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Use poetry to heal India's troubled zones

A leading poet and author says that it is important to encourage poetry in India's troubled regions - because poetry has the power to heal.

entertainment Updated: Apr 05, 2007 12:05 IST

A leading poet and author says it is important to encourage poetry in India's troubled regions - because it has the power to heal.

HK Kaul, who helped set up The Poetry Society (TPS), said in an interview here that this had already been experimented in Jammu and Kashmir as well as the country's northeast.

"We have organised a number of workshops in Kashmir and one in the northeast. What we saw is that children express their anguish, their feelings on delicate issues with a lot of poignancy. It's the best way to heal," Kaul said.

The author also pointed out that the education system today was such that it curbed the child's creative spirit with extreme competition.

"Children must be encouraged to write or be involved in some form of art, be it music or painting. It helps one to grow into a thinking individual and is a great stress buster," he said.

Can a poet survive only as a poet in India? Kaul felt it was not so easy. So, to encourage the literary form, he and a couple of others got together to form TPS in 1984.

Since then, the society has flourished and commands more than 1,000 members.

With the aim to promote Indian poetry and poets both in India and abroad and to encourage budding talent, TPS has been engaged in a number of activities.

Kaul said: "Every year we pick three states and organise poetry competitions. This year we are covering Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Other than that we organise an all India poetry competition for children in 12-19 group."

A poet, author and information specialist, Kaul has more than 40 books to his credit among which "Firdaus in Flames", his collection of poems on Jammu and Kashmir, is well known.

Just back from the northeast poetry festival organised by the society, Kaul said that it was important to encourage poetry writing in disturbed areas because of its healing power.

Coming back to Indian poetry, he said the main problem Indian poets faced was that of distribution of their published work throughout the country - if it got published at all.

There was no proper recognition of a poet's work, he lamented. And due to lack of big money, no one wants to take it up professionally.

So what does he suggest? "The government should step in here. There should be a poetry movement for peace and development whereby grassroots poets are encouraged to express the problems and issues in their language and voice the opinion of the people."

Whether his dream will take shape is not known. But one thing he is sure of: "No matter how many Hindi songs and English songs dominate the charts, poetry will never go out of the window."