BENGALURU: Poet Nabina Das from Hyderabad talks about her influences, ahead of the Bangalore Poetry Festival, which will bring her to the city.
Your favourite love poem:
Tonight I can Write the Saddest Lines by Pablo Neruda (English) and Dil-e-Nadaan Tujhe Hua Kya Hai by Mirza Ghalib.
A poem / poet you keep going back to:
Passion for Solitude by Cesare Pavese (translated by Geoffrey Brock). This poem is a wonderful mix of the pastoral and the modern where longing is epic in scale. While the details that the poet writes about are uniquely universal, what mostly appeals to me is that on reading it each time, the poem reveals metaphors that intrinsically link the quotidian of a life to how the body and senses are celebrated.
The first poem you remember reading:
Rabindranath Tagore — a verse he wrote in memory of his childhood — rain drops on tree leaves: Jol pawray / Paataa nawRay (Water falls in drops / the leaves shiver)
Written word or slam? Or songs?
I’m trained in singing — folk and classical. Written word comes to me naturally when poetry occurs. Song is the next stage. I love slam, but have never tried it! I’d advice those who like slam to watch the movie Louder than a Bomb to see how Chicago school children broke multiple barriers by just doing their own special slam competition.
Epics or anthologies? Or any other genre?
Epics are a part of my upbringing — the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. As poetry, I read both forms. Anthologies are important to record voices and capture trends in writing.
Poetry vs prose:
Ah, the usual debate. None of it for me! I call myself a poet first but I can move quite seamlessly between poetry and prose. When I write fiction, it is poetry that helps me to understand setting, character, and even action. While writing poetry, I sometimes read a load of good prose and fiction to see how language offers one choices and challenges.
Inspiration / influences:
All poets from the turn of the century in India. Bengali and Assamese. The canonical English poets. Russian masters. Urdu ghazals. Sufi and Bhakti traditions. Currently, extremely evocative and irreverent Dalit poetry that has its own diction that is centuries old.