Theatre Jam: Poetry Night at Ants Cafe
Director: Christopher Burchell
Duration: 00:22:20; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 39.815; Saturation: 0.131; Lightness: 0.234; Volume: 0.340; Cuts per Minute: 1.925; Words per Minute: 111.066
Summary: Poetry night was held as a part of October Jam, a month-long marathon to celebrate the first anniversary of Theatre Jam, a symbolic occupation of public spaces for performance-based art forms. Most of October Jam's activities were held in 'found' public spaces such as parks. A significant number of activities were also held in 'declared' public spaces like Jaaga, Samuha, etc.
Interestingly, the poetry night saw the opening up of semi- private spaces to art. The event was held at Ants Cafe, which is on the first floor. Right below the cafe, on the ground floor, is a shop which is affiliated with well known NGO The Ant that works with weavers in Assam.
There was an interesting mix of genres and we heard poems by Neruda, Ogden Nash, Monty Python, Bob Dylan, E. E Cummings, Lewis Caroll, etc. The poems also explored a range of themes, from love and war to nature, the surreal, humour and wit. What was really interesting was to see was how people received and enjoyed ever single piece, irrespective of the moods, themes and poets. Some poems even got an encore. Others who thought that they would read only one poem, ended up reading lots of poetry as they settled in.
The most interesting part of the evening was the original poetry. In fact, one of the poets, Dilip Sampath, read out a lot of his poems, and his old friend who had come to just listen was surprised, because he had no idea that Sampath wrote poetry!! There were also other interpretations of a poetry reading. One person decided to sing out a Gulzar composition and others joined in.
There were still other spin-offs. One participant suggested that the group try and look at a painting and develop poetry around it, thereby encouraging artistic expression from another form of art. Deepak, from Maraa, also decided to sing a Tamil song and this was his interpretation of poetry.
Participants felt that regular poetry evenings should be held in an informal vein, and these evenings could regional language poetry as well. Through such evenings, people could continue to express, share and hopefully, publish some of their work. It would also help to place poetry in a contemporary context, and to keep the practice of poetry alive as opposed to a static "remembering" of poetry that is lived in the classroom or in other institutionalized spaces.
and search for poetry to see some of the poems that were read out.
It's a part of something that Maraa, a media collective, initiated about a year back, called the Theatre Jam. Theatre Jam started off as something that focused on providing space for theatre artists, to meet, greet and perform- that's what we called it in the beginning. And we thought we'd do it in public spaces or spaces that were free, where we could interact with people and take our art out so to speak, and also do some skill building along with that, and also have a context of performance and sharing outside of maybe a proscenium space , or a theatre space, or a theatre hall to foster more creativity. That led us to sort of then bring together other kinds of artists, musicians, filmmakers, new media practitioners to try and see if there can be some other kind of interesting collaboration which can take place between these artists who then come there, share and probably develop their work also along with that. So theatre jam i think a lot of us can talk about it because there are some regulars here who can maybe chip in on theatre jam. But, we started this last October, and this October, we thought, we can do this to also celebrate public spaces and our understanding of it, and explore spaces a little more. we thought we'll do a month long marathon of various different kinds of both art and artists based activities or artist driven activities as well as community centric sharings and gatherings, and that's what we are doing. Poetry night was initiated by Ekta and Abhijit (I think), so they can maybe chip in with – Why poetry night? Why such a context? But I'm just responding to what I heard today and poetry is something that I have a love and hate relationship with basically, because in school I absolutely hated the way it was taught to me and I just did not relate to any poetry and I thought it was rubbish and a waste of time, waste of my time. But later when I took to writing and when I sort of sensed something there in it that sounded like poetry, I was a little scared, I was a little upset, and then I started calling it expressions. So I started writing these really strange things which were prose and poetry and mix of a whole lot of things which I don't know if I can really read. I'm not going to attempt it tonight, because I choke when I read, but I write. So my connection with poetry is very different, you know. I'm sure every one of us has a different take or a connection with understanding poetry as well as literature, as life, as expression, realism, what is it? So we can also talk about those things as we are reading at least, so we can make things a lot more interesting. So poetry night, if you want to add some things to it, add more things to it... ?
"We meet, after a while.
After a while, we smile...at each other.
As in a movie, a theatre of chance,
a dice rolled thrice for a moonlit romance
to the sky lit upon my candle stand,
and my eye, it caught your way
and my eye I let it fade away"
"Dear Decadence, in the universe of blank stares, you're still the way I left you,
shimmering visions of a grey wall unveiled by an oil lamp
hope is still the shape of a coin on my palm
the dust rarely settles, the dusk breeds heavy shores
smiling faces that hide,
the numbness of our okay twilights
our evenings our memories
footprints of crimson
As the leaves of another fall leave behind their dreams
as poets converse in silence with their muse
you re-emerge as a deserted demon in tatters
that clothe your nakedness not your nudity
Dear decadence, eternal yet never in the present
our past is a black and white photograph
smoke rings blue phonographs
lonesome, I lament
if sorrow this empty flower vase will sigh and I
will go down immaculate
to the funeral note of slate grey silence"
... in the discotheque saloon
while out on the floor
the go-go boys all danced to a funky tune.
sipping her booze at the singles bar
was the dangerous Anne Mcgroove
she'd come to stare at the men down there
especially the one named Lou
then out of the night and up to the bar
a female stranger came
and though she'd never been there before,
she knew the rules of the game.
its drinks on me
and winked at the gentle man known as Lou
while down at the bar
came the look of rage
from the dangerous Anne Mcgroove
the strangers walked to the dance floor then
and silence engulfed the place
for though she had feet like a large pontoose,
she moved with a ghostly grace.
the only one who didn't applaud
was the dangerous Anne Mcgroove
who sat and stared with lustful eyes
at the gentleman names Lou
the barkeep spotted the danger sign
and spoke to the stranger
the dude you spot is spoken for
i strongly suggest you blow
the stranger pulled out a gun and cried,
i'm claiming that man named Lou,
then six shot echoed along the bar
not one hitting Anne Mcgroove
the story proves that women can drink
and stake their claims on a guy
it proves that women can boldly see
the things that money can buy
it proves that brawl and cusp
and spin out a manly yarn
it also proves that harn with a gun
they can't shoot it worth a darn
My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases,
At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring,
Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen,
And have no cunning with any soft thing
Except all ill-at-ease fidgeting people:
The refugee uncertain at the door
You make at home; deftly you steady
The drunk clambering on his undulant floor.
Unpredictable dear, the taxi driver's terror,
Shrinking from far headlights pale as a dime
Yet leaping before red apoplectic street cars,
Misfit in any space. And never on time.
A wrench in clocks and the solar system
Only with words and people and love you move at ease;
In traffic of wit expertly manoeuvre
And keep us, all devotion, at your knees.
Forgetting your coffee spreading on our flannel,
Your lipstick grinning on our coat,
So gaily in love's unbreakable heaven
Our souls on glory of spilt bourbon float.
Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses.
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.
That's John Frederick Lintz.
Tiny flowers in her hair, amidst aloof and collected and wise she's become
that she needs to protected from and also let free
flying kites from the balcony
leaving her shoes out on the stairs
the pattern of the disarray is the key to the person
It starts with us
and presuming that it is just
remember that you are standing on a planet that's evolving and revolving at 900 miles an hour
and orbiting at 19 miles a second so it threatens
the sun that is the source of all our power
the sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see are moving at million miles a day
in an outer spiral arm at 40 thousand miles an hour
of the galaxy we call the milky way
(I'm slurring because I'm not drunk yet!)
A galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars, its a hundred thousand light years from side to side
it bulges in the middle 16 thousand light years thick
but by us its just 3000 light years wide
with 30000 light years from galactic central point
and we go around every 200 million years
and our galaxy is only one of the millions of billions
in this amazing and expanding universe
the universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding in all of the directions it can whiz
as fast as it can go
at the speed of light you know
12 million miles a minute
and that's the fastest speed there is
A street noise
It could've been different
another night maybe
bright lights appear from lonely and despondent walkways
Houses I think
amongst tree filled avenues that surround me
enveloping and inhibiting
screaming for help
I'm dying all alone
on the dirty streets
run over by a car
a maniac driver screeches to a halt beneath me
what do they care?
i'm just a street sleeper
without a home
nobody to go to
only hearing a machine sound
Saw you briefly like a firefly glowing
seeking a thought in all that darkness
who knows where your journey takes you
is there an insect heaven?
what predator preys on you firefly?
and will i see you again?
It's 3:15 am. I'm sitting on the roof in the rain getting drenched. Yes I am. I've got my mobile with me, and writing on Facebook, which not many will see. I'm just too lazy to get down and get my diary, and I don't think pen and paper will do any good in the rain. This is the height of joblessness or boredom. I feel like taking a leap from here, which I know I won't. Don't know what's right or wrong with me. Just sitting right here and trying to figure it out...what I did over the years and what I have to show for it.
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
this poem is titled i carry your heart with me, written by ee cummings. i do not write poetry and so all the poems i read that night were by some my favourite poets. cummings came first in that. cummings breaks alot of rules and i especially like the way the words in his poems are placed. i thought it was relevant to the night because of this eccentricity.
about Fernando Pessoa: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernando_Pessoa
i came across Pessoa through a Portuguese friend who also introduced me to clowning. i found the connection between the two quite strange in the start but then as i read him more and more and as i also explored my own innner clown, i started connecting to his poetry, which was sometimes subversive, sometimes sarcastic and many times nostaligic. i realised my clown had such mood swings too.
I met pessoa's poetry again in Brasil, where interestingly i saw it everywhere. in government museums and street corners. it explined alot to me about the culture and the society dynamics in that country, especially when i compared it to the kind of poetry we are exposed to in our schools days- very classic and politically correct?
sukhmani: there's umm... i'l read another one. this is by fernando pessoa. he's a portuguese poet. i just thought i'll talk about him. he's very interesting. he had around 72 alter ego's at least thats what we know of and he really went to an extend of creating a profile of each of his alter ego. so there was this... each dude had like, u know there was alberto cairo who was ingenious, unlettered man, unemployed man of the country. there was Ricardo Reis was a doctor and classicist who wrote Horace-like odes. so u know he really had a profile and profession for each of and even a religion for each of his alter ego. so this one is by pessoa himself. its called...
Poor flowers in the flower beds of manicured gardens
By Fernando Pessoa
Poor flowers in the flower beds of manicured gardens.
They look like they're afraid of the police…
But they're so true that they bloom in the same way
And have the same ancient coloring
They had in their wild state for the first gaze of the first man,
Who was startled by the sight of them and touched them lightly
So that he would see them with his fingers too.
there are two poems for someone i'm reading who is not here. she taught me poetry when i was in college. so she's asked me to read two poems and i'm going to read it. this one is frokm alice in wonderland and lewis caroll
this one's called my fairy...
I have a fairy by my side
Which says I must not sleep,
When once in pain I loudly cried
It said "You must not weep"
If, full of mirth, I smile and grin,
It says "You must not laugh"
When once I wished to drink some gin
It said "You must not quaff".
When once a meal I wished to taste
It said "You must not bite"
When to the wars I went in haste
It said "You must not fight".
"What may I do?" at length I cried,
Tired of the painful task.
The fairy quietly replied,
And said "You must not ask".
Moral: "You mustn't."
... and then there's another one which she wanted me to read, its called maggie b
(To Maggie Bowman.)
WRITTEN by Maggie B Bought by me:
A present to Maggie B Sent by me:
But who can Maggie be? Answered by me:
"She is she."
Aug. 13, 1891.
i have another lewis caroll... another nonsense.. it's the...
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
lawrence: none from this side...
abhijit: i learnt the cigarette
burnt it to forget
smoke rings settle as sublime scars
allowed frescoes at the muddy banks
there i met a fallow girl
(audio not audible)
Pash's poetry has been used by all sorts of people and groups, left and right wing. And this is not just in Punjab but in all parts of the country. From what one has read about Pash, his writing feels very Leftist. In fact, there are rumours that Anurag Kashyap is gearing up to do a film on him too. http://www.freshnews.in/anurag-kahsyap%E2%80%99s-next-flick-based-on-pash-162460
it would be interesting to juxtapose Pash's poetry with the of today, with all its 'development' from the green revolution and the many cases of legal and illegal migration to foreign countries. The new picture is not very pleasant and unlike those in the Govt. of Punjab commercials on TV. But still, Pash is like Bhagat Singh - it doesn't matter what he wrote anymore...
ekta: i'm sorry to be like the house keeping person but does anyone want tea or coffee here...
sukhmani: oh! i have a hindi one...
will a hindi one be ok?
this is by pash. avtarjit pash was a revolutionary punjabi poet. he wrote especially during the '84 violence in Punjab and he was also assasinated for his poetry. this one is very famous. its called Sabse Khatarnaak
Mehnat ki loot sabse khatarnak nahi hoti,
Police ki maar sabse khatarnak nahi hoti,
Gaddari, lobh ki mutthi sabse khatarnak nahi hoti.
Baithe bithaye pakde jana bura to hai,
Sahmi si chhup me jakde jana bura to hai,
Par sabse khatarnak nahi hoti.
Sabse khatarnak hota hai murda shanti se bhar jana,
Na hona tadap ka, sab kuch sahan kar jana,
Ghar se nikalna kaam par, aur kaam se loutkar ghar aana,
Sabse khatarnak hota hai,
Hamare sapno ka mar jana.
Sabse khatarnak woh ghadi hoti hai
Tumhari kalai pe chalti hui bhi jo
Tumhari nazar ke liye ruki hoti hai
Sabse khatarnak wo aankh hoti hai
Sab kuchh dekhte hue bhi jo thandi barf hoti hai
Jiski nazar duniya ko mohabbat se chumna bhul jati hai
Jo chizo se uthati andhepan ki bhanp par phisal jati hai
Sabse khatarnak woh chand hota hai
jo har katla kand ke baad
sune angan me nikalta hai
par tumhari ankho me mircha sa nahi chubhata
Sabse khatarnak woh disha hoti hai
Jisme aattma ka suraj dub jata hai
sabse khatarnak hota hai sapno ka mar jana
it's a longer poem...
(translation to be added)