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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

09 August, 2004

The first taste of coffee...

Hi Friends,

This is my first clumsy attempt at writing a blog, for public consumption. Forgive me for the unstructured rambling, I tend to go of tangentially to the moon and sometimes far off galaxies too, as cosmogony has been a fascination for decades.

Caferati gathered at Deepa's cosy flat in Goregaon last night, whew, it seems like it was ages ago already, and having plopped ourselves a teeny weeny bit earlier, we had to have more coffee than one would usually have in late afternoon. But the cosiness of the room, and the light banter filling the space, set the mood.

The gory proceedings have already been given a smoke and mirror treatment by self and others, so here's some reading between the lines :

The coordinator had stipulated two minutes for interjection and conjecture. Or discussion on a piece just delivered by some creative soul.
One debate that had sparked off an inner fire, strangely also on part of my spouse Nasreen who had never been to such a literary meet before, though she has been my editor for long... was the unfinished business of someone asking if a poem should be edited.

Here's a couplet that composed itself whilst we were stuck in an A/C bus groaning and creaking its way up the Khandala ghat, with an erratic traffic jam now opening up now choking up. Here it goes :-

A poem is a child, a boon, a gift
Changing a word can induce a rift
And if you aren't miffed
Implied meaning can shift !

My take on this ticklish topic is : when a poet writes a poem he is a different person altogether. Now he or she has no business to change even a word. To my mind, words are windows through which we can have a worldview... how can a poet close a window and open another one mile away from the original ?

I no longer possess the sensibility of my hormone-fuelled youth, nor the flawless peaches and cream complexion of my childlike thinking : those poems contain words that are sacrosanct to me now. If I change them now, it is tantamount to placing adult strokes on a child's drawing.

Enough for tonight.
See you guys and gals tomorrow.
Do make copious comments.



Blogger sunilrnair said...

Very well said Max. The first time a poem is written, the poet plays it out in his mind. Thereafter, every time it is read, the interpretations are different. Hidden meanings emerge, nuances come out. Its like unwrapping the Indian Woman. Layers and layers of mystery, until...

To change a word then is like changing time, changing the poem itself.

Sunil R Nair

10 August, 2004 09:54  
Blogger John said...

I beg to differ with what Max and Sunil may have implied...

I think poems should just as well be carefully edited because words are sacrosanct... they aren't just something you carelessly toss around...

I think we Indian authors are being egoistic when we say our words are set in fire... or so deeply sentimental and personal that they should not be edited... most of us think we are geniuses of expression and words... but the sad truth is that most writers... including yours truly... needs editing... because our basic responsibility is not to our egoistic selves but to the reading audience...

So do not be egoistic... Indian writers in English... your works would shine better with careful editing...

11 August, 2004 11:23  
Blogger zigzackly said...

Here's my take, somewhere between Max and Sunil, and John.

(i'm going to make a few generalisations here, so indulge me for a minute. i'm not by any means saying that those are the only reasons why you'd write verse, or even that they ARE polar extremes, just arguing a case with myself.)

It all depends on who you're writing that poetry for, i think. And why.

If you're writing it for yourself, whether it's self-expression, therapy, an attempt to understand something, capture a moment, whatever, then yes, it's something you shouldn't ever change. It's a relic of your past, a snapshot, keep it in that locket and bring it out to look at every now and then and relive that moment.

But if you have an audience in mind, and if that audience is important to you, or if it's an exercise in craft, of making words dance, then (unless you're one of those supremely gifted word-artists who can ALWAYS, EVERY time, find just the right combination of words to communicate what's in your mind, or are arrogant enough to think you are) editing, rewriting, honing, they can make the difference. Rewriting your poems can sometimes be the difference between a diamond in the rough and the shining gem that plays with light and throws it back in so many pretty ways.

As with everything else, you have to find your own balance, i guess.

For those of you who do edit your work, tell me, besides the refinements that you make because YOU have found a better word, a more lyrical phrase, do you take other people's views into account when you rewrite?

14 August, 2004 02:16  
Blogger rats said...

i never take other people's views zig....
yes, i do make changes when i feel that the music is enhanced by a change.

btw, ryze is the first place i have publicly put up my poetry.

17 August, 2004 20:26  

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