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Posers on poets and poetry

The topic was Kabyo Kothay? (whither poetry) but Syed Shamsul Haq of Bangladesh was not ready to write an obituary for poetry just yet.

Asked to comment on a recent essay by Subodh Sarkar pronouncing the death of poetry, Haq said poetry was in good health in Bangladesh — “perhaps because we earned our freedom by fighting for our language” — but was facing walls. “We need to either demolish or circumvent them. Certain forms have exhausted their possibilities.”

Haq began the session, anchored by Nilanjan Banerjee, by describing a poet as one who hears resonance all around and converts them into words. “But other than the moment when he is creating magic by weaving ordinary words into extraordinary utterances, he is an ordinary man.”

Speaking about how a reader’s experience can add significance unintended by the poet, “Chanting the first line of Rupashi Bangla gave us strength to fight the war. Jibanananda (Das) could not have foreseen that.”

Haq’s message to budding poets: “A creative mind’s only struggle is with time. So pursue your craft with honesty. Poetry needs to reach readers.”