Living poets society: Reviving a vanishing art

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New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) In the highly inspirational movie “Dead Poets Society”, Robin Williams plays an influential American teacher in the 1950s, John Keating, who struggles to instill a sense of awe in his students about the power of poetry.

“We don’t read and write poetry,” he says, “because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

It’s not easy to revive an art which is vanishing.

But efforts are on in Delhi by a group called ‘Be-lagaam’ or untethered, in the sense of freedom. The group, or poets’ collective based out of Delhi, believes that writing verses can be also a therapeutic experience.

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“Use of poetry as therapy is not new. All our hymns and prayers are actually verses that have a certain sound and rhythm composition,” said Sufi Benaam, an architect by profession and one of the founders of Be-lagaam.

“It is said that poetry takes its roots from sorrow. It might not necessarily be an exact state of sadness but any intense emotional one. Writing down that feeling makes one dissociate with that particular emotion or situation,” Benaam explains, adding that it’s almost a spiritual experience.

The collective, formed in Delhi in 2013, currently has members all over India who are connected through social media. It organises poetry meets at regular intervals. On Saturday, the collective also launched its first poetry collection, with works of 23 poets.

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The book, like the group, is also titled ‘Be-lagaam’, and has 94 poems. “The idea behind the name is that we are free from bonds and are exploring the world from a different perspective,” said Nikhil, another poet from the collective.

Covering aspects such as love, politics, philosophy, introspection and social commentary, the book was released by noted Delhi-based poets Anamika and Alka Tyagi. Both have several publications and awards to their credit.

“To meet and talk about poems, or to recite one is not something you can do every day. I always felt people may not be interested in poetry with so many new mediums of entertainment. But here technology came to our help,” said Madhavi Shree, a published author and one of the first members of the collective.

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Co-founder of ‘Be-legaam’, Saba, said they had found poetry lovers every time they held a meeting at a public spot.

“Be it the ruins of Hauz Khas, or Lodhi Gardens, or Purana Qila, we found people who came forward to listen to us, and that assures us that poetry will never be dead in the city of Ghalib and Zauq,” Saba said.

“The most interesting part is that here we have people from all walks of life. There are architects, journalists, doctors, home makers and businessmen with us,” said group member Nalin, who himself is in Delhi Police.



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