Thursday, June 09, 2005
The drama of human actions
The ritualistic actions of the human race provide a fascinating insight into human nature. Our attempts to capture them in art will help in perpetuating the poignancy of the moments whose meaning is very short-lived and will not last beyond those moments. While traveling in Karnataka I came upon a fascinating sight of some people performing religious ceremonies for their dead kin at a holy site of the confluence of two rivers. From the vantage of a narrow bridge I could capture the whole scene on my camera- an extremely poignant moment indeed. I have come to like the picture very much.
Then the drama continued
The words were spoken
From the guttural depths
Of a middleman’s throat
And washed by drops
Of sanctified water
The pursuit of silver
Went on in the waters
With sonorous words
Chasing multitudes of
The waters flowed silently
Over the rocks nurturing life
And its golden-brown ashes.
The photograph captures the whole activity of a group of people performing a religious ritual. My poem tries to capture the moment in a similar fashion, once again bringing to focus the essential similarities in the treatment of a subject in both poetry and photography.The only difference is that the poem has been able to capture the delicious irony of the man standing in knee-deep water trying to fish for the coins dropped by the relatives of the dead.The poem counterpoises the essentially tragic moments of the relatives paying homage to the dead with the worldly actions of one of the priests trying to gather coins from the running waters.In India we have the concept of smashana vyragyam.
Posted at 06:22 am by adukuri
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Digital photography expands our consciousness pushing the borders of visual awareness like nothing else does. More particularly vast spaces captured in panoramic views . Normally we have only a fleeting glimpse of expanded horizons when we are on the move , that is when we are travelling by a car and we stop by on the highway . The spaces release us from our own limits of visual awareness . We have seen such vast spaces only in paintings. For the first time , after the advent of digital photography we are in a position to capture such vast spaces .
Posted at 10:23 pm by adukuri
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Some times , in a photograph, a perfectly strange element creeps in assuming the central role in defining the moment . I have always wanted the photograph the way I wanted – keeping the theme I had in mind as the central motif but this does not happen all the time . Sometimes an innocuous element surreptitiously enters my consciousness before I click and some times it is a post exe affair , the element not being there in the original scheme has somehow usurped the central position after I click . A similar thing happens in poetry .
The theme before I clicked was “ the red hills “- the hills being excavated for iron ore for export.
The theme after I clicked was “ the grass “. For some unknown reason the tall grass has assumed the central role in defining the moment.
The picture depicts the utter devastation of the hillside wrought by the greedy iron miners. May be , the grass is the only element that stands for hope in the bleakness of the mountainscape !
My poem tries to capture the despair of the situation :
In the recent monsoon
Our rivers felt as if
The mountains had bled
From fresh wounds
Their flesh has gone,
Across the green seas,
To the distant Chinaman
To fill out his bones.
But this is not the poem where I set out to do something but landed up with a different theme. Here was another of my poems which happened out of a photograph . I tried to take a picture of the cluster of dwellings in the lower heights of the hills seen from the elevated plains where I was standing. It was a beautiful scene more particularly due to the wistfulness of the rural scenery of a tribal village . There was smoke rising up above the houses .Unknown to me the theme transformed , as I went through the creation of the poem, to death and the cremation rites of an aboriginal settlement.
Here is the poem :
Beyond the grey hills
Thick white smoke
Rose in a column .
From my vantage
My glass eyes saw
I heard voices rising
In musical supplication
As drum-beats quickened
Existence turned into smoke
Posted at 03:21 am by adukuri
Friday, February 04, 2005
Here is a beautiful quote from Erique Maria Rilke :
"For verses are not, as people imagine, simply feelings (those one has early enough), -they are experiences. For the sake of a single verse, one must see many cities, men and things, one must know the animals, one must feel how the birds fly and know the gesture with which the little flowers open in the morning." -Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
I see photography as a means to gaining the experiences required to write poetry. Some times photography acts an experience in itself , opening up vistas hitherto unknown . In the process of gathering material for photography one ends up collecting experiences which are later converted into poetry.
" For the sake of a single verse, one must see many cities,men and things,one must know the animals, one must feel how the birds fly and know the gesture with which the little flowers open in the morning "
Here is a poem written by me recently :
The flowers spoke nothing
They waited patiently
For indifferent lovers.
Their rainbow colours
The hem of the sky.
Their existence, however real,
Being trapped in the sun.
As birds in the higher zones do
They want to be .
Posted at 01:02 am by adukuri
Thursday, December 23, 2004
A recent photograph of an old man sleeping in a temple premises captures a beautiful image just like a poem does. Some times we create images which are sought for their intrinsic beauty , not because they are a part of the motif of a poem . Single images , which suddenly strike you either while you are pursuing a bigger theme or even while you are going about your daily routine are beautiful in themselves and are used , much later , in a poem or a painting.
My poem on the old man sleeping in the temple goes as under :
This creature of the earth
Sleep-talks to himself
Nobody has heard him.
As the temple bells ring
The earth burns slowly
And goes up in swirls of smoke
These lights hurt him
But the smoke does not.
It is just like then
Of comforting mother-softness
Of all-around emerald aqua.
His limbs do not move.
Nor do his eyes see.
At the tunnel’s beginning
It is like what it was
When it all began.
Posted at 12:11 am by adukuri
Sunday, December 12, 2004
I have taken a photograph depicting the delicious moments of a lazy afternoon on the river bank. One can notice the thoroughly relaxing fame of the man sitting on the cement bench and the man on the bicycle turning his face to look towards the river. The air is full of joyful inertness . The river , the man squatting on the bench, three people gossiping under the banyan tree and the man on the bicycle with one leg on the cement bench - all are components in the pervasive luxurious feeling of not having to do anything ! In this respect the photograph is very similar to a painting .
A poem recreating a similar lazy afternoon is given below :
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Yesterday evening, as on all evenings,
The banyan briefly dallied with the river
Its tiny red fruits floated on the waters
Glistening in the sun like rubies
The woman-bather, busy disentangling
Flickering stars of pieces of driftwood
From her floating amavasya-like hair
Took no notice of the fruity overtures.
The last ferry did not bring him
Nor did the five 'o clock circular train
Which disgorged people in sweaty shirts
Onto the dusty Bagh Bazar platform
The mongrel got up from its disturbed sleep
Sniffing at the coal-smell left by the train
Went back to its sleep under the cement bench.
The beggars on the river steps ate their dinner
And retired for the day on the platform
Somehow they had prior knowledge
That nobody was actually expected
On the train or by the ferry on the day
Or for that matter , on any other day.
Posted at 11:05 pm by adukuri
Sunday, November 28, 2004
"At the unlit corner where awareness takes a blind turn " ,the ghosts of the past hurts some times haunt us in all their smokey whiteness.That is when we may start "thinking in flowers" , if I may use the phrase .Just think of flowers in multitudes ,on the trees, in the vases, in the florist's and everywhere else. A digital photograph you have taken recently of the bunches of flowers in the park can be imagined to produce those images on the screens of your closed eyelids.
I give below my poem written in such a moment :
Sunrise and flowers
In my nights of waiting
For sunrise and flowers
I look pain in the face
I struggle to think in flowers
And rising orange suns
My night then fizzles down
With its false props to pride
At five I wake up bleary-eyed
Trying to catch beach suns
Before they turn white.
Posted at 02:34 am by adukuri
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Minimalism as an artistic device
In photography , as in poetry, minimalism can be successfully employed to convey something with starkness and without frills . A lot of course depends upon how you compose the photograph .In a recent photograph I tried to pit a man-made light-bulb against the sun by eliminating all the other surrounding details .
In the following poem I have used the same technique to describe a moment in the early morning in the Grand Hotel, Kolkata .I have tried to create the moment without the usual 'haze' that a poet usually creates :
AT THE GRAND HOTEL, KOLKATA
The morning crystallises
Pure and silver. At seven
The moment swells
To an iridescent event
Amid outcry of cutlery
And bone-clatter of china
Sparrow-love on the lawns
And aromatic hotel smells.
Posted at 01:40 am by adukuri
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Capturing fleeting images
Like poetry , a photograph can capture fleeting images in space and can even explore their inter-relationship in a spatial situation.A photograph cannot capture their relationship across different planes of existence ,in space and time,except through the viewer's own present level of consciousness . Back-and-forth movements in time or dynamic switches between reality and fictional situations are not possible in photography.
Take a look at the following poem :
Images in a train
They lived outside the pale of my existence
Just a few images that touched the fringe
“Hello image” :Mersault addressed Marthe
Just like only one of her other lovers did
The woman here was a mere image
The way her eyes flashed at her husband
As she changed the nappies of the child
The child swung in the cloth-cradle, gently,
Like a weaver bird swings in the fibrous nest
He cried , he gurgled ,he knocked about
A mere image in another image’s existence
Mersault knew Marthe was a mere image
Flesh-and-blood Marthe did not know this
This woman did not know she was an image
Only I knew she was an image ,like Marthe.
In the above poem the characters have been invested with a certain halo which is a product of the poet's own mind. A photograph cannot produce a similar effect.
However , depending upon the state of the mind of the viewer and the sensitivity of his perception a photograph can almost reproduce a typical human situation much like a poem does and can produce almost the same effect in the viewer.
Posted at 09:06 pm by adukuri
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
I have tried to explore an insane mind in one of my poems . I have imagined the ever-expanding consciousness of an insane woman flowing in the form of a continuously extending line from her consciousness towards the universe , going over trees , houses , mountains and into infinity.
The Insane Woman
With a cloth bundle
In her fragile arms
She looks through
Your eyes vacantly
Her eyelids fall lightly
Amid buzzing flies
The whites of her eyes
Glisten with moist laughter.
I remember her artistic
Scrawls on the walls
And the finest lyrics
Set to taut music
She had composed
In her early married days.
She made a fine home
For her husband and
An open house for visitors.
Here on the footpath
She sits hunched up
With her unwashed head
Between her drawn-up knees
Her thoughts beam
In a thin straight line over
Tall buildings and treetops,
Piercing the mountains
And onward, into the Infinity.
Scores of busy people
Go past her every minute
The dust from their vehicles
Forms a smooth layer on
Her rain-drenched face.
Posted at 02:38 am by adukuri