Lend a year to poetry

Updated: Apr 27, 2020, 09:33 IST | The Guide Team | Mumbai

Check out a volume of 365 poems from across India curated and translated with a spin, by Gulzar saab


Jibanondo Das in West Bengal. Amrita Pritam in Punjab. Arun Kolatkar in Maharashtra. And Sirpi Balasubramaniam in Tamil Nadu. These are just four names that constitute a rich legacy of Indian poetry, such that no other country can really boast of master wordsmiths writing in so many varied languages. Right from the time of the epics, we have had people from every corner documenting their history — or even just the human condition — in their own way through the medium of lyrical verses. Now, a book called A Poem a Day (HarperCollins India) will collect 365 of the more contemporary pieces into one volume, thanks to the effort that lyricist and scriptwriter Gulzar has put in.

The literary icon says that he started with selecting the works of his own favourite poets, but ended up including 279 of them in total, translating each poem into Hindi or English if they were in a regional language, and taking the liberty to give them his own spin. He says, "A Poem a Day began as a thought — why not have a poem to read for every day of the year, selected from the wonderful Indian poetry that has been written since 1947? But I also firmly believe that poetry doesn't know any borders. So, along with poets from Gujarat, Punjab, Kerala, Goa and Odisha, I included poets writing in Tamil in Sri Lanka, in Urdu and Punjabi in Pakistan, and in Bangla in Bangladesh."

There are thus 35 languages that this volume covers. And the idea behind the title — which will be released in July this year — is to provide some succour to readers during this uncertain time. Gulzar says, "I feel we need poetry and the power of words more than ever in the difficult times we are going through; I hope that this volume will be a companion people will want to have by their side as we walk into the [unknown] future."

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