M A I N   N E W S

Poetry is alive and throbbing
Nirmal Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Some of the most powerful poetry in India today is written in regional languages like Rajasthani and Bhojpuri. Punjabi poets should read what is being written in other Indian languages to enrich themselves and to avoid composing non-poetry.

So observed a noted Punjabi critic, Dr Satinder Singh Noor, addressing a select literary gathering at Panjab University in Chandigarh on Saturday. The opening day of the two-day “Indian Poetry Festival” saw poets from different Indian languages and regions of the country share their views and recite their poems.

Taking the listeners on a fascinating tour of contemporary Indian poetry produced in such diverse areas and languages as Rajasthan and Maharashtra, Kashmir and Nepal, Sindhi and Urdu, Dr Noor drew applause when he presented a Sindhi poet’s dilemma: “Sindhi kahaunda han taan mere Sindh Kithe hai?”

Then he quoted a Kashmiri poet who, he said, has stopped writing and thinking because he could not write that life had shrunk and blood was flowing in Kashmir waters. “Ye kisne boi hain chingariyan teri zaminon mein?” asked another poet.

Ghulam Nabi Khayal, a national award-winning poet from Kashmir, lamented about the neglect of the Kashmiri language and said that the high-sounding Jammu and Kashmir Akademi of Art, Language and Culture was without a secretary and funds were inadequate. But things were changing in the violence-hit state. Cultural activities were being revived. Theatre was throbbing, he added.

Rajashthani poets Chandra Prakash Deval and Mal Chand Tiwari, proud of the strong roots of their poetry, deplored the total negelect of the Rajasthani language by the state.”It is not taught in schools and colleges”, noted Deval. “Rajasthani writers are struggling to include it in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution”.

Sindhi poets Heero Thakur and Ravi Tekchandani, happy that their language is in the Eighth Schedule, said some 250 titles were published in Sindhi annually. The Sindhi poetry connects the community and predominantly addresses their identity crisis.

Prof N. D. Mirazkar, a Marathi poet and critic, treaded on certain sensitive toes when he euologised Veer Savarkar. To highlight the level of tolerance in literary Maharashtra, he said one Dalit poet had abused God without anyone objecting to it. Quoting Kabir, he said a poet was no one’s friend and no one’s foe.

He was applauded when he recited a Marathi poet’s following lines: “Chhav kavi ka mat jalao/Jindagibhar voh zalata raha; Phool us par mat barsao/ zindagi bhar voh khilta raha”. The unqualified verdict of the gathering was: poetry is still alive and throbbing.

The organisers — the Kendari Punjabi Lekhak Sabha, the North Zone Cultural Centre, the Delhi Punjabi Academi Academy and the Panjab University Teachers Association — could have pulled more poetry admirers had they sent invitations in time and made better arrangements, felt a participant.

The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, was to be the chief guest but he did not turn up. Law Professor Veer Singh, who presided, justified his presence by showing keen interest in poetry.

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