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Fired by poetry

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POETIC ENDEAVOUR: Rati Saxena's bi-monthly online journal aims at popularising poetry.
POETIC ENDEAVOUR: Rati Saxena's bi-monthly online journal aims at popularising poetry.

ANUPAMA R

Rati Saxena's online poetry journal `Kritya,' which has completed 20 issues, publishes poems in several Indian languages.

I want to re-establish Hindi poetry as a performing art... I want to take Indian literature to the global stage and bring international poetry to our Indian stage.

"To write a poem, you must walk on fire," says Rati Saxena in her blog. And walk on fire she has, as she emerged as strong as her lines that have won her accolades, including the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award for Translation in 2000 and the prestigious Indira Gandhi National Culture and Arts Fellowship.Rati Saxena has authored three collections of poems in Hindi and one each in English and Malayalam (in translation). She is currently a visiting faculty member at the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady.Born and brought up in Rajasthan, Saxena recalls she wrote her first poem as a teenager. Marriage brought her to Thiruvananthapuram and the related responsibilities settled in, taking her away from poetry. Nevertheless, a determined Saxena found time for a doctorate in Vedic Studies from Rajasthan University.Despite having started as young as 17, Saxena turned to writing seriously only around 40. Perhaps it was the dissatisfaction of this grand but late entry that fuelled much of her earlier poetry. "There used to be a lot of self-pity as I was always thinking of my past," she says. However, powerful lines such as `Girls from good families do not fly kites' go beyond self-pity to touch on women's rights. Any poem that touches her heart is good, feels Saxena. This ability to appreciate beauty in any form could be traced to her affinity to the Vedas.

Vedic poetry

"Vedic poetry is very strong. A tree, an ant, smallest things are a part of poetry," explains Saxena.From the smallest to the biggest - they're all there in `Kritya,' her online bi-monthly poetry journal (www.kritya.in) . `Kritya,' which means word power or `shabdh shakti,' is intended to popularise poetry from all regions of India and the world. Rooted firmly in the belief that poetry has no barriers of language, the journal is bi-lingual with Hindi and English versions. "When I started, web journal was not a popular medium ," says Saxena who acknowledges the support of Jayasree Ramakrishnan Nair (also senior associate editor of `Samyukta,' a research journal on women's studies) and Suma V.S.Today, `Kritya' has finished 20 issues with readers and contributors from all over. The journal has also published Indian poetry in several marginalised languages, including Ladakhi and Doghri in translation. There have been special issues on Kashmiri and Tamil poets as well. Saxena translates poetry in Malayalam, Rajasthani and Gujarati into Hindi and English. In fact, translation has always been one of her passions. It must be the same eagerness to build bridges across languages that brought her close to Ayyappa Paniker, the late poet and critic.

Teacher and friend

"It was accidental and I didn't know who he was... ," recalls Saxena who went on to translate the acclaimed `Kurukshetram' into Hindi. " He was a tough teacher and made me to write four or five drafts. He taught me a lot about translation and we became good friends," adds Saxena who has translated five of his books into Hindi.And thanks to Kritya, Saxena has made several poet friends across the globe. Soon, she plans to register Kritya as an organisation. Seminars, publishing, print journals are all part of this plan. "I want to re-establish Hindi poetry as a performing art... I want to take Indian literature to the global stage and bring international poetry to our Indian stage," says Saxena. Perhaps that stage is not too far.


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