Monday, July 24, 2017

LIFE OF A POET - ANUSHA DAS

My friends, today we are pleased to introduce one of our newer members, Anusha Das, who blogs at  LEAFLET - where words fall in cool breeze . What is very cool is that Anusha is married to one of our long-time members, Amrit Sinha, whom we have featured before here. I love it when  poets find each other and get married. Can you imagine the potential for poetry? Let's dive in.




At Munmar, when wind kisses my hair


Sherry: Anusha, I was so delighted to read on your blog that you are married to Amrit,  and we are so pleased you have now joined him at Poets United.  How delightful. Tell us a bit about your life, won’t you?

Anusha: Hi Sherry! First of all a big thanks to you for your questions, and I feel excited to answer them. I belong from a small town in India named Bhagalpur. My father is a retired Government Bank employee and my mother is a wonderful home-maker. My younger sister is currently employed in an MNC.

The motto of my life is whatever be the situation, you have to wake up, dress up and show up. Some days are bright, and some may look pretty bad. However, even bad has that ‘pretty’ attached to it, and we need to move forward taking that in mind. Also, I believe change is an essential part of life, and we should be ready for any change.


At Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
Me with my hubby Amrit

I am employed in a Government bank, like my father. I am blessed to have Amrit in my life, and we are on the verge of completing 2 years of our marriage. I am also blessed to have caring in-laws, with my father-in-law being a retired Bank Officer, and my mother-in-law a wonderful lady. Our families have known each other since our birth.


In Houseboat at Kerala - 
my first trip with hubby


Sherry: Congratulations on your marriage, Anusha. Your family sounds wonderful. And how lovely to have known your husband since birth. 

I must ask straightaway, how long have you been writing? When did you begin? What caused you to pick up your pen and write that first poem?

Anusha: I started writing in my school days, but I didn’t take it seriously back then. I remember I used to scribble few short poems and two liners in the last pages of my notebooks and wondered whether they were good enough to be read out loud to others. A few years ago when I was struggling to get a desired job, be ahead in competition, and was on the verge of disappointment, I think that was the phase when my poetry oozed out from my wounded heart. My first poem was a sad one and three pages long.

As I mentioned, I have been writing since my childhood, but it was my dear husband and your friend Amrit who made me realise that my poems are good and I should continue writing. It was he who suggested me to start my own blog and turn my hobby into art, for which I will always be thankful to him.

Sherry: We are so happy that you did! What is it about poetry that caused you to choose it as your means of creative expression? What do you love about it?

Anusha: The best part of poetry is the world of the imagination. I love to create my own world where I am the leader, in which I can change, create or curate anything I want. Poems transport me to my own world of dreams. I love the essence of imagination in poetry. They give you the ability to think and create.

"Poems transport me 
to my own world of dreams."

Poems give us the space to express whatever we desire. There are no boundaries. They are limitless. Poetry is a sea of emotion, accompanied by imagination, in which I love to float.

Sherry: What a beautiful description that is! Is there anyone in your life you feel has been a significant influence on your becoming a poet? Someone who encouraged you, told you stories as a child, believed in you? 

Anusha: As a child, my mother used to narrate lots of stories to me and made me eat my lunch. The stories revolved around kings, queens, fairies and a bit of mythology, and they helped me exercise my imagination. My grandmom, who used to put me to sleep, did that with innumerable tales about ghosts and the paranormal, and though they were scary, I loved the thrill they generated. 

Sherry: My grandma told me ghost stories too!

Anusha: In school, I was a regular visitor to the library, reading novels and magazines. These gradually arose within me the desire to write something of my own.

When I met Amrit, he inspired me to write more and helped me start my own blog. He insisted me to give words to my thoughts, and that’s how I began to focus more on my poems. In fact, I had got attracted to him because of his poetry.

Sherry: That is interesting. I always think we can know a poet's heart through his poetry, and it seems to be very true in your case. I read one of your poems about your grandmother, and suspect she is an important person in your life. Would you like to tell us a little about her? Maybe a small story from your childhood?

Anusha: Yes of course! She has been an important person in my life. Everyone says that I am a shadow of her. Actually I am a lookalike of her. My grandmother was a sweet lady. Simplicity defines her the best. She was fond of reading newspapers. During our summer vacations I used to nap with her on sultry afternoons. She narrated to me incidents about various people, our native village, as well as childhood stories which revolved around my father, uncles and aunts. Sadly she passed away when I was in my high school. I miss her sometimes, as she could not even witness my marriage.

Sherry: It is so hard to lose our grandmothers. I am so sorry, Anusha. I am sure she would be so proud of you. 

Would you like to choose two or three of your poems to share with us, and tell us a bit about each one?

Anusha: Sure! Here they are.

I sew memories
In that winter sun
Basking in glory
As slowly embers burn

Huddled together
Bundled in awe
In grandma's cuddle
Dreams that I saw

By that wooden log
Orange it glowed
Warm stories flowed
As out snow poured

I sew memories
Sweet and bitter
Of moth smelling sweater
That lovely tender winter

Sherry: I love this poem! It reminds me of sitting looking into the flames of a small gas fireplace, as my grandma told me stories on winter afternoons when I was small.

Anusha: This poem makes me nostalgic. It carries me back to my hometown. It makes me a child once again when during long winter nights we all family members used to sit around the fireplace and giggled in joy, listening to many stories which mom and grandma narrated. I felt so warm in my woollens, a  comfort that no expensive bed in the world could provide. My dad would often bring something hot and spicy to eat which we had together. The above poem is about  my childhood winter nights.


It rained that day
On a haven's bay
A soothsayer with cards
Waited on a barren yard

Those questions on his mind
With greed was he blind
He met the sorcerer's eyes
Like fire striking ice

"Oh you boy
What do you wish?
The cards on a deck
Are awaiting your pick

"But wisely choose your pick
And do not frown
As your fortune lay strewn
By the candle wick"

"'Riches' all I want
Of world and wide
As happiness to me
Is what diamonds provide"

"So be it"
said the tarot wizard
"It will rain gold
Instead of hail and cold"

With excitement he cried
Hopped and danced around
Alas what he found
His hopes down profound

Sad it was a dream
A fanciful whim
He rubs his eyes
None hears his utter cries

Anusha: As I mentioned above that poetry form is a world of imagination and emotions, here I tried to create a world of fantasy and whim. I penned down a whimsical story which children would love to read if ever it gets published. 

Sherry: It would appeal to children, and carries a message as well. 


the thunder the grumble
my heart does rumble
with pain and pleasure
all that I treasure
emotions corked up for long
tears stored for long
sudden struck a lightning
insides blare out
I pour and pour
memories sweet and sour
and as the cloud burst
rain kissed the earth
revealed and healed
soul that was sealed
now open and ajar
peace not so far


Anusha: This poem is about bottled up feelings which people do not share when they are upset. The path of life is stony sometimes but we should share our problems with close ones. Sharing makes the burden lighter. We all have our ups and downs but we should not corner ourselves from the outer world.  Sharing our problems makes us relieved, calm and composed.

Sherry: I so agree. When someone is closed off, others can't know what they are feeling, unless they talk about it.

What other pursuits or activities do you enjoy when you aren’t writing?

Anusha: Apart from writing, I love listening to music and reading novels. Whenever I am stressed I just sing out loud and in a minute I forget everything. Singing clears my heart and I feel lighter. Similarly, reading also makes me forget the outer world and I enjoy it thoroughly. Lately I have generated deep interest in cooking and experimenting with food. In short you can say that I am a jack of all trades but master of none.


My first dance recital competition in school


Sherry: It seems you have mastered many pursuits, Anusha! You look adorable at your dance recital. Do you still dance?

Anusha: Yes, but just casually.

Sherry: Anusha, we want to welcome you warmly to our community. We are so happy to get to know you better. Is there anything you would like to say to Poets United?

Anusha: Poets United is an apt platform for budding writers like me. It gives me immense pleasure to see the comments of other poets on my blog, which motivate me further to write. Also, visiting other poets’ blogs enhances my learning, as I find myself pleasantly surrounded in the midst of poetic art globally. I want to say “Thank you” from the core of my heart to Poets United. Keep showering your love on me.

Sherry: We will! Thank you, Anusha, for this lovely visit. We hope to enjoy your work, and Amrit's, for a long time to come. 

Wasn't this a lovely visit, kids? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Poetry Pantry #363

Capsicum baccatum in Saúde flea market, São Paulo, Brazil


Happy Sunday once again, Poets!  Pretty much mid-summer here.  And lots of summer activities going on in this area this time of year.  Festivals, farmers markets, concerts, etc.  It is a wonderful time of year.  I found the photo above in Wikimedia Commons.  Colorful, isn't it?

If you have not read the very relevant poem Rosemary shared on Friday for her I Wish I'd Written This feature, go back and take a look at "The Gentle Hum."

This week on Monday come back to read Sherry's interview of one of our newest young poets, one she had NOT interviewed before.   A clue to whet your curiosity -- she is married to another poet who periodically joins us here at Poets United!

Wednesday Sumana's Midweek Motif prompt is "Finding a Sanctuary."   Alas, I think each of us needs one of those!

With no further delay, let's share poetry!  Link your poem below.  Say hello in comments. Visit others who share their poems.  Come back again and again, as more people will be posting throughout today and tomorrow.  Have a good week!

Friday, July 21, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This

The Gentle Hum

I wonder,
Will it all click into place?
I feel it might.
I had a glimpse
That things could all come right.
I'd wake up
On a sunny, slightly roostered morn
And wouldn't realise at first;
The rightness would take time to dawn.
And gradually
the thing would start to gleam;
This worried life I'd had,
This awful world, this painful mess –
It was, in fact, a kind of dream.
The penny would just drop

Into my hand,
The penny that I'd lost so long ago,
And all the peace withheld and blocked from me
Would start to flow.
The gentle hum, the gold and silver light
Would all resume;
The fairies and the pixies,
The particles of dust
Caught in the sunlight in my room.
I'd pick up
Where I'd been so rudely interrupted;
I'd have it back again for keeps,
My dog, my brilliant grasp of life,
My backyard and my paddocks full of time,
The world all glad around me,
My rightful place,
My joyous leaps.

Michael Leunig

from Poems 1972-2002, Melbourne, Penguin (Viking) 2003.






Leunig is a much-loved Australian cartoonist with a quirky, whimsical style, who has been part of the national psyche for about 50 years and by now is almost as well-known and loved for his poetry too. He often illustrates his cartoons with poetry – or perhaps his poetry with cartoons.

He is modest about his poetic talent and has described some of his efforts as verses rather than poetry, but his public insists on calling it poetry. Wikipedia describes him as a cartoonist, poet and cultural commentator. He was declared an Australian Living Treasure by the National Trust of Australia in 1999.


His website features his cartoons, paintings, prose writings, poems and prayers. He writes beautiful and often poignant prayers, in simple language; and his cartoons are to fall in love with. The site includes a detailed biography about his life and work.

He is often referred to as a prophet – of both innocence (childlike wonder) and disillusionment (he can be politically outspoken).

He has the knack of touching a chord and saying just what everyone wishes they'd said, or would have if they could. (Well, except for people who take offence at the more controversial material.)


I love this poem for presenting us with another view than all the sadness, horror and alarm with which the news keeps deluging us – for taking us, if just for a little while, back to the joys of childhood. (Oh to have 'paddocks full of time'!)

Is it the happy poem it seems at first glance? I think it is in fact a sad poem, detailing the things lost outside of dreams. I think it expresses yearning.



Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors. This photo of Leunig: Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 (Bahudhara - Own work Original file name = DSC12222.JPG)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Masks



Golden masks excavated in KalmakarehLorestanIran.

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” 

“I believe in my mask-- The man I made up is me
 I believe in my dance-- And my destiny” 

“A mask tells us more than a face.” 


Three pictures of the same female noh mask 


Midweek Motif ~ Masks

Masks. Can't live with them and can't live without them! And in addition to our personal masks, there are also cultural and ritual masks that are precious to the faithful and also to collectors.

Can we tell when someone is undisguised? 
Do we prefer people to maintain the mask?

Your Challenge: In a new poem,
unmask a mask, reveal its use and properties, or tell its story.



Masks from Many Cultures - Screener


We Wear the Mask 

by Paul Laurence Dunbar
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!



The Poem as Mask by Muriel Rukeyser

Orpheus
When I wrote of the women in their dances and 
      wildness, it was a mask,
on their mountain, gold-hunting, singing, in orgy,
it was a mask; when I wrote of the god,
fragmented, exiled from himself, his life, the love gone
      down with song,
it was myself, split open, unable to speak, in exile from
      myself.
   
There is no mountain, there is no god, there is memory
of my torn life, myself split open in sleep, the rescued
      child
beside me among the doctors, and a word
of rescue from the great eyes.

No more masks! No more mythologies!

Now, for the first time, the god lifts his hand,
the fragments join in me with their own music.
Image result for feather masks
Source
File:Venetian Carnival Mask - Maschera di Carnevale - Venice Italy - Creative Commons by gnuckx (4821060456).jpg
Source
File:CE Mask and RFK Mask (33892334294).jpg
WWI Gas Masks
Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—
(Next week Sumana's Midweek Motif will be ~ Finding a Sanctuary.)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Blog of the Week - Mary's Thoughts in Troubled Times

In recent months, our very own Mary has written some stirring poems about the changes in daily life in the USA since November. I share her concern over these changes and her yearning for the way things used to be. I asked her if she would share a few of them with us, and happily she said yes. Let's dive in.





Sherry: Mary, in recent months, since the election, I notice that many of your poems have taken on political tones. This is the case with many of us who are distressed at how things are going under the new regime.  Would you like to tell us about this change in your writing? 

Mary:  Well, to be truthful, I really was never politically active before.  I paid attention to the news but had confidence, for the most part, that things would work out and that those in Washington D.C. and our state government had the best interests of their constituents at heart. I can no longer rest easily. 

I fear the influence of big money.  (I suggest the book Dark Money by Jane Mayer if people really want to know how billionaires have maliciously and purposefully furthered their agenda in this country.) 

I am not sure what I can accomplish and sometimes feel very powerless, but I feel compelled to do something.  To make telephone calls.  To attend ‘town halls.’  And, I guess, writing poetry is sometimes a safety valve for me, even though sometimes I wish I could ‘escape’ with my poetry rather than continuing to stress out in words.

Sherry: I applaud your many phone calls to legislators. I am sure they have some effect. I was moved by your poem “Yearning for Ordinary.” Let’s take a look:



We take ordinary for granted
don't realize how extraordinary it is
until slowly methodically
it is being eaten away

Under cover of night
civil rights are rolled back
right wing agenda
moving into place

And everyone still smiles
as if life's the same
we dance with the devil
who waits with his chains

While environment is ruined
and big banks hold sway
and education is forsaken
and healthcare denied

We take ordinary for granted
don't realize how extraordinary it is
until slowly methodically
it is gone and too late.





Sherry: We all yearn for ordinary these days, when each news broadcast brings more bad news. Just ordinary, everyday life, as we lived it before November, seems like a dream to me, now.

We don't want to be political. We would far rather live our lives peacefully, trusting that our leaders have our best interests at heart. But, when they clearly don't, we have little choice but to speak up.

Tell us about your poem, won’t you, and how you felt writing it?

Mary:   I wrote it when I was thinking back 3 years, 6 years, 10 years and thinking about the way things were then & the things I took for granted.  I took for granted that protection for the environment was a universal goal, for example.  I took for granted that women  had control over their own bodies (though even then there were people who wanted to take this away).  

I had taken for granted that there were checks and balances in our government that would work. I had believed that everyone supported freedom of the press. I had believed that no government would tamper with public education.  I could go on and on. 

Sherry: I trusted those checks and balances too. Clearly, they are not working now. 

Mary: As I wrote this poem I realized that there are a large number of people in this country (and in others) who just go about their lives without reflecting on the direction we are heading.  Many people think it will not really affect them. Many people are willing to ‘dance with the devil’ (see poem below) either through apathy, feelings of helplessness, or blind trust. I wonder what it will take for people to wake up and see that government (and life) as we know it is being dismantled one step at a time.

Sherry: There isn't a person alive on the planet who isn't now, or soon will be, feeling the effects of climate change. The new policies and changes occurring now will affect many millions in your country very soon. I think people will be waking up with a jolt.

Your poem “Justice” is another with which I resonate strongly.


JUSTICE

Justice is only as good
as the judge.

Justice depends on
facts revealed.

Justice can be too harsh
for a penitent person.

Justice can be too soft
for a mass murderer.

Justice does not chastise
those who are above the law.

Justice should be
impartial but isn’t.

Even terrorists
believe in justice.

In wars both sides
believe in justice.

Without laws would
justice exist?

Justice for all
means what?

Sherry: I keep remembering Benjamin Creme's quote: "There can be no peace without social justice." The lack of compassion in the changes being made will result in a lot of suffering, a lot of civil unrest. 

Mary:  I wrote this poem when reflecting on what is happening with the judicial system in this country.  I fear what will happen with our Supreme Court and Circuit Courts, as they are filled (by this administration) with people who would like to get rid of the Roe vs. Wade decision and make all abortion totally illegal again, (as well as not paying for women’s birth control) & with those who are against LGBT rights and protections.  

I fear also that many of the things that are happening clandestinely outside of the judiciary are so subtle (like information being removed from government web sites) that most will not take note.  I fear for the undocumented & cry for their heartless treatment.  And, of course, feel almost powerless in the way that healthcare is being taken away or made prohibitively expensive - especially for the poor or the aged.  But actually for everyone except the very rich.  I definitely worry about justice right now.
  
Sherry: I agree. They distract us with some nonsense that keeps the media busy while in the background democracy is being dismantled, good things undone. Just days after the election, vitally important information representing years of study and compilation disappeared off websites. We don't even know what is being destroyed at agency levels.

I love so many of your recent poems. ("Weeks Go By", "We the People", "I Will Celebrate Today" – I especially love this one!) Would you like to choose a third poem and tell us about it?



I try to smile more than frown
read books and take walks
visit current museum exhibits
enjoy menus of new restaurants.

I search out recent movies
take a country drive
check offerings on public television
ponder recipes in a new cookbook.

I try to think Easter lilies
jelly beans and chocolate bunnies
grass greening as robins chirp
as it should be the season of hope.

I try to appreciate each day
as if life was still normal.


Mary: I wrote this poem basically as advice to myself (and others).  Despite all, we do have to try to find things in our lives to enjoy.  We have to appreciate the good and also to try to bring happiness to others in our lives.  We have to find a way to put our concerns aside and find enjoyment in each day.  We have only one life.  We have only today.  We need to strive make our life and our day a good one.

Sherry: There is always much to enjoy and be grateful for, in our daily lives. Now, more than ever, we do need to appreciate them, and take what pleasure and comfort we can.

In closing, I would love to include your poem “My Song for Today”, which offers us a road-map through the evening news, when we put our faith in ourselves, the good things in our lives, and our God.







When I had no happiness,
the sunrise was my joy.
When I had no time,
I threw away my watch.

When I had no friends,
I walked with my dogs.
When I had no sleep,
solitude was my rest.

When I had no youth
I conjured myself sage.
When I had no voice,
poetry gave me words.

When I had no love, my
granddaughter gave a hug.
When I had no dreams
I learned to enjoy the dark.

When I have no faith
I act as if I do.
When I have no peace
I rest in my God.






Mary: I was feeling at peace and in a positive place when I wrote this poem, Sherry.  It is one of my recent favorites too.  One I should remind myself to read each day.  Smiles.

Sherry: It warms my heart, Mary. And thank God for dogs! They're God's messengers, who teach us what unconditional love truly is.

Thank you, Mary, for this encouraging chat. I hope our readers feel as uplifted as I do, after reading it. And thank you for all you do, keeping Poets United serenely chugging along all these years. 

Well, friends? We hope you enjoyed this. Feel welcome to join the conversation in the comments. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!