhymes, did wonders for one’s poetic palate.
Dennis Gabor says, “Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings and making music with them”. So we saw poets of all hues plucking at the heartstrings and making music with them – music which managed to uplift sagging spirits, music which became all –pervasive and smoothed away the worry lines and wrinkles of despair.
Above all, to quote Pablo Neruda, “poetry is an act of peace.” And the poets here, with their words, have created a soothing ambiance of peace and harmony.
I will not be exaggerating if I say that some of the poems that I read here can compete with the best poems of the world’s best poetic minds.
The poets who brilliantly splashed their poetic hues during this poetic month were Waseem Akram Malla, Gowhar Naz, Sadiyahh Ayaz, Farah Wani, Tabinda Mir, Heavens Mercy, Mohammad Ashraf, Neha Sharma, Badee Uz Zaman, , Saleem Rashid Shah, Sunanyna Kachroo ,Monika Ajay Kaul , Faizan Wani , Khan Towfeeq, Pamela Dhar Anand , Perveiz Ali , Shabir Ahmed Mir .
The eminent poet of Kashmir, Majrooh Rashid’s exquisite poetry, with its stunning imagery has always mesmerized me. The young poets can learn a lot from the way he makes the words do his bidding. Mushtaque Barq is another veteran poet from Kashmir, who wields the paint brush with equal ease. His spontaneous poetic outpourings go straight to the heart.
A word about the prompts – they were so apt and brought out the best in the writers- both the confident veterans and the diffident debutantes. There were prompts about the imbalances of the world, about dreams and nightmares, childhood memories, violence in silence, feeling lost in the crowd, poetry and pain, secrets, poems based on fictitious places, promises, a pair of baby shoes, an hour under the chinar tree and many more.
My personal favorite was the prompt based on advertisements, and I was really enchanted by the following poem by Dr
Shabir Ahmed Mir, whose poetic acumen, always awes me.
“Taste the thunder.” (Thumbs up ad)
“Drunk on the melancholy of a winter noon
I roam the wilderness of my solitude
in my room…
I err… I sin… I blaspheme-
each breath of mine is a heresy
against the pretension that is me.
I melt into the darkness and rush through the veins of night
every memory of light,
I proclaim my victory
with a thousand dripping heads on spike
who stare back at me
with my eyes and
with the same rage-
I HAVE BECOME MY ENEMIES!
I rage… I fume… I explode…
The lightning has struck
And I taste the thunder.”
Badee Uz Zaman is another young poet with a remarkable command over the language.
Let me quote some lines from his poem on the prompt of ‘Editor’s choice’.
‘Some devices he added here,
Some lines he omitted there,
Purely working to correct the rhythm.
Finally he garnished the metre and rhyme,
And returned me my work…
Only a bleeding silhouette of my emotions.”
On the prompt ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’,
Perveiz Ali, who is one of the brains behind this very concept of Koshur Qalam, and a very versatile poet, writes:
“Enjoying the merry making spectacular colours of rainbows,
Oblivious to the many bloodstained shrouds.
Comfort of cozy rooms in proudly mentioned skyscrapers,
What soothes the soul of footpath sleepers?
Luxurious sports and expensive health club resorts,
Marketplace vendors rushing to and fro to eat each day.”
I could almost sense the poets improving with every poem, the engaging vibrancy, the magic, the mystique, the anger, and existential angst intrigued me.
I myself loved writing on these very imaginative prompts.
Neha Sharma, another upcoming poet, who I have seen blossoming with every verse of hers, writes thus on the prompt beauty in perfection
A Perfect chauvinist defaced the beauty of yours,
You could not satiate his lust,
Thus you got blessed;
Blessed with the acid.
Perfect you are girl; with flaws,
And beautiful in your scars.”
The following lines of Khan Towfeeq written on the prompt of ‘Baby shoes’, just pierced the heart by its tragic intensity.
“His first steps
Falling apart and then stiffening again,
Lie scattered around,
like the heartbeats,
On the distended insole of his first ever shoes.
The mosaic of laughter and anxiety,
From his first fall,
Still echoes in its dark corners. ”
Dylan Thomas says , “Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own. ”
So in this poetic month, we saw the poets pouring out their hearts laughing, crying and making others laugh and cry with the lyricism of their verses, sharing their bliss and anguish and still retaining them as their own.