Monday, March 27, 2017

Life of a Poet ~ Samyuktha Jayaprakash

My friends, this week we are bringing you someone fairly new to Poets United, the very interesting and talented Samyuktha Jayaprakash, who lives in India, and blogs at Steady Meanderings. Let's pour ourselves a cup of chai and draw our chairs in close. We don't want to miss a word.

Sherry: I am so happy to be visiting with you, Samyuktha. As you are fairly new to Poets United, would you like to give us a snapshot of your life? Anything you’d like to share, so we can get to know you better.
Samyuktha: Hi everyone! First of all , I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity. Never in a million years , I thought that I would be asked.
So my name is Samyuktha Jayaprakash , friends call me ‘semi’. (Jayaprakash is my father’s name , we don’t take our family name). Talking about we , I come from the city of Chennai which is situated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in India. I am currently doing my 4th year of law from ILS Law college which is situated in Pune in the western part of India. I live in a flat with my friends and try to juggle law , poetry , creative writing and watching/reading anything and everything and still try to maintain a social life. In short , I live a student’s life.

Sherry: It sounds busy and happy. And law is an excellent field to be studying. Where did you grow up, Samyuktha? Is there one person, looking back, you feel was a significant influence in your becoming a poet? Someone who believed in and encouraged you?
Samyuktha: I was born and brought up in Chennai and spent the first 17 of my 21 years solely there. I lived in the same home throughout and am lucky to be raised by 2 amazing parents who always encouraged my literary endeavours. My house also consists of loving grandparents , a naughty dog ( we call her Laika) and a very annoying little brother.

My father reads voraciously and I inherited that trait from him. He used to read every Enid Blyton I borrowed from the library and that gave me the encouragement that reading books is ‘cool’ and after that I never turned back.
Sherry: Books are like air to a poet. I love your happy dog! When did you begin writing? What is it that caused you to choose poetry as your means of creative expression?
Samyuktha: I think it was my mom who bought me this tiny blue pocket book when I was around 9 and asked me to fill it with poems. We were traveling in a van to our aunt’s wedding and I filled that book with my rhyming poems in Tamil ( my native language). The positive response I received urged me to write more.
However , in English I mostly stuck to stories and articles for my school magazines and my personal blogs. I always found myself too shallow for poems . Then one day I stopped thinking and took out the paper and poured myself into it.

Sherry: I love that. Sometimes we have to get out of our own way and let the poems come. What do you love about poetry? What makes it sing for you?
Samyuktha: And that is what I love about poetry. Less is more , you never have to lie or even think. It is just what you feel in a moment on paper. The things I write in a poem are things I hardly plan , they happen , I don’t plot it. And that is why I love it.
Sherry: Well said. What impact has blogging had on your writing?
Samyuktha: I started blogging when I was 14. I was very inexperienced and didn’t know what I was doing when I wrote my first post. It gave me exposure and freedom to experiment. Today I write poetry , stories, articles, reviews,  letters , conversations and on any topic without being typecasted because of my blog.
Blogging gave me an identity amongst family and friends and I will continue to update my blog whenever possible.
Sherry: We look forward to reading much more of your work. Would you like to share three of your poems with us? And tell us something about each poem?

The Dawn

Constant cacophony of  callous cuckoos cloud the horizons of my consciousness ,
I seek the shimmering rays of the sun 
to build me the moral compass to navigate the gnarly waters of life. 
Strangely enough
 the darkness beneath my eyes dawned the light within me

This is the first poem which I wrote on a ‘challenge’ which flowed well and touched me. Honestly , my friends ( I have a huge squad) were rehearsing dance steps for a friend’s brother’s wedding and I just needed some quiet to think about my career and this poem happened.

To think that
the only real relationship I ever had
the one I never had.

Beat my chest in pride,
every time I did the courageous karate
in the name of romance 
with almost every other person 
except you. 

I could feel your patient gaze
silently sear through my back 
as I strutted around town. 
For you know for who I was  am.
A genuine hypocrite
Afraid of All. 

Of your gentle embrace wrapping me up
in the near future, 
actually play that reel in my head quite often.
Till I get giddy in fact. 
You are my handsome secret.

Of me having to confront you 
about these stupid feelings which engulf me
and make me powerless , 
you will never.
You rock at this waiting game
Not a level playing field actually.

Of you saying 'no', 
For Fate and Circumstances
spare no one. 

Of you saying 'yes' . 
For Fate and Circumstance
spare no one. 

I didn't want my epic romance 
to be tarnished by the all too real life,
Twas very pretty and pristine
So I never took the chance. 
Cautious for a change. 

There was no element of doubt
about our commitment , 
only time when unspoken words made
so much more meaning 
than the spoken ones. 

Our eyes duelled in anger 
each time we tried to dull our love
by truly moving on from each other, 
So we pretended to fall in love
with likeable people we never liked. 

I am thinking of you 
and you are thinking of me. 
Toxic flames and fumes 
made of our mutual feelings
paralyse me forever. 

I know it may sound sad
but it is real
And that is all that matters.

Give love a chance! 
What about true happiness? 
The lucky ones mutter under their breath. 

Passion would eat us alive , 
I don't want to live in the aftermath
So in this mental cove 
I am going to stay.

So , I have refrained from writing on ‘love’ generally as I feel I don’t have much experience in that department. However , one day I was doing something on my laptop and this poem just hit me like a wave and I had to take a pen and write , I had no choice.

Hope springs eternal they say
Only for those who bloom with sunshine
It didn’t
Give me a rope already
To hang ‘out’ with.

How can
Snaps and flashes of happy
Really compensate for this life
Which is so crappy?
Tell me really

I am trying so hard
To things not to get under my skin
Maybe a dark soul I am
For nefarious I feel
A true villain I am.

Insatiated with my genesis and growth &
Too proud to acknowledge my misery
I still give it company
I don’t want to give into this darkness
Where I seem to navigate seamlessly

When I see a happy person
I wanna dent their teeth and
Wipe that elusive smile off it
Thinking that I grit mine
And flash a fake smile and move

So what is the end you may ask?
To fit in by killing my self or
To stand out by killing myself?
Maybe it is to simply wait for a tomorrow
                                                And hope that hope springs from within 

Initially , I used to think that I should write only when I’m in a good mood and that nothing good can come when you are having a bad patch. Fueling  all the negativity into fodder for my poems has done wonders to my inner state and I feel that my words have more power when they are backed by genuine emotions.

Sherry: I love the strong emotions in your poems. It makes them so authentic and resonates with the human condition, for we have all been there. What are your hopes and dreams for your writing in the years ahead?
Samyuktha: I would love to publish something , a poetry book or a feature novel. I just want to write more. I want to experiment and push my boundaries as a writer. I feel that the writing challenges in Poets United and other sites really help with that. I also care about holding a job which helps the society and that’s why I chose law. So maybe legal journalism or a book series based on real life cases might be the way to go. I’m in the period of choosing my path and it is exciting and frightening at the same time.
Sherry: It is wonderful to have all of life ahead. Exciting indeed. Is there a cause that you are passionate about?
Samyuktha: I believe that every person should be given a level playing field to follow the dreams of their heart. I wish there was more sensitivity towards mental health and pursuit towards spiritual thinking , soul searching rather than materialistic ladder that the world seems to be forcing on us.
Sherry: I agree. Materialism has dulled our connection to the spiritual, and society feels its loss. But I feel a turning back to true values occurring. Number One on your Bucket List of places you would love to see?
Samyuktha: I have never travelled outside India and haven’t even travelled properly within India due to my motion sickness and general laziness. I would love to travel Italy and Australia.
Sherry: Good choices! What other activities do you enjoy, when you aren’t writing?
Samyuktha: I love reading , doing yoga , watching movies and T.V. shows. I also love following cricket and finding different food items to eat and drinking new varieties of coffee and tea to try out.

Sherry: That sounds like fun. Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?
Samyuktha: I love reading all your poems! It is a genuine community where I love to share my work and you guys have helped me learn new styles and develop depth. The joy of finding like minded people who appreciate your work is simply indescribable.
Thank you for having me ☺
Sherry: Thank you, Samyuktha, for allowing us to get to know you better. We look forward to reading much more of your work in the months to come.

Wasn't that fun, my friends? It is always wonderful to meet a new poet and welcome them into the poetic blogosphere, which supports and encourages us all so well. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Poetry Pantry #346

Photos Contributed by CC

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio River Walk

Hoodoos from the Kootenay's in British Columbia

Hoodoos from the Kootenay's in British Columbia

Daisies to Bring on Spring

Daisies to Bring on Spring

Greetings, Friends!  I sense a bit of spring in the air today....especially seeing CC's daisies.  Thanks, CC, for the beautiful photos.

Thanks to those who took part in Sumana's prompt "Mirror" for Midweek Motif on Wednesday.  Do look back at Rosemary's feature in The Living Dead from Friday.  She features Derek Walcott, the well known poet who just died a few days ago.  What a wonderful article she wrote!  (And, speaking of Rosemary, I hope everyone also saw the wonderful feature Sherry did on Rosemary last Monday.  We have such talent among us.)

Monday Sherry will be featuring one of Poets United's newer poets.  I will keep you in suspense, but do come back!  Susan has a very interesting prompt for Midweek Motif on Wednesday -- "Gender."  So begin to think about it, and see what you can come up with.

With no delay, let's share poetry.  Link your poem, say hello in the comments, and visit others who share poetry.  Be sure to check back later in the day and the following day to see who else has linked.  And DO be sure to visit everyone who visits your poetry...even if it is a bit later.  I have experienced recently that some people are forgetting about the 'visit others' part.   Anyway, do have a good Sunday and a great poetic week ahead!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Living Dead

~ Honouring our poetic ancestors ~

R.T.S.L. (1917-1977)

As for that other thing 
which comes when the eyelid is glazed 
and the wax gleam 
from the unwrinkled forehead 
asks no more questions of the dry mouth,

whether they open the heart like a shirt 
to release a rage of swallows, 
whether the brain 
is a library for worms, 
on the instant of that knowledge 
of the moment 
when everything became so stiff,  

so formal with ironical adieux, 
organ and choir, 
and I must borrow a black tie, 
and at what moment in the oration 
shall I break down and weep - 
there was the startle of wings 
breaking from the closing cage 
of your body, your fist unclenching 
these pigeons circling serenely 
over the page,  

as the parentheses lock like a gate 
1917 to 1977, 
the semicircles close to form a face, 
a world, a wholeness, 
an unbreakable O, 
and something that once had a fearful name 
walks from the thing that used to wear its name, 
transparent, exact representative, 
so that we can see through it 
churches, cars, sunlight,  
and the Boston Common, 
not needing any book.

– Derek Walcott (1930-2017)

I don't know who R.T.S.L. was (perhaps some Walcott scholar among our number can enlighten us?) but I expect you know that Walcott himself died a few days ago, at the age of 87.

It must be about 35 years ago that my then husband, Bill, came home one day and told me to switch on ABC radio quick: he'd just been listening to a marvellous new poet on the car radio, a Caribbean called Derek Walcott.

Dutch-born Bill was not a poet himself but a lover of the English language and of poetry in English – like Walcott himself, who is described in Wikipedia as 
“an elated, exuberant poet madly in love with English”. (English is the official language of Walcott's birthplace, St Lucia, but he would also have grown up speaking patois, which he sometimes used in his poems.)

Actually Walcott was not at all a new poet in 1982 or thereabouts, but he was newly resident in the USA at that time, which may be, indirectly, how his work came to the attention of an Australian radio show.

At that stage I had not heard of him, but I enjoyed his deep, mellifluous voice on that radio program. Then I noticed the beauty of his words, and listened harder; and afterwards sought out his work.

He received  the Nobel Prize for Literature ten years later.

A splendid obituary in The New York Times gives all the important details of his life and career – so thoroughly that it has saved me the trouble of any further research. Here is the link. Do have a read!

You can find his books on his Amazon page – mostly in paperback, but some are in Kindle too.

I'll give my friend Linda Stevenson the last word and perfect summing up, with her comment on facebook after his death was announced:

"Have been re-reading lots of his fabulous poems. What a generous, clear, musical voice...he seemed to beautifully merge a metaphysical inclination with perception of the everyday."

Material shared in 'The Living Dead' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, where applicable (older poems may be out of copyright). 

This particular photo is made available through Creative Commons and has the citation: Bert Nienhuis - File of the Werkgroep Caraibische Letteren, The Netherlands.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Mirror

“Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror or the painter?” — Pablo Picasso

“All things that pass / Are wisdom’s looking glass.” — Christina Rossetti

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.”—George Bernard Shaw

“There are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, ‘That person I see is a savage monster;’ instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do.” — Noam Chomsky

           Midweek Motif ~Mirror 

A Mirror reflects. Does it tell us who we are?

Does it show appearance or reality?

What do you see or want to see when you look in the mirror?

What else do you think might work as a mirror too?

Mirror is our motif today. You might also write your lines from the perspective of a mirror.

by Sylvia Plath

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
What ever you see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful---
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

I sat before my glass one day, 
And conjured up a vision bare, 
Unlike the aspects glad and gay, 
That erst were found reflected there - 
The vision of a woman, wild 
With more than womanly despair.
Her hair stood back on either side 
A face bereft of loveliness.
It had no envy now to hide 
What once no man on earth could guess.
It formed the thorny aureole 
Of hard, unsanctified distress.
Her lips were open - not a sound 
Came though the parted lines of red, 
Whate'er it was, the hideous wound 
In silence and secret bled.
No sigh relieved her speechless woe, 
She had no voice to speak her dread.
And in her lurid eyes there shone 
The dying flame of life's desire, 
Made mad because its hope was gone, 
And kindled at the leaping fire 
Of jealousy and fierce revenge, 
And strength that could not change nor tire.
Shade of a shadow in the glass, 
O set the crystal surface free! 
Pass - as the fairer visions pass - 
Nor ever more return, to be 
The ghost of a distracted hour, 
That heard me whisper: - 'I am she!'

by Spike Milligan

A young spring-tender girl
combed her joyous hair
'You are very ugly' said the mirror.

on her lips hung
a smile of dove-secret loveliness,
for only that morning had not
the blind boy said,
'You are beautiful’?

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—
                       (Next week Susan’s Midweek Motif will be ~ Gender)