Satyn Bulchandani was comfy reading his haiku

At a recent poetry reading at Urban Solace, featured poet Satyn Bulchandani read out a haiku, then picked up an unusual prop: a harmonica.

Interspersing his next haiku with the reedy notes of the instrument, the 19-year-old was perfectly at ease fusing an ancient Japanese form of poetry with American blues. And, if the cheers of the audience were any indication, the experiment worked.

Not archaic

Over the evening, Bulchandani’s preoccupation with form manifested itself in a diverse array that included haiku, odes, and another Japanese form, tanka. This, happily, didn’t translate to a borrowed, archaic voice: it was clear he wrote from experience. The opening poem, ‘Ode to the Persistent Pimple’, displayed the comic possibilities of both the form and the writer.

Indeed, Bulchandani does dabble in comedy: he said later that he was a regular at the café’s comedy nights. This side, too, found its way into the evening’s poems. A three-poem series called ‘Comedian versus poet’ had the audience chuckling at the pithy observations on the two archetypal figures.

The writer also showed that he was equally comfortable dealing with less-humorous themes, such as adolescent anger, or the perceived ‘weakness’ of crying. Several of these were almost journal-entry-like in their directness; some images stood out. ‘There are two sides to every stem/each with a world within it’, he writes in one poem, and in another, the ego is personified as ‘a drunken cousin brother/a monument made of fear’.

His experiments and interaction with the audience – at one point, he had the audience stand up and take a pledge against bullying – made it clear that he was comfortable with the poetry reading format. “I love having an audience for my poems,” he said.

The poet’s forte is clearly the haiku; he read aloud nearly 10 poems, with striking, brief images. But he doesn’t shy away from using clichés in his writing: “they’re clichés for a reason,” he said.

Tuesdays with the Bard is on every Tuesday at Urban Solace, 32, Annaswamy Mudaliar Road (opposite Ulsoor Lake, between Tamil Sangam and Foto Flash). Call 99450 22177, 98450 13055.

Keywords: haiku poetry