The Mad Poet’s Refrain

lonely

Image source: Morguefile.com

Poetry, the lump in my throat,
The bite sized chunks I gulp,
Without chewing.
Like the thorny night that stings
The hysteric brown earth,
Yet croaks in its own tainted lightning,
Words will find their way amid the rubble,
Relentless, beating, thumping.

Come home, to the potholes and bumps, step in the puddles of the
folds between my palm, dear words,
As my litter-laden mind squashes you,
Aborts you, again begets you.

Come, let me sip you with recycled juices and snatches of hogwash conversations.

I know you will come out some time I will least expect, in spurts,
In malignant droplets,
In the edge of my waking.

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Launch of The Significant Anthology

The labor of all our cumulative love for poetry and literature is out in Amazon. Thank you Dr. Ampat Koshy and Reena Prasad wholeheartedly for making all our dreams come true!

It has been an honor and privilege to share space in the anthology with literary greats from India and over the world, and to find such a caring and coveted home for my poem ‘A Woman I Am’ in ‘The Significant Anthology’, published by Morph Books in July 2015. Eagerly waiting to hold the book in my hands. Truly happy and excited about its worldwide launch and it has been an enthralling journey ever since I have been a part of the Rejected Stuff literature and poetry group in Facebook. The Significant Anthology_cover

Sharing a few moments from the beautifully eloquent speech of Dr. Ampat Koshy, the editor extraordinaire of The Significant Anthology, where he shares the joy of creating this beautiful mosaic of creative expressions from deserving poets and writers from all around the world in the book launch hosted in Bangalore, India.

Do watch and spread the word:

The link to buy the book from Amazon India:

http://www.amazon.in/gp/product/9382759093/sr=1-1/qid=1437456233/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me&qid=1437456233&sr=1-1

A World Without Poetry

 

A world without poetry,
The concrete hammering of mails
The infusion of programmed chores
A day, yet another day shedding it’s leaf
In parched, scheduled coldness.

Collective tangling of prosaic voices
Barbecue in the summer heat,
Disjointed company of drunk folks
Stinking of the corporate fumes.

Shattered raindrops, where do I hide you
In the luscious spread of weekend delicacies?
The shrieking yells of perfumed bodies,
The flashy make-up of the powdered night
Hides you like submissive dirt.

The deep chasm of naked arms bleed
My unwritten lines buried under
The daily litany of unanswered applications,
Unsolicited proposals, boxed and sealed
Never caring for a reply, a nod, an assaurance.

A world without poetry dies and lives
Every day, crafty, stoic, plastered,
Waking in hopes of a startling twist
Of a delicate, lyrical opulence.

Liebster Award Nomination

Thank you, Pritha Lal, for nominating my website for the Liebster Blog Award!

I am deeply moved and touched by this feeling of a community fostered by fellow bloggers/authors like you. It is great to know that we appreciate each other’s work, and support each other through gestures like this.

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The Rules 

1. Link back and thank the blogger who nominated you in your post.

2.  List 11 facts about yourself.

3.  Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.

4.  Pick 5 – 10 new bloggers (must have less than 300 followers) to nominate and ask them 11 new questions. Do not re-nominate the blogger that nominated you.

5.  Go to each new blogger’s site and inform them of their nomination.To learn more about the Liebster Award, check out this post in Pritha’s blog:

http://norhymeoreason.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/pritha-lal-mom-blogger-poet-author/

 

 

11 random facts about myself

 

  1. I used to hate a glass of milk with Bournvita for breakfast when I was a child. Am in LOVE with it now. Reverse aging, I guess  🙂
  2. I am crazily in love with ashen clouds and rain, but have almost forgotten the ethereal charm of monsoon since the day I left my hometown for the US.
  3. Motherhood for the first time was a conscious choice and for the second time (only twenty three months apart), was an accident. I had doubts about raising two kids of almost the same age, but almost four years after my younger daughter is born, I am happy that I took the plunge!
  4. Reading and watching movies were two dangerous addictions of mine till 2009, after that, online social networking has been added to the list. Had made Orkut my home in 2008 and now have migrated to Facebook  😛
  5. I am a night owl ever since I can remember, though I have never been a fan of late night parties and disks. I keep my nights to myself, reading, scribbling—anything that bares open my soul.
  6. I am a staunch believer of the saying: “What goes around, comes around.” Life is a full circle and I believe in the intrinsic value of good Karma.
  7. Lately, I have been almost obsessing about after-life, and am reading every available book, article and resource on the subject. This is a current development after my mother’s sudden death. I never realized I was so close to her when she was alive. I can do anything on earth to speak to her for one last time.
  8. I still don’t know how to swim and drive, but I want my daughters to learn these two skills in the right time.
  9. I have loved watching fairy tale romances on screen, but have never believed in that in real life. I have loved and lost a number of times before getting married to my husband, and even after nine years of an apparently smooth, compatible married life, do not believe in the concept of a soul mate. There will be differences, there will be arguments, there will be imperfections always in a relationship and you will have to constantly work to make the best out of everything.
  10. I am all done with self-sacrifice. I have done that a lot in various phases of my life and understood that it is a meaningless practice. I do not want to die a martyr for anyone or anything in the world. I am a lot happier now that I have developed streaks of narcissism in my thirties. Wish I would have understood it much earlier in my life.
  11.  I want to visit all the glorious historical, natural, geological wonders of my country, India before I die. I have a tremendous sense of redemption living far away and also a degree of alienation towards my roots apparently, but deep down, I carry it with me, wherever I go.

Questions in Pritha’s blog, which I am answering, to keep the chain alive: 

1. Name three secrets that you never told anyone. 

(1)   I read Maitrayee Devi’s celebrated Bengali novel ‘Na Hanyate’ when I was in grade 9, tucked carefully with high school textbooks. I imagined I had a lover like Mircha Euclid, the hero of the novel who would woo me and then we would be separated, in a predictable turn of events, only to meet years after, to rediscover the inextinguishable flame in our hearts.

(2)   I have never cooked anything in my life with any success before getting married. Once I attempted to make an egg poach without either water or oil and you can imagine what the results were. However, I have currently taken an avid interest in the pursuit, because I have understood that it is a creative art like writing, painting and music. Like all arts, it has taught me that practice leads to perfection.

(3)   My husband had lifted me up in his arms for a single day in his life. It was the day when I first arrived our home in Buffalo, NY after four months of tying the wedlock. He also did all the welcoming rituals for me, the new bride after I stepped my feet for the first time in the living room. He copied the idea from ‘Chalte Chalte’, the Hindi movie starring Shahrukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee. It was the first and last time since our lives have been inspired by a scene from a commercial Hindi movie.

2. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would do?  

My plans will depend on how much money I will win. If it is a lump sum amount, I would want to buy a sprawling house beneath a majestic mountain, anywhere in the world, or a beachside condo with half of the money won. With the other half, I would want to invest on good education for my daughters and also donate to a reputable trust/foundation or non-profit organization working for the rights and empowerment of the girl child.

3. Looking over the last ten years, what is one goal you have achieved and one that you have not achieved?   

Ten years before, I had graduated from a coursework in Journalism and discovered my true calling—writing. Ten years down the line, I am still trudging the road; and I know and happily accept that writing is only the journey, not the destination. I welcome the journey with open arms, and believe that in this ordeal,  there nothing like ‘achieving something in ten years’ and ‘not reaching the goal in five years’. The journey is more subtle and organic in nature. I am happy that I have been able to complete two book length manuscripts very recently, one a memoir and the other, a compilation of poetry. In the coming years, I would look forward to writing more and being published more often, so that I can reach out to more readers and make a tiny impact on their minds with my words.

4. What are your plans for retirement? And will you travel, if so where and why? 

I do not have any, because I am both a student and self-employed for a long time now. Will think about it if I ever get into a full time job. Don’t know what my husband’s plan would be then, but knowing his kind, I guess he would like to travel to some niche destinations, either in the US or in India, or both (depending on the circumstances).

5. Favourite drink on a Friday night? 

I am not much of a fan of any drink, very occasionally maybe a few sips of martini or pina colada. I love my favorite mango, vanilla or strawberry ice cream scoops  with a nice movie, lazing on the couch on a Friday night.

6. What do you think the secret is to a good marriage or relationship with a significant other is?   

To love an imperfect partner perfectly, and unconditionally. The acceptance that not any of us is perfect is important, and expecting too much is not practical. Also, never take each other for granted, for all the love in the world that you may be feeling for each other. 

7. Name three words that describe your personality.  

Short tempered, yet forgiving, choosy, loyal and forgetful. 

8. Home-cooked meal or take-out?  

Take out Thai, Chinese or Indian food.

9. When was the last time you blogged and what was the topic?  

I try to post as randomly as possible. My blog page is only four months old and has only 31 posts as of now, but I try not to go for numbers, but the quality of the posts. I am trying to do some translation of the Bengali poems and songs of the bard Rabindranath Tagore, and my last post was my first attempt at that. Though I know quite a number of exponents are doing the same, but I am trying to do it in my own way as a humble tribute to my mother who had first taught me to fall in love with his poems and songs.

10. What do you think the key is to happiness?  

Live and let live, enjoy the simple pleasures of life by loving your own self and loving those who matter to you.

11. Who is your favorite poet and why? 

I have been inspired by the romantic poets in English since the days I started studying English literature, specially John Keats and his fabulous odes. Later, John Donne, Robert Browning’s love poems, specially ‘The Last Ride Together’ had a lasting impact on my mind. Today, after a decade, I am more in love with the fiery, robust poems of Maya Angelou. I am awed by the surrealist poems and the love poems of Pablo Neruda. In Bengali, I feel there is a treasure trove of poetry starting from Tagore to Shakti Chattopadhyay, Sunil Gangopadhyay and Joy Goswami. Each of them inspires me with rich, vivid imagery and the magic of their words which are timeless and universal.

I loved the thoughtful questions in Pritha’s blog, so I decided to stick with them. If you don’t feel like answering one or some of the questions, you are always welcome to come up with your own ones. I am adding three more questions  and answers to the list:

12. What is your favorite genre of writing? Any favorite author?

My first love–poetry, fiction and last of all, creative nonfiction, as I have developed a taste towards that genre much later in life. Tons of favorite authors have inspired me from time to time, so it is very difficult to choose any particular favorite. Short stories have always been my favorite and O Henry tops the list of my favorite short story writers. Besides, I have been deeply inspired by the works of Indian writers in English, including Salman Rushdie, V.S. Naipaul, Amit Chowdury, Amitabha Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri.

13. Are you afraid of death?

Used to be, pretty much, had been consumed by the fear of losing touch with all the beautiful things in this planet, but recently, studying a few books about the existence of our soul changed some of my perceptions regarding death. These include Dr. Eben Alexander’s ‘Proof of Heaven’ and Anita Moorjani’s ‘Dying to be Me’.

14. What would be your last wish before you die?

To see the glitter of life in my two daughter’s eyes, to know that I would be alive within them after I cross over. Nothing else would matter any more.

My Liebster Nominations 

Rhiti Bose’s blog: http://rhitibose.wordpress.com/ 

Rudrodip Majumdar’s blog: http://sehgalsahabunplugged.wordpress.com/ 

Rama Sonti’s blog: http://ramaadilse.blogspot.in/ 

Joyce Yarrow’s blog: http://joyceyarrow.blogspot.com/ 

Nalini Priyadarshini’s blog: http://www.twilightmusing.blogspot.in/ 

Reena Prasad’s blog: http://harivarasanam.wordpress.com/ 

Damyanti’s blog: http://damyantiwrites.wordpress.com/

 

Why I Write: The Journey and the inspiration

To all my writer friends all over the world, what does writing mean to you in your life’s journey? Is it intrinsic to your life’s journey? Is it a stranger? Is it a friend? Is it a barging intruder? Was the sheer act of writing a conscious choice for you, or did it come to you by serendipity?

As for me, this personal essay sums up my writing journey, and the relentless struggles I had and am still having with the pursuit. It has won an honorable mention at a writing contest hosted by Writerscafe.org titled ‘Why Do You Love Writing’.

When I Look at My Muse

In silent moments with myself, all these years, I have asked myself a thousand times: “Why do I have to write?” Or, let’s put it in this way: “why do I think I want to write” or “what do I think writing means to me?” In this big, bright, solemn computer-lab, where nameless, faceless entities come up with grim faces in front of desktop screens and type papers for hours, I am faced again with my usual confused, vulnerable self and ask: “why is that I sit here and write about why I want to write”? What is there in the sheer act of writing that has made me what I am, what I believe in today, or what I would want to do if I need to have a life of my own beyond the confines of our home, my family?

I had asked myself why I needed to write in my seventh grade when I had learned to muster courage enough to write my first poem about changing seasons for my school magazine, where I had rhymed each line with care to show my friends and my English teacher how I could implement the idea of a verse. I had asked myself why crafting those lines and thinking of crafting others, secretly, at the back pages of my science homework copy had become a ritual of salvation for me, as I had loitered around the huge hallways of my school building, playing in my mind with words and rhythm when the cuckoos chirped mindlessly in the dusty windows of the classrooms when all my other friends were busy solving their sums, preparing notes for their biology classes, or were just chit-chatting. I look back at those days and think why that secret, silent kingdom of unspoken words and rhythm was all that cherished for me when the sudden bursts of rain used to drag me to the drenched grass and muddy patches of our school compound, when the constant tinkling bell of the rickshaw-puller and the cart of the ice-cream seller passing by the school premises carried within them promises of sweet nothings, transporting me to a world of delight, cadence and artistry in the visible world.

As the days passed by, I have asked myself why this journey of mine with the written word has bound me up, tighter and tighter in chains, as my daily struggles in pursuits other than writing have increased with each passing day, as I have continued to be an engrossed listener of those unspoken words. I still do not know the answer. I only know that by the end of high school, as I went on exhibiting my incompetency in numbers and computations, scientific arguments and logic, I went on earning the highest grades in English, writing the best essays and composition papers in the class, which in turn left me with no other avenue to step into for college education other than English. Back at home, when it has been a constant struggle trying to fit into paradigms, and constantly failing at it, I had never known why or how the Almighty had drawn the lines of my destiny in different patterns.

Today, late at night, my husband works with rapt attention with SQL server, with the oracle database administration of his company, a giant business conglomerate. I, his unemployed, student wife, read Lady Chatterley’s Lover at the other end of the same desk, trying to flirt with the written words as they trickle down my spine with their divine nectar, breaking down upon me with some euphoric hunger. It was probably the same hunger that started to tear me apart when in my college days, I first encountered Romantic English Poetry and wanted to write, like Lord Byron, “She walks in beauty, like the night /Of cloudless climes and starry skies;/And all that’s best of dark and bright /Meet in her aspect and her eyes”….At the end of each act of scribbling, I got to know that my crappy love poems would never see the light of the day, and that in order to write some sane, sensible stuff, I need to study something more meaningful, like journalism.

I still think fervently of the days when in my reporting and writing classes in Mass Communication, the teacher recognized my thoroughly poetic and artistic narrative voice and constantly mentored me to tone it down to the every man’s crisp, prosaic voice, like it is there in the daily newspapers. I remember the unrestrained expression of delight and discovery as I look back to my first freelance assignment in a newspaper in Calcutta where I had written about the juvenile prisoners in an asylum in the city, a news item where I remember my fights, my silent tears and excruciating struggles to trade my first by-line with a meager hundred rupees Indian note. I remember the passion and anticipation of my very young, working days when I slogged like a dog to write mindless business copies, one after the other, for corporate clients that demanded me to write precise and user-friendly paragraphs and punch-lines. I have witnessed almost all of it, the unsung glory of a writer in a business setting, the doubtful eyes of friends and relatives who did never quite understand why I kept changing workplaces for more creative freedom, who still do not understand, or, now that I am married and have kids, do not bother what I do for a living. I remember the silent tears of disbelief and dismay when I had been rejected as worthless and utterly incapable of being part of an editorial team in a publishing house that used to be my dream one day. I am still a hopeless romantic, now trudging the lone road of writing Creative Nonfiction as a Graduate Student. I think of the small presses and the couple of regional publications which have accepted my work, but molded it according to their own whims even without asking for my permission. I keep thinking of the constant rejection letters I have received from a number of publications here in the United States which, by now, should have solidified my cousin brother’s faith that I am utterly incapable of being there in the business of writing. But desperate and despondent lovers do get their way in the end in at least some love stories I have known. I still woo the act of writing, the one and only love of my life and will continue to woo the pleasures of writing with this solitary hope, and like the desperate lovers, this hope gives me salvation and ecstasy when I think of it at the end of the day.

Read more of my poetry and personal essays/memoirs at http://www.writerscafe.org/rooafza