Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi organized “Voices from the City”, a multi-textured poetry session with twenty local poets reciting their choicest poems in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. While in the recent past the CSA has been holding major events in which speakers from outside dominated, today’s session was solely dedicated to the talent of the City Beautiful. Established poets as well as budding writers vied with each other, holding the attention of the audience with their verses. Their enthusiasm was evident in the gusto with which they read their poems.
Those who held the platform this evening included the following (in alphabetical order): Amandeep Singh, Amarjit Amar, Balbir Tanha, BD Kalia Hamdum, Chander Trikha, Gurdeep Gul, Kedarnath Kedar, Manjit Indra, Mrs Pannu, Nirmal Dutt, Santosh Dhiman, Shams Tabrizi, Shashi Prabha, Sultan Anjum, Sushil Hasrat Narelvi, Taaran Gujral, TN Raaz, Urmil Sakhi, Vibha Ray andYojana Rawat.
The session began with the debut poet, Amandeep Singh, presented a poem that drew comparisons between the West and the East, between America and Punjab, focusing on the changed lifestyles of the people in contemporary time, lamenting the loss of values and traditions. Sushil Hasrat’s poem on “Beti”, focusing on the various roles donned by a woman, was greatly appreciated. Highly topical, it spoke of the rising crimes against women and the need for social awareness and reform. Veteran poet, Balbir Tanha’s verses, “Dil main chahat ke chiragon ko halye rakhiye… laut aayengey, musafir hain safar pe nikley…” “unki yaado ko seeney se lagaaey rakhiye” won a lot of applause.
Amarjit Amar displayed subtle humour and self-directed irony in his poems while Urmil Sakhi, in a gentle, mellifluous voice, rendered a sensitive poem of love, loneliness and loss couple with patriotism and sacrifice for the nation. “Madari ban woh mere Bandar man ko nachaata hai…” “Sakhi who aayega ik din laut kar… “
Vibha Ray, in a sequence of minaiture poems, painted different colours of life, including women’s issues like “Arre o aadmi nazar zara jhuka ke rakh teri is mehfil main aurat mahfooz nahi.” Shashi Prabha, too read short haiku style poems.
Yojana Rawat’a verses spoke of relationships in the lap of nature, with rivers and mountains representing human emotions and bonding. “Rang toh hamesha hi hotey hain hamarey andar” began one of her poems, evoking the colours of Holi and then went on to show how these colours may be destroyed by political violence.
Santosh Dhiman sang a longish poem on “Betiyan” which was appreciated by the audience even though the lights went off and the hall was plunged in darkness. The session was temporarily disrupted by a sudden storm that blew out the lights and caused a temporary suspension of poetry but the veteran hasya-kavi, TN Raaz, soon brought the show back on the rails with his humorous poems, one of them lamenting the time when “Ek alhad si haseena humko baba keh gayi.” Although advanced in years, the resounding applause TN Raaz received proved that old is indeed gold.
Among the women poets it was Taaran Gujral who stole the show, reciting her poems on childhood. She sings her poems and her composition “Matthe na lage ilzaam” was greatly appreciated as she crooned in a voice mature and controlled. Gurdeep Gul, another seasoned poet, recited deftly crafted couplets with ease and felicity.
Kedarnath Kedar’s topic was the atrocities perpetrated on women, referring to ageing money-laden sheikhs from the Middle-East who marry adolescent girls young enough to be their grand-daughters. Kedarnath writes in Punjabi and recites in a compelling, forceful manner, effectively jolting the conscience of society. Birendra Kaur Pannu, who writes in Hindi as well as Punjabi, sang a dirge lamenting the loss of a loved one. Manjit Indira’s poem captured with nostalgia the lost ambience of “Babul da Vehra” and the blessings of Ammi in a bygone childhood.
Shamz Tabrezi, the Urdu poet, insisted that one needs to be destroyed by love in order to be a good poet. “tu agar ishk main barbaad nahi ho sakta toh achcha shayar bhi nahi ho sakta.” Seriousness and levity were intricately woven into his verse. Sultan Anujm, another senior poet who writes in Urdu, recited his poems weighed down with ideas in a slow, sonorous, deliberate style: “Jinke chalney se kaampey gulaabon ke dil, gulshanon ko khuda woh hawayen na de.”
Nirmal Dutt, writes in Punjab; he, presented his compositions in a sophisticated, restrained manner, “katra katra, hauka, hauka,” liberally sprinkling his poems with titli te jugnu (butterflies and fireflies).
“Kalam se khoon kya tapka nahi hai / gazal ka rang kya nikhra nahi hai / sare bazaar isko na uchhalo / hamara dil koi sikka nahi hai,” said BD Kalia, Humdum, who is equally skilled in Hindi and Urdu.
Chander Trikha brought the session to a grand finale with his couplets. “Aadhey sach ki aadat chhod aur peed parai likh” was his advice. Write for others, write with a purpose, was his parting advice to all.
In this evening’s session there was rhyme, rhythm, blank verse; there were ghazals and couplets; there was love, romance, emotion, anger and much more reflected in the poetry. Besides these poets there were many others who expressed their keenness to present their poems. In the dark interlude when the lights went off, a couple of senior citizens willingly came to the rescue and held forth with extempore recitation of poems.
Manju Jaidka, the Chairperson of CSA, announced that a similar event would be held in the last week of October to accommodate poets who did not get a platform this evening and for those who write in English.
The event was ably conducted by Shri Madhav Kaushik, himself an accomplished poet. Although the rain had tried to play spoilsport, it was nevertheless a successful evening and the audience felt enriched by the variety and range of poems presented.