SAYING IT IN VERSE: POETRY SESSION ORGANIZED BY THE CSA
Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi organized a poetry session at the UT Guest House this evening. There were four local poets – Gurminder Sidhu, Madhavi Kataria, Vibha Ray and S.K. Setia – and two invited poets – Liaqat Jafri and Pt. Vidya Ratan Assi – who came all the way from Jammu to interact with poetry lovers in Chandigarh.
Vibha Ray is the Principal of DAV School (Lahore), Sector 8. She has impressive credentials, with a doctorate in English Literature and an Ll.B. from Panjab University. Apart from administrative acumen, she has a flair for poetry, as was evident in her recitation this evening. “ Dard keval mera hai… kaisey baantu?” asked Vibha Ray in a moving poem.
Madhavi Kataria, a very versatile person, has been active in theatre over several decades now. Despite being very busy in an administrative position she finds time for literature, poetry and the arts. The poems she read with élan this evening were full of the music of nature, love and beauty, the river and the sky, the rain and flowers, bumblebees and birds.
Gurminder Sidhu read her poems in Punjabi with confidence. She spoke of human relationships, of families and particularly the plight of women and young girls. Evidently Gurminder is concerned with the the girl child and the lot that is meted out to her in our society. Where, in the cruel sea of life, does a girl lose her childhood? This idea seems to haunt her poetry.
S.K. Setia has majored in English but is equally proficient in Hindi, as evident from the poems he presented. His verse focused mainly on meeting and parting. Parting from a friend, for instance, looking back at a time of togetherness, reliving golden moments of the past. Why, asks Setia, why does the heart long for forgotten landscapes? There seems to be no answer.
Liaqat Jafri, also from Jammu, was introduced by the well-known playwright, Atamjit. He is young but accomplished enough to compete with senior poets. Each line that he has composed is heavy with meaning.
“Kabhi bachchey ko naksha na dikhana./ na jaaney kaunsi sarhad mita de.”
“Ek khwaish abhi adhuri hai. Khud se milna bahut zaroori hai.”
Liaqat writes in Urdu and in Phutwari (a Pahari dialect). He is soft spoken and gentle in demeanour, and recites his poems with an endearing bashfulness. The theme of his ghazals this evening revolved around dreams and aspirations and the fact that they soon dissolve when they encounter hard reality. He seems to grope for a meaning in a dark, turbulent world.
Pt Vidya Rattan Assi from Jammu, the chief poet of the session, was also introduced by Atamjit. He is a veteran who has the unique distinction of being one who has devoted his entire life to poetry although he has not received recognition or publicity. Having lived in the shadows of anonymity he was with some difficulty persuaded to visit Chandigarh. Here he recited his verses extempore.
“Pal hi main guzar jati hai sukh ki raatein / Dukh ki raten pal bhar mein kyon nahi guzar jatey?”
“Ghar to hota hai dil ke rishtey se./ Eenth gaarey se ghar nahi hota.”
“Ik zamana tha, woh zamana tha. Dil se miltey they, kya zamana tha.”
His poetry is an interesting mix of nostalgia and simplicity. It strikes a note of sincerity and reaches straight to the heart. While introducing the poet, Atamjit mentioned that the ageing poet does not get any state support and lamented the sad fact that artists and writers are often neglected by a callous social order. The UT adviser, KK Sharma, who was present on the occasion, appreciated the verses of Pt. Assi and agreed that senior poets ought be accorded appropriate attention by the state.
The evening was remarkable in that the audience was totally captivated and responded spontaneously to all the poems that were recited. By the end of it there was an almost tangible elevation of spirits and the audience did not want the secretary, Madhav Kaushik, to bring the session to a close.
The next event of the CSA, Chairperson Manju Jaidka, announced, will be held on 30th December at the UT Guest House.
Photographs of this evening’s events will be uploaded on the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi Facebook page.