Be a Member of this BLOG

Jan 15, 2013

About Self, Poems and Poetry: Mahapatra

1. On the type and design of his poem, Mahapatra writes:

"It was apparent to me that I was not writing the kind of poems in which meaning was stated clearly and explicitly, and that this poetry did not have a sharp focus was that the critic had in mind when he commented on my work. in other words, this poetry had no flat statements . What I was perhaps trying to do was to put together images and symbols so that the reader would draw the implicit connection for himself." (Bombay Literary Review)

2. Instead of writing in Oriya, mother tongue, he prefers to compose in alien and foreign language, English because he says:

"I am in love with English. And then, my schooling was in English---and I learnt my language from British schoolmaster---mainly from English novels: so blame H. Riderhaggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs and Ballantyne from whom I caught the first delight of words gravid with meaning. Further I feel I can express myself better in English than in Oriya."(Tenor No.1 June 1978, "Inner View: N. Raghavan talks to Jayanta Mahapatra)

3. On the theme of his poems, Mahapatra explains:

4. On the impact of love in his poetry, Mahapatra reveals:
"My poems were born of love, of love's selfishness and of a huge self-pity, like the poems of many whom I admire. And it is only of myself I thought as words took possession of my senses, measured me and linked me with the fabled kingdom of love." (Youth Times)

5. About the books 'Close the sky, Ten by Ten' and 'Svayamvara and other poems', Mahapatra admits:

"My first two books were mainly experimental; it was the language again I wanted two exploit, because I felt I would mould it like a clay, and I suppose Adil Jussawalla was right in his own way when he said in a review that I was a "poem maker"." (Tenor No.1 June 1978, "Inner View: N. Raghavan talks to Jayanta Mahapatra)

6. The use of the word 'door' in his poems has a symbolic interpretation as in the essay “The Doors" Mahapatra writes:

“The door served as a refuge from the terrors of the outside world which mutely went on to lock me in, offering me no escape. It became both a heaven and a prison, and my mind positioned itself both inside and outside........ There is always something very final, very secretive about the doors." ("The Doors," by Mahapatra in Sunday Review of the times of India)

7. Seeking consciousness in his writing, Mahapatra utters in a lecture at Mysore:

"Governed as one is, as I am, by the unconscious---which in more ways than one acts like a power-generator, like a God---I would be satisfied if I can reveal a consciousness in my writing in agreement with today's realities."

8. Elucidating the hidden psyche behind writing the poem 'A Rain of rites', Mahapatra sums up:

"In a poem I wrote about 15 years ago, titled "A Rain of Rites", I found myself once again at the border between two separate regions of the mind; between what, perhaps, I understood and what I didn't, using rain as a symbol for that substance which makes up my life, those blurs of vague light that pulsate with the days, making me ask at the end of the poem:

What still stale air sits on the angel’s wings? What holds my rain so it’s hard to overcome?

I suppose such questionings come from somewhere deep within oneself, and that there is no reason or rationale for these things. But such questions and such searching move me and I am unable to resist them in my poetry. For poetry is voice---vaak." (“The Quality of Mystery," Postscript, The Indian Post, Bombay, Sunday 21 June 1987)

9. Further describing importance of the word 'rain' in the poem "A Rain of Rites", Mahapatra in an interview with Ravindra K. Swain says:

"There are two things which connect human beings: what is above and what is below. The sky is above you and the earth beneath you and anything that connects earth and sky is rain. it is a bond you cannot miss. It has a process itself. It is a link. Therefore, rain is a linking process, and so, the very act of your living."

10. Describing significance of the border and the boundary in his poetry, Mahapatra writes:

"That one must somehow try to reach the border between things understandable and ununderstandable in a poem, between life and death, between a straight line and a circle. Perhaps this paucity of our knowledge about death, about the nowhere which exists in the mind, about the knowledge of death and of our future and about this boundary when flesh goes and time enters, holds as unusual power that drives one to create the flow in a poem." ("The Quality of Mystery," Postscript, The Indian Post, Bombay, Sunday 21 June 1987)

11. Mahapatra delineate a sweeper girl in his poem 'Waiting', based on the real incident and thus highlighting the failure of the government machinery in curbing the child labour. In another essay titled, "An Orissa journal," he exposes the context resulting into composing of the poem:

“Round the bend of the road Lakshmi appears, walking purposefully, the wide-mouthed excreta bin resting like an infant across her slender left hip. Lakshmi, the fourteen year old outcaste sweeper girl, barefoot and smiling, cradling the faces of the upper middle class with her left arm while her right hand swings in unison with her small, tight, lotus-bud breasts."

12. Mahapatra has his own interpretation about 'Death', in a conversation with Jan. Kemp, he replies on the question of "what are you writing about now?”

"I am writing about death. Not in the way used to, the day of death being an ending, death giving movement to life, not in that sad, closing way. I want now to write about death in another way."

13 In another interview Mahapatra foretells imminent of his death and says:

"I have been working hard somehow feeling that I don't have much time left. The morbid streak you find in my poetry is also there within me. The idea of death has always been with me." Indian express 05 Sep 1987)

14. Equating poetry with death, Mahapatra writes:

"It has sometimes been said there are two main things poets can write about: love and death. For in poets dwell Man, this biological being, easily hurt, easily destroyed. And if one thinks a little on this, one will come to the conclusion that in reality there is only one subject all poets talk about---and it is death." (In "poetry: Climate for Renewal," The David H. McAlpin and Sally Sage McAlpin lecture, A Dhvanyaloka Publication, Mysore, 1985)

15 In his keynote address delivered at the annual conference of Indian association for Commonwealth literature and Language studies, held at Bhubaneswar, Mahapatra announces:

“Poetry makes me write poems with a bad heart. I don't know what that exactly means, but it is the heart that makes one turn secretly into someone--a leader or loser perhaps--pushing one to choose values, attitudes, and to do the not-so-obvious; this heart as it keeps on trying to hide the wounded walls of its house, and at the same time asking itself for a meaning to our lives." ("Silence to Poetry: piercing the Rock," Haritham, Kottayam, 08 Jan 1997)

16. Mahapatra started writing poetry at an age when people stop writing poetry. He was forty then. He himself confesses:

“My poetry came at an age when most poets would have been basking in the warm glow of success.”

(Contemporary Authors – Autobiography Series (volume9, 1989) edited by: Mark Zadrozny. Published by: Gale Research Company, Book Tower, Detroit, Michigan 48226 )

17. Mahapatra is the poet who commands respect and recognition more overseas than at home. In an interview with Sumanyu Satpathy, he expresses his predicament thus:

“I got more encouragement from academics outside my country than inside because I was not writing the type of poetry that appeared in Bombay." (Many Indias, Many Literature. Edited by Shormishtha Panja, Worldview Publication)

18. On the role and knowledge of physics in shaping and moulding his poetry, Mahapatra posits his views in an interview to ‘The Hindu’:

“Physics taught me that time held you captive, but it also made you free. I was nothing but an infinitesimal speck floating in the vast universe. This broadened my vision, but I also feel pressurized, burdened by the weight of time." (Poetry as an Anchor: Jayanta Mahapatra, Sunday, 02 Oct 05)

19. "Mahapatra establishes three plausible relations between a poem and a reader by applying 'Electrostatic Theory of Physics’. A poem is essentially an experience and this might

(a) Reach the reader almost immediately, spontaneously--in the manner of electric charge passing through a good conductor such as copper or iron;

(b) Reach the reader with difficulty, slowly, under great stress, like that of charge passing through a bad conductor like glass; or

(c) Not be able to pass or communicate at all, as though there was a break or gap between them....

The capacity or power for conducting the essential experience of the poet will primarily depend upon the poem itself---on the poem's design."

It is his knowledge of Physics that enables him to explain the relation between a poem and the reader in splendid way. And can we predict promulgation of such principle from a pure literary pundit?”

20. On the lack of humour in his poetry he has got his own reason and defence. In a conversation with Sudeep Ghosh, he reveals:

“Oh well, may be I was made that way. It is difficult for me to be humourous in the poems I write. There is so much despair in the world around me – so much hate, so much injustice, so much poverty. And religious fanaticism, for no reason. I wish I could write a humourous poem. I haven’t.”

(Muse India, Literary Journal)

1 comment:

  1. The poem, Taste For Tomorrow will illustrate it well, his vision and philosophy, the understanding of India and its belief-systems:

    At Puri, the crows.

    The one wide street
    lolls out like a giant tongue.

    Five faceless lepers move aside
    as a priest passes by.

    And at the street's end
    the crowds thronging the temple door:
    a huge holy flower
    swaying in the wind of greater reasons.
    (Waiting, Samkaleen Prakashan, New Delhi, First Edition 1979, p.6)

    Apparently, it seems to be that Jayanta is a great admirer of India and Indian systems, but there is something which but contradicts it all which but the Western audience have come to comprehend it so well that he writes for the foreign, not for the natives, as in a single poem he inducts in faith and doubt as well placing them on a cutting edge of contradiction. This is but one side of his multi-dimensional personality and spectrum of delving.

    Let us see another poem titled A Poem To Mahatma Gandhi:

    I am afraid of the loneliness
    I would share with you.
    Some time
    you must tell me,
    so that I may know:
    have you made me unjust?
    As I complete the picture of a man
    who calls his dog, pets it,
    to make such things of life his own,
    I hear again and again
    a small explosion.
    I try not to think of it at all,
    but it keeps sounding
    like a blare of my heartless laughter.
    (ibid, p.55)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...