Naveen Kishore responds to poetry & its loss: A tribute to a friend, as it were.

Somewhere between the sheets of cream-wove parchment she lay
Waiting for thought to take shape. Ripe. Full-blown. Secure.
Comfortable in the knowledge that before too long the waters
Would break.

The first wail. Strong and full-throated.

Later. You held her in the crook of your arm. Ginger. Warm.

Even later. You took upon yourself the loving task of nurturing her.

Watched her grow.

Now. Strong and independent it is time for her to take her place in the world.

It isn’t easy, is it? To let go? To ‘abandon’ your muse-child, your poem?

And this is the intimate and safe space it created for poets.

Unclasp the fist. Let free the crushed white. Let it drop to the table. Smoothen it with both palms. Ease the pain. Reassure the crevices. Whisper soothingly to the chasms. Let them know you care. Breathe new life into the furrows. Use your thumbs and forefingers to plough the row upon row of drought-ridden creases. Gently moulding them into canals.  The sweat of your labours kneading them to life. Now invite the seasons to do their work. Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring. A vast blossoming.

Like a lotus stem the word took root.

And now it is time to sleep to let others awaken carry on with this idea that poetry is a daily Riyaz and that poets will continue to practice.

I slipped a dream or two between pages 102 and 103 of the handsome volume of poems on my bedside table. Like you would a leaf. The one collected from the pile under the Oak’s shadow. In the autumn months. Or the remains of a flower. Often with a thin flat stem. Like a child’s drawing of a flower. You know the kind I mean. Bright pink outline of five petals. Either a yellow or green circle attached to an olive or brown stem. Using coloured pencils from the box marked rainbow. Or crayons half-broken like last nights sleep. The watercolours having dried up like the land struck by famine. Spidery cracks that ravaged and threatened from East to West and North to South. Refusing to yield colour.

I needed time for the dream to take root. For the words to form. And grow. And come together as sentences. For language to be born.

There has been no rain for months.

Photo by SwapnIl Dwivedi on Unsplash

Naveen Kishore

Naveen Kishore established Seagull Books in 1982 as a publishing programme in the arts and media focusing on drama, film, art and culture studies. Today, it also publishes literature, including poetry and serious fiction and owns the worldwide English-language publishing rights for books by Paul Celan, Ingeborg Bachmann, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Bernhard, Imre Kertész, Yves Bonnefoy, Mo Yan, Mahasweta Devi, Peter Handke, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, among many others. Kishore turned to photography where he extensively documented female impersonators from Manipuri, Bengali and Punjabi theatre practices. In particular he photographed Chapal Bhaduri, a female impersonator of the Bengali folk theatre, Jatra, in a project titled ‘Performing the Goddess’. Some of these pictures were exhibited as a part of the show, ‘Woman/Goddess’. He is also the recipient of the Goethe Medal and the Chevalier Ordre des Arts et des Lettres