Annasi & Kadalagotu Poetry Pilau, Juni 16
Poetry P’lau Notes
The sculptor Tissa De Alwis, offers us a definition of poetry: “Eloquence, elegance, and economy!”
So we’ll try to be wittily succinct and inexpensive!
This Poetry Raglet
Hayah suggests we invite discussion on “how others view people who love or write poetry – the misconceptions around it. The marginalization of poetry in the broader lyrical sense and the needs for a niche and a space and a few hours to tap into our poetics sides!”
Imaad Majeed tends the PP website, which features many of our happenings: http://facebook.com/kadalagotu
June 16: Next!
Our last reading was at Sharni’s Space on Greenland’s Avenue, with 6 new faces conveying new words and sounds.
The next P8Re:P’Lau will be back at the Hansa Cafe on Fife Road.
If someone can find out why the road is called Fife or still called Fife, that could be enlightening. Fife, the panditha dictionary tells us: is “a kind of small shrill flute used esp. with the drum in military bands.” So there…put that in your…fife … and blow it!
Hansa means swan. Hansa also may mean an early German mafia set up to control the Baltic Trade. But we think here it means swan. Since it has ye olde symbol of love: those white long-neck-intertwined floating chickens! Odd name for black coffee, thought one wag.
Ideas for locations keep coming up. Some like the cosiness of homes. Others like the impersonality of a commercial venue.
Lyric and Location, Space and Time
It’s waiting for monsoon time. Gives a chance for us to do the colonial tourist ting and say, “Rather haw haw hot isn’t it?”
But it happens every year. Sweat lodge and sauna for free, to sweat out the deeper toxins of the fiscal year past. We asked Pabalu Vijayagunavardana whether there is much celebration in poetry, song and music about the Southwest Monsoon in particular, which is due in a few days. He said there is a set of rhythms by the name “Mosan Padha” in the maritime tradition.” He adds, “The monsoon is not much talked about like in India, prolly becoz our island was never a dry land like India, so this particular rain isn’t overrated. It’s always summer here!” Another friend says, well, the monsoons are even seen as a ‘disturbance’ of the usually major rainfall we get.
In India the monsoon sets most rivers flowing in abundance again. Prasanna Abeysekera says one of the major lines for luring Indians to work in the plantations of Lanka was the promise of abundant water. The rain in Lanka made you beautiful! And who can deny that! In India what Euros called The Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus!) flying in from Africa is considered a harbinger of the Monsoon rains, linked to the mythological Chatak: represented as a bird with a beak on its head that waits for rains to quench its thirst. 65% of foodgrain production is undertaken during the summer monsoon, i.e. between July and September, and sowing has to take place in June. Fortunes, political and economic, rise and fall depending on these rains. Much art draws inspiration from this climate. A key theme being relief of the rains from the scorching heat, good harvests, also sentiments of lust, love, and beauty. The raga megha-malhar melody has sounds which echo like thunder and the gentle patter of raindrops. The merrier raga desh captures the joy of relief from the dry heat.
All this is a rather roundabout way with regarding to locations for PP. Some suggest we alternate and invite poetry based on the spaces. Poetry at the Zoo to involve animal and bird sounds. Galle Face to celebrate the incessant crashing of waves at our sides. By the port for the im- and ex- of port’ry. Outside a bank to sense the tinkling and scrape of currency. By parliament to hear the cut and thrust of policy. At the fish market. By the airport to hear the goodbyes and hellos of foreign exchanges, etc. By rice fields to hear the earth being turned over again for the Yala season. On an estate to hear the snip of the buds or the flow of the latex. The fall of the riper nuts. Etc. 🙂
Last Session April 28:
As usual we strove to keep PP as open as possible to new sounds and senses, even as there are those who’d like to set up a Department of What is Poetry Department or a Department of Who does Poetry in English Serve Department. The afternoon had its delightful surprises, and – but for sheer laziness on our part – we could have tried to intelligently criticize each person’s contribution. But that’s a path that requires everyone being open to sensitivity and candor. Every now and again, a meaning or a sense is challenged, and makes for enlightening discussion.
Poems by that poet from enduring Palestine who makes us want to know more poets from Palestine: Mahmoud Darwish, were beautifully read, in Arabic (with English translation) for the first time at AnK P’lau.
Some think writing in English enables us to reach a wider world. That’s the whole purpose of this otherwise futile exercise. Catch the eye of a sleepy Queen, her corgis, and her publishers, or grab the ear of the more numerous publishers of poetry somewhere else. Of course so would writing in Tamil, Hindi or Chinese!
Poetry is largely published by small presses. Big publishers do it only as a type of vanity: to say: we publish high literature not just shlock. But they may give a well known poet a print run of perhaps 1,000 copies!
Poetry like common sense is largely word of mouth.
Poetry Sinhala and Tamil
One person who attended last session: “Writing poetry here has a lot to learn from the ever-vibrant flow of Sinhala and Tamil poetry, let alone from other languages. The wider range of subjects and life covered by Sinhala and Tamil poetry makes it clear that it lives among the people as a whole. Some thought that English has such narrow and ‘quaint’ uses here, sometimes people feel they can say anything in English and consider it publishable, whereas in Sinhala and in Tamil, their choices of words would be much more discerning. English is still the language of domination: banks, corporations, higher courts, higher education, etc.”
Which reminded of the straitjacket imposed by colonial English departments, the Brutish Council, American Centre, etc.
How to make language and the mix of languages to enrich our sense of the world, reminded us of Lakhdasa Vikramasingha is of course our most celebrated poet in English, known for his poem: Don’t Talk to Me About Matisse. But he has another poem, which speaks of the need to break free from a restrictive past:
The British Council
When they kiss my ass, O muse
Save me from the clap
See you at the Hansa on June 16th, and tell your friend who write good poetry to come, and yes, you may have to bring an umbrella.