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India losing on ‘verses’ to America, highlights poet Vijay Seshadri

The opening session at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2015 had eminent poets Vijay Seshadri, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and Ashok Vajpeyi discussing how poetic imaginations have led to revolution in society.

The Bangalore-born poet, essayist and literary critic Vijay Seshadri, who also won the 2014 Pulitzer for his fourth poetry collection “3 Sections”, pointed out poetry is flourishing in America while it is dying in India. “In America, from where in some way I come, though there are lots of poets, and lots of them are making a living at poetry, or at least at teaching poetry, the wellspring of the art is hardly ever a topic of discussion. There is an American aversion to such speculations, because poets in America, with all the freedom provided by a surplus economy, are allowed to take their art for granted and not asked to make the dark and fearful journey search out its sources,” he said. According to him, poetic imagination in India is superfluous. “What is the point of a person who hears colors, sees sounds, and discerns in people, things, and in the universe itself a hidden motive? In India, life is lived intensely with such exaggerations of misery, cruelty, and triumph,” he said adding that “poetic imagination is not something magical which dwells into the heart of readers, it is deep as a critical thinking discussion on an issue of national importance.”

Vajpeyi called poets the creators of imagination. “Poets lend voice to voiceless creatures and materials. It is through poems down the years that nature, stones, earth, climate and other intangible things have spoken to mankind. Poets are like legislators of unacknowledged people. A poet gives meaning and an unending life to past. The world is not as it is seen and it is through poems that we explore other possibilities of life,” he said.

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