Poetry

Georgia O’Keefe and Ekphrasis

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Been a while since I wrote in here. Have sort of determined to be a little more less reluctant to type a blog post. Thankfully, I have been writing a lot but on paper. This world demands virtual media, however. And, need to succumb to it once in a while.

October brings along Inktober with itself and I have been creating more detailed artworks this year. Sign of progress, for sure.

I attended a workshop on Ekphrasis yesterday. According to the glossary on literature that I looked up to understand the term, I learnt that it is something that comes naturally to me. Ekphrasis is essentially writing something (mostly a poem), inspired by a visual, whether real or imaginary. I remember that I had started creative writing and poetry with imagined visuals, images that refused to leave my mind. Having never gone through the systemic teaching in literature and art, at times, I find myself doing a double take when I learn that there is a term for something I do! At other times, well, I learn something new. Feel like a student all over again. ;)

The workshop had a measly number of 4 people – one of whom ran away when we were left alone to write poems. We were presented with works by Monet and O’Keefe. I am a fan of impressionism and hence, Monet’s magic in seemingly simple, day to day scenes was quite captivating. However, I had pre-selected the artwork for my poem the minute I walked in. Poetically speaking, it felt like it chose me.

The artwork that I connected with instantly was O’Keefe’s Oriental Poppies (pictured below).

Oriental Poppies by O’Keefe – Source

I have honestly, never really been a flower person. I mean I like flowers in flesh but, never as images. Apparently, the artist painted these and much of her work in abstraction following no real theme as such but, her work has been appropriated by many according to their own perceptions. Her work has particularly been labeled as feminist and has been interpreted accordingly.

For me, art comes from a personal space. Either its memory or emotion, it always stirs from an emotional part of the mind. While there was a gentleman who felt he doesn’t “get” art, he wrote a short poem which was so powerful and interpreted one of Monet’s works beautifully; thereby, bringing in the belief yet again that art is personal and that, many times what the artist would have intended would end up living with the artist alone.

Oriental poppies drew me in like a magnet. The fiery colours and shades emanated a kind of passionate power that I couldn’t think of any other work there. Sharing a poem that I wrote inspired by the work:

Orange blooms

burning bright,

Huddled together

against the light.

Fire all around

emerging from the dark,

I see them in the evening

to the sounds of the lark.

As the night darkens

gathering her warm blanket over,

We huddle closer together

heads joint in a good night’s kiss.

Hand in hand

we walk,

side by side, we traverse

every road, while

burning bright

despite no light,

like those orange blossoms

in my garden.

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Machine

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For months now, I have been working for myself. Most of my friends have remarked with a “oh, that is so great” and “Oh! That must be fun.” I agree, I hate the clockwork organised ways of a job and I do absolutely love what all I do and the fact that I am my own boss and liability as well is a great deal. Yet, sometimes, I find myself compelled to feel that my run is up a more arduous hill. I am pretty sure each one of us has felt that at times. The need to share with people, to scream at them perhaps, that maybe they need to open their eyes and not cry over petty things, that there were bigger problems that people go through as you speak.

Ever wondered why we feel this way? I think the need arises from a systemic training to feel that if you’re “doing more stuff”, you’re somewhere up there in life. This also comes from the fact that time and again, through systems like grading, ranking, competitions, appraisals, we are conditioned to bother with how the others are doing. It might not necessarily be envy, a mere curiosity, you say. This need to always be the number one, at least in one’s own head, aided by the deceptions of social media, make one feel constant need to keep running. That you’re busy, becomes a symbol of your life being so multi-faceted that you don’t have time at all for a call or a random movie marathon.

Move away from it and I am sure you’ll find more time for work and everything else that you plan to do after you’re 40.

A little poem to go with this then.

 

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Machine

Chop chop chop

Claw claw claw

Splash, bam, spurrrr!

Motion, sound, noise.

Each atom in movement.

No silence

No pauses

Comfort in chaos.

Run run run

Race ahead.

 

Can’t stop, won’t stop

Life flying in the drill.

Was there ever a time to be still?

Lure

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The sea my seductress

The sea my lover

The sea is my mother

with a womb deeper than the universe.

I’ve been standing on the edge,

waiting,

as she waves her tresses.

back and forth, forth and back,

tempting me, teasing me,

calling me in

binding me in her charm.

Slowly, dangerously,

she laps up at my feet,

chipping away on my ground, bit by bit.

Shining, glowing, smiling in the moonlight,

almost taking me home,

only, to go back alone.

Home

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Home

Have you been home lately?

That place… do you remember?

where winter afternoons were spent 

basking in the golden glow of the sun

as trees danced a shadowy dance.

Where summers were spent in the 

cool recesses of the shade that home provided.

Where every time the skies poured, it felt like 

the clouds too, were party to this bubble of happiness.

You have been, you say?

Isn’t it truly home? Wont you go back soon?

Wouldn’t it be lovely…

and right, to be home at last?

What? You say you’re home?

I am confused now. 

Dont they say, ‘home is where the heart is’?

Isn’t your heart in the past?

Isn’t nostalgia home?

Try – an ode to my father

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Two days ago in 2010, Mosaic was born on a whim to put down the waves and streams and trickles of thoughts that invaded my mind; sometimes against my ability to function ‘appropriately’ in the social. I will not say that it brought me immediate relief or that, like I have heard some say that, it can help vent out. Nope, it never did that as I dealt with the trauma of my father’s death. In fact, all it did was leave me burning with desire. Desire, to reach out to him, to reconnect to him through my words. I realise that I have taken to writing through my father. I was never nurtured or conditioned into reading and writing like #parentinggoals suggest. I was just made to be and observe and find my pleasures and joys and my own goals. School rotted some of it though he was always there to ensure that it did not corrupt my heart. I am happy he did not let it do so.

I never realised that I learnt a lot from him – that was his way of parenting, leading by examples. I will not say that he was not flawed – no one is without flaws but, like he had said to me once when I was working towards an exam and was very focused on acing it stating that number 2 was not an option, he simply told my 14 years old self that no matter what I am (number one or someone who is a failure), he will always love me the same. I believe that I picked up writing from him and I am just thankful that I did. When I started Mosaic 6 years ago and whenever I would write something from the place of a daughter missing her father, grieving over his loss, I hated what I came up with because they spoke of unrestrained and unedited passion. As I grew as a writer and explored more ideas and passions through my words, somewhere at the back of mind, I decided that for me to write something as my father’s daughter would be childish or maybe a piece which is cringe worthy. I realise I am my biggest critic there which again, I was warned against by my old man.

November 30th is his birth date and he would have turned 63 years old today. :)

Had it not been for tonight’s playlist that has Cohen’s last album, I would have cringed at myself again for writing about my father but, a conversation with a friend worried and scared and hopeless about what goes on in our world today where humanity is literally threatened in the scariest ways possible with humans against humans, I am happy to write things I have learnt from my wise, wise old man.

This world is a scary place

People have taken up arms against each other

Children cry as their mothers lie raped

And men lie in a corner drunken in their sorrows and defeats.

But, you who see this.

You, who feel the pain, why have you stopped?

Why do you believe in these

scenes of torture that you witness?

Don’t believe these to be your reality.

You are human,

you were born with courage.

Use it now and create a new reality.

You think it might not work?

Is that your fear?

But, isn’t that your job, to try that is?

Try and be your best.

Try and give it your all. 

Get up now, now is the time to rise.

You might not see anything change in a second

But then, mountains weren’t moved in a night, were they?

You know the kind of world you want.

Believe in it and build it.

All you have to do is try

 

Wajood

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I realise that as a writer I enjoy poetry the most. It’s simple, variable in the readers’ interpretation and spontaneous. So today’s poem is a Hindi / Urdu one which came to me one morning when I just could not sleep. There were just too many thoughts whirring in my brain and I had to write.

I usually do not like explaining the thought behind a poem because I feel it takes away the possibility of differing opinions and perceptions but, this ones different. This one, is about unrequited love or infatuation. Inspired by a sticky situation that a friend has been in off late and from many stories of unrequited love / feelings (maybe, including mine!), I can safely say that love is indeed a beautiful feeling / emotion, especially romantic love. However, love isn’t forced or that, it does not chain one’s heart. From what I understand now that those Bollywood flicks or old school poems were trying to convey, love is a free emotion and can be felt by anyone for anyone or thing, something that makes you become better – though love for things is greater these days! Won’t kill the read now and will stop here. Read on!


Sketch in black Indian ink on ruled paper

Hindi / Urdu

Kaun tha tu?

Kahan hai tu?

Kaun thi woh, jo padhi tere pyaar mein?

Itni besudh hui tere ishq mein

Ki bhool gayi thi apna wajood main.

Jise ishq samjha tha 

Woh to nadaani samjhi tune.

Ik pal mein mera jahan ban gaya tha tu

Arey haan! Thi to bilkul nadaan hi main.

Par tu to samajhdaar tha? 

Tujhe nahi dikh raha tha?

Kyun behlaya tune mujhe fir?

Kyun nahi apna asli chehra dikhlaya?

Khair, aaj mujhe tujhse nahi hai kuch gila 

Na ki thi tab bhi maine koi shiqayat.

Jis pal tune mere jazbaat ko nakara tha 

Jis pal tune apne banaye sach ko jhutlaya tha

Us pal hi maine apna wajood wapis paaya tha

Shayad us samay tabhi mere muh se sivay hasi ke kuch nahi nikla tha.

Mere mann me chhayi ik ajeeb si shanti thi

Jaise bahut ghane toofan ke beech ek chuppi 

Dabe paon meethe meethe sannate mein mujhe gholi ja rahi ho

Jaise ki wo sab aur kuch nahi has ek sapna tha

Aur ab main jag gayi hun.


English Translation 

Who were you?

Where are you?

Who was she, the one who fell for you?

Was so lost in your love 

That I had lost my self.

What I thought was love

You took it to be silly infatuation.

In a moment, you had become my world.

Oh yes, I was indeed silly.

But, weren’t you wiser?

Could you not see?

Why did you lead me on then?

Why couldn’t you say the truth?

I have nothing against you anyway, now.

Nor did I complain then.


The moment you denied my feelings

The moment you broke the truth that you had built

That moment itself, I found my self again.

Maybe that’s why in that moment, all I could respond with was a smile.


There was a strange sort of peace in my heart

As if in the midst of a terrible storm, a silence had

Creeped up and stirred up sweet silence in my heart, in my being.

As if all of it was a dream

And I am awake now.