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New poetry for the new age!

On the World Poetry Day, let us learn some new forms of poetry from some contemporary poets



I don’t want to start by giving a definition of poetry. Truth is, I can’t define poetry even if I wanted to and nobody can for that matter. Maybe this comes closest to expressing what poetry is.

If I have to speak only for myself, then poetry is a force that flows against death. It is all about life and catching that spark of being alive within us and our surroundings. And since poetry is all about life, it is also about changes. For life is ever-changing!

In the fast-moving world, people hardly find time to know about the history of things nowadays, but looking back always helps to see how far we have come. So, let us reflect on the adventurous journey poetry has had.

 It is believed poetry started out in the epic form, which centered on the lives of mighty kings and warriors. Gradually, it became a source for individual voices to depict their emotional and intellectual yearnings. However, the game changed with William Wordsworth in English as the focus shifted towards the lives of the common people.

Quite opposite to the public claim, poetry has once again managed to survive through mutation. And in the age of Instagram and Facebook, poetry has adapted to a new shape and time. Let us learn about some new forms of poetry and also enrich our minds with views from some contemporary poets.

Dr. Sreedhari Desai is an Associate Professor of organisational behavior at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Kenan Business School). Her poems have been published in several international journals and magazines. When asked about new forms of poetry, the Apeejay School, Noida alumna replied, “My poems in English follow the free form. I strive to create non-rhyming lines that closely resemble speech rhythms. I occasionally add indentation to the lines to create visual art in my poetry. For example, in one of my poems titled: ‘Watching you Ski’, I created zig-zag lines using indentation to give the reader a feel of going down the slope.”

Dr. Desai firmly believes that poetry will never die. “Poetry is a tool that keeps humankind alive. It helps us overcome our fears and also exposes the truths and weaknesses in our society. It inspires the creative being in us and makes us delighted in being alive.”

The professor also puts across a valid point as she asserts that the social parameter for judging poetry is not fair. She opines, “If you measure the importance of poetry to society by looking at the sales figures of poetry books, you will despair without a doubt. But if you pause, you will notice that we are all immersed in poetry. It is all around be it in advertising lyrics, team chants, or rap songs.

While visual poetry appeals more to Dr. Desai, it is ‘Blackout poetry’ that attracts Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication student Poulami Saha. The budding poet mentions, “Blackout poetry is special because it allows you to keep your perspectives along with the author’s point of view. Also, someone running out ideas or suffering from a writer’s block can get fresh ideas from this form. It lets you re-create an original piece, which in itself is great work to do.”

Now what is Blackout Poetry?

Here’s a quick insight into this new form which is very popular amongst youngsters. Quite simply, Blackout poetry is when a person takes any written text, be it a page in the book or a newspaper or a magazine,  and makes a poem out of the words in the page that he/she deems fit. The poet then cuts the non-required words with a marker or pen and one is then left with only those words in the page that constitute the poem!

Have you read Node poetry?

Another innovative form of poetry is ‘Node poetry’. Very similar in style to visual poetry, where the poet plays around with the poem’s lines and shapes to give them an extension of the poetic idea. Node poetry allows poets to arrange the lines of their poem into the shape of a tree. The first line mostly forms the trunk of the tree and the subsequent lines become branches and nodes. This format enables the reader to create their own meaning in the poem. A reader goes along each branch, each node and creates cross connections with other lines of the poem. This breaks the traditional static downward flow of a poem divided into stanzas.

Yes, we’ve seen Slam poetry on Instagram

However, there can be no two thoughts on the popularity and use of ‘Slam poetry’ amongst the current youth. ‘Performance poetry’ is meant for the stage.  Raging in social media these days, slam poets are making it big thanks to the advancements in video-editing technologies.

There is a theatrical element to the performance as the poet performs in front of a live audience in most cases. The forms of presentation may vary from recitation to storytelling and even rap. Slam has become a free spirited artistic medium to write and perform on issues otherwise considered taboo topics.

Poulami feels poetry is just like a river of words that keeps flowing. She says it can never be limited, “With time new styles from poets will develop. Each and every poem is unique and is helping make poetry more expressive and common among all.”

As her message on World Poetry Day, the Mass Communication student reminds all to never let their poetry stop. “It’s hard to make a place among the best, but eventually you will reach where you want to be. Experiment and create. Don’t compare yourself to others. Each poet has their own style. Be you and find yourself in your words!”

But now! Enough of the theory! Remember, what I started with? 

Poetry is all about life! So time for the practical now. Let me explain with a limerick (a five line poem that follows aabba rhyme scheme)

‘The poet says love is all

Be it spring, be it fall

From there stem ideas and lines

“So don’t chase” the heart opines

Just open your mind and hear the call’

Happy World Poetry Day! Don’t let the artist within die! 

Long live Poetry!

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]