Saturday, December 03, 2011

Prose or Poetry?

I have suddenly started feeling attracted towards poetry these days. I don't know why. Maybe because of the growing laziness. We need more time to write prose or essays. That may be the root cause of the growing laziness. Can't say that writing poems is easier than writing prose. Though they look smaller in size, they are heavier in weight many times. Just felt like thinking about it in more detail today. This is what came out when I squeezed my head throughout the day.

And, let me tell you upfront before you ask me any tough questions and save some embarrassment. What I call poetry is not poetry in true sense. It's called 'prose poetry' or 'the new poetry' in English. This is the most popular form of literature in many of our Indian languages. It means it won't sound like verses but won't be as plain as prose as well. They play with words but it need not be as rhyming as a poem.  The biggest change it brought to our literature is, the literature was democratized with the entry of this form of literature. The earlier forms of poetry stayed only with the elite whereas the new form of it reached everyone that could read and write. It's more or less like - "if you are literate you could be a poet as well!". How do these poems look? It's just like a combination of few one-liners. If we have to define it in a lingo that the current generation could understand, it is like a tweet or a set of few related tweets. So, what you are not able to say in a tweet with the restriction of 140 letters, you can write it as a poem. Simple as that! :)

I decide the form of my post (whether poetry or prose) depending on what I want to say. Some are crisp when said in poetic form, some are good in story format and some are better in essay format. Few things are easier to be said in a specific form than the others. Even the impact is better. Some things fit in more than one form. Some times, it may be difficult to express in a specific form but the impact will be good. So, calculating all the pros and cons in all forms I decide which form to go with.

Can't say that this attraction is totally new. When I tried to pen down something with an ink pen for the first time in childhood, the first drop of ink that came out was a poetic drop. Then throughout my school life, my only connection with writing was those poems. That's what helped in projecting an 'interested-in-literature' image in college as well. In those days (it's not so long back anyways!), there were a lot of students who wrote poems. Not sure if that craze is still there. These days, I find most of the youngsters being very interested in Hollywood movies. There were no too many such boys or girls those days.

Leave it. Let's come back to our story. Poetry was the major turn-on for all lovers. Not only for the lovers... even for the wannabe lovers. Who are those wannabes? I am sure you would know that open secret - it's everybody in that age group, irrespective of which generation you belong to. I am sure you would know the other secret as well - whether you went to college or not... whether you were a good boy or a bad boy... whether you had girls around you or not... the lust for love starts budding in your teens. The credit goes to all romantic movies of our respective generations.

Today, when I sit back and think, I somehow feel that love for poetry has vanished - not just with the current generation but also with those of us from the previous generations. It may be a totally wrong judgement. The reason why I think so is because most of the posts in blogsphere are prose and not poetry. It may be a judgement just based on my own posts. Maybe because I believe my prose is better than poetry (Please excuse if you are one of those who think, "Prose or poetry... nothing is worth reading in your blog!") or my prose is slightly better-accepted by the blogsphere. I know that there have been some prose posts as well that were never read beyond the first paragraph. :)

That's the personal story. Even if I look at the entire blogsphere, I couldn't see much poetry. In fact, poetry is much more convenient like fast-food. You can just eat, wipe and throw in minutes. It may also be that, what I have seen and call as blogsphere might be a small prosesphere within the entire blogsphere. Maybe in some other part of the blogsphere, poetry is rocking. If any of you were so patient to read until this paragraph, I have a request for you - Please let me know if my understanding is right and where poetry is placed in the Indian and global blogsphere.

Until few centuries back, literature means it was only poetry (this is different from what I call  poetry now!) in Indian languages. We didn't have anything called prose. That too, the thing called punctuation never existed in this land. All these were actually brought to us by the ones who came to loot us and spread their religions here. It's not that we have to feel bad for that. That's what took the languages (the written form of them) to masses. If those changes had not happened, even the languages would have got stuck with only the elite and might and justified all the inequality as 'natural' in this land - till date.

I feel like my relationship with the words getting renewed whenever I try poetry. In poetry is where we play with words, right? That's where beauty has more place. No other form of writing gives so much importance for beauty. Likewise, it's not so easy to present research materials in poetry as it is done in prose. But, we are the descendants of the same people who did it successfully few centuries back. Did what? Presenting research materials in poetry form! Is there a better - bigger story than our epics Ramayana and Mahabharata? But, that's the very reason why they were stuck only with the elite for so long. Just imagine its reach if it had been in prose form and in a language that the common man could understood.

I have an uncle who is an accomplished writer in the Tamil literary world. He writes short stories and novels. Once in my teens - in the years when I could only read and write poetry, I asked him a silly question, "Uncle, why are you not writing poetry?". As usual, he replied in a way that I couldn't understand. He said, "I try poetry within stories!". As usual, I understood that also after some time. He meant, "If you could write stories in the same style as poems, why to try that separately giving another name for it?". After that, I also wanted to write like that. Poetry doesn't mean that it has to be rhyming and rhythmic like the style used in our epics. Unlike those poetry, "the new poetry" or "prose poetry" is about having powerful content and not rhyming words. That's what all the readers of his (my uncle's) say about his writing. That's why most people complain that his writings are not easily understandable just like "the new poetry".

It is just like how when some people speak everything that they speak sounds like a philosophy whereas when others speak we don't find anything philosophical but they keep underlining their sentences to get received as philosophies. Likewise, instead of calling something poetry myself and getting caught it's better to be poetic in prose itself, right?! The biggest benefit of that is, nobody can come and fight saying it's not a philosophy or poetry. But, if you don't keep underlining like that, nobody will look at you. Attention seeking, I mean, advertisement is a major success factor in this consumerist world.

Poetry has the maximum amount of variety. The same poem that is exclaimed "what a poetry?!" is exclaimed differently as "what nonsense is this?!" by someone else. That's the amount of variety it has got. This gives an advantage for people like me. We can say, "According to me, this is what is poetry!" because there are hundred different types of poetry according to hundred different people. We can easily escape by safely saying, "If you don't like, it is your problem... it's a problem in your taste!". So, all I am trying to say now is, I am planning to harass you all by writing a lot of something called poetry in coming days. Keep checking out this space at least to see if I succeed once in writing poetry. I don't know if you will get what you want in them but I am sure I will get what I want from you (in the form of feedback). :)


  1. A very exhaustive essay on the forms of literature, I should say. May I know the name of your uncle who writes? I would love poetry in Tamil, but I am not so sure of English ones. I somehow prefer prose and photographs. i do hope you plan to pen them in Tamil?

  2. @Zephyr- Thanks for the reading and comment. His pen name is Konangi. In fact, his entire family is into writing. His father and two of his brothers are writing too. His brother Tamiselvan is the president of Tamilnadu Murpokku Ezhuthalar Kalaignargal Sangam. You may not have heard their names as their writing is mostly restricted to few magazines that are not the mainstream ones. Yeah, I do write most of these in Tamil too.

  3. Honestly, I feel writing a prose is very difficult. I have tremendous respect for those who can write anything beyond 100 words. Poetry is easier, write few sentences, make it rhyme and voila; your job is done!

  4. Thanks for the comment, Saru. I have tremendous respect for those who can read anything beyond 100 words! ;-)

    I know, they may look like chatterboxes to people like you who can make a better impact with fewer words. ;-)

  5. Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all. Nevertheless imagine if you added some great images or video clips to give your posts more, "pop"! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this blog could definitely be one of the very best in its field. Very good blog!
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