Monday, March 3, 2014

Conducting a poetry workshop at Ramjas College

On the 28th of February, I conducted my first poetry workshop ever. :-) Not that I claim to know much, either in the line of writing poetry, or by way of conducting workshops. But it was nice of Ramjas College Literary Society students, who had seen some of my published poems as well as this blog, to take the initiative to invite me.

It was just a one and a half hour long event, in the middle of much rain. I began by reading some supremely bad poetry, which I had very wickedly collected from online journals and other people's blogs. So we talked about what was wrong with them. Thankfully, I had a group of people who could see that something was terribly wrong with them.

Then I told them about some of the things which have helped me learn to write, over the past few years, like the age old adage of "show rather than tell". We talked about line breaks, where to use repetition and where not to, stuff like that. Also Wordsworth's  "powerful overflow of passionate feelings recollected in tranquility" because to me that is what poetry is, an intense experience, thought or feeling which you later recollect,r reflect upon and put into words. Sort of.

Then I read out loads and loads of "good"poems to them, ranging from various themes such as love poetry, protest poetry, feeling poetry,nature poetry,place poetry. I went over some of the common pitfalls such as protest poetry often turning into a jingoistic sloganeering,or become dictatorial and pedantic, and the common traps of falling into blue skies and ethereal splendour while writing nature poetry. Constantly taking examples from the much "esteemed" poets I talk about in the next paragraph. Also how writing about "grief" for example works better when you write the Dickinson way (Or like me :P ) where you reflect and write about emotions of grief and pain in a universal way so that anyone can connect with it, without going into the specificities and particularities of your own situation.

So I read out all my favourite poets. :D  People loved the poets and poems I selected for the reading packet. I read out from Dickinson, Plath, Ted Hughes, Adrienne Rich, William Carlos Williams, Shakespeare, Gerard Manley Hopkins, e.e.cummings, to Indian poets such as Arun Kolatkar (my personal favourite from the slightly older post-Independance era), Imtiaz Dharker, to some of the very contemporary (the younger generation) of Indian poets whom I absolutely love and could not resist.

So, that was it. :-) I meant to ask them to write and then discuss their poems but it got too late for that. We started too late because of certain hassles. Well, so perhaps I spoke too much and gave them a whole overdose of poems in too short a time, and perhaps it could have been more interactive if we had more time, and as I said, frankly speaking, I don't feel I know so much about poetry, I mean, I definitely FEEL a lot but I don't KNOW a lot. :P 

But somehow, I managed. Toodle-oo folks!

No comments: