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Poetry and the River

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A well lit 16th floor of the ITC Kakatiya gave space to poets from Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Orleons, and Shanghai. A two-three hour meet, well organized by Raed Leaf Poetry India, sponsored by Kiaro Milk  essentially focused on two things:

a) poetry and

b) the cause that being addressed through poetry

Poetry:

What does Ten Thousand Waves mean?

From the Website: The title poem, “Ten Thousand Waves,” was inspired by a tragedy that occurred on February 5, 2004. More than twenty Chinese laborers were drowned in Morecambe Bay, England, when they were caught by an incoming tide. They were collecting cockles late in the evening, having been misinformed about the tidal times. The victims were undocumented immigrants, mainly from Fujian Province, China. The poem based on this tragedy is the beating heart of the book.

Concentrating on Chinese immigrants and their many problems, Wang Ping penned poems that mirror their pain and arduous lives. It was heart wrenching when Ping read her poems. But her reading lead to discussion about the lives of members in a factory and the work that people go through to make a mobile phone or a shoe. I decided not to buy any gadgets from my end. Perhaps a piece less would make a difference.

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Saravati Kavula who is a documentary film maker and most recently shot a film on the Polavaram dam spoke to us talking about the melancholic lives of the factory workers in and around Andhra Pradesh/Telangana and she also read two lines from her memory.

Other poets read their work too.  Mani Rao read her  poems from her book “bhagavad gita” followed by Jennifer Robertson who read an angst-ridden poem and a brilliant poem on her Dad followed by Kamilini Mukherjee who read a poem  filled with great metaphors titled “Wonderstruck”;  Nabina Das read a poem about a  wonderful fictitious character Amina; Oliver designs poems and his poem were different followed by Chris’ poems that were deep;  Jyothsna read from her Braille text and the poem were mellifluous as she read them; Rochelle Potkar read the poems, ‘Rejoinder’ and ‘Baby’. And ‘Baby’ was greatly appreciated with claps and smiles across the audience; Jinju read two fine poems, of which i liked “Twilight at Moula Ali” and the last poet of the evening, Sandeep read a poem about Seagulls and i particularly liked the lines,

I do not know anyone

Yet I own that place

I felt the same way for the 2-3 hours where we all did not know each other and by the end of the evening everyone got comfortable with each other.

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The Cause:

Kinship of the Rivers—the meeting was surrounded by hand-made flags which carried peace messages. It was part of the kinship of rivers project by Wang Ping and her team mates, Oliver and Chris.

What is kinship of rivers?

Kinship of Rivers is a five-year interdisciplinary project to build kinship among communities along the Mississippi and Yangtze, and bring much awareness to the river’s ecosystem through art, literature, music, food, and installations of river-flags made by river communities.

(from the website: kinshipofrivers.org)

Started by Wang Ping, the members of the group paddle across rivers exchanging literature and culture to build a stronger community. Even the book, Ten Thousand Waves has a reflection of the initiatives by hinting towards the past where such activities took place. In India they went to the Ganga to tie the flags as well.

In Ping’s words, “I started the kinship because I feel in my body there are so many rivers. Every tree. Every drop of water has energy”

Such meets which challenge our thoughts and help us to transform ourselves are the need of the day.

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