Reading at Pegasus

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In my previous post, I had written about Pegasus, a poetry group at Islington, London.

Pegasus consists of more or less 10 long term members and several drop ins through out the year. The oldest member is 90 years old but looked 30 years younger. As with any community project, the group consisted of a medley of interesting minds who were dedicated to the art and craft of poetry. Moderated by Tessa Dummett, the group has been meeting every Monday since 2005.

Pegasus poetry group

Pegasus poetry group

On Nov 18, I was present at Pegasus as a guest speaker and the first poem we read was Anita Nair’s IT HAPPENED ON THE DISTRICT LINE. As soon as Tim Leach in his mesmeric voice finished reading it, there were enthusiastic twitters and the poets gaily started the discussion. Being a “London” poem, it was easy enough for everyone present to enjoy it. Most of them intuitively identified with “Mr. Patel”, who travels back home on the tube after an ordinary work day.

The next poem was a different surprise. On reading Meena Kandawamy’s EATING DIRT, I immediately recognised it as a unique twist on the popular scene from Mahabaratha (where Krishna eats muds and when prompted, opens his mouth and his adoptive mother Yeshoda sees the entire universe in her son’s mouth). However, I did not enlighten them as I wanted to know what these poets, with little knowledge of Indian epics, would think of this poem.

After Tim read EATING DIRT, there was silence while the group processed the poem. Then, viewpoints started pouring in. For one, it was the lament of an impoverished mother who, unable to see him starve, feeds him dirt. Another poet glimpsed shades of the current political situation in the world, with the words “sand, sand everywhere”. Yet another person identified a unique theme in the poem, that of caste and colour, with the imagery presented.

Only after enjoying all these perspectives did I reveal the poem’s roots, which was met with pleased exclamations. One poems, multiple meanings. We then moved on to a light discussion on Indian culture, and finished the meet up with a discussion on the planned anthologies. I am not a poet per se, just an ardent lover of poetry and I was glad to be there that day, being a part of Pegasus’ evening of Indian poetry!

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