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Dead poetry society

india Updated: Nov 06, 2007 23:00 IST

Hindustan Times
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Please tell us you’re not one of those soppy types who bemoan the ‘death of poetry’ — and write reams of unbearable tosh in your efforts to be known as the new Wordsworth. Because if you are, we’ve just armed ourselves with the most foolproof argument against poetry in the hands of the unwell-versed. Our views on M Karunanidhi’s politics keep changing depending on which fence we’re sitting on. But one thing we’re sure of not sticking to is the fact: Mr Karunanidhi isn’t a Dom Moraes. But the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister clearly has a different opinion on his own relationship with the muse.

Writing a poetic homage to slain LTTE leader SP Thamilselvan, Mr Karunanidhi presents us with lines such as “You turned yourself into fertiliser/ For the sake of the struggle for rights” and “The Uttam Purush that you are/ Your life is not extinguishable”. There will be sympathisers who are bound to insist that the poem, ‘Selva Engu Senraai?’ (Where did you go, Selva?) doesn’t translate well into English. After all, that’s how Atal Bihari Vajpayee got away with his outpourings. But Mr Karunanidhi’s eye-rolling and cinema-style pining gives the game away even to Martians.

Enthusiasts like APJ Abdul Kalam, Mamata Banerjee and the aforementioned Mr Vajpayee have shown us earlier that the biggest mistake made by everyone is to think that one simply needs passion to be a poet. Unfortunately, anyone pointing out the paucity of poetic talent in these worthies will be labelled as playing politics. So it’s best to keep poetry in general in the scrapbook, away from the gaze of people who’d like to appreciate decent poetry.