Thursday, October 25, 2007

Anthonybhai and Artistic Purview

“The arts are not merely the purview of practitioners of the arts. They are, fundamentally, the purview of any civilized society.” I am quoting but I don’t know who.

“Wot is this men, poetry-shoetry? Don’t you buggers have something better to do, only? Who attends poetry readings, men? Tell you one thing, only, no? This poetry all waste of time. Tell me one thing, can poetry feed you? First, you all earn one naya paise with your poetry, then come talking, talking to Anthonybhai.”

Anthonybhai is upset with all those people who go to poetry readings. Because he says there is no money in poetry and, if at all, poetry could burn a big hole in your pocket, as I realized when I went to the Kritya Poetry Festival in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

I thought the Vylopilli Sanskriti Bhavan would be packed with poetry-loving people from the land of Vallathol, Kumaran Asan, Ulloor Parameshwaran Iyer, and Mahakavi Puthenkavu Mathan Tharakan (my great uncle, and a good friend of my grandfather). But alas, not to be!

There were only fellow poets in the Vylopilli Sanskriti Bhavan, and their close relative to hear us read. Where are the adoring public, the great audience we were all writing for? Where is the adulation? Why doesn’t an International Poetry Festival get ten per cent of the screaming fans a concert by Snoop Dogg gets? (See what I mean, can’t spell dog!) I heard this guy is hot, at least, my son thinks so! But his verses, um, sort of, fail to impress.

Poetry is not merely the purview of poets. They are, fundamentally, the purview of any civilized society. A society that neglects its writers is heading for trouble, big trouble. That’s why our country is not going according to rational thoughts (such as mine!) but by the skewed thoughts of madmen who preach violence and fundamentalism, or Snoop Dogg who has this text on his website: “Checc out tha 1st sneak peek of my next album EGO TRIPPIN' - "Sexual Eruption" produced by tha homey Shawty Redd - chuuch!”

Similarly, at a book launch there are only the want-to-be authors in the audience. Okay, okay, let’s include the want-to-be-but-failed authors, too, if you please. “The arts are not merely the purview of practitioners of the art….” “Oh, shut your face, men, before I shove your poetry down your troat, sala, men,” says Anthonybhai. He can’t say “throat,” instead, says, “troat.” Whose fault is it? Snoop Dogg’s?

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