July 12, 2008

Poems about monkeys with teeth of gold

Last evening, at K. Satchidanandan's poetry reading organised by the Poetry Society of India, I was trying to find analogies for the feeling of satiety his poems produce in me. Like a seven course Andhra meal, with a bit of sweet, many different kinds of spices, something at the end to digest, and something to freshen the mouth. Robert Graves, I've read somewhere, compared the sense by which one recognizes good poetry to the sense by which one tells good fish. I am vegetarian and stay away from fish. But I do know that if the fish you eat tastes of home, the gratitude you experience for the grace is tremendous.

KS is a charming and energetic reader. For about an hour he read his poems - first in English, his own translations; then a few Hindi translations; ending with a Malayalam poem-song for the sound, which is so widely known among Malayalam speakers that people have forgotten who wrote it.

There is often such a sense of wonder in his poems. From one of my most beloved poems, "Stammer":
Did stammer precede language
or succeed it?
Is it only a dialect or
a language itself?
These questions make
the linguists stammer.

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