My love for poetry began in childhood, when my parents would encourage me to recite on stage. I loved the rhyme and chime of poetry, its sheer song like cadences, like rippling sea waves. When I was five I appeared on stage to recite my first poem, in Bengali. It was a recitation competition organized by a cultural group. I was so impressed by own performance that I started clapping! The organizers were also impressed by this very young narcissist, so much so that they asked me to give a demonstration on the prize distribution day, although I had not got the first prize!
Recitation, the spoken word was my first encounters with poetry. It continued through school and was my first foray into poetic realms. I loved to recite in private, and on stage. I had stage fright, but reciting a poem overcame all self consciousness. Once the memory was correct, the flow was fine, the problem was in remembering!
Writing poetry never occurred till even college or university. But then the truth dawned on me, that the composer was the creator, the reader was only the interpreter.When I recited, I was not even that, I was merely parrot like repeating what someone wrote or had to say. But recitation did lead to inner recesses, led to a creative fount of joy, the feel for words, their soft tremble, their expression of a pure feeling, all these constituted the artifact of a poem. A poem was more than a construct, it was a thought, a feeling, or a series of them eager to be fleshed into words, to use Dom Moraes' expression.
Poetry had an inevitability and I was doused with words. But how was I to translate the experience of reading into writing. I started with some bare imitations of Nissim Ezekiel and Pritish Nandy. I tried to adopt a humanistic stance, poverty, violence, the common man, but these lasted for sometime till I got a poem published in Indian P.E.N edited by Nissim Ezekiel. Gradually I had the conscious feeling, that 'influences' limit originality. This may or may not be a correct hypothesis. Then began a phase when I was not reading at all but I was writing feverishly.
When I look at these poems now, they seem dessicated, immature and sterile. I write poetry to breathe the fresh air of words, to create my world of words and the artifacts of silence. But, now I also realize that it was in Shillong's bosom of hills and trees where I lay supinely that my 'poetic' world lay, in its aroma of spring, summer, autumn, winter, in its heady rains, as well in its clear blue skies and the winter's sun. It was and is Shillong that will be my poetic gut, my labyrinth thoughts, which are hidden among these, and which can surface any time. The poems may be good, the poems may be bad, they may or may not be published, but they are poems born out of the origins of a place I love. That is why I love poetry! Reciting poems was the first sojourn to my understanding of such a love.