Poets being poets

The same drumbeat. The same debates. The same monotone. On repeat. Poets reading poets, poets critiquing poets, poets writing elegies to poetry, poets annoyed that no one else reads a poem or cares. And yet there are stats to prove every point, stats to suit every argument, stats to the contrary. There are enough books to fit a rack, a shelf, a corner or two in a store. Poets being readers. Poets being poets.

For every raised voice that claims to have read a Wordsworth or a Rumi (no, these days is it Darwish and Rupi), there are a hundred that cannot name two contemporary poets. Not even one from their own country. What those wasting, shrivelling, screaming poets need, as they talk with the moon and measure the rhyme of a sea they have never seen, are cheerleaders. People who aren’t poets. People who don’t care if anyone else reads a poem or cares. People who will hype a poem, a verse, a line, a poet. Did I say that in the plural? No, a poet who thinks she is a metaphor for something yet to be known, who shuffles reality and shade, dealing cards with no hope to win or lose, that poet needs just one cheerleader. Just one. So that the morning starts with kindness. So that the afternoon sky stays up where it should be, bearing its sun. So that the night will fill itself with words like fireflies, a suggestion of light and motion that rejects being bound to a page. Think of it. A poet somewhere. A poem somewhere. Both birthed in anonymity. Both complete just from being. Just from writing. Still needing to be read. Still hoping to be read. The idea of a fruit, still waiting on a bee.

unwrapping its sky —
                                 one by one
the night shows off its stars

Learning ‘Liwuli’

The form is called Liwuli and it seems to be all over poetry town! It has rules, lots of them:
The Liwuli has 3 verses:
The first has 31 syllables typically in prose. Has to contain instruction(s). (Imperative.)
The second has 14 syllabes in 3 lines. Can be anything.
The third has 19 syllabes in any number of lines and should be in the form of one or more questions.

This is the one from @dsnake1 who introduced me to the form.

And here’s my first shot at it:

Stepping on words

Write like you dance, words twirling with abandon, heart kinetic, soul separated from body, both moving to a cosmic rhythm.

Awkward, embarrassed
once again
we parry like strangers.

What if we had stopped that night?
What if I had stopped to hear the music within?

Version 2 (going with the rule that the third stanza should have 10 syllables in 2 lines – no idea which is right, but choosing this one for future Liwulis)

Write like you dance, words twirling with abandon, heart kinetic, soul separated from body, both moving to a cosmic rhythm.

Awkward, embarrassed
once again
we parry like strangers.

What if we had heard the music within?

Interlude (39)

It was the same dream. The train rumbling through nameless
villages when something ran across the tracks and the driver

braked at the…

A poem from July 2018, first published in the ‘Abridged’ magazine, that I included as Part 39.3 of the series “A story in many unequal parts, some missing”. Check it out here.

Interlude (38)

How does a wound
wait for an apology? How
does a sky wait…

A new poem today in this interlude post that becomes Part 39.2 of the series “A story in many unequal parts, some missing”. I’ve used the same form I did in Part 45 and perhaps, it works for what I was trying to write. Check it out here. Also, a generous review of this series by a fellow poet/blogger.

Reading list update -9

Two very different books in the last two weeks, both providing massive food for thought. One in continuation of my reading on and by Ambedkar and the other, an old novel by Murakami that is the source of the quote that one sees quite often on social media these days: “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” True, though.

I tried Murakami years ago and gave up in despair. This second attempt has been so wonderfully satisfying. I read ‘Underground’ in February and now with ‘Norwegian Wood’, am quite ready to try one more of his books soon. Here’s my 13-point review. (My previous update is here)    My updated reading list is here.

1. The Doctor and the Saint by Arundhati Roy, an essay juxtaposing the views of Gandhi and Ambedkar on caste and freedom, this gets a 4.5 on 5. (This has been published as a separate book as well, but I read it in S.Anand’s compilation of ‘Annihilation of Caste’ (the iconic speech not delivered by B.R.Ambedkar) where it is presented as the introduction.)
2. Roy dives into the issues as they were at the time the two men lived and leaves the reader with much to examine, not just about the present but also their own thoughts, experiences and faith.
3. Ambedkar’s lucid, stringent opinions on how caste should be dismantled, his exchange with Gandhi after the text of the speech was published and their mostly contradictory solutions have been much discussed and debated. For a reader, beginning to grapple with the subject, this is perhaps, one place to start.
4. “What is your ideal society if you do not want caste, is a question that is bound to be asked of you. If you ask me, my ideal would be a society based on liberty, equality, and fraternity. And why not?” – B.R. Ambedkar
5. “Poverty, after all, is not just a question of having no money or no possessions. Poverty is about having no power.” – Arundhati Roy
6. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami definitely gets a 4 on 5.
7. The book was published in 1987 and is set in the sixties: what emerges from it is the immense delicacy of letter-writing. The letters Watanabe writes with a strange fervour are a stark reminder of the way we communicate (or fail to) now. “Letters are just pieces of paper…Burn them, and what stays in your heart will stay; keep them, and what vanishes will vanish.
8. The book makes its way through the lives and deaths of its characters, all woven together in a style of writing so lucid that you are constantly looking right through the words into a bottomless pool. What breaks us, what holds us together, what breaks us again – even if the story is about young adults over 60 years ago – there is a timeless resonance in the ordinariness of their being, their thoughts and their despair.
9. About loneliness, about sorrow that can’t bear expression, about growing up and finding your own little air vent so you can try to breathe, succeeding and failing in equal measure – Murakami rips apart the façade and offers a look inside the complexity of modern living. “Sometimes I feel like the caretaker of a museum – a huge, empty museum where no one ever comes, and I’m watching over it for no one but myself.
10. How do we deal with death, the death around us and our own – the book constantly pits the living against life, pitting a Midori who yearns for life and a Naoko who chooses death against a Watanabe who stands between them both, unable to decide, fighting and embracing both. “Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life.” “By living our lives, we nurture death.
11. It’s easy to talk big, but the important thing is whether or not you clean up the shit. – Midori, on free advice from adults as she uncomplainingly bears the responsibility of a dying father.
12. “I’m the scratchy stuff on the side of the matchbox. But that’s fine with me. I don’t mind at all. Better to be a first-class matchbox than a second-class match.” – Reiko, on life.
13. “Each scene felt unreal and strangely distant, as though I were viewing it through two or three layers of glass, but the events had undoubtedly happened to me.” – Toru Watanabe, saying pretty much what the reader feels at the end of the novel.