Award Winning Poems
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:
Fifth National Poetry Competition : 1994
Mr. Michael Hulse, a well-known British poet was the Chairman of the panel of judges. The other members of the panel were Dr. J.P. Das, Mr. Nissim Ezekiel, Ms. Imtiaz Dharkar and Mr. K. Satchitanandan, Dr. Richard Walker, First Secretary, Cultural Affairs, British Council Division, Dr. Rajni Badlani, English Studies Office, British Council Division, and Mr. H.K. Kaul, Secretary-General, The Poetry Society (India), were the ex-officio members of the panel of judges.
Makhija (Bombay) for her poem A Farmerís Ghost
Smita Agarwal (Allahabad) for her poem Our Foster-Nurse of Nature is Repose
Award Winning Poems
|A FARMERíS GHOST by Anju Makhija|
Behind the trunk of a mango tree you were seen
vigilantly guarding rice fields, later,
collecting cow dung, rounding up cows,
you munched dry rotis, beat your daughter-in-law.
A farmer never leaves his land, they said,
till rice is safe from man and beast.
When bins are full, rice mixed with dry neem,
he will leave. The old man is dead, not asleep.
that night, I read about witty Veetal,
short-tempered Zhoting, man-eating Hadals
and other such Konkan spirits in The Times.
Next night: ghost-busting, to dispel tales spreading like flames
in the night. Dark face, still as a scarecrow,
leaning against a haystack, you were seen
by all but me. Disconcerted then, now I see the point:
dispelling superstitions city folk like,
but, to believe the imagined to be truecab be a way of life, a fact, a truth.
|OUR FOSTER-NURSE OF NATURE IS REPOSE by Smita Agarwal|
Lying in bed on a pure white sheet, the
air conditioner whirring, I stare at the
strip light and when the eyes smart
I turn and it seems, for the first time,
I seriously consider your features.
Eyelashes like an auntís, inked and curled,
mouth-put petulant, the shape of your limbs
like your fatherís. Not even your temper
Brown-bodied child, sleeping.
You assure me that I belong to
the land of karma. Having performed my
duty why should I wish that my shadow,
like a stamp, should brand you
What gesture of atonement can I make
You whom Iíve flogged in dreams each
time you upset an apple-cart with a
sneeze or fever.
Let me clear this room of frost and fire.
Shoo away clamour, turn out the light that
drills through your lids. What can I give you,
before the world completely claims you, butthese few hours of uninterrupted sleep.
|THE POETICS OF DESIRE by Rina Singh|
Throw away your papers tonight
put aside your pen
let your fingers
write on my body,
an empty page
write a poem
if your syntax hurts my skin
if I sigh, if I moan
just tighten your embrace
if your fingers stammer
dip them in darkness
and start again
fill up my margins
suffocate me with your grammar
proofread the madness
you have created
erase with your lips
your fingers make
read to me
what you have written
see the pages of my life
in your fingerstonight.
|VOICES IN THE NIGHT by Usha Rajagopalan|
Few are those half-remembered days
as a child in Manamadurai
when you scared us, grandmother,
with the beggarís call for food.
"It is not food she wants, "you said,
"but little girls from cities
who torment their mother."
Quickly we promised to behave
fearing the mournful voice
that cried in the night.
The unsteady roll of the hand-cart
over the cobbles of the street
followed the heady scent of jasmine
that crept through the shutters
and brought grandmother out.
"Have you seen these before?" she asked
filling our eager hands with buds
just blooming with a trace of early dew.
The old singer was just a kind.
His cracked voice shot through the dark
but lowered to offer prayers
for alms given with love.
The pigs snuffled next, grunting
for leftovers, even human wastes.
"Chee! How awful!" we said,
"and people eat pork!"
"Be tolerant," she said, "Who knows
what youíll be like tomorrow."
The day dawnedbut youíd left, long ago.
|COME, LIFT ME by Neeti Singh|
In a red skirt and saffron scarf I went.
To my lordís house I went.
the steps singed my feet
the steep tall walls questioned me
I turned my Lord
from the eighth step,
and took to the streets.
The beggars pulled my clothes
I exchanged them for their rags
and shed my only gold-
a ring, in the thick black pond
by their huts.
With open hair and blackened clothes,
Street dogs chased me for fun
a mad woman kissed me
and a serpent once mistook
my neck for a tree.
My dear come
to me, come
Under the peepul
by the gutter one morning
while bathing I slipped,
my skull hit the rock
and my lord smiled.
O how I ran!
Leaving in my haste
my naked black bodyin the water.
|LEGEND RECYCLED by Ranjit Hoskote|
The king is drawn like a sunstruck crow
to the fishergirlís creel:
his enchantment is complete,
he must ravish her.
And so, by the green river, he forces
his will upon her.
The kingís son, revolted, swears
never to marry:
a jongleur of herbs,
he turns his celibate hand
to the management of gardens,
dying, becomes a parakeet.
The king grows balder, less passionate.
Sunburned, he courts calendars that paraphrase
web-foot forecasts for his erratic crops.
He lives in a quiet country without hurricanes:
himself, enthroned between the kerosene streams
of dull speech and diligent policy.
The fishergirl, half-translated, is neither at home
on the wharf nor in the palace. Every night,
like a lute unstrung, she climbs to her terrace
and vomits the grief and hate of her queenly state
in torrents of fish:
striped, silver, riddle-tailed, arrow-headed fishesreleased like toxins among the dominions of air.
|THE TIME OF BRAHMA by Rufus Daniel|
Its only five something a.m.
but it is June, and the days are long.
I cannot say it is summer
for it does not feel like it,
the rains have left a coolness in their wake
that still lies upon the land.
Never become so empty, as the years pass slowly on,
that you forget what the dawn did to you.
For this is the succour for then wanderer
waking from a night of aloneness.
this is the time of shimmering reason.
When one feels
relationship with creation,
neither that of slave nor master
but one of complete belonging, complete oneness,
total surrender, total victory.
This is the time of power,
a very strange kind that hums in the air
and sings in your ears.
It gives one-quite casually, while passing by-
the strength that has no name, no origin,
and that always has to be born like this,
like a gift from a time of wonder.
Oh, it is a strange power, and I
will not try to give it words.
Who knows, it may be a blasphemy,
and my should would turn its face from me.
A bird chirps through the morning air
I must sleep nowThis is the time of hope.