Clubs, journals nurture India's Gen Y poets (March 21 is World Poetry Day)
By Sahana Ghosh, Kolkata, March 21 : Hope springs eternal in the world of poetry as Generation Y takes to verse to express its feelings, aided and abetted by mushrooming poetry clubs and societies across India.
In what editors of various poetry groups are terming the "resurgence" of interest in poetry, people in their teens and twenties are reading, reciting and writing poetry, in a trend not often commented upon.
"It's heartening to see that more and more youngsters are writing poetry these days... even kids as young as seven-years-old," Yaseen Anwer, the 23-year-old founder and managing editor of online ensemble Poets Corner, told IANS.
"I feel there is a definite resurgence of poetry. Youngsters now relate and respond to poetry well. There are poets and poetry lovers now."
N.V. Subbaraman, editor of Young Poets Club of India, a journal in Chennai, says this is no "resurgence" -- there were always young people who read and recited poetry.
"Interest in no way has diminished, despite various distractions in their curricular and extra-curricular activities and the pulls of new technology. I feel it is not a resurgence, but continuation of the love for poetry. That is my experience over the last decade," Subbaraman told IANS.
When it comes to themes, the sky is the limit for the young masters of verses. The full range of social issues and human emotions is treated in the poetry.
"Youngsters are interested in almost all kinds of poetry. They pick their patterns and genre quite at the onset," Anwer said.
"The trend is definitely towards abstract, free verse poetry. The young are moving away from regular rhyme schemes and archaic language. Poetry is now more realistic, based on social issues, human emotions and other such subjects."
According to Sonnet Mondal, a poet from Kolkata who entered the records books as the first Indian to invent a new type of sonnet -- a 21-line fusion sonnet -- love and nostalgia are key emotions Gen Y focusses on.
Showcasing versatility through language, the emerging poets are equally adept at penning their thoughts in English and other Indian languages.
"Both English and Hindi poetry is written and read widely. Poets Corner Group has a large number of poets in both categories. More bilingual poets are now emerging. Young poets are flexible and open to experimenting," says Anwer.
H.K. Kaul, secretary general of Delhi-based journal Poetry Society of India, says: "They prefer the languages they are comfortable with."
Indeed Subbaraman, himself a bilingual poet, feels elated to have "come across beautiful Tamil poetry from young people".
But Anwer feels regional poetry is not that popular. "I see few people choosing to write poetry in the regional languages, at least in the metros," he says.
According to the editors, what hinders young poets' growth is a lack of encouragement and the inability to be published alongside eminent poets.
"I know the agony of the young writers -- poetry or prose -- when their creations are rejected by the editors. Their agony is all the more when their word is not encouraged, only because they are otherwise unknown and unheard," Subbaraman told IANS.
Mondal laments: "They hardly get the chance to get published alongside eminent names in the field. All this often pushes out of the track able talents who might have emerged as important voices in the field of poetry."
This is where poetry groups, clubs and journals bridge the gap.
From organising workshops, competitions to poetry festivals, the groups are doing all they can to foster creativity and keep the love for words alive in young minds.
"We helped many young and amateur poets publish their work in various anthologies taken out by us. More and more poets across the country and beyond have joined our group and are finding their mark on a wider stage," says Anwer about Poets Corner that recently organised the Delhi Poetry Festival.
Similarly, the Poetry Society of India organises workshops for schoolchildren writing poetry in different Indian languages.
According to Kaul, these workshops have been held in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
"The poetry clubs and societies can help quite a lot in sharpening the minds and capacity of budding poets who I surely feel are the ambassadors of peace and love," said Subbaraman, whose journal also sees contributions from across the US, Britain and Southeast Asia.
(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)