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Voice Of The People – An Evening Of Influential Poetry From South Asia

Amandeep Singh

November 12, 201, Lincoln Public Library, Lincoln, MA. Change of seasons, letters, lights of Diwali, yearnings of immigrants and some humor filled the Lincoln Public Library where the fall quarterly meeting of South Asia Poets of New England (SAPNE) was held. Nine poets from various languages gathered to recite poems that influenced them.

Chandu Shah after welcoming all the poets, recited his Gujarati poem on disappearance of written letters, almost extinct now, gone are intimate and personal letters, which are now replaced by phones, emails or FedEx. Poet wonders about sending a letter by postal mail or FedEx to his loved ones?

Ipsita Nanda, an English Poet, first recited the poem titled ‘Voice of People’ by SAPNE poet Amitava Ganguli  - Voice of people cannot be wrong even though it is suppressed for a long time. After that she recited the poem “Autumn” by Sarojini Naidu that influenced her to write a poem on Fall -

Like a joy on the heart of a sorrow,
The sunset hangs on a cloud;
A golden storm of glittering sheaves,
Of fair and frail and fluttering leaves,
The wild wind blows in a cloud.

While Sarojini Naidu feels that something personal is lost in the fallen leaves of fall, Ipsita in her poem sees hope in fall season when nature decides to wear colorful clothes.

Sunayana Kachroo, a Hindi/Kashmiri Poet recited a poem by Hindi Poet Dushyant Kumar ‘Ho gayee and peer parbat si, pighalni chahiye’, poet says that it is time for change now, his pain that is like a mountain now should melt! She also read Gulzar’s translation of Kusumagraj’s Marathi poem – time cannot destroy the poems! In her original poem she hopes that those who are fallen today will rise tomorrow.

Neena Wahi, a Hindi poet, recited her poem ‘Nayay Ki Awaz Hamari Awaz’ – reflecting on results on the presidential elections, she thinks that whether it is Trump or Hillary, we will stay firm on our land. Our voice for justice will be so loud that it could reach the sky, and no leader can crush it.

Sanjeev Tripathi read a poem titled ‘Aao Fir se Deep Jalayen’ on Deepawali by Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Ex-Prime Minister of India) – poet calls on to light the lamps once again! After that he read his poem, a tribute to Ragini and Mahesh Mehta. Poet is ineffable when asked to write about the philanthropists couple.

Mahendra Bakshi recited a heart-touching poem titled ‘Om Tatsya’, about her wife that he wrote on her punya tithi (death anniversary). His wife used to write a lot of letters to their family in India and he used to proof-read them, but now he is missing his scribe. He doesn’t know what to write now as he is reduced to half while his burden is doubled! Poet displayed the old postal letter-envelop which is no longer available!

Alok De, a Bengali poet, read his satirical poem on elections – first week of every November is the election puja (worship). The fireworks of publicity agenda are ubiquitous – this is not democracy, it is utpata tantra(hooligan). Then he read a poem by Nazrul Islam titled ‘Faryadi’ or Plaintiff – We are brown or black and they are white, but Sun gives equal light to all!

Amandeep Singh, a Punjabi Poet, read a poem by Sahitya Academy award winner Punjabi poet Tara Singh – when your friends’ thoughts are not matching yours then it is not the right time to break the friendship. After that he recited his poem inspired by the above poem – with time everything changes including your thoughts, emotions and friends! He also recited few couplets inspired by Punjabi Folk Song called Tappe – where he depicted the yearnings of immigrants and their relatives back home.

Last but not least, it was time for some funny Punjabi poetry by Preetpal Singh.  One cannot threaten the weak people as there is a higher power than everyone! His couplets made everyone laugh but there was a deep hidden meaning in them!

(Photos by Chandu Shah )

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