Saturday, May 23, 2009

Poet Laureate

Carol Ann Duffy is nominated as the next poet laureate, the first woman to be so, and she stands in honourable company, along with Wordsworth and Tennyson. I discovered this poet in my ramblings in the British Council Library, and in fact had picked up her 1985 T.S. Elliot prize winner “Rapture”, a book of related love poems. Carol writes beautifully and with insight only a poet can pen down. Reading poetry is much different than prose. One can let prose wash over you, and one’s engagement with the book can vary over the course of reading the book. Not so with poetry. Either one is fully into it, or not. I cannot read poetry casually; I need to concentrate and let the poem seep into my soul; else it is like chewing gum. One champs around without getting any sustenance. I quote from the movie “Dead Poets Society”- One does not write poetry to make a living, one lives to write poetry. My favourite poem from the book is reproduced below:


No getting up from the bed in this grand hotel
and getting dressed, like a work of art
rubbing itself out. No lifting the red rose
from the room service tray when you leave
as though you might walk to the lip of a grave
and toss it down. No glass of champagne, left
to go flat in the glow of a bedside lamp,
the frantic bubbles swimming for the light. No white towel
strewn, like a shroud, on the bathroom floor.
No brief steam on the mirror there for a finger
to smudge in a heart, an arrow, a name. No soft soap
rubbed between four hands. No flannel. No future plans.
No black cab, sad hearse, on the rank. No queue there.
No getting away from this. No goodnight kiss. No Cuba.

Odds and ends

I have been reading the poetry workshop every month on the guardian books website, and the last poetry workshop was special for me. I finally had the courage to submit an entry. I do not know if there are any bathroom poets like me, but this is one opportunity for you to submit a poem anonymously like I did. If it gets mentioned in the honours, hey! you may be in business. Go ahead, and try out the one this month – the subject is night.

Delhi Chronicles

Delhi’s summer seems to be settling down well. There are days of hot weather with the temperature touching 44 C, but with squalls on most evenings. This weather pattern had been lost for quite some time, and goes down well with me. During my childhood I remember this pattern coming in at least twice a week, sometimes everyday. The pattern seems to have been lost for a decade or so, but I am not complaining if it comes back. The mango season is not going quite as well. The safeda mango is not as sweet as in other years. For course, the price at Rs 35 per kilo is not helping matters. We persuaded a guy coming in from Ambala over the weekend, to bring in some 15 kilos which we will consume in the office in a “Mango” party. Apparently in Muscat this is done every year on a day where the Ambassador of India inaugurates the affair.

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