The title is a misnomer. It is a ‘LOT’ of poetic history, precisely 1987 words including this message of warning, masquerading as ‘little’ poetic history. Proceed only after taking suitable precautions against boredom and (most important) at your own risk.
My first attempt at poetry, way back in the Ancient Ages when play-stations, i-Pods, video games and even television sets were but in the realms of sc-fi, was about a blue-jay. I had never set eyes on a live one of course, only seen a picture of the bird in one of the many children’s books of foreign origin that father brought home for us to read. In my little poem that rhymed, I requested the blue jay to sing, build a nest and do other such typical birdie stuff that our winged friends engage in on a daily basis worldwide, while I solemnly assured it that I would follow suit to the best of my (nine year old?) ability. I remember father going ga-ga over it, feeling I imagine, justifiably (?) proud of his daughter’s poetic talent, probably viewing it as the first in a series to follow, never really thinking of the possibility that this blue jay-inspired incursion into the World of Verse was but a flash in the pan on her part. The blue jay had flown away taking my advice (Blue jay Blue jay fly away) given towards the end of my poem to heart, and apparently so had my Poetical Urge.
Almost six years later as a dreamy 14-year old with a pair of feet that never touched the ground and a head chock full of incurably romantic thoughts firmly lodged in the clouds (was it Cloud Nine?), the recalcitrant Poetic Urge made a comeback. Apart from writing a poem about my dog Loony (named after the Enid Blyton character Snubby’s lunatic Loony), I also spouted verse on the silvery Moon, a favorite with romantics the world over, likening her to a Queen sailing past in the blue-black sky and added for good measure a few lines about the rambling brook, blooming lilies, twinkling stars and other such paraphernalia integral to the lives of romantic souls of which I was (and is, once a romantic, always a romantic) numero uno. Father went ga-ga a second time over this outburst of poetic talent (!) from his daughter and promptly sent it to a friend of his abroad who I believe put it in a children’s magazine, or so I heard. That dear readers, is my first (and only) published work and does it really matter that I have never set eyes on it??
Mercifully, the next few years saw the Poetic Urge take a well deserved holiday (probably in Timbuktu) which was hastily cut short when news reached it via the grapevine, though belatedly (as is common I believe in places like Timbuktu, it being quite far from any spot on Earth), that I had begun cavorting with the likes of Prose in the name of the new fad called blogging, and was churning out looooooong blogs by the handful. What!! The bally girl gamboling with the likes of the upstart, the newcomer Prose, and not sparing a thought for me, Verse, her old and long lost friend! Poetic Urge or rather Verse as it liked to call itself now, caught the next flight back to India, precisely to Trivandrum and thus was born From a Girl Child, just like that, out of the blue. This time Verse was in no mood to leave as it hated the thought of Prose having me all to itself. With Muse now a permanent fixture in my life, Verse knew its chances were brighter. So it dug its feet in and made itself comfortable. Verse, in short, had arrived
…and to my consternation I found, so had Trouble, big one at that.
“Oh so you write poems too?? Would you take a look at some of mine??” asked a friend and more followed with the same request.
It is true that I write poems and bore others. But I certainly am not made of as stern a stuff as to read poems and be bored. Poetry reading and I are like ummm… cat and mouse, where I am the mouse. When a mouse sees a cat, it runs for dear life, unless you have someone like Metro Goldwyn Mayer backing you, in which case you get to be called Jerry and are allowed to smash the cat’s face every two seconds. But I am digressing. When I see poetry staring me in the face, I run too like a real life non – MGM backed mouse and on the occasions I cannot, you are sure to mistake me for a caged animal.
On top of this comes the asking for opinion part which is dicier to handle. It scares me enough to make me want to run away and hide. So is it any wonder that on such occasions as I am asked advice, you find me checking the availability of seats in the next flight to that all-familiar place, Timbuktu, while simultaneously making a mental note to ask Harry Potter to lend me the Invisibility Cloak for just such emergencies, also scrutinizing the possibility of any new potions that may have hit the market in recent times, that lets you vanish in a plume of smoke, as a fall-back arrangement in case Harry Potter refused to part with his cloak, it being a gift from his dead parents and all that. Weird behavior? You bet! I’d rather dance on a bed of coals than…. And no, I don’t intend proving it.
Though I myself am a Lily-livered Lurker when it comes to poetry blogs, venturing to leave a comment only on odd occasions (Oh my God, what if I made a blooper and said something that the poet never meant!), I find that the world is full of really brave souls (I humbly salute them!). They do not merely venture, but walk in with confident steps and have their say. Most times they are right on target too with their understanding of the verse! There have been rare occasions when some reader has waxed eloquent about some verse of mine that has had me agape. Oh my God, is that what I really meant by what I wrote? Wow who would have thought that! And come to think of it, I never knew it myself! Do you think I am joking here? I wrote a poem about the wind and a friend pointed out that he liked the one I wrote about a mother and child. And would you believe it, he was absolutely right, it could very well have been! That is one reason I never explain what I write even when asked. Why put a muzzle on someone else’s imagination? It is interesting to read varied views and interpretations.
A good friend of mine confesses that she does not understand poetry so she skips reading my poetry blogs.
“They go right above my head.” she confessed.
“Don’t worry” I told her with a straight face, “I don’t understand them myself most times.”
The high point of my poetic life was when appreciation came from my monkeys errr… I mean the younger Martians, my sons.
“Mom, my friends think you right awesome poetry” said the First Born the Coder, to me the other day. “And I liked the one about A Flaw in this Picture Perfect ”
“Mom, however did you think up the one titled, ‘You killed me yesterday’?? It’s awesome! I showed it to my friends!” said the Second Born, the budding Artist another day.
With sons throwing around ‘awesomes’ all over the place just the same way they throw their innumerable tees and jeans all over the floor of their messy rooms, what more does a mother need, other than an extra pair of hands with a good back to go with it to pick up those clothes strewn around ? Plus an ice cream or two if you please and the weighing scale be damned, of course.
There is this one problem with Verse. The rogue and tease that it is, it gives of its bounty at the most inopportune time, just as I am in bed for the night and dozing off or while I am in the bath, sometimes while busy cooking with all the four burners going strong. Foolishly and wrongly, I assumed many a time that Memory would come to my aid when I was done with cooking, got out of my bath or had woken up the next morning. Many a good verse (according to me of course, the general public may have better adjectives to use depending on their tastes) was lost with the humbug Memory believing itself to be an incarnation of a sieve. I decided not to rely on Memory any longer and to jot down anything that came to mind then and there. The Lord and Master was informed about this new resolution of mine in the course of non-stop chatter served with tea (or coffee as the case may be) that normally ensues the minute he steps into Home Sweet Home.
“I woke up, found a piece of paper and jotted the lines down” I told him triumphantly one day, glad that I could for once beat the capricious Verse at its own game.
A few days later I found the L&M perusing with great interest from a bit of paper he found lying on the bedside table.
“Are you looking to see if those are scribbled lines of poetry?” I asked the L&M.
“Yeah, you said you were now jotting them down.”
“Ohh! Why do you want to read them from bits of paper? Come on over and read it from my blog!” I urged him.
The L&M is a busy man and usually has no time at his disposal to read silly blogs written by his wife, but I was not about to let go this golden opportunity to force at least one poem on him. The last time I had got just such an opportunity was when I made him read ‘The Spark” which he had promptly likened to new wave films, the Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Aravindan type of movies.
“It goes right above my head!” he had said shaking his head after reading it.
“What!” I remember going, “People tell me they understand my poems and you call them new wave!” Grrr….
This time the latest one up was called ‘Frail Spontaneity’ and went,
Rebuttals stand guard
glinting knives in hands
Refusals choke into silence
Rebuffs with axes hack.
Wounded limbs chopped
lesions and cuts adorning
thrashing for life
lies frail Spontaneity…. (more)
I waited patiently while he read. Meanwhile, the junior son walked in humming to himself.
“Dad’s reading my poem,” I told him excitedly, grinning from ear to ear.
“And what does he say?” the junior son asked.
“He hasn’t finished yet. But the last time he read one, he said it was like an art movie, the new wave kind.” I chortled.
“No,” we heard the L & M saying and turned to him for further enlightenment
“This time it is not merely the art movie type” he said.
He had a dazed look on his face. He shook his head as if to clear it and continued,
“Ithu kadichaal pottoolla” (loose literal translation: This cannot be broken with a bite).
He paused for a second before continuing further.
“This one is like those bitter ayurvedic medicines. Too tough to swallow”
Oh ah well and Ahaa!
I am made of stern stuff and haven’t given up. I still write ‘pomes’ as Ernie (again from Enid Blyton) would say. The Muse visits, Verse delivers and all I do is….. let my fingers tap-dance on the computer keyboard.