Bridging The Gap
(YEAR 8- ISSUE 87)
In the English Section: Favourite Forever: Pablo Neruda . Poetry Here & Now: Meena Chopra . Story Classic: Maxim Gorky. Face to face: Basudev Adhikari with Tom Leonard. Kids’ Corner: Shail Agrawal, Nursery Rhyme: Shail Agrawal .
With your monthly News & views in Vividha
Details about the subject of the next issue : on the ‘ About us’ page.
Created , Edited & published By : Shail Agrawal
Lekhni is updated on every first day of the month.
Lekhni’s this combined issue of May and June is on creativity, its’ varied rainbow nature and spectrum, though it is a big paradox because the picture inserting tool of my host provider is not working for more than two months now . Hope you will enjoy this colourless Lekhni as much as you enjoyed it in its vivid and expressive pictures. Any help towards solving this problem will be most appreciated.
An intense compelling urge to create something new, verging on madness makes one forget every thing else. One puts everything on line when bit by this bug. Why one creates and how much it can balance frayed nerves of a machine-age man is a question worth pondering about .
Creativity is the inner child within: curious, exploring,learning and expressing. Seeing things and possibilities, other cannot see.Pablo Picasso once wrote-‘ when you want to paint close your eyes and sing’. Nothing to laugh about this view . As happiness comes from the within, so does the urge to create although stimulus may be an outside object, thought, scene or even a memory, but to be in that productive frame of mind is what matters most . Able to enjoy -is important. Intuition and imagination play an important part in creativity and enjoyment is its life circulating blood. While desire or longing is the drive, joy and sorrow: emotions its fuel. Often understanding and a sympathetic nature its prime ally or virtue which motivates one to change,Create something new out of chaos. Evenour universe was created with a big bang only; somebody or something must havegone fed up or bored with the old and the outdated. But it all requires hard work and careful planning. Only persistence or practice makes it perfect. On the other hand one should never be scared of experiments in art . True, need is the desire of creation, but it is novelty whichsustains the interest and opens the door for further possibilities or futureitself. All science, art and socio-economic development are theresult of this mad urge or creativity only. We would not have had thesewonderful developments in medicine and space technology etc; if people did not have the hope and passionfor future. No wonder Wordsworth once wrote ‘Child is the father of the man.’ Because he is the creator and moulder of the future.Nothing is small and insignificant in God’s creation –a small seed had all the potential of a big tree with numerous fruits and flowers– every big plan starts with a dot on the chart board. It is creativity only,where man joins hands with god, painting this earth and sky and beyond with its own vision and emotions.
Favourite Forever-Pablo Neruda
Ode to my Socks
Maru Mori brought me
knitted with her own
two socks soft
my feet into them
with threads of
and sheep’s wool
my feet became
two long sharks
of lapis blue
with a golden thread,
two mammoth blackbirds,
that for the first time
my feet seemed
unacceptable to me,
two tired old
of the woven
of those luminous
the strong temptation
to save them
the way schoolboys
the way scholars
the wild impulse
to place them in a cage
and daily feed them
and rosy melon flesh.
Like explorers who in the forest
surrender a rare
and tender deer
to the spit
and eat it
I stuck out my feet
and pulled on
and then my shoes.
So this is
the moral of my odes:
and what is good is doubly
when it is a case of two
Ode To The Lemon
by the moonlight,
aroma of exasperated
steeped in fragrance,
drifted from the lemon tree,
and from its plantarium
lemons descended to the earth.
the markets glowed
with light, with
of a miracle,
from the hemispheres
of a star,
the most intense liqueur
born of the cool, fresh
of its fragrant house,
its acid, secret symmetry.
sliced a small
in the lemon,
the concealed apse, opened,
revealed acid stained glass,
So, when you hold
of a cut lemon
above your plate,
a universe of gold,
a fragrant nipple
of the earth’s breast,
a ray of light that was made fruit,
the minute fire of a planet.
Ode To Tomatoes
filled with tomatoes,
through the streets.
it enters at lunchtime,
its own light,
Unfortunately, we must
into living flesh,
populates the salads
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
of the roast
at the door,
the table, at the midpoint
star of earth, recurrent
its remarkable amplitude
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
of fiery color
and cool completeness.
Ode to My Suit
Every morning, suit,
you are waiting on a chair
to be filled
by my vanity, my love,
my hope, my body.
only half awake
I leave the shower
to shrug into your sleeves,
my legs seek
the hollow of your legs,
and thus embraced
by your unfailing loyalty
I take my morning walk,
work my way into my poetry;
from my windows I see
events and struggles
constantly shaping me,
constantly confronting me,
setting my hands to the task,
opening my eyes, creasing my lips,
and in the same way,
I am shaping you,
poking out your elbows,
wearing you threadbare,
and so your life grows
in the image of my own.
In the wind
you flap and hum
as if you were my soul,
in bad moments
to my bones,
abandoned, at nighttime
darkness and dream
people with their phantoms
your wings and mine.
whether some day
will stain you with my blood,
you would die with me,
it will be
and you will grow ill,
with me, with my body,
we will be lowered
into the earth.
I greet you
with respect and then
you embrace me and I forget you,
because we are one being
and shall be always
in the wind, through the night,
the streets and the struggle,
maybe, maybe, one day, still.
Poetry Here & Now
coloured wide spaces
Core looked for its periphery
having fallen out
of the centre.
Blank eyes see
the vanishing point,
the skyline of the past.
the falling rainfall.
A soothing touch ,
the by gone sunshine
wet with the kisses of a rainbow.
in the misty madness of time.
or the periphery?
A Death, A Beginning
Have you ever searched?
Your lost self
ruthless cold nights
inside me … ?
The blazing honesty of
vulnerable naked self
in your arms,
enslaved in disastrous fantasies,
tearing me apart
making me a whole
grasping a moment
seizing a death,
an eternal embrace
unknown … ?
Have you ever discovered,
my primeval existence
loving the woman in me!
A dot she were,
a zygotic stupor–
a peaceful sleep in
the mother’s dark womb.
She raged to grow
splitting into several,
from an embryo to a foetus,
ready for birth
into a space of chaotic movement,
coming to terms with what ?
Classic: Mother-Maxim Gorky
The days glided by one after the other, like the beads of a rosary, and grew into weeks and months. Every Saturday Pavel’s friends gathered in his house; and each meeting formed a step up a long stairway, which led somewhere into the distance, gradually lifting the people higher and higher. But its top remained invisible.
New people kept coming. The small room of the Vlasovs became crowded and close. Natasha arrived every Saturday night, cold and tired, but always fresh and lively, in inexhaustible good spirits. The mother made stockings, and herself put them on the little feet. Natasha laughed at first; but suddenly grew silent and thoughtful, and said in a low voice to the mother:
“I had a nurse who was also ever so kind. How strange, Pelagueya Nilovna! The workingmen live such a hard, outraged life, and yet there is more heart, more goodness in them than in–those!” And she waved her hand, pointing somewhere far, very far from herself.
“See what sort of a person you are,” the older woman answered. “You have left your own family and everything–” She was unable to finish her thought, and heaving a sigh looked silently into Natasha’s face with a feeling of gratitude to the girl for she knew not what. She sat on the floor before Natasha, who smiled and fell to musing.
“I have abandoned my family?” she repeated, bending her head down. “That’s nothing. My father is a stupid, coarse man–my brother also–and a drunkard, besides. My oldest sister–unhappy, wretched thing–married a man much older than herself, very rich, a bore and greedy. But my mother I am sorry for! She’s a simple woman like you, a beaten-down, frightened creature, so tiny, like a little mouse–she runs so quickly and is afraid of everybody. And sometimes I want to see her so–my mother!”
“My poor thing!” said the mother sadly, shaking her head.
The girl quickly threw up her head and cried out:
“Oh, no! At times I feel such joy, such happiness!”
Her face paled and her blue eyes gleamed. Placing her hands on the mother’s shoulders she said with a deep voice issuing from her very heart, quietly as if in an ecstasy:
“If you knew–if you but understood what a great, joyous work we are doing! You will come to feel it!” she exclaimed with conviction.
A feeling akin to envy touched the heart of the mother. Rising from the floor she said plaintively:
“I am too old for that–ignorant and old.”
Pavel spoke more and more often and at greater length, discussed more and more hotly, and–grew thinner and thinner. It seemed to his mother that when he spoke to Natasha or looked at her his eyes turned softer, his voice sounded fonder, and his entire bearing became simpler.
“Heaven grant!” she thought; and imagining Natasha as her daughter-in-law, she smiled inwardly.
Whenever at the meetings the disputes waxed too hot and stormy, the Little Russian stood up, and rocking himself to and fro like the tongue of a bell, he spoke in his sonorous, resonant voice simple and good words which allayed their excitement and recalled them to their purpose. Vyesovshchikov always kept hurrying everybody on somewhere. He and the red-haired youth called Samoylov were the first to begin all disputes. On their side were always Ivan Bukin, with the round head and the white eyebrows and lashes, who looked as if he had been hung out to dry, or washed out with lye; and the curly-headed, lofty-browed Fedya Mazin. Modest Yakob Somov, always smoothly combed and clean, spoke little and briefly, with a quiet, serious voice, and always took sides with Pavel and the Little Russian.
Sometimes, instead of Natasha, Alexey Ivanovich, a native of some remote government, came from the city. He wore eyeglasses, his beard was shiny, and he spoke with a peculiar singing voice. He produced the impression of a stranger from a far-distant land. He spoke about simple matters–about family life, about children, about commerce, the police, the price of bread and meat–about everything by which people live from day to day; and in everything he discovered fraud, confusion, and stupidity, sometimes setting these matters in a humorous light, but always showing their decided disadvantage to the people.
To the mother, too, it seemed that he had come from far away, from another country, where all the people lived a simple, honest, easy life; and that here everything was strange to him, that he could not get accustomed to this life and accept it as inevitable, that it displeased him, and that it aroused in him a calm determination to rearrange it after his own model. His face was yellowish, with thin, radiate wrinkles around his eyes, his voice low, and his hands always warm. In greeting the mother he would enfold her entire hand in his long, powerful fingers, and after such a vigorous hand clasp she felt more at ease and lighter of heart.
Other people came from the city, oftenest among them a tall, well-built young girl with large eyes set in a thin, pale face. She was called Sashenka. There was something manly in her walk and movements; she knit her thick, dark eyebrows in a frown, and when she spoke the thin nostrils of her straight nose quivered.
She was the first to say, “We are socialists!” Her voice when she said it was loud and strident.
When the mother heard this word, she stared in dumb fright into the girl’s face. But Sashenka, half closing her eyes, said sternly and resolutely: “We must give up all our forces to the cause of the regeneration of life; we must realize that we will receive no recompense.”
The mother understood that the socialists had killed the Czar. It had happened in the days of her youth; and people had then said that the landlords, wishing to revenge themselves on the Czar for liberating the peasant serfs, had vowed not to cut their hair until the Czar should be killed. These were the persons who had been called socialists. And now she could not understand why it was that her son and his friends were socialists.
When they had all departed, she asked Pavel:
“Pavlusha, are you a socialist?”
“Yes,” he said, standing before her, straight and stalwart as always. “Why?”
The mother heaved a heavy sigh, and lowering her eyes, said:
“So, Pavlusha? Why, they are against the Czar; they killed one.”
Pavel walked up and down the room, ran his hand across his face, and, smiling, said:
“We don’t need to do that!”
He spoke to her for a long while in a low, serious voice. She looked into his face and thought:
“He will do nothing bad; he is incapable of doing bad!”
And thereafter the terrible word was repeated with increasing frequency; its sharpness wore off, and it became as familiar to her ear as scores of other words unintelligible to her. But Sashenka did not please her, and when she came the mother felt troubled and ill at ease.
Once she said to the Little Russian, with an expression of dissatisfaction about the mouth:
“What a stern person this Sashenka is! Flings her commands around! –You must do this and you must do that!”
The Little Russian laughed aloud.
“Well said, mother! You struck the nail right on the head! Hey, Pavel?”
And with a wink to the mother, he said with a jovial gleam in his eyes:
“You can’t drain the blue blood out of a person even with a pump!”
Pavel remarked dryly:
“She is a good woman!” His face glowered.
“And that’s true, too!” the Little Russian corroborated. “Only she does not understand that she ought to—-”
They started up an argument about something the mother did not understand. The mother noticed, also, that Sashenka was most stern with Pavel, and that sometimes she even scolded him. Pavel smiled, was silent, and looked in the girl’s face with that soft look he had formerly given Natasha. This likewise displeased the mother.
The gatherings increased in number, and began to be held twice a week; and when the mother observed with what avidity the young people listened to the speeches of her son and the Little Russian, to the interesting stories of Sashenka, Natasha, Alexey Ivanovich, and the other people from the city, she forgot her fears and shook her head sadly as she recalled the days of her youth.
Sometimes they sang songs, the simple, familiar melodies, aloud and merrily. But often they sang new songs, the words and music in perfect accord, sad and quaint in tune. These they sang in an undertone, pensively and seriously as church hymns are chanted. Their faces grew pale, yet hot, and a mighty force made itself felt in their ringing words.
“It is time for us to sing these songs in the street,” said Vyesovshchikov somberly.
And sometimes the mother was struck by the spirit of lively, boisterous hilarity that took sudden possession of them. It was incomprehensible to her. It usually happened on the evenings when they read in the papers about the working people in other countries. Then their eyes sparkled with bold, animated joy; they became strangely, childishly happy; the room rang with merry peals of laughter, and they struck one another on the shoulder affectionately.
“Capital fellows, our comrades the French!” cried some one, as if intoxicated with his own mirth.
“Long live our comrades, the workingmen of Italy!” they shouted another time.
And sending these calls into the remote distance to friends who did not know them, who could not have understood their language, they seemed to feel confident that these people unknown to them heard and comprehended their enthusiasm and their ecstasy.
The Little Russian spoke, his eyes beaming, his love larger than the love of the others:
“Comrades, it would be well to write to them over there! Let them know that they have friends living in far-away Russia, workingmen who confess and believe in the same religion as they, comrades who pursue the same aims as they, and who rejoice in their victories!”
And all, with smiles on their faces dreamily spoke at length of the Germans, the Italians, the Englishmen, and the Swedes, of the working people of all countries, as of their friends, as of people near to their hearts, whom without seeing they loved and respected, whose joys they shared, whose pain they felt.
In the small room a vast feeling was born of the universal kinship of the workers of the world, at the same time its masters and its slaves, who had already been freed from the bondage of prejudice and who felt themselves the new masters of life. This feeling blended all into a single soul; it moved the mother, and, although inaccessible to her, it straightened and emboldened her, as it were, with its force, with its joys, with its triumphant, youthful vigor, intoxicating, caressing, full of hope.
“What queer people you are!” said the mother to the Little Russian one day. “All are your comrades–the Armenians and the Jews and the Austrians. You speak about all as of your friends; you grieve for all, and you rejoice for all!”
“For all, mother dear, for all! The world is ours! The world is for the workers! For us there is no nation, no race. For us there are only comrades and foes. All the workingmen are our comrades; all the rich, all the authorities are our foes. When you see how numerous we workingmen are, how tremendous the power of the spirit in us, then your heart is seized with such joy, such happiness, such a great holiday sings in your bosom! And, mother, the Frenchman and the German feel the same way when they look upon life, and the Italian also. We are all children of one mother–the great, invincible idea of the brotherhood of the workers of all countries over all the earth. This idea grows, it warms us like the sun; it is a second sun in the heaven of justice, and this heaven resides in the workingman’s heart. Whoever he be, whatever his name, a socialist is our brother in spirit now and always, and through all the ages forever and ever!”
This intoxicated and childish joy, this bright and firm faith came over the company more and more frequently; and it grew ever stronger, ever mightier.
And when the mother saw this, she felt that in very truth a great dazzling light had been born into the world like the sun in the sky and visible to her eyes.
On occasions when his father had stolen something again and was in prison, Nikolay would announce to his comrades: “Now we can hold our meetings at our house. The police will think us thieves, and they love thieves!”
Almost every evening after work one of Pavel’s comrades came to his house, read with him, and copied something from the books. So greatly occupied were they that they hardly even took the time to wash. They ate their supper and drank tea with the books in their hands; and their talks became less and less intelligible to the mother.
“We must have a newspaper!” Pavel said frequently.
Life grew ever more hurried and feverish; there was a constant rushing from house to house, a passing from one book to another, like the flirting of bees from flower to flower.
“They are talking about us!” said Vyesovshchikov once. “We must get away soon.”
“What’s a quail for but to be caught in the snare?” retorted the Little Russian.
Vlasova liked the Little Russian more and more. When he called her “mother,” it was like a child’s hand patting her on the cheek. On Sunday, if Pavel had no time, he chopped wood for her; once he came with a board on his shoulder, and quickly and skillfully replaced the rotten step on the porch. Another time he repaired the tottering fence with just as little ado. He whistled as he worked. It was a beautifully sad and wistful whistle.
Once the mother said to the son:
“Suppose we take the Little Russian in as a boarder. It will be better for both of you. You won’t have to run to each other so much!”
“Why need you trouble and crowd yourself?” asked Pavel, shrugging his shoulders.
“There you have it! All my life I’ve had trouble for I don’t know what. For a good person it’s worth the while.”
“Do as you please. If he comes I’ll be glad.”
And the Little Russian moved into their home.
Face to face: – Basudev Adhikari with Tom Leonard
(Born in Glasgow in 1944, Tom Leonard is best known for poetry written in the urban speech of that city. This, and his seminal critical writings, have had a major impact on attitudes to language and writing in Scotland, and beyond.)
Bashudev: In one interview you have said that poetry could not be translated properly. In this regards how good poem could be communicated in rest of the world?
Tom Leonard : The language of art is not the language of information, there is more to poetry than information. There can be specific verbal music and layers of meaning and nuance condensed within the form. To translate is from the Latin meaning to carry across; the same music, multiple meaning and internal resonance cannot be carried across exactly of course. But a translation can work when it makes language in parallel with the original in the newly made; or when the original poem is weighted more towards information and image rather than music and ambiguity. Brecht’s “Questions from a Worker who Reads” for instance can translate well. I have translated Brecht’s play Mother Courage and her Children myself which will be published in the New Year.
Bashudev: Have you ever thought that your poem, full of Scottish lyrics and sound could never be translated in another language?
Tom Leonard : Some of my Scottish dialect poems have recently been translated into Tyrolese dialect and I think they sound as if a good job has been done. They can be seen and heard here on this YouTube file http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzbvo0-8OfU So much depends,in translation,on the ability of the translator. Translating poetry can mean making similar subtle judgements and using similar idiomatic turns of language, as the poet made in the original. It can take a good poet to make a good translation in that sense.
Bashudev: During your poetic creation would you meltdown or converted into common people? Where did you find the seeds of poetry?
Tom Leonard : I don’t understand the first sentence. If it means do I think of poems and translate them into the language of common people, no. I am a common person myself, I do not have to do any translation there. I have a workingclass Glasgow accent as part of my way of speaking though it varies as to who I am speaking with sometimes. So my poems in Glasgow dialect are representations of speech from within me, not from people without.
My sources for poetry vary so much, sometimes a phrase comes into my mind and it just needs to be pursued. Or else I might be asked to write a poem, as when my son asked me to write a poem for his wedding. Or I might be feeling angry about something and I start writing. I discover the poem in writing it, I do not start with it completed in my head.
Bashudev: Reading fiction is common all over the world. Why did you not turn in that area?
Tom Leonard : The reason I do not write fiction is simple. I am not good at it, so there is no point. I am not a natural storyteller.
Bashudev: Have you ever felt that prize is the matter of politics? If so, could you comment on Booker prize and others?
Tom Leonard : It is impossible to avoid politics in any area of life, not least language. As for poetry prizes, of course. If one writes poetry that will upset the political views of the poetry judges, one is not likely to get the prize. When Henry Kissinger can be given a Nobel Prize then what is the meaning of the prize after that.
I was glad to be given the NC Kaser award in Italy last year as he was a Leftist progressive poet who was formally adventurous, wrote in dialect as well as standard language, and was prepared to be controversial in his work. I am happy to have been awarded a prize named after such an artist.
Bashudev: What is your stimulus for writting? Does it change from time to time?
Tom Leonard : It usually comes through language itself. Sometimes I think of myself as much as a language activist as a poet. It is a dialogue with the language of power that surrounds me all the time, that often I am upset about, or else I can want to make formal utterance of something that is within me. But as I have said I might be asked to write a poem for a particular occasion, or a particular feeling or perception comes out in language.
Bashudev: You are positive with American writting rather than European. How did you draw the conclusion?
Tom Leonard : I would distinguish between American and English writing rather than American and European. Both American and British use English, but the UK language has been affected by class status issues over the ages, the language itself has become an area of class division. I found that American poets such as William Carlos Williams had addressed this issue and pursued a way of writing poetry where they might talk of “breaking with the iambic” but they were at a deeper level breaking with the nature of class in diction in British-influenced verse. So the nature of democracy in America, for all the criticism one might make of it, in fact presented and presents solutions in language and poetry useful to a Scottish writer such as myself.
As for European non-English literature, it was European and Russian fiction which mattered early to me in literature rather than poetry. As a teenager I devoured the works of Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Flaubert, Balzac etc in English translation. But it was America I was to look for my main help in finding my own means of expression in poetry. This is not at all to do with all American poetry, only such poets as appealed to me.
I now have sundry books of European poets in translation.
Bashudev: Do you feel that the power of creativity declines after 60 years?
Tom Leonard : I am tired some of the time because of medicine I take. But I still work and think away, I have not “retired” mentally in any way and I am still trying to find out things in language. At the moment my explorations in image and text can take place on my website journal, though poetry still features there too. I hope always to be confronting myself with the basic questions, and so long as one is still asking oneself the basic questions and being open to them, one is still alive.
Bashudev: As a writer did you feel any gap of poetic spirit what you wish to communicate & what reader or critics perceived the same?
Tom Leonard : I am happy when being spoken to after a public reading or receiving a communication to my website, if I am led to understand that my work has meant something positive or useful in someone else’s life. There is no point I feel in hoping for any more than that, and I try to be simply grateful when that happens.
I aim always for the reader at the page: not the critic between the reader and the book, but the reader with the book in his or her hand. That is all that counts, that moment.
Bashudev: Being the poet of working class people what you feel about your own poetic gene? How did you energize the public via writting?
Tom Leonard: There can seem to be a tension between supposedly “high art” and the art of communities, but I don’t really agree with that viewpoint. I do not think I have abandoned my class background because I happen to like Mozart and Shakespeare. In the society in which I live the greater part of reading and digestion of information goes on through daily corporate media: it is with the language of this that I am often engaged in conflict and to which my work in sundry ways will make reply. But recently I was asked to contribute to a Scottish newspaper and I chose to write poems which in plain language summarise and debate the issues presently discussed regarding the forthcoming referendum in Scotland on independence. There is a tradition in local newspapers and broadsheets in the nineteenth century here in the West of Scotland of political debate taking place within poems written by working class people. Some of this I collected and had published in 1990 in the nineteenth century anthology I edited called Radical Renfrew. I like the idea of resurrecting this practice of current debate in poetry. I wrote some such verse for the newspaper occasion and hope to continue with it in my web journal over the next few months.
Bashudev: How socialist writting differs with capitalist writting in west? How do you rate about readership & responses from different area?
Tom Leonard : There are different types of socialism, and different types of capitalism. There can be works of fiction from the early part of the twentieth century like Jack London’s The Iron Heel or Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists which explicitly argue the socialist case. These remain popular classics on the Left. Or there can be works written by socialist writers who do not argue explicilty the case of socialism, but implicity reveal the injustices of capitalism in the telling of their stories. This can be across a spectrum. Where a writer makes the case explicit, there will be no prizes, to refer to your earlier question. But there are successful writers whose case is implicit in the stories though nonsocialists might still read them as they think it is “only a story”. In Britain I would say the most significant novelist on the Left is James Kelman. On the right there are many such as Martin Amis who are very anti-working class.
Bashudev: As a critic could you find the multi meaning of others writting? If not, how could other find in your writting?
Tom Leonard : I am not clear what this question means. I have written elsewhere that one of the functions of art, for me, is to reduce people to silence, for once. It is by questioning the nature of that silence in oneself that meaningful criticism can arise, at the personal level.
Someone, it may have been Eliot, wrote once that to find out what a poet thinks or is trying to do in their work, read what they write about other writers. That is definitely true of my own writing, as I prefer and choose to write almost exclusively about those writers with whom I am in sympathy in some way.
Bashudev: As a prominent writer you spoke against the US-UK bombard in Middle East. Did you feel any political risk during the time?
Tom Leonard : Living in Britain I am not at personal risk criticising the government the way in which in many countries to do so, or even to criticise the flag, could lead to imprisonment or even death. I am not subject to that risk, though I will of course be noticed by authorities and the surveillance bodies who are so rife in Britain and elsewhere. But the situation here does not demand that people like me are dangerous enough to need locked up. That freedom of expression I have is precious, and it should be universal. But it means that I am duty bound to speak out, and to express my outrage, when the government of my country is putting at risk, and destroying, the lives of people in other countries.
Bashudev: Do you have an opportunity to be familiar with Asian literature?
Tom Leonard : My reading of Asian poetry is patchy and scattered: Russians like Mayakovsky Akhmahtova Mandelsam etc; Turkish Nazim Hikmet; Chuvash Gennadi Aygi; Palestinians Darwish, Adonis Taha Muhammad Ali and others; Salah Faiq of Iraq; Tamils like in the anthology Wilting Laughter: Three Tamil Poets (R Cheran VIS Jayapalan and Puthuvai Ratnathurai). There are sundry more Asians I have read, but Asia and its literature is so vast and my experience of it is tiny beside it.
Bashudev: What would be the foot steps of dynamic writer you would prefer to advise especially for young one?
Tom Leonard : Everything is material for art and poetry. Everything. The English word education is from the Latin educere,meaning to lead out. To lead out, that is, from within; because all the value in the human is already within, and education to me means acquiring the knowledge that can be gained from what you can hear, see feel and touch leading out from within, to the rest of the world.
November 29th 2013
It was a sunny day and she was only eight, doing her homework in the garden, happily & humming. Suddenly something fell from the sky right in front of her, just missing her. She nearly jumped in horror, it was a wounded pigeon; twitching in pain right in front of her eyes, perhaps just escaping the claws of a preying bird.
Moved by this painful sight she ran to the wounded bird. Washed and cleaned it and then put some of her own healing ointment all over it which mother used to put over her own grazed knees to make her feel better. She also gave it some fresh water and millet and made it comfortable all wrapped in a wooly scarf and sitting cosily in a little basket near her own bed. She was waking up almost every hour to check if the bird was all right.
In few days bird was hopping all over her room and within a week it flew out in the open. Girl was happy for it. She will miss it but it can live its normal life now and do whar birds do. With a heavy heart she came back from school that day, knowing well that no bird will greet her any more. But how wrong she was. As soon as she opened the window of the room; to her utter surprise bird was back comfortably sitting in it’s basket. It became a routine then. As soon as the girl would go, the bird will fly out also and as soon as the little girl will come back, the bird will be back.
for month it was like this only, day after day. Everybody in the family was fed up (except the little girl) of the unsightly mess created by bird’s innumerable droppings. One day as soon as the little girl went to the school, they bolted the windows and door, so the bird couldn’t enter her room and leave the mess for them to clean. But the Bird came back as usual on it’s regular time and waited and waited outside the room in the hope that somebody will let her in. She refused to fly away. When the girl came back that evening and opened her window, to her utter shock and sadness there was no bird except a cat purring near by and few blood stains and broken feathers on her window
She was a lonely girl
Garden was still quiet and empty
No body called her to play or sing
She was a lonely girl
Sitting alone on her desk
World full of people
but no body for her.