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“Poets are courageous people”

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Sheer poetry: Hema Malini, Mahesh Bhatt and Javed Akhtar releasing “Virtuous Sin”, written by Shadan Ahmad (left), in New Delhi. - Photo: S. Subramanium
Sheer poetry: Hema Malini, Mahesh Bhatt and Javed Akhtar releasing “Virtuous Sin”, written by Shadan Ahmad (left), in New Delhi. - Photo: S. Subramanium

“Poems are above institutional dogma.... [and] poets are courageous people,” said seasoned film-maker Mahesh Bhatt introducing “Virtuous Sin”, a new anthology of poems about the plethora of feelings experienced by a woman that was released here.

The collection of poems in English, published by Har Anand Publication and penned by Shadan Ahmad, was appreciated for its honesty and the range of emotions expressed through the poems.

“I have been writing since I was very young, but very little of my work has been in the public eye,” said Ms. Ahmad.

The first poem, “Virtuous Sin”, she added, is about the women whose lives have affected her, and have brought out the “pain and anguish” in her.

Mr. Bhatt, who has written the book's foreword, said: “All great work of art erupts from the artists having to deal with their own anguish…and the impossibility of making any sense of life.”

He said the poems by Ms. Ahmad reflect the range of emotions and loneliness the poet felt through different phases in her life.

Veteran poet/lyricist Javed Akhtar said it was “gratifying” to see that people are interested in poetry in these times. “Society has taken a huge leap, and in this endeavour we have left the luggage of literature and poetry behind.” Underlining the importance of language for carrying forward our culture and traditions, he hoped the poems would help restore a sense of balance in the readers' lives.

The book has been illustrated by educationist Goldy Malhotra, who said she found Ms. Ahmad's poems “gutsy, honest and candid”, and accordingly her illustrations are “without inhibitions”. She further stressed the importance of more such books in these times when children are more familiar with SMS English.

Launching the book, film actor Hema Malini congratulated the poet and said: “Poets are sensitive people who understand pain and also know how to celebrate life. [Ms. Ahmad is] a woman who has observed the pain and joy of life at close quarters, and every poem in the book is a reflection of herself.”

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