A poetess (Cheryl Dumesnil) was recently asked as to what excites her most when she reads poetry. And what she replied was “I love sound, complicated sound. When the sound is used to amplify the meaning of the poem, I can’t get enough of that.”
That’s what my grudge is when I read novice poets whose poetry doesn’t sound anything meaningful. Instead it resounds. And it resounds like a fog horn in Ray Bradbury’s story and deafens our ears with a “boom” very similar to what’s found in E M Foster’s Passage To India. Their words are often so badly woven that the verse seems worse, a pile of garbage, a mere reproduction of the romantics or the classicals.
I had a poor collision with a lady or I should call a self-proclaimed poetess—Promeila Bhardwaj—who recently self-published her first poetry book and launched it in Shimla. The book was called “Swar Lahriyan”. I was excited when I was offered a copy of the book thinking that people are really drilling down their thoughts diligently, a good sign for the literary art in my part of the world. But soon I was disillusioned. Not very much by her versification, or diction, but by her thought process. Most of the poems were a jumble of religious words offered, probably in the form of prayers, to Hindu gods. I do not mean that writing for god is something I’ve despised in them. But the way she has offered prayers to our gods is utterly a poetry that nobody, if he or she has poetic sense, would like to read. To give an example, at one place in her poem called “Cobweb” (Makadjaal), she begins with:
“This world is a cobweb, Where illusions, attachments and desires distract.” (Lines translated pg-42).
On these lines the poem starts and on the same lines it ends. In between, she sermonizes like an idle sadhu and instructs people to always stick to the right path. My question is: Was this poem required? What’s new she has told us? Forget about new. What’s so special in the poem that thousands of religious books do not offer? If she wanted to be a moral teacher cum poetess, an attempt like T S Eliot was perhaps required. I don’t mean I sought for a local T S Eliot in her, which again would be wrong. But the treatment he gives to human morals in his poems such as The Wasteland and The Hollowman, etc is really unheard of and should have been applied with caution because we do not want another T S Eliot.
In her all poems, the same story runs through the pages. Poems like “Moon” (Chaand), “Magical Voice” (Jaadui Aawaaj), and “House” (Ghar), among others are again poor show and disappoint. Although I do respect her concerns raised in the poems but for being a poet an instinctive effort is must. The poverty of thought irks a reader in her poems which she along with other aspirant poets needs to address.
I do hate authors whose trade is plagiarism, but I more hate people whose trade is to merely fill up the pages and get them printed. It might add few laurels to somebody’s personal life. But it adds nothing to the art poetry is, except a blot. To sum up her poetry, it’s the cacophonous cluster of frequently heard thoughts which she has pelted on us.
Again I’m disappointed the way poetry has been treated. Indeed, I would also love to listen to the musical, and complicated sounds which Cheryl Dumesnil loves to hear from a poem. It would only happen when the effort to write a poem is sincere and full of exertion, both of the mind and of the heart. Let’s try to write a single poem which sounds better, which sounds thoughtful, which sounds artistic and which sounds like a poem should.