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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

16 December, 2004

A personal view: The best poet on Caferati

I am sitting here, with the snow swirling outside the window, with work piled up, but I need to get this demon out of me, this demon that wants to prance and preen on stage, and say its bit.

The thing I like about Caferati is how it makes you feel like writing.

When we post to Caferati, clearly we wish to obtain the love of the rest of the world, what Alain de Botton in his book Status Anxiety, has called our "secret shame". Tagore thinks of this creative spirit as the surplus intellectual energy, but I think de Botton is more selfish and more to the mark (more on this some day).

We all want our voices to be heard, to be admired, to be loved. And to show our love, we have set up the ingenuous medium of "comments", which do gather a lot of discussion. Quite a few times, while writing a comment, I will feel the need to expand on it, as in the posts on Interviewing women...

In fact, it may even be politically correct to be discussing "the best" but PC is so dull!!! Anyhow, I do not propose that Caferati officially bestow any such awards -- but I think that on the whole, a literary enterprise like Caferati cannot be complete without some form of personal contemplation of the activity. Also, who am I to cast a judgment? But aren't we making judgments all the time? This is just my expression of it...

So who is "The best poet on Caferati"? There may be as many answers as there are contributors here, and it would be unwise for Caferati to officially sponsor such a contest, but I am moved enough to cast my vote for Manisha Lakhe.

I think looking at the comments she has been gathering, some of you also agree...

I am terribly impressed by her recent posts - Be With Me or Jealous Coffee, or Need to Know. These reveal a similar style, with a refrain repeated in novel ways, building up to a climax. The first few stanzas build up an expectation, and the later parts deliver... Some of this also holds for Snap Shots ( "Two left feet...").

Going through her earlier work for the archived stuff - I find some of this style also in A New Story and Wish and Mixing Colours.

But she has another completely different weapon - a more direct story. All good writing is not about the author - for it to be good, it must ultimately be about the reader. When Descartes says, "I think, therefore I am", we believe it and see it in ourselves as true. So what Descartes is really saying is "You think, therefore you are." And reading Manisha's
Digital Dilemma
, which I had not read before, I was strongly reminded of this - the mystery of the vanishing edit... When one transitions to electronic typing from paper, one misses one's scribbles and the history of ink marks, a feeling of transition and loss that I am sure most of us can relate to, (though I can't say that for our children). Some years ago, I had also written something on computer typesetting which I should dig out perhaps. Other poems in a simpler, more descriptive style can be seen in Haikus on Goa, which also features a theme of repetition.

Personally however, I consider her For you as the most touching, and therefore, her best. In the end, beyond all the rhyme and the writer's craft, it is the power of the thought that stays...

Finally, do these types of "best-of" discussions generate any value? I am convinced that in some long term utilitatiran world, they do absolutely nothing. But fortunately the human spirit is far from utilitarian. As a case in point, otherwise you wouldn't have read this article so far, would you;-)

Well... that's the demon off my chest ....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

so much talent in this little place.
maybe you guys can plan a monthly best poet and best author title , a little friendly competition.

my vote for dec'05

best poet : Sunil Nair( I have no name)
best author: Geetanjali Shrivastava(Hang your head ....)

16 December, 2004 05:42  
Blogger Ubermensch said...

Hmmmm, definitely im not qualified to pass a comment on this,but personally speaking ,i do not wish to encourage branding the bests as it may spawn a unhealthy competition (albeit subconsciously) which might poison original expression as Peter put it poetically in *Waatever Dude*.
But that should not dEter me from sharing my love for manisha's words!

16 December, 2004 09:05  
Blogger Sreekesh Menon said...

i can see where u coming from anonymous, and i say stick to keeping it real and simple. no tugs. no one better than the rest. just my thoughts yo!

16 December, 2004 10:07  
Blogger Sweta Samota said...

Selecting Best Poet/Author is not that good an idea. Whats the goal behind giving such a label?
If encouragement and recognition of talent/skills is the goal, then instead of labelling anybody, why not publish "Best of Caferati" kind of thing every defined period say year/half-yr. Publish the best posts!


16 December, 2004 10:32  
Blogger sunilrnair said...

I am not sure if it is a good idea to do a monthly nomination, but then I am willing to try to get a annual award constituted on Caferati. And the best of Caferati Volume One ( poetry ) is planned for the middle of next year. Lets get SATCT out first and create that corpus.

Khuto, am beginning to envy Manisha. Great review.

16 December, 2004 10:53  
Blogger Geetanjali said...

Hmm...I agree. Talking about who's the best will increase competition and give birth to unnecessaru animosity between us. why do we have to endow titles to anyone - where there is talent, we duly recognise, acknowledge and felicitate it.(As we've seen with Manisha the past few weeks) - but if we are going to start handing out titles and having monthly honours given out, Caferati will lose it's charm Khuto...besides unpolished, amateur talent that is seeking a platform here, will then, shy away from this Oasis as it is today! I for one, wouldn't dare step ino the same arena as Manisha. Do we want that?

All said and done, I have to agree with you Khuto and Sunil, Manisha has been making me feel awed by her work lately...she keeps outdoing herself! An inspirational lady she is! :-)

PS.Anon, je ne sais pas votre identite - you prefer to stay un-named on this blog...thanks for voting for me, for all it's worth! Me's hesitant to accept one of those shy amateurs here - too soon yet to be voting me as the best, baccha!

16 December, 2004 14:57  
Blogger Geetanjali said...

And oh, I totally agree with you when you say that Caferati makes you WANT to write and be read/commented upon/appreciated/criticised...the process, for me, started with my own baby - Geebaby - and it's gaining momentum since I've joined Caferati! Guess it's something to do with Blogging...something other bloggers have said on their personal blogs! :-)

Vive Caferati - let's drink to that shall we? *Clinks glass*

16 December, 2004 15:01  
Blogger manisha lakhe said...

i absolutely positively HATE the idea of best/worst etc., and hope no one else is ever put under a microscope again. khuto, you were right, a 'demon' is what you have unleashed.

please let me explain. on the blog, one is simply a name, and hopes that the poem/prose one contributes lasts only long enough to be savored and then vanishes as more work comes in...this demon you unleashed upon us will take away the spontaneous nature of the medium...i do not want to be analysed, and i know neither do any the others...i like, no love, the ephemeral nature of my work. so please, thank you, but no thank you.

on a lighter note, saving this piece for when i need an obituary...

16 December, 2004 16:30  
Blogger manisha lakhe said...

someone laughed at my discomfort, and asked me to be gracious. (pause for a deep breath). here goes:

thank you, khuto.

16 December, 2004 20:47  
Blogger Max Babi said...

hey, it does not seem like a bad idea
to me at all... some of us who keep
postponing the flurry of ideas in the
mind, to give them a shape on paper,
may work harder ! A lot of youngsters
here are lazy, I know for sure, and they
could be inspired by sheer poetry that has
been flowing from Manisha... lets have the
poet of the month contest.


16 December, 2004 22:20  
Blogger khuto said...

This post was a spontaneous reaction after I spent
some time browsing through Caferati after a gap.

Of course I don't propose having a best-of-genre
type contest!!

And to tell you the truth, Manisha, after posting
it I suddenly felt that it was premature and that
I should have at least let you know... Anyhow, I
am glad that things haven't got too muddied...

Sorry if I have ruffled feathers. As I say in the
post itself, I sort of knew this was marginal territory,
but needed to get it out!!! It seems there are two
groups emerging on Caferati - Max and I seem to be definitely on the everything-goes side, whereas many others seem to be let's-stick-by-the-unwritten-rules kind. Of course, there is a lot of justification for sticking by the rules, but I do hope some leeway can be given for breaking rules from time to time...

Very recently at a meeting at MIT I was struck by the high percentage of people there who are practically raving lunatics - and are tolerated.
Any enterprise like Caferati that seeks excellence, must first of all move away from middle-of-the-roaders. Then you get the normal excellents, but also
you get a few mad people. Without some mad people the striving for excellence may remain unfulfilled ...

Anyhow, I am sure we can all co-exist with our differences ... Hope not too much damage done... BYE

17 December, 2004 03:36  
Blogger Max Babi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

17 December, 2004 08:08  
Blogger Max Babi said...

Hey Anil,
You stirred up a hornet's nest all right,
but don't harbour an iota of guilt, please.
Mavericks, I would call those who fall out
with others -mad ones are those who behave
like bulls in a chinashop. Not us.
Usually mavericks open up new doors, and
without experimentation life would be just
a life-sentence on this blue planet from
where we can never break out off to outer space
unless we cease to exist.
I am writing a blog piece on how a life-
changing idea lights up the life of an inventor
-like John Steinbeck said, nothing worthwhile
was ever invented by a committee...
it is the individual spark. Always.
Cheers !

17 December, 2004 08:12  
Blogger John said...

I beg to differ. Khuto, when you give the "best poet on Caferati" award you are not being fair to the excellent talent that you may not have read. I mean other prolific poetry contributors Anne, Atreyee, Peter, Pragya, Max, etc. But I can understand that you were a bit overwhelmed by Manisha's talent.

An award, if at all, should be titled, "Best Poetry Contribution on Caferati for the month/year" or some such thing. You cannot arbitrarily name anyone as the "Best Poet" then you are giving rise to controversy. That may drive people into a shell. Remember we are here to encourage talent and make them work harder.

I am glad Manisha has returned the honors to the bestower in all fairness. (No criticism of your poems, I love them!) Just my humble opinion.


20 December, 2004 12:49  

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