Trinity Arts Festival Dance

Poetry has the power to move and elate: Arundhati Subramaniam

Arundhati Subramaniam receives Trinity Arts Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award from N. Ravi. With them is Murali Raghavan, Convenor, Trinity Arts Festival

Arundhati Subramaniam receives Trinity Arts Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award from N. Ravi. With them is Murali Raghavan, Convenor, Trinity Arts Festival   | Photo Credit: B_JOTHI RAMALINGAM


The poet brought the genre into focus on the second day of the Navadisha conference

Is music the only thing that can move one to dance? The spoken or written word can also weave a movement. And if it is poetry, the unfolding movements give more substance to the verse. Feeling the words with the body the dancer becomes the poem! Finally, ‘you see the words and listen to the dance.’

Like dance, poetry has movement, rhythm and pace, together they can create a beautiful choreography, enhancing and complementing each other to a level of mystical wonderment. This and more was the focus of the inaugural session of Trinity Arts Festival’s second day conference ‘Navadisha’ at R.R. Sabha.

Convened by the very able Apoorva Jayaraman, Navadisha is also an effort to make new and young voices in the world of dance be heard and allows them to explore and individualise their forays into choreography and use different mediums to enhance the experience of movement. Mr. N. Ravi, Publisher, The Hindu, who presided over the event conferred the Lifetime Achievement award on poet and writer Arundhati Subramaniam.

“The best way of knowing a person is through her poetry, in this case Arundhati Subramaniam,” said Mr. Ravi, as he went on to enlighten the gathering about Arundhati’s exemplary work. Her book on the Buddha, he added, is one of the finest written on the subject, where philosophy and poetry blended into one composite whole. Love Without A Story is another of her work, where her way with words, gentle ironies and surprising twists delight readers. Describing her as a global resident, he said that she was an apt choice for the award. “Her work is prolific no doubt, but the best is yet to come,” he said. He also applauded the role of Mr. Murli Raghavan, who welcomed the gathering and Mr. Muthukrishnan, both of whom have steered the Trinity Arts Festival to where it is today.

“Poetry is something that one works with in the shadows,” began Arundhati. “Quietly and silently. And one is lucky, if one finds a reader. It has and probably still is, considered a ‘marginal’ and ‘inconsequential’ form of writing. While it might seem dowdy and non-glamorous, there is a power in it to move and elate. “At times, it is a strange animal — to be looked at from afar and at other times it is the art of the murmured voice. Poetry does not give direct information the way one would expect. While there are many factors against it, this was what I wanted to take up,’’ she elaborated.

Many-layered truth

“Poetry is something that seeps into you, colonises you and before you know it, transforms you. I don’t want the mysteries of it to be decoded. I often forget that poetry is an indication of not just one truth — the strength of a poem is a many-layered truth. And it is the shortest route to oneself.”

A book with nine essays written by the artistes, who figured in the first edition of Navadisha was released. Alarmel Valli received the first copy. This was apt too as both Valli and Arundhathi have collaborated on several occasions.

Speaking about the form and syntax of Telugu poems, scholar-translator Velcheru Narayana Rao, who has worked as a Telugu Professor in Emory Universities and written many books on Telugu tradition literature proved to be a riveting speaker. Rediscovery of the art of writing for dance made this session relevant and valuable. His talk on Telugu padams was enlightening. He traced the history of padams vis-a-vis their position today. He called the Victorian era and the reign of the British as great influencers of the way they were perceived. Perhaps they should have been retained in their original tenor. Because anything sexual, became a moralistic edict and that rapidly led to the discolouration of the original intent of the compositions.

According to Narayana Rao, there was no poet called Kshetrayya . He was invented to give the poems respectability. He touched upon the contributions of Bangalore Nagaratinammal and C.R. Reddy and said that the beauty of the original words and language have been lost with the English translations and emergence of technology.

Ideally, one should go back to the padams without the translations and look at what poets such as Annnamaya and Kshetrayya wrote. He did agree, however, that the padams and poems were better understood when supported by movements.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 4:37:31 AM |

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