“I Never Wanted To Be A Poet”



A lovely, inspiring and heartwarming evening at the Prakriti international poetry festival session at Amdavadi, Chennai, yesterday, listening to reputed poet Jayanta Mahapatra talking about his poetry and reading his poems that ended with an autobiographical narrative that was so charming, after Allan Sealey had read his poems along with beautiful slides of depictions from the Mughal (Akbar) period. The evening, commenced with an introduction by Ranvir Shah, who compared today’s event to the show stopper sequel that you have in a fashion show to showcase the designers best work, by the best models.
I was much awed by Jayanta Mahapatra’s humility and charm, even after decades of prominence, over and above his sensitive, gems of poems, full of empathetic humanity, so aesthetically and delicately crafted. I could personally relate to many of the points he shared, as he chattily went about introducing himself to us, easing us into his poems.
“I never wanted to be a poet” he stated softly, yet emphatically, “I was a physicist…poetry came to me by itself when I was thirty nine.”
These lines, really gave me a deep sense of assurance, motivation and strength, just when I’m applying the final soft touches to my manuscript of a collection of 90 poems, titled ‘Fragments’ written over the last ten years, that is to be released along with the other 3 prose books by January. This is because, even I didn’t want to be a writer of any kind till I was 35 years, leave alone wanting to be a poet.
I wrote my first poem at 36 years, which actually washed up on me like a wave from the sea, barely a year that I’d moved to Chennai. Then the second poem got published in a collection of poems – taken from my blog with permission, without my submitting it anywhere. These first two poems go on to be the first poems of ‘Fragments.’
The part I loved best and could relate to most, about Mr Mahapatra’s overall communication was when he said, “Poetry taught me how to love people.”
I could relate rather well to his views, when he said, “I never wanted to settle outside my homeland, far from my people, in UK or USA, even though I had a lot of opportunity, as even my parents settled abroad later.”

In my case, ever since I was 20, and inspite of my parents encouragement to meet them, after I did, I rejected one NRI prospective groom after another, or those working abroad especially the US, as I was determined not to live abroad.
I just feel so blessed that I had the opportunity to listen to him today and feel strenthened, after I finally let go of the manuscript of Fragments, this afternoon, after clinging to it for years…till I got a firm reminder from the publisher today. Though I’m still going to be copy editing it with an editor for a while longer. It’s been very different for the novel and short stories, where I’ve been in a hurry from the start to let them go. 😊
— Shuvashree Chowdhury Ghosh.

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