15 Nov 2016: “Poetry for Peace (Why War?)” on Nov 10, 2016

The Poetry Society (India) in collaboration with the India International Centre (IIC) organised a reading of poems on “Poetry for Peace (Why War?)” on Thursday, Nov 10, 2016 at IIC Conference Room 1, New Delhi. The event saw a stirring line-up of eminent poets reading famous and self-composed poems on the burning topic, keeping in view the current volatile atmosphere of the world at large, and indeed teeming with the possibility of a third world war. The program was opened by Mandira Ghosh, poet and the current Treasurer of The Poetry Society (India), who provided a brief background of the event before handing over the proceedings to the chair, renowned poet Keki N Daruwalla. Daruwalla shared his remarkable experience of reading poetry at the International Poetry Festival in Medellin, Colombia held earlier this year from 18th to 25th June.

Savita Singh, before reading her poems in Hindi, stressed on the poets’ need to be “naïve” in order to write about peace. Her nuanced and elegantly phrased poems “Aakanksha ka makaan,” “Naya Andhera” and “Anidra Mein” set the evening rolling. The next to read was Bhaskar Ghose who shared poems of G M Hopkins (“Peace”) and Rabindranath Tagore (“Question”). The next to read was Kavita Singhal, whose poem with the refrain “Shantih, Shantih, Shantih” was well appreciated. Gagan Gill shared two very powerful poems by Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet titled “Optimistic Man” and “On Living.” Rukmini Bhaya Nair shared her poems primarily written for children, including the thumping rap poem “Agitprop Verses – The Fundamentals” which electrified the atmosphere. Bhaskar Ghose shared Rilke’s famous “Buddha in Glory,” and journalist and poet Sanjula Sharma shared her poems beginning with an impressive Haiku, and ending with a soulful reading of her “A Little Piece of Peace.” The readings were capped by Daruwalla’s own “A Poem for Peace,” “Naropa’s Wife” and “Jerusalem” recited in his slow, mellifluous voice, which aptly brought out the various facets of the exigent theme of peace (and war!), while the evening reverberated with the ever-mystifying power of poetry.

Report by:
Kalyanee Rajan, Assistant Professor (English), Shaheed Bhagat Singh Evening College, University of Delhi

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