The Sunday sky was hung with heavy rain filled clouds and Café de Art with people who wanted to read and listen to poetry. Verse of Silence had brought these ardent lovers of poetry through Rhapsodies Chapter 1.
Café de Art had quite a secular vibe to it with paintings symbolizing different religions lined across its wall. All of the cafe’s furniture was arranged facing away from the entrance to an empty space marked for the reciter. And even when all of the cushioned seats were occupied, the gathering remained intimate.
The event was started sharp on time by Kavya Sharma, the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Verse of Silence. With her humble team of four, she also launched the fourth issue of their monthly magazine. Her literature professor and queer poet, Rajorshi Das marked the beginning of the event with an ode to the man who had all he wanted except his life which he lost in an encounter in Kashmir.
From the loss of the lives in Kashmir, the conversation steered to the loss of appreciation for poetry in the Indian milieu as Dolly Singh, founder of the Delhi Poetry Festival- India’s largest standalone poetry festival- took the stage. She spilled her disappointments on the scope of poetry writing in India but still encouraged the poets to write for in these tumultuous times as a distorted society reels under the effects of lynching and vigilantism, it is poetry that can impact the heart, mind and the soul, and therein succeed.
The spirit of the audience soared even further when Deepak K Choudhary addressed them, sharing his poetry from his recently published anthology Birds Like Us. He called himself a student of literature and everyone a poet, the only difference being that only a few of them actually write. He warned the gathered poets against indulging in the overwritten theme of love and suggested the exploration of other pastures. This brought to our correspondent’s mind the haunting lines of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, “aur bhi dukh hain zamaane mein mohabbat ke siwa”.
We were happy to note that even though majority of the poets were fairly young and according to Mr. Choudhary prone to obsess with love, the themes were eclectic. This doesn’t come as a surprise seeing that all of these 10 parti
cipants were selected from over 70 paid submissions by the organizers.
- Ruchira Mandal, from Kolkata, recited a poem inspired by the changing seasons.
- Chitrika Bhargava, an ‘Instagram poet’, presented a poem titled ‘Dying Young’ which ended with her a final request to let her words live after her for they were all she ever had.
- Kanika Saini performed a piece of slam poetry which dealt with her fears and fighting relentlessly to get over them.
- Piyush Jain presented a lovely piece on the birth of his niece.
- Monalisa Joshi is one of the poets featured in the fourth issue of the Verse of Silence and recited her poem ‘The Devil’s Wife’.
- Sanyogita from NIT Delhi read out ‘Memento Mori’
- Prashant Pundir’s poem visualized his life as a movie, beckoning the audience to come take a look.
- Pratibha gave a powerful recitation titled ‘Anger Management’ and coping with it by exhaling into a balloon. Her evocative performance, unsurprisingly, won her a place.
- Sanya Goyal’s ‘Awakening’ was a metaphor for change, of once familiar things fading into unfamiliarity with time.
- Naimish Srivastava moved the audience with his poem on a pet dog, winning our hearts and the competition.
The judges were appreciative of the content. However, insisted that the poets work on their articulation for it is what ultimately aids in comprehension at such platforms. It was quite unfortunate to see good expression losing out to bad recitation. But in the end, by developing this culture of appreciation and listening, poetry in India lives to win.
Going forward, Kavya envisions Rhapsodies as a poetry platform that not only provides a competitive awareness conducive to peer learning but also credits and motivates those who take this path. She is also very keen on organizing creative writing workshops and building Verse of Silence into an exclusive poetry publishing platform for South Asian voices. For now, Rhapsodies Chapter 2 is coming to Bengaluru on 4 August.