Award Winning Poems
All-India Poetry Competition
in collaboration with the
British Council, India
The Poetry Society in collaboration with the British Council, India organsed nine All-India Poetry Competitions since 1988. Thousands of poets have participated in these competitions. Nine volumes of short listed poems were published under the series POETRY INDIA. The following are the names of the award-winners:
Third National Poetry Competition : 1991
The judges of the third All-India Poetry Competition were Mr. Peter Forbes, Editor, Poetry Review (London), Mr. J.P. Das, Mr. Nissim Ezekiel, Mr. Keshav Malik and Dr. Lakshmi Kannan. Dr. Neil Gilroy-Scott, First Secretary, Cultural Affairs, the British Council Division, and I, were the ex-officio members of the committee of judges.
Debee Bhattacharya (Pune) for her poem "Punarnava".
1. Hemalatha Shetty (Madras) for his poem "The Archaka".
Krishna Tateneni (Ohio, USA) for the poem "Re-Entry".
3. Sudeep Sen (New Delhi) for the poem "New York Times".
prize for a young poet: Ms. Shampa
Sinha (Australia) for the poem "The
Award Winning Poems
PUNARNAVA by Rajlukshmee Debee Bhattacharya
(A creeper that renews itself, if you cut it: Jnanendramohan’s Bengali dictionary.)
In some rainy month, did you decide
to climb up our lichened wall, to reach
the rusty tin-roof, transforming
its shabbiness into velvet-green,
to hang your emerald-pendants
around the neck of our home?
All knew the perennial Madhavilata;
the fragrant Hasnuhana; queen of the night.
They gaped when they saw you
running wild on our roof –
Velvet-green, strange, unknown.
We shouted with glee, "It is Punonnoba … Punarnava."
That you had medicinal properties
that your juice soothes and heals
we never knew till the Vaid
sent his servant,
a demon who expertly climbed our roof
hacked away at its emerald-fringed coverlet!
Oh the despair and the hope
the running out in soaking rain
to watch your extending tendrils,
growing in greenness … Punarnava …
eternal companion on the root-top.
That home was left behind,
as birth-strings snapped.
A refugee, wanderer, I
look for you, but no one here
knows your name. No one knows
a velvet-green medicinal creeper.
Lost to me, Punarnava,
your shade, your cool décor,your healing magic.
|THE ARCHAKA by Hemalatha Shetty|
Bone thin, in a tired dhoti
clinging to his bare frame,
he intoned the Vedas
with the weariness of years,
spent in placating Gods
that were silent to melody and to man.
Hungry eyes scann’d faces
for the day’s alms-
Meanwhile those Vedic verses
recited by rote,
mocked a deity de-mystified -
Only in dreams he sought his God -
without name, Someone who gave him,
more than supper and shame.
|RE-ENTRY by Krishna Tateneni|
You’re going home, says the girl,
so kiss me goodbye.
I tell her this kiss is special-
it has crawled out into the night
from a cheap iron trunk rusting
in a cobwebbed attic corner
with storybooks and the rest
of my childhood.
I remember my sister ruffling my hair;
how in bed after dad turned out the lights,
she told me made-up funnies about Laurel and Hardy;
how quarrels led to violent exchanges
of words, pillows, and slippers; how I screamed
at mother trying to talk me into
unlocking the bathroom door,
"Where you gonna find her a husband?"
I dread the return to childhood;
the opening of channels that have contracted
into narrow veins; the rediscovery of home;
the smelling of ghosts in familiar rooms
with unfamiliar arrangements; the finding
of the cleaned-out attic;
the hovering above my head
of the future.
|NEW YORK TIMES by Sudeep Sen|
Every morning I scurry
through the streets of New York, turn around theavenue,
pass the red and white awning of the Jewish deli,
walk out with a bagel or croissant or spilled coffee,
speeding in a subway of mute faces, barely bitten the bagel,
barely unfolded The Times, barely awake.
Before I realize, it’s lunch-time,
and then late evening,
being herded home with the flow of humankind,
up and down elevators, escalators, staircases, and ramps.
I’m back on the street again, late night,
though early enough to glance at next morning’s paper.
In this city, I count the passage of time
only by weekends
finked by five-day flashes I don’t even remember.
In this city where walking means running,
driving means speeding,
there seem to exist many days in one,
an ironical and oblique efficiency.
But somewhere, somehow, time takes its toll,
overburdened, over utilized, and malnourished,
as the tunnels seeping under the river’s belly slowly cave in,
the girders lose their tension like old dentures, and
the underground rattles with the passing of every train.
After all, how long can one stretch time?
Illusions can lengthen, credit ratings strengthen,
even Manhattan elongates with every land-fill,
but not time, it takes its own sweet time
the way it always has and always will,
not a second more, not a second less.
|THE DIFFERENCE by Shampa Sinha|
The new housemaid came today-
a tall slender dark-haired girl of twelve
who wanders deer-like from room to room
Untrained as yet
she cannot control her fingers
picks up, touches too much
and stares without shame
as if she had a right to
Soon enough when she is allocated the space
on the floor in the corner of the kitchen
for her meals she will learn
that though she may live with us
and travel with us
and clear away our dirt,
there are distances, codes of conduct
which must be observed
at all times
and, as she realises,
that, because she was born
more hungry than I
her world cannot ever fuse with mine
her eyes will stop
gazing up at meand asking me why.