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Updated: June 17, 2010 16:19 IST

Words that filled the room

SVRS HARSHA
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Read away: The Queer Poetry Reading session at Madras Terrace House. Photo : R. Ravindran.
THE HINDU Read away: The Queer Poetry Reading session at Madras Terrace House. Photo : R. Ravindran.

An evening when noted and lesser known poets got a chance to showcase their work.

The first thing I felt, as I walked into the room was a feeling of comfort. Perhaps it was the warm welcome, the homely setting or just the infectious optimism of the people there. Mozhiudal, a Queer Poetry Reading event was held at The Madras Terrace House Chennai to celebrate Rainbow Pride 2010. The readings were in English and other Indian languages. Poetry by noted poets lik Auden, Garcia Lorca, Vikram Seth was also read.

Seamless flow

The poetry was quite eclectic and nuanced and in both Tamil and English. It covered themes such as love, alienation, sensuality and some light-hearted poems. There were poems by W.H. Auden, Symborska and a lot of original poetry from the people gathered there.

Noted Tamil poet Salma read out some of her poems which gave a woman's perspective on the world. The problems that women face, and how they deal with the world are well described, and her skill with imagery is incredible. Sharanya Manivannan also read out some of her poetry, both queer poems and otherwise. The audience and members also recited some of their poetry. Her poetry, manages to be incredibly feminine, all the while growing darker and twisted, showing off different facets of love and lust. Sadly, the queer poems cannot be printed without their essence being lost. Strange that they have to be called that, there was no stark change in perspective or essence, just a seamless shift

Creating awareness

The poetry was forceful, and brought across their ideas with ease. This is not poetry that one could label as unnecessary verbiage, or inaccessible. The concerns voiced, and the feelings described were very genuine. These were people who were helping make a big difference, and there wasn't any of the jaded cynicism that you normally see. There was some light-hearted poetry as well, which brought to the fore the irony and contradictions that our society demands in the lives of its minorities. There are also a lot of other events planned for the month; the schedule is available online on orinam.net.

Chat line

As publishing poetry gets harder, do you think poetry readings are the way to go?

Sharanya: Yes, I think we should have more poetry readings here in Chennai; it should be a stronger part of our culture. It's especially important, for poems which are meant to be performed. Chennai seems to be freer and more tolerant towards the LGBT community, as compared to most other parts of India. They have a very tightly knit community, and they have done a lot of work, against AIDS etc, so that makes a difference.

What do you think of multilinguality in poetry? You have many writing in several languages Is it a good thing, or does it make the poetry stunted?

Sharanya: No, of course not. You should have the need to express your thoughts in two languages. And here, most children grow up learning at least two languages. I think craft is far more important than proficiency with the language.

Harsha is doing his III year, B.A. Literature in English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad

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