During our reunion, Aakriti had informed me of an art exhibition. It was no ordinary exhibition. It was combining two very different creative styles. Poetry would be recited about art that would be displayed. Aakriti was one of the few chosen to recite and I couldn’t be prouder. The concept was intriguing and it had been way too long since I had allowed myself to indulge in two of my favourite interests – art and poetry. So, excited and eager, I arrived at Dhanraj Mahal where the exhibition was taking place.
The team behind TARQ were presenting Parag Tandel’s third solo exhibition titled, ‘Chronicle’. Focusing on ecology and migration, Tadel creates sculptures cast in resin that represent memories from childhood.
The poets invited for the exhibition were all members of The Poetry Club which is why, besides a recital of poetry influenced by the art, there were poets reciting some of their creative work unrelated to the exhibition as well. The poets had been allowed to go through the sculptures well in advance and were given the liberty to choose which display they wanted to base their poetry on.
Before reciting, each poet not only introduced themselves but also spoke of how and why they got into poetry in the first place.
Aakriti wrote her poem based on Trap I
I can picture it all too clearly When someone asks me where I came from It looks like a cocoon That houses and nurtures the butterfly But when you come from a sheltered existence Even the fibres wrapped tight Around your once feeble wings Feel like a trap. These walls were my rose tinted glasses Stained with blood and doubt, I was told, Perhaps to have me believe that the outside world Can never be as safe or untouched As the claustrophobia that surrounds me. If only underexposure was the true measure of being free Of trouble and pain Because my wings hurt They're overgrown and yet Trained to feel the strain Of this sinewy home I want to fly out of. There's light above and light below And I long to be illuminated By anything other than a refraction of that light. But I know that when that pod opens And the reins curl away from my skin And my wings find room to stretch out I'll have nothing more than a day To take in more than the hues of red Before I create my own cocoon To house another cloistered soul like me. Maybe the circle of life Is a perpetuated series of growing pains.
Devendra wrote his poem based on Extinct Form III
Ambition How strange is living, stranger yet to die Not knowing the who Never pondering the why Cursed be each moment Spent only to deny The prophet of my soul My truth it decries In whispers and persuasive Signs, in the desperation Of denial and screams I never let escape Hear them yet choose Comfort in mediocrity Call it fair compromise Alas a blatant excuse. For I fear that Which is at stake It is my conscience For it shall take My soul; if ever Pure ambition shall fall And become empty premise What shall I become? But an empty shell Resounding sameness and banality It is not weakness But emptiness, I dread Choose to know mine Yet consciously deny, I Keep ambition at bay The perfect fail-safe For a dismal day To gloat in the knowledge Never intend to comply (I) Choose complacence over pride Familiarity; over the sublime Instruction of my will Instead of the paragon I choose, a lie. How strange to choose To live not a day Forever myself I deny For I always knew the who Knew always the why.
Here are some more of the art pieces that were on display.
While Kejal did not write based on the pieces displayed, she recited a few poems that she had written previously for gatherings at The Poetry Club.
Trade He smiled an unfaltering welcome smile He knew five words in english "Please come in madam, good day." Yellow teeth were frequented by red spots The smile a crescent moon on his face The position never changed Full moons were not for the uneducated. On good days, he smiled. On bad days, his smile was broader. On frustrating days, it stuck to his face Like a brightly painted tattoo. His trade depended on it. She wore her smile upside down. Frowning, they called it. It meant you were sad. It was the price you had to pay To buy pity. On good days, her tears came easily. Snot dripped about her unclean nose A prop in her daily dress up act. On bad days she had to suppress her happiness. "Look sad", they said. "No, look sadder." On frustrating days she had to be slapped, kicked, threatened. "We want your tears", they said. "We want to buy pity." So she frowned. Her trade depended on it.
Listening to the poetry stirred something inside me. I had stopped writing poetry myself and had disconnected myself from the art of listening, reciting and writing poetry. Witnessing this exhibition brought back that dormant part of me to some extent.
It was fascinating to see people from different spheres of life, come together for a few hours, all sharing a mutual love for poetry and a certain cynicism towards life. Also, existential crisis. It was selfishly, very comforting.
It was a wonderful experience and I am so glad Aakriti invited me. I hope I can witness and participate in these more frequently, as time passes by.