New thing I fell in love with…

Remember the time when you used to wonder what you could do once you grew up? And then you’d make a list and tell whoever would listen that you want to be a teacher, and a doctor, and a writer, and a traveller, and an actress, and an air hostess, and a this and a that … I had huge lists. Funny thing is, I still do.

Few weeks back, I wanted to become a poet. And when I say I wanted to, I mean I really, really, REALLY wanted to. I wished and hoped and prayed that I would suddenly have the ability to string words together. Either words which rhymed or even if it did not, words which, when put together in sentences, would portray a mundane feeling so beautifully that people would stop to read it twice. Something which would not say anything extra, but will say every day things and feelings without censoring them and cutting it out to sound more beautiful.

Something like this Tishani Doshi poem.

If we’d lived in another age,

I’d have been the kind of woman

who refused to cast down her eyes.

The kind of woman

the other maids in town despise

because she forgets to tie up the calves

and split the curds.

You know the kind

with a tilt in her hips

and hair that slips

continually

from her braids.

But since we live in a world

that’s just reflection,

mere illusions of the mind;

perhaps I can be her after all

the one whose hips defeat the mountains

with their greatness,

whose breasts are heavy,

close and high –

sandal-pasted;

who walks through moonless nights

with lotus skin and lotus feet

across forbidden boundaries.

I’ll be the kind who sallies out

to wait for love

with musk-kissed hair

and navel bared

in a thousand secret places –

past the cowsheds

and the balsam grove,

across the river,

to the garden of hibiscus.

And although the night be dark

and fierce enough to stir

the seven sleeping oceans,

I’ll deceive the forest

like a shadow,

slipping noiselessly past

evil eyes and serpent tongues

and the husband who lies inside

jealous of my devotion.

But if I should reach the river bank

and see you there

combing another woman’s hair.

If I should see the girdle

loosen from her waist

while you string jasmine

round her supine face.

If you should drink the honeyed sweet

from the petals

of her crimsoned lips –

I won’t question this betrayal,

or ask who this other woman is.

I’ll simply walk

into the darkness

where every trunk

and branch and leaf

looks like you, feels like you,

speaks like you: deep-chested

yellow-limbed

rain-cloud blue.

And later, while the husband sleeps,

I’ll make my way

to the town’s cremation grounds.

I’ll strip away my clothes

and dance among the mounds of ash

to command the churning of a storm.

For I have been with you

since you were born

and will stay with you

till you return

soaked with the lasting dawn.

But the reason I fell in love with poetry again is this duo called Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye. I wouldn’t have heard about them if not for a friend, who had just attended their live show in Mumbai. I looked them up on youtube and fell in love. It has been two weeks and I am still listening to them. I have spammed people’s walls with their video links. I have requested people to listen to it. I have downloaded mp3 versions of their poems and emailed it home.

The poetry they practice is what I used to call Performance Poetry – and they call it Spoken Word Poetry. It is (in Sarah Kay’s words) like poetry and theatre met and had a baby. So, it is never enough to just listen to the words. You have to see them. See the eyes crinkling up, the hands being fisted, the smiles lighting up faces. Spoken word poetry is suddenly my dream now.

This is also the national poetry month. According to Sarah Kay (did I mention I am obsessed about her right now?), this playlist is for beginners to fall in love with poetry.

So, go ahead. Listen to some more poems. Read them. Act them out. Check one out of that list from your childhood.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Never heard of ‘spoken word poetry’ before. Thanks for the post. Now almost addicted to Sarah Kay on youtube.

    1. I know how that feels. Also check out Lemn Sissay. And search for Benjamin Zephaniah (Talking Turkeys).

      1. Jeeta says:

        Thanks!

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