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Mall Road

Bus Addey, Maal Rode, Camp, Madal Toun, Ajadpur, Shalimaar...

Uploading verse

Update: DNA has got itself a decent website and this story can be found here.

DNA in Mumbai has published an article about online poetry in India, and ZESTPoets finds a mention in it. Since the paper is not online, I'm posting the article here. Links: ZESTPoets, Nitoo Das, Monica Mody, and Juhi Dua. The first ZESTPoets reading was held in June and the next one is tomorrow.


Uploading verse

By Subuhi Jiwani
DNA, September 10, 2005


“You’re like an ostrich with its head in the sand, communicating by wagging its tail,” says Mumbai poet Jane Bhandari, describing what it feels like to write to an on-line group. She is a member of ZESTPoets, a special interest yahoo group that focuses on writing and discussing South Asian poetry in English.


Unlike other poetry websites (www.geocities.com/varnamala/ineng.html, for instance) ZESTPoets is, by definition, interactive. The India edition of http://poetryinternational.org/, edited by Arundhati Subramaniam, is exhaustive with biographies, news articles and poems, in English and in translation. But it stops at the known names.


ZESTPoets’ members need not be South Asian but the workshop material – usually unpublished and by unrecognized poets – must be.


“There isn’t a community of [Indian] poets that can share work, receive feedback, and read the work of others, including the established names,” says Shivam Vij, one of the founders of ZESTPoets and a B.A. student of English Literature at St Stephens College. “A mailing list doesn’t require its members to negotiate city traffic and reach a place where struggling poets might hang out.”


Poetry groups like The Bombay Poetry Circle have, for decades now, groomed poets and chiseled poems. But cyberspace cuts through prestige barriers, offering something these groups can never approximate: anonymity. Nitoo Das, prolific blogger and online poet who’s been studying on-line poetry communities says, “A lot of people crave the disguise of screen names. For many online poets, poetry is therapy, sometimes written as a humiliating secret.” When asked if the internet helps people be more frank — and possibly, more merciless —she’s skeptical. “The initial sense of liberation wanes after some time and then, you m! ay suddenly become conscious that the same old paradigms play their part online as they do offline.”


Detractors of online poetry complain that the internet isn’t all ‘democratising’: the web isn’t available in India’s remote areas. But for Das “poetry has always been elitist, especially after it became a part of print culture”.


The internet might have altered poetry reading habits but Delhi poet Vivek Narayanan is wary of this. He says, “The internet can also foster a kind of haphazard reading of poetry, where people consume individual poems of varying quality rather than whole collections from start to finish.”


But Das’ observation underlines the difference between online poetry and the printed word. “You don’t have to pay for online poetry, most of the time. So, if someone cannot buy poetry books, he/she can simply spend ten bucks per hour in an internet café.”


The internet, testify many ZEST poets, has ac! tually driven them to buy collections of poetry, especially after they sampled some on the website. But it might also tempt them to switch to the ESPN or BBC web pages. After all, flipping a page in a book only takes you to the next.







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-- Blogger theconundrum, 9/13/2005 04:08:00 PM

Hey Shivam,

This is in response to your comment on my post. :) Well I am in the connundrum .. and even deeper .. maybe being sucked into the proverbial chakravihu ... Well I didnt post so long for the complete and simple purpose that I didnt have access to the net ... Plain and strange as that ... :) now That I have this once again .. should start posting again .. Thanks for your comment anyways ...    



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