Losing to Curation?


Banish? You couldn’t. Utilitarians, rationalists, fanatics and most kinds of men have railed against poetry for some reason or other. Followers have paled by its frailty; some mourned its demise. Like Hydra or Phoenix, it raises its head again and again.

Many fortunate ones are gloriously unaware of its existence; still more can conscientiously wave it off as immaterial to ‘life’. For those, who require a bit more than trivia to move them, attention is requested to following samplers:

Blast/Bless poems submitted to Tate Britain & Creative Review initiative, an ongoing exhibition.

The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World

The poems inspired by Robinson Craig are created from responses to ‘bless’ and ‘blast’ queries on twitter. The ‘tweet’ ephemera reaches sublime in this modern incarnation of Tower of Babel. Those who marvel at existence of world awed by the succession of random accidents, might breathe more easily when they go through these.

The ‘Bless’ poem reads like mild mutterings of a pious grandmother – ‘Lord bless me indeed, and enlarge my border’ and ‘When the Lord blesses you, you should bless the less fortunate’. Had it been a collection of similar statements, it would have turned into a caricature directed against itself. What makes it a poem is the contemporary voice that equates prayer with desire:

Dear God, Bless me with an Angel, she doesn’t have to be a model

or the girl every guy wants, as long as she loves me as I do her.

The ‘Blast’ would be a morbid collection of news headlines – Blast shakes Pakistani capital… blast in Enugu, Kaduna… – were it not for swarthy hange in emotion brought out by:

Suicide bomber’s head found; appears to be 17 or 18 years old —

2nd blast in Quetta hurts 2.

Clearly poetry becomes a collective art now. No longer is it a solitary poet recalling his experience in ‘vacant and a pensive mood’ but an active, matter-of-fact curator. Individuality now comes in through curation. During such maturation, the ‘tongue in trees, sermons in stones’ outburst of  poetic heart loses on spontaneity and linguistic innovation, but poetry gains a similar effect through simulacra, the endeavour turning from creation to curation.  Curiously, the individual voice/mind in poems above is called Asbury & Asbury – indication again of collectivizing the individual?

But before we hand over poetry in collective hands, listen to the still lonely individual voices, repeating the eternal trauma in oft-used phrases, yet able to convey the emotion afresh. Poetry has never gained from visual art directly, but grouped together they often convey an extra beyond either. Many who played with words, ashamed at their domination, might give their pencils freedom to play with paper. And the dabblers in paint may some day gain a tongue to match their colours. Together, they rise above the prowess of visuality.

The artist is free as ever; it is only the curious enthusiasts who has greater access to their works, thanks to net-tech. Shriyaa’s poems illustrate the unintentional commentary on contemporary life that no poet is able to shake completely off. Such observations, “Snowflakes come from nowhere.. have nowhere to go and nothing to say” point at a life demystified of old and bombarded with ever-fresh myths churned by a new world order reaches a point of inertia, where the poet is forced to say:

I wish life meant more to me than it does.

The ultimate irony of an age desanctifying its fresh-found truths comes in the final statement.

I wish I dwelled in a Snow Globe…

In another poem, ‘Bitter tears’, she asks,

Have you ever tasted the words that come out of your mouth?

Do they taste bitter?

The puzzle seems to swing between the changed circumstances and displaced awareness – Do I dare or do I dare? The words belie themselves, the thought rebels at itself. ‘Morbid Passions’ reads like the prayer of a medieval monk, except it balks at its own desire:

Drain me

of this fanaticism.

If putting aside the premise  proving all acts of creation as curation through use of legal syllogism, we concede some individual freedom to the artist, then this vector of human expression comprising of individual responses and current of contemporary life – Poetry – can still be pronounced as healthy, live and un-banished.

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