A new anthology seeks to take poetry to the corners of the city

“If a poem written on a piece of paper/ Was to waft along,/ And perchance land on the sun,/ The sun would ignite again.”

A testimony to the power of poetry, these optimistic lines by Gulzar, translated into English by Pavan K. Varma, occur in an anthology of poems titled Musings: A Mosaic which was launched in the Capital recently.

Brought out by On Fire Publications, the anthology contains 53 poems. The cast of the book comprises previously unpublished and little known poets from eight countries, including India, but also features familiar names such as Gulzar, Shashi Tharoor, Deepti Naval and Irshad Kamil. The poems are accompanied by illustrations done by 14 artists. These illustrations are not the graphic equivalent of what the poems convey, but an entity that can exist independent of the poems, as in a mosaic.

“By bringing visual and verbal art together, we want to take poetry to the next level,” said Yaseen Anwer, a contributor to the anthology and the founder and managing editor of Poets Corner, “a group of young and dynamic wordsmiths” that conceptualized and contributed to Musings.

Started in 2011 as a students’ movement, the collective has seen its membership rise exponentially from four members to about 800 members now. In this short span, the group has also brought out four other anthologies of poems titled Gestures: Miscalculated Poetries by Misunderstood Poets, Aks: Tere Mere Khalayon Ka, Love in Verses: For You & Me and Bikhri Os Ki Boondain. “These anthologies had 5, 12, 20 and 18 poets respectively,” Yaseen said.

For a book that unites several diverse elements, the publishing process was carried out in “record time”. “The submissions started in April this year and the editing work was finished in 10 days,” Yaseen said. “The difficult part was finalising illustrations for the poems. The poets and editors would disagree over an illustration and the whole process would begin again,” he added.

The difficulties, however, were of a different nature with the earlier books. “While Musings has been sponsored by Pasha Builders, Gestures, published in March 2011, was self-financed. To publish Gestures I had to save from my pocket money for four months but when I recovered my money in a few months I was convinced that poetry has a market,” Yaseen remembered. “Our next books will be theme based and will experiment with different forms,” he added.

Speaking at the launch, Chief Guest Ashok Sawhny, an entrepreneur and bilingual poet writing in Urdu and English, congratulated Poet’s Corner on “bringing out anthologies and not focusing on personalities” and stressed on the need to get poetry across to people. By planning to organize a poetry festival in Delhi in December, Poets Corner is doing just that and taking poetry from its remote corners to the whole city.

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