Three poets, quite different from each other, came together to share lines, straight from the heart
It was an evening of soft lights, meaningful poetry and congenial souls at ‘Straight From The Heart’, a poetry reading organised by Coimbatore Art and Theatrical Society at That’s Why On The Go as part of Coimbatore Vizha 2013. Three city poets, Air Commodore Minoo Vania, Shobhana Kumar and Srividya Sivakumar read the poetry they had penned over the years in their distinctive styles. Besides their love for words, they were united by the publisher oftheir debut poetry collections — Writers Workshop, Kolkata. Shantini Diaz moderated the session.
Your Magic Spell and Nature’s Love Lesson by Minoo launched the evening. The first was Minoo’s response to the overuse of the word ‘love’ and the second, introduced the audience to his comfort with writing verse on Nature in uncliched terms. Shobhana began with Awakening followed by Greed, which interestingly linked the ‘need to see’ as the root cause of greed. Srividya opened with Someday, and Moody 1, reflective of her prowess in erotic poetry.
“Is there a purpose to poetry?” asked Shantini, and Minoo responded with Friends and I for India both nursery rhymes written for his wife’s school. Srividya admitted that she needed poetry as it was her space of absolute honesty. Merry Widow, her incorrigibly blunt poem about a woman scheming her husband’s death, had everyone stepping back from Srividya. Shobhana spoke of poetry being her refuge when deadlines drew near. Her poem Kafka wished that the publishing industry had not commercialised poetry so thoroughly.
The evening progressed to explore the poets’ take on Coimbatore, love and humour. Minoo’s Democracy opened the first category. The bone-chilling piece was written on February 16, 1998, the day Coimbatore was ripped apart by bomb blasts. Shobhana wrote Beauty about cotton, from her experience of documenting South India’s textile industry and Srividya read Lullaby, an observation of a Coimbatore day winding down.
Shobhana’s Stories From an Old Sofa inspired by her neighbouring furniture shop travelled some beautiful lines: “But look past their once glorified lives/And watch a thousand histories come alive.”
On love, Minoo narrated Comparison, a warm short note juxtaposing Nature with love, ending with “When experience is bliss/ pine not for a dream”. Shobhana displayed craft within structural constraints through her double nonnet A Kite’s Love Story and Srividya read If Only Once, encapsulated thus: “For one single night/for complete pleasure/for a few eternities/to explore at leisure”.
“Parachuting and poetry have nothing in common,” said Minoo but they met in his first poem in the humour section Two Guys about men who kicked the bucket on ill-fated parachute jumps. His St Peter’s Tip to Mortals was less morbidly jovial in its blatant propagation of life’s earthly pleasures.
Poetry on Nature, spirituality and philosophy followed. Before the audience left though, Shantini had a point to make. “All it takes for poetry is a couple of words to come together,” she declared and went on to collect random words such as outrage, single malt, eccentricity, laughter and love, from the audience.
The poets had to string the words together to make spot poems. Incidentally, ‘single malt’ turned out to be the collective thought trigger.
The poetry reading concluded with an excerpt from a letter to Minoo by the Director of Writers Workshop, Ananda Lal. “Coimbatore seems to encourage the poetic spirit more than any other city,” it said. The evening proved that it sure did.