Poetry and Prose — A prosaic view
[The oldpost …] Reminds me of “nuvvu lEvu, nee paaTa vundi”. I also
remember a trick that I was told by somebody back when I was in 8th grade and
trying my hand at poetry. Here is the simple recipe.
- First write what you want to write. It can be plain and simple. Let us start
with a simple line like:
“raatri cheekaTigaa vundi”. (రాత్రి చీకటిగా ఉంది)
- Now, if you have lot of lines like that, you can do a transpostional
trasnformation as follows:
“vundi raatri cheekaTigaa”. (ఉంది రాత్రి చీకటిగా)
But, that transformation is not good enough on simple sentences. This is the
mistake done by sophomore poets. So, we have to effect a few more
transformations. Let us try one by one.
- First add the adjectives and similes. You can go towards two schools here.
You can go towards “dEsa vaalee” or “puraaNa” style. To do the dEsa vaalee, you
need to arm yourself with village vocabulary. Dredge up the teluguness. The
farmer, the soil, the first rains, the shy girl, the jasmine, the village belles
… these all are your friends now. If you decide to go the puraaNa style, it
would be good to have some dictionary on hand, preferably like a thesaurus.
(which I don’t, so we will skip those transformations now). So, let us add the
raatri siggupaDutunna ammaayila, aspashTangaa, cheekaTigaa vundi.
(రాత్రి సిగ్గుపడుతున్న అమ్మాయిలా, అస్పష్టంగా, చీకటిగా ఉంది)
- Now, make it a little difficult, like french consonents. Let us make the
reader work at it. Let us drop the obvious.
raatri siggupaDutoo cheekaTigaa vundi. (రాత్రి సిగ్గుపడుతూ చీకటిగా
- Now, we can go the extra mile, and make it into a “word picture”
mohammeedaki jaarina cheekaTi musugu.
(సి్గ్గు పడుతున్న రాత్రి// మొహమ్మీదకి జారిన చీకటి ముసుగు)
- Here, consistency is important. Since we introduced the “shyness” motif in
the first line, we are entitled to use the “musugu”.
- Or, if we go with the explicit route, the details are important. But, these
details better be as detailed as possible. For example:
“raatri cheekaTigaa vundi maa palErulaaga. (రాత్రి చీకటీగా ఉంది మా
vaadi nalla kalla laaga merustunnayi aa mabbullonchi kanipinchE
(వాడి నల్ల కళ్ల లాగ మెరుస్తున్నాయి ఆ మబ్బుల్లోంచి కనిపించే)
keechu raaLLu vinchipustunnayi …. (కీచురాళ్ళు
Here though, a juxtaposition with an
abstract something is needed in the end. For example, you can end it with some
“eppuDo velugu raaka tappadu (ఎప్పుడో వెలుగు రాక తప్పదు)
paaLEru nettuti lOnchi arunOdayam kaaka tappadu” (మా పాలేరు నెత్తుటి లోంచి
అరుణోదయం కాక తప్పదు)
- If you go the earlier route of a little dash of ambiguity and impressionism,
how do you end the poem? You got to keep the punch line that is either
culmination of the same line of thought, or the opposite (sort of like judo
punch). For example, the earlier motif of the word picture you can personalize
by adding a message like: “naa gunDellO nee adugula chappuDu” (must … bring
… night … motif; sorry no time). Or, you can throw a surrealistic fit too,
if you want to:
“kaavu kaavu mani koosE kaakula gOlatO tellarutundi” (కావు కావు మని
కూసే కాకుల గోలతో తెల్లారుతోంది)
- But you see all these right? Why not go for broke, and try similes like that
of “sEshEndra”? Here the trick is to use seemingly wrong adjectives. If you ever
read any books about wine, you are ready for this task (shy boquet sort of
things). So, let us try this:
“raatri vagaru gaa vundi.” (రాత్రి వగరుగా ఉంది)
enough, right? But, throw in a few sanskrit words casually, and here is how it
looks at the end:
“raatri vagaru gaa vundi (రాత్రి వగరుగాఉంది)
aandanaanni panchukunna prEyasi laaga,(ఊదారంగు ఆనందాన్ని పంచుకున్న ప్రేయసి
Seethala nEtraasruvula agni kaNaallaaga (శీతల నేత్రాశ్రువుల అగ్ని
raatri nallaga velugu tOndi” (రాత్రి నల్లగా
See, how casually I slipped in seemingly contradictory
similes? If people question, it is their lack of imagination that is to be
- You may be insulted for ignoring the grand tradition of “blaxpoitation baby”
(which in Andhra becomes “rakta mallelu” or whatever). Here the trick is to pull
the reader into your side. Almost feel him ashamed to insult the poetry; in
fact, tell him this is not poetry — it is “vudaya Sankhaaraavam//cheeDa
purugula gunDellO simha garjana”. In fact, in your anthology, you should keep a
poem defending your poetry. I am afraid to write this poetry, let alone read it.
So, it is left as your homework.
- In the end, perhaps, you would like to hear a 12th century poet, in a
language that he is most familiar with wrote:
“mEghairamdhuram ambaram (మేఘైర్మధురం అంబరం)
drumai” (నక్తం… తమాల ద్రుమై)
Yes, that was jaya dEva. That all
folks. Now, let a thousand poems bloom! As an excersize, complete the poems in
the styles mentioned above.–
Rama Kanneganti [Jan 20, 2004]