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An Afternoon Of Poetry – South Asian Poets Of New England

Jayent Dave

Our eagerly awaited quarterly meeting of South Asian Poets of New England (SAPNE) was hosted by Dr. Bijoy Misra at his residence in Lincoln, MA on Saturday November 12, 2011. SAPNE is a concept to have poets interact and exchange poetry without any barriers of language. As the sun shines and warms every corner of the world, a poet radiates the world around him and warms every heart regardless of the language he chooses as a medium. Exactly that happens in every South Asia Poets’ meeting. An aura of invisible electromagnetic wave of emotions and deep thoughts narrated by each poet dissolves any language barrier.  Earlier arranged as a recitation event, it has formalized to a local multi-national poets’ group since the summer of 2008.  The meeting takes place at the residences of local hosts or in public locations.  An annual poetry reading is arranged at Harvard University every May. 

At the meeting the following poets and languages were represented: 

Alok De (Bengali), Achyut Adhikari (Nepali), Nagen Mallick (Oriya), Pramod Thaker (Gujarati), Jaspal Singh(Hindi), Jayent Dave(Gujarati),Maya De (Bengali), R. Balachandra(English), Jayanta Patra(Oriya), Bela Kosaras(Hungarian), Bijoy Misra(Oriya). Subhash Saigal joined late. Kamla from Nepal was a guest. I give below a short synopsis of each poem that was recited.

Alok De started the afternoon with his poem in Bengali entitled Sapna (Dream).  A beautiful short poem spoke about the enigma of the dream.  People wake up from their sleep and compare life in the dream and that in the actual life;  - which one is sweeter -- this or that? 

Achyut Adhikary followed with a Nepali poem Bikaser Bal (The Boy in Development), the story of a young boy coming of age.  The boy romanticizes to go abroad to fulfill his curiosity, once abroad he discovers that his needs have not changed, they have simply been remapped and transformed!

Nagen Mallick read an artistic poem in Oriya entitled Maa’ra bayasa  (Age of Mother Earth).  Science wants to know the age of the Mother Earth.  Man explores the ice core of Antarctica to find an age. He opens the tree core, explores the coral shells, scans the igneous rocks, and finds different numbers. Every action is a mere speculation of the age of mother Earth. Because she is the mother, the children are busy in speculating the age by disturbing the creations!

Nagen Mallick read a second poem entitled Odisha ra Bhabisyata (The Future of Odisha) to reflect on the politicization of the names. The change of name from Orissa to "Odisha"  has elated the people of the state,  but it hardly matters in the development of the State.  The poem called for the reestablishment of the glory of Odisha by uprooting the social stigmas, tyranny, nepotism, and by embracing the mantra of brotherhood and love.

Pramod Thaker is an established poet in Gujarati language.  He writes in the pen-name of Ká¹›iṣṇāditya.  He read  a Gujarati poem entitled Vaḷagīṡuṃ Vāte (Together we will  talk).  The English translation of the poem as given by the poet is as follows:

With bundle of incomplete essays written sometime ago,
I stand at the gate of my late grandfatherʼs estate,
and strike the knocker on the door.
In the silence of the night,
the sound of a water-pump from the farmland,
gently rubs the cheeks of a sleeping street.
The doors of time in the abandoned palace of memory
keep opening and closing here and there.
Somehow I will find the flint and make a spark.
I will gather up yesterdayʼs papers flying around
on the sidewalk at dawn and lit a fire.
I will get some warmth.
I will invite someone, be it a stranger,
and ask the person to sit near me.
Together we will talk,
what if it is only for a moment or two.
I will invite someone, be it a stranger,
and ask the person to sit near me.
Together we will talk,
what if it is only for a moment or two.

Jaspal Singh followed with his impassioned rendering reflecting on the corruption all around with a poem entitled chakradhārÄ«  (One with Discus, Krishna) in Hindi.  The poet is calling for Sri Krishna to incarnate on earth and use his discus (chakra) to help in elimination of the massive wrongdoings corrupting all spheres of living.

Jayent Dave then presented a sweet poem in Gujarati entitled ‘MadhMitha Mitro’(Salt,honey and friends) Is there a relationship between salt, honey and friends?  Are they not alike?  The poem described the dictionary of friends and how friendship evolves in time. 

Maya De brought further mysticism to the meeting through her Bengali poem Ajana pakhi  (The unknown bird). “I saw this bird the other day, never saw before. What’s it? Where did it come from?  Where does it go?”

R Balachandra celebrated the birth of his granddaughter with a poem in English dedicated to her entitled Annika.The world changes with a new arrival, there is commotion and excitement.  As a grandfather, he has sage advice for the new human being.

Jayanta Patra is a new arrival from India on a Ford Foundation Fellowship.  He recited a poem in Oriya entitled Mo samaya (My Time).  The poet recants the mischief days in his childhood and wonders how time has passed.  Is not time a web, wobbling around?

He had a second poem entitled Jibana (Life).  A person in intoxication has a strange life style.  He drinks and reflects on the mysterious harmony between himself and the society.  Everything is an intoxication to him!

The afternoon had a guest from Hungary.  Dr. Bela Kosaras is an anatomist in Harvard Medical School.  He read two beautiful poems in Hungarian language and followed them with the translations. The first poem was by Attila Jozsef and the English title Honest Heart. The poet grew up under a difficult environment, and lost his parents at an early age. Foster parents helped him to study.  In the poem he says “I lost everything I do not have anything  but just only the poor life, I hardly can support himself.  In this painful situation even I could be a burglar, waiting to be caught and executed.  But I have a beautiful heart!”  

Dr Kosaras read a second poem by the poet Janos Arany, the poem was entitled The Honey-bee.  Unlike Jozsef, Arany had a more secured life but with pain and success. He showed a human character searching for love, the most powerful resource in our navigation of the earthly life.  The poem says “even the love makes some pain for us, but we want to have because it is an ever driving force to experience. It is the life-giving strength for our emotions and gives us a feeling to be wanted by someone. As social creatures who also need some solitude!” 

Bijoy Misra tried an experiment to check if a single poem metaphorically be dedicated to both Brahma and Allah.

The poem in Oriya was entitled Alla O Brahma (Allah and Brahman).  The attributes of compassion and all-encompassing reign can be applied to both Allah and Brahman.  A poem extolling Allah can be converted to a prayer to Brahman by simply utterances to the Divinity with small conceptual word change. 

NEXT MEETING OF SAPNE: Saturday February 11, 2012.

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