Judging by his facebook profile, poems are always on Yaseen Anwer’s mind. His status updates, his favourite quotes and the ‘About Yaseen’ section are full of couplets, in Hindi and English. He is the managing editor of Poets Corner — a rather unassuming name for a group of poets that is clearly not content with the marginal space ascribed to poetry.
Coming from a non-literary background, Yaseen sought entry into the various poetry groups that function in the city to nurture his craft. But he discovered that they were “irregular, exclusive or exploitative.” Poetry Circle was formed in 2011 as a way of tackling all these problems, with a view to promote young and upcoming poets.
In the 18 months since its inception, they have brought out 11 books of poetry, mostly anthologies. And today, they will be launching a few more at their more ambitiously titled event — the 1st Delhi Poetry Festival.
“We are trying to create an identity just like the Jaipur Literary Festival. Although there are poetry reading organisations in Delhi, it’s not enough. We need to have more discussions about poetry and more eminent personalities taking part.”
The day-long event will be flagged off by Kapil Sibal, who will also read his poetry. Inklinks , an anthology of nearly 300 poems, with contributions from Sibal, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Gulzar, Ruskin Bond, Nida Fazli, Irshad Kamil, Shekhar Kapur, Vikram Seth and Sukrita Kumar Paul alongside younger poets, will be launched. “Our main motive is to give youngsters a chance to rub shoulders with the bigger poets,” Yaseen explains. Apart from this, a slimmer anthology called Fledglings will also be launched. It comprises contributions by poets no older than 15 years.
Additionally, two panel discussions — ‘Social Networking: A Distraction or a Boon for Poetry?’ comprising Dr. Koshy A.V., Sujata Parashar, Dr. Akhil Katyal and ‘Tradition and Modernity in Poetry today’ comprising Dr. Sukrita Kumar Paul, Dr. Madhumita Ghosh and Ashok Sawhny (the sponsor of the festival) — will also be held.
In Yaseen’s case, facebook has never been a distraction. “When I started writing poetry in 2004, I never had an audience. I had to go to people to show them my work and get their response. But with facebook the response is immediate, and that is a very important factor for a beginner. But there is another angle that needs to be looked at. The response or the appreciation might often be lacking in the technical knowledge of poetry.”