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Delhi’s ancient monuments host metaphors and rhyme
SHWETA SHARMA  1st Jul 2012

The first edition of Poetry at the Monument

ith the chirping of birds and the chattering of squirrels for company, a group of poets assemble in the wee hours of the first or second Sunday morning every month under the umbrella of a recently launched poetry group, Poetry at the Monument. Conceived by poets Abhay Kumar and Alka Tyagi, the group plans to organise poetry readings at seven key monuments in the ancient cities of Delhi (Quila Rai Pithora, Mehrauli, Siri, Tughlakabad, Firozabad, Shergarh and Shahjehanabad), once a month throughout the year.

"The idea of reading poems at the Humayun's Tomb came from Alka who lives near the monument. Having visited all the seven cities in the past and knowing Delhi's history, I was excited about the idea; I expanded it by taking poetry to the seven cities in the next seven months. Thus was born Poetry at the Monument," says Kumar.

Launched on 13 May, the initiative hopes to bring back poetry to the city. It has already completed two readings — one each at Humayun's Tomb and the Bada Gumbad at Lodi Gardens recently. As a rule, generally 12 poets are invited to read out their works to a good mix of established, experienced and young poets, who have just started exploring the field.

"You would remember that Delhi, throughout its history, has played host to great poets such as Amir Khushro, Mir Taqi Mir, Zauq and Mirza Ghalib. But today, Delhi is a very different city. Our initiative achieves three key objectives — bring poetry out in the open from closed spaces, make Dilliwallahs aware of our heritage and facilitate poets of the city to meet each other and know each others' works," explains Kumar. Putting the average strength of gathering between 30-40 people, he adds, "Lots of young professionals flock to these gatherings seeking solace in poetry."

Future recitals are scheduled for Shermandal (Purana Kila), Ashokan Pillar (Ferozeshah Kotla), Muhammadwali Masjid (Siri), Tughlaqabad, Lal Kot/Qutub complex (Mehrauli) and Ghalib's Haveli (Shahjehanabad), as these venues are landmark heritage sites of Delhi.

Are the gatherings themed according to the monument in the background? "Poets are encouraged to read a poem or two on the monument where we read but not forced to do so. For example, I read my poem Searching Dara Shikoh at our first reading at the Humayun's Tomb because Dara Shikoh is buried there. Our sittings are much more than just a reading session. Younger poets learn how to recite poetry from the more experienced ones and experienced poets update themselves with new ideas and thoughts of the younger lot," he says.

Their next gathering is scheduled for 8 July at Shermandal, Purana Qila, the place where Humayun fell down from the stairs of his library and died a few days later.

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