Award Winning Poems
Organized 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:
|Seventh National Poetry Competition : 1997|
Mr. Stephen Knight, the well-known British poet was the chaiman of the panel of judges. The other judges were: Dr. J.P. Das, Mrs. Imtiaz Dharkar, Mr. Jayant Mahapatra, and Mr. Keki N. Daruwalla. Dr. Richard Walker, First Secretary Cultural Affairs, Dr. Rajni Badlani, English Studies Officer of the British Council Division, and Mr. H.K. Kaul, Secretary-General, The Poetry Society (India) were the ex-officio members of the panel of judges.
for the poem: Portrait of a
Krishnan Kottoor for the poem Digging
1. Smita Agarwal
for the poem The Lama
2. Anish Vohra
for the poem Write
Your Name Only
3. Vivek Narayanan
for the poem Monument
4. Vijay Nambisan for the poem You, Wystan Auden
5. Sudeep Sen
for the poem Woman
Special Prize on the theme related to the 50th anniversary of Indiaís Independence
Sahgal for her poem Independence
G. Nair for his poem These
Are the Things We Could Talk About
Award Winning Poems
PORTRAIT OF A LADY by Ranjit Hoskote
Objects are lesson: from bowls, hairpins, brooches,
you learn of forgotten lives. The stories say
my grandmother was a fever tree:
two birds sat on her branches, one pecking
at a grape, the other singing an aria.
What historyís bookkeepers do not show
is the tremor down the spine she felt,
the tendril of blood that coiled in her nose
when the whistle of a train announced
her husbandís return from a tour of duty.
In the stories, sheís an actor, a pilgrim:
shadow-boxing with a thunderstorm,
she slips through brick walls,
treads a theatre of scrubbed floors
and ember beds. She leaves me
a loaf of shortbread in the oven,
a page of couplets in a script I cannot read
and wrapped in a peel of green appleskin,
a tea cup glazed with a Dutch windmill,
the last one of the set.
The urchin-cut waif in the vignette above
is the child she was. Voyeur, clairvoyant,
she stares in at windows, her head a gourd
hollowed by the age she never reached
in life, her hair a silver floss.
Objects are lessons: the light seeps
through the slats, sets off a shimmer
on her lace. Sheís crocheted the evening
and its creatures: the silken thread
that she pulls from her patternknots tight around my neck.
|DIGGING by Gopi Krishnan Kottoor|
The soil I now pick
contains fragments of the dead.
They once saddened and happied themselves here
turning to the sun and moon, quite puzzled
then taking things as they came,
for granted. This is hard brown laterite
that I turn,
to plant a few bright periwinkles
stolen from the mound of one long obscure,
dead. They should grow well
here. So I turn out
the millipedes curling up
ashamed of the sudden expose
into the dark ringstones of sapphire and topaz.
Pinned to sudden light they have all coiled up
in abject surrender. These things we bury back
with pushed up soil, crushing strange roots
going everywhere like soft nerve fibers,
sending messages of thirst to strange
destinations. Each scoop of mud
brings more life to light
lost like death underground
doing odd jobs, ordained like saints, salient
in dark recess drawing salary in kind.
Mud-work is a kind of worship.A silent thanksgiving for a home, called earth.
|THE LAMA by Smita Agarwal|
I cannot say where he came from.
Possibly, from beyond the tall
Mountains, from Tibet, past crevasses
And glacial screes, like a high
Stinging wind. The bells on his
Pack-mule tinkled. He shuffled along
Peddling borax, salt and gold,
A lion-manned, eagle-eyed lama.
He travelled down the gorges,
From the Jadh Ganga to Harsil.
The beauty of Bharioghati
Poisoned his blood. He taught
Himself to wear his curse like an amulet.
We chanced upon him singing
Of fires that burn, snows
That numb. Seldom does he speak
Of that serpent that has
Seized his tongue.
Mountain-dweller, below you
Stretches a plain that asks
Nothing of you. The river that was
Always by your side shall flow,
While you till and sow, and having
Unlearned language, relearn the
Song of silence.
WRITE YOUR NAME ONLY by Anish Vohra
Write your name only.
I tell the truth. I swear on Marimai,
Look at the coils of his hair, master.
So much like a cobra hood, no?...
He is a gift of God, ... God.
Master, when the earth heats up
Then it becomes, like, ripe.
But without putting the plough,
And sowing the seed,
Does the tree grow?
Does it? Tell!
Then how will my name do for fatherís name?
If the father is not there then how did
This boy happen?
Donít write the name of any God
Only a man...
What have the Gods done?
They have not filled my stomach...
Write your name only.
Donít ask his caste.
We are not any one manís wife,
We are not women of the hearth
Who has that much luck?
His birth is of here only.
In the dawn he was born,
When my stomach slipped down,
No midwife, or anyone was there,
My heart was troubled, ... but it was
Touch the feet
Touch his feetBut write your name only.
|MONUMENT by Vivek Narayanan|
It stands immobile. Fender bent
around bulge, steel twined
into flesh, horn locked
Both, supine. A buffalo curled deadinto a truckís dented front.
|YOU, WYSTAN AUDEN by Vijay Nambisan|
Now six feet beneath the air
The Nordic shape of skull is bare
And behind the august frown
Worms have gorged on verb and noun...
The baffling lines that seemed to trace
Maps of care upon his face,
Now nothing between brow and chin
But maggots have tunnelled in...
And the hands whose fingersí ends
Once held the keys to common sense
And the truly careless wrist
Which cherubs have often kissed
Lie open now without pretence
That they enclose arguments
To shatter prison doors or shake
The steps of wisdom on the make...
The compassionate eyes which hate
Could not face and grew desperate,
Now bony voids where worlds once turned
In agony at being burned...
The heart that could some pity find
For every shape of human fiend
Now less than dust, because from thence
No spring of friendship does commence...
Of all those works of lust and pain
No human fragment can remain
And all the foolishness is past
Yet our lives are still so vast...
And in that vastness since we speak
Strong words of love though we are weak
He cannot know something survivesThe carrion bleaching of our lives.
|WOMAN WITH AMPHORA by Sudeep Sen|
from the deep
blue of the sky,
and walks gently
on her head
an earthen jar
of fresh amphora.
into the blue,
long and elegant
Just as she comes
her tall frame
holding the thaw
of her contents,
to make mewanted more.
|INDEPENDENCE DAY by Tara Sahgal|
Fifty years of independence from you.
You that I am when finally I sleep.
Where colours blur into a muddy brown
and almond eyes are startlingly blue.
You are my context, my only clue.
How do you deny me when I am you?
My tongue curls sounds that you have made.
My box is of stones that you have laid.
|THESE ARE THE THINGS WE COULD TALK ABOUT by Raghav G. Nair|
These are the things we could talk about
for the instance, rising prices, inflation,
non-availability of food grains, things
we could build our theses upon, poor
children in the streets, hunger like acid
burning down their tongues, our country-
green fast disappearing, the morning sun
coming out from somewhere among the denuded trees
like love betrayed. Other things happening around us:
The cries of our women and children still fresh from
behind the cold walls
of partition. So much more.
The woods are lovely dark and deep.
But we would rather look away,
give a god to ransom. Quietly forget,
that bloody country with clipped wingsflying out of Nehruís hands.