The Poetry Society (India)

An Overview

by

H.K. KAUL

President

Indian poetry has flourished over the last 4000 years. Today, it is composed and written in more than twenty Indian languages, including English. It has always echoed the voice of the times and revealed the pains and passions of the people. Its growth has also reflected our rich cultural heritage.

The history of Indian poetry makes us aware of its glorious past in contrast to its present state. Today, as the world is shrinking and the communication network projecting man on the global scene much faster, the past values are getting lost in the struggle man is involved with. Issues confronting man have multiplied and so have his efforts for survival. Poetry today is facing the test of time. Poets need to be organized more vigorously than in the past to voice effectively their innermost thoughts and interact with each other more often. Giving away of awards to some of the few distinguished ones is not enough. Poets in India need to be encouraged in their creativity if we expect their contributions to transform our society. New life is to be given to old values which had stood us in good stead for so long. The poets should come to the forefront to undertake this job. As such, organized efforts need to be made to promote the production and publication of good Indian poetry. Poetry written in different parts of India needs to be collected, interpreted and propagated.

We have no figures of the very many poetry lovers among our masses. Though some of them still attend readings, mushairas or kavita sammelans, the unprecedented growth of film songs and their regular broadcasts and telecasts have rendered the populace less attracted to good poetry. This effect ought to be counteracted by encouraging the reading and appreciation of good poetry or by listening to it in suitable environments.

We also notice that the poets and poetry-lovers are divided into segments due to several factors. Different linguistic and regional divisions and language policies adopted by our State Government have brought about this state of affairs. No single language can grow in the present circumstances uniformly throughout the country. Poets are an indigent lot: after spending much time and energy in composing their verses, by chance or persuasion if any of their collection is published, they hardly gain financially. The lack of coordination among poets has worsened the situation. As the Indian poets are not organized they are hardly able to communicate with their readers and are unable to receive the necessary feedback. Writing poetry may not be regarded as a wholly professional activity as no poet lives on the earnings from his poetry, but writing poetry is certainly an all too serious vocation of the most sensitive. The writing of poetry is not mere pastime.

The distribution of anthologies is creating great problems for the poets and publishers. The distribution systems facilitating the transport  of books and journals to readers living in different parts of the country have not developed fully. Our readers are not able to know what is being published elsewhere in the country and if they do know about a title, they find it difficult to get it unless they are favourably located. It is for this  reason that the anthologies do not reach a wide audience. Also, as poetry publications are priced low, the distributors do not find the distribution of these works profitable. Thus, only a very small number of poetry-readers are able to receive them. The rest gradually lose interest in poetry, and turn to other pastimes.

Due to lack of better distribution facilities,  the publication of poetry  has remained a non-commercial activity in India. Publishers do not expect high or quick returns. If they publish a volume they generally do it as an act of charity to oblige the poet, or to maintain a growing list of new titles.

Some steps, therefore, need to be taken to bring the poets together. In early 1980ís  I organized several  meetings of poets in Delhi   and  discuss these problems  with them. I insisted that  a forum  needed to be created which would exclusively be devoted to the promotion of poetry in India. Many poets agreed with me and some also disagreed. Nevertheless, with the aim of promoting poetry. The Poetry Society (India) (TPS) was established in July 1984. Besides  myself, Keshav Malik, Dr. J.P.Das, Dr. Lakshmi Kannan, Man Mohan Singh, Sunita Jain, S. Balu Rao, and Priya Devi became the founder members of The Poetry Society (India). The Society was launched to (i) promote Indian Poetry and look after the interests of poets in India; (ii) undertake collection, interpretation, translation, publication, and propagation of Indian poetry in India and other countries; (iii) arrange expert advice on composition, publishing, distribution, and translation of Indian poetry; (iv) help maintain the highest standards and foster a sense of literary affinity among the poets writing in different languages in India; (v) undertake, facilitate and provide for the publication of newsletters, and of a journal devoted to Indian poetry; (vi) assist in settlement of differences and disputes between members of the Society on the one hand and other bodies and individuals on the other; (vii) award grants, fellowships, prizes, subventions and assistance to poets and translators of poetry; and (viii) engage in such educational, literary, and charitable activities, as would promote, provide and develop the  above objectives of the Society.

In the past TPS has organised several seminars, readings, workshops, lectures, competitions and the releases of poetry anthologies. The Poetry workshops conducted by Henry Taylor, Prof. Nissim Ezekiel, Dr. Tom Paulin and Brian Patten were found useful by the poets in our early years. Thereafter  many well-known poets  conducted poetry workshops. Readings by many Indian and by foreign poets too, are  organized by the Society almost every month.

Among the foreign poets invited to read were Shirley Kaufman (USA), Alexander Mezhirov and Olazhas Suleimenov (USSR), Prof. Edwin Thumboo (Singapore), Les Muray (Australia), Tom Paulin (Britain), Barbara Lefcowitz (America), Sigurdur A Magnusson (Iceland), Christopher Levenson (Canada), Tulasi Diwasa (Nepal), Madisson Morrison (USA) and Alan Brownjohn (U.K.). Ms. Carol Bruce, specialist in the art of reading poems too participated in the programmes of the Society. Christopher Moony,  an Australian poet who sang his ghazals in English  was yet another participant.

TPS has been holding  conventions and seminars from time to time.  To give just a few examples, a convention of poets for national integration was one of them. A seminar on Contemporary Australian Literature was organized in July 1987 in collaboration with the Australian High Commission and the India International Centre. An interesting group discussion was organized in November 1987 on rhythm and sound in Indian poetry in English. Prof. John Oliver Perry, Tufts University, led the discussion by presenting a paper. It was noticed that the variations in the pronunciation of English in different parts of India created major problems n establishing uniformity in this aspect of Indian English poetry. The Society also organizes poetry evenings to honour poets. Among those honoured include  Dylan Thomas, Gerald Manley Hopkins and Dinanath Nadim.

The Poetry Society in collaboration with the British Council  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.

We have also been organizing the All-India Poetry Competitions Among School Children with the support of the Department of  Secondary and Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.  Four such national poetry competitions for school children have already been organized.  TPS has also been organizing with the support of the Department of Secondary and Higher Education the Creative Writing Workshops  for students writing  poetry in Indian languages.  Such Creative Writing Workshops have been organized in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Karnataka  and Kerala.

The Poetry Society (India) also publishes the Journal.  It was started in 1990.  It is regularly getting published. Poems written by some of the best Indian poets  in English and other Indian languages have been published in English in the Journal.

The Poetry Society has its  Life Members and Associate Life Members  actively associated with its activities. TPS continues to organize programmes  from time to time.   Poetry lovers and poets are welcome to help and participate in these programmes. I  hope that  the activities of the Poetry Society (India) will  spread throughout India in due course of time.  

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An Overview

Poetry for the Young       Contact Us       Privacy Policy      Sitemap

                 © Copyright 2012.The Poetry Society (India) L-67A, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi-110017, India

                   Site Designed by : Parthasarathi Pal/Susanta Mohanty/Suchisnita Nayak
Best viewed at:600*800