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Poet (For Nissim) by K.D. Katrak

Poet (For Nissim) by K.D. Katrak is a poem which has been written in the form of a question and its answe. The main interest lies it in the context. What is creative poetry? How is it? Above all, how did they express in the absence of a tradition? Side by side the poem is self-exploratory and analytical too.

It is autobiographical as well as biographical as far as the approach is concerned. A Parsi, he is taking lessons from a Jew. An alien insider not, but a natural Parsi he is taking lessons from an alien insider seen in the stature and personality of Nissim Ezekiel taking to how far Indian is Indian English poetry. There is some sort of a self-talk in it.

The poem reminds us of the biographical poems written or addressed to. But we wonder how could he think of dedicating one to him? It is still amazing.

The poem is a pen-portrait of Nissim, the writer at his desk. How does he finish the sketch, draw it with his finishing touches?

Here a poet talking to a poet is the thing. As a senior fellow, he gives the tips. To read the poem is to understand the whole gamut, the bed of germination to the sprouting of the seed to seedlings and plants. Indian English poetry has struggled to stake its claim. It was nowhere, wayward and puerile in the beginning. It struggled to shrug off the tags of anonymity and the crisis of identity and the same comes out or figures in the discussion, the poet talk ensuing. How did Nissim suffer from the roots of nativity which he failed to strike in? How to take creative poetry? While taking to, discussing it, the form and the technique came up, which but Nissim Ezekiel talked about. He cautioned him against going prolific and he took to in his own way as he opined and understood it the art and craft of writing poetry and taking to it. The poet met him, gossiped and passed time in his company, enjoying the puffs from the cigarettes bought and brought on by him and returned home thinking about poetry or making a pen-portrait or word-portrait of his which is his offering to him.

This is the best kind of tribute ever written, which Katrak could do it.

You must write better he said:
A minor poet gone to seed.
I thought how even the dead
Will voice their essential need.
Discipline comes first he said,
Smiled the old quiet smile
Then turning to raise his head
Lapsed into silence for a while.
Don’t write so much, discriminate he said
Make the artistic choice,
Learn what technique can mean he said
And find your own poet’s voice.
We drank our coffee in the open air
I watched him play his part,
Fiddling vaguely with the chair,
Talking of form in art.
I did not tell him what I thought,
He would not have accepted it,
But smoked the cigarettes he had bought
And listened to his tired wit.
Not knowing how to help him then:
Who was my friend for thirteen years
Who was the gentlest of men:
And close to tears.
I rose and left him to the worst:
Voice broken, head a little bent,
Returning home to write this verse
And raise him a small monument.


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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