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Poetry Seeking Balance: Poet Jawant Deed (a review)

Discussion in 'Punjab, Punjabi, Punjabiyat' started by spnadmin, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. spnadmin

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    Seeking balance, Poet Jawant Deed by Nonika Singh

    It was legendary Amrita Pritam who set him on the poetic path some three decades ago by publishing his poem in her prestigious Punjabi magazine Nagmani. Since then, eminent poet Jaswant Deed has come a long way.

    Back then, his teacher, noted writer Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana, told him: "Now you consider yourself a poet". Today, the literary galaxy seems to have acknowledged his poetic mettle. While in 2007 he won the coveted SahityaAkademi award, this year he has been honoured with the Shiromani Punjabi Kavi Samman that carries a cash award of Rs 2. 5 lakh. Yet, instead of walking on cloud nine, Deed exclaims, "Awards do not offer the same fulfilment as, say, writing a poem or a piece of prose".

    Essentially a poet, more recently he has gone back to prose. Fresh from writing a book Dharti Hore Pare, he says that his writing odyssey had begun with short stories. Incidentally, that compilation, Ek Lap Yadan, has till date sold more copies than any other book of his. "Prose," he feels, "can reach out to a wider audience than poetry, which is for intellectuals and needs to be analysed. Just like mohabbat ke liye kuch khaas dil makhsoos hote hain, poetry is not everybody's cup of tea." Especially Deed's poetry, which is not meant to be recited or heard, but read. Readers in Punjabi might be a dwindling tribe, but he has a loyal select readership. To those who think khuli kavita is not quite poetry, he reasons, "Rhyming alone is not poetry. Free verse, too, has certain parameters and does reverberate with an inner poetic resonance".

    Taking pride in the fact that he is "not a poet of mushairas," he deems that free verse is still a "standalone" genre in the Punjabi poetic world and he can also sense strong winds of change. He asserts, "Surjit Patar is probably the last mogul in the great tradition of Punjabi lyrical poetry. Today, more and more young poets are gravitating towards new styles and also new subjects." In fact, Deed, too, never toed the beaten line and defied the conventional practice of dittoing the Leftist ideology or writing about the concerns of the marginalised others. Giving a voice to his own
    experiences, his very first book of poetry Bachhe Ton Dardi Kavita, with many poems delving into the conflict of three generations, was swathe with autobiographical touches. Often, he explores the dilemma that gnaws at the modern man who has no time to look back, to pay heed to a mother's call. The troubled predicament of this man who knows no rest freezes beautifully as the translated version of his poem Tek reads: "I, And I alone, poised at a point. Sans equipoise."

    Then, he has written extensively about the man-woman relationship and even wrote love poems in Punjab's dark days of terror. But once again he did not endorse the "till death do us apart" kind of love, rather he goes on to challenge the "one-man-one-woman" concept of love. He quips, "Love can happen more than once". Of course, in his latest and fifth book of poetry, Kamandal, he has moved from the physical to the spiritual. Is this transition a natural reflection of growing years? Says he, "Yes, one could say that but poetic response is not linear. One can go back to the same subject time and again". For instance, women, villages and mountainshave been the recurring leitmotif in his works. Anyway, his poetry is replete with imagery, a fallout perhaps of being a documentary filmmaker. Working as an assistant station director, Doordarshan, Jalandhar, visuals come to him as quickly as words do. So does the art of merciless editing, which he
    applies ruthlessly to his written word as well.

    Trying to seek a balance between his job and his creative being might be a tall order. However, he manages to enthuse creativity in hisdocumentaries, which include the much-acclaimed seven-part series on Guru Granth Sahib and telefilms like Lamiyan Udeekan, He has won seven Doordarshan national awards for his television productions. No wonder, right from the first shot, a discerning viewer knows its Deed's work. Associated with the mass media, Deed, by the way, is not interested in masses but the perceptive viewer and reader. Rather, he simply professes, "Popularity is not my aim". As he writes in his poem, "Taadiyan nahi please, mein aithe tuhade manoranjan lai bilkul nahi aayea". Writing poetry isn't a hobby but a process of self-realisation, of laying a beautiful path of words. En route this journey, he might encounter, obstacles, even barbs. He responds to
    criticism by writing with greater passion. For, he knows in the end only the written word survives. And there is a fair chance that his will...._,_.___
    #1 spnadmin, Feb 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2010
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