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The Garland of Poetry – SAPNE Summer Meet

Poppy Charnalia                                                                                                       IMAGES



The flowers look brighter in the summer,

The fruits get sweeter in the sun.

The nature gets her intensity in the summer,

There is thunder, longing and fun,


The contrast is deep, the voice is rich,

The mood is to explore the woods,

To reflect the truth in life, the quiet and noise, 

The subtle balance of fury and poise.


So was the call by SAPNE for the quarterly summer meeting, which was held at Lexington Community Center on August 13th, 2016.  A relaxed summer afternoon got filled with compositions in various South Asian languages, each weaving a flower to a rich garland of words and emotions.  The theme was set as the intensified colors of nature, speaking brightly but silently, reflective and with musical hues. The contrast of rich colors and solitude amongst trees was beautifully expressed as each poet strung a different flower on the garland.  Each flower was unique in its exquisiteness and fragrance.  The session was moderated by Mr. Jaspal Singh, a founding member of the group.


The session began with a poem that spoke of the agony felt by people of color in the U.S.  A Bengali poem entitled “Legacy”, an autobiographical recollection by Poet Dr. Rahul Ray’s own activism in youth and then connecting his son’s bold actions in the streets of inner city New York.  The parents while remain anxious for their child’s safety, proudly stand up to speak about his valor.  


Poets followed in sequence as they thought appropriate to tie up their sentiment with the preceding message.  It became a gorgeous afternoon.


A beautiful fresh flower was strung on the garland with a song about love and sacrifice for India in a Hindi poem titled ‘Desh woh mera, Pariwesh woh mera’. The depth of Mr. Amit Khare’s sentiment moistened his eyes; he paused and sang again. The room choked with him in his emotion. His voice was powerful like the summer hues on the flowers and his emotion as subtle as the silent rustling of leaves in the summer.


The emotion was balanced by Dr. R. Balachandra who spoke simply but elegantly about the human tendencies of worry, anxiety which are often founded in meaningless minutiae.  He recited a Kannada poem titled ‘Talamalada Madhyanha’, ‘A worried afternoon’.  There was a lesson of peace and tranquility in the poem.  Worries are local!


Dr. Bijoy Misra followed with his Oriya poem entitled “Patara”, the story of a “Leaf”.  Insignificant in myriads, a leaf is the source of life in the universe.  It adds beauty, gives us shade.  Life’s romance is linked to a subtle leaf.  Its needs are small, its duties are large.  Leaf is a miracle of the creation!  


Mr. Subhash Sehgal followed further on spirituality with his poem “Adhyapan.” The world operates on passing knowledge from one generation to the other.  Pure knowledge is always positive.  Many try to color knowledge for individual benefit or political manipulation.  Let the truth shine!



Dr. Muneebur Rahman followed with a short poem in Kashmiri language interpreting ‘Conversation with Self’.   The task is to rise above and stay calm in the face of adversities, ironies and contradictions.   The sweet diction of the syllables expressed a rhythm of calmness in thoughts and feelings.


Another flower on the ever growing garland was strung by a Mr. Prem Nagar in a poem entitled  ‘Maa Kahtee Hai’.  Written in memory of his mother who passed away recently, the poem recalled the mother’s teachings in physical settings and in metaphysical contemplation. The poet remembered in great detail the words spoken to him each day about humility, simplicity and the power of knowledge. Mother’s is always a calming voice!


Mr. Jjay Shishupal recalled his mother while craving for food in his far away country of residence.  While varieties exist elsewhere, his heart seeks for the simple daal-roti prepared by his mother.  The poem was in Hindi entitled ‘Hamaari Pehchaan’. The food in a foreign land nourishes his body but the soul starves for the loving care.


Mr Jaspal Singh followed with his sonorous rendition of the Hindi poem “Awahan”.  The poet called for change in society to remove inequity and inequality.  The common people are exploited in the name of progress.  Rarely, they benefit from the manipulations in the land and economy.


Mrs. Swapna Ray read a Bengali poem advocating the progress of women in work and society.  The poem entitled “We, the women of the 21st century”, spoke about the vision of the new world with women leaders and torch bearers.  She invited her husband Rahul Ray to sing the inspirational Bengali song that motivated them to progressive spirit in youth. The poem celebrated those who have ever stood up for righteousness. The energy in the room was palpable, everyone joined in the rhythmic beat of the song.


Mr. Alok De advocated change in a Bengali poem entitled “Paribartan”.   Since its birth four and half billion years ago-- our planet is going through change - one after another.  Now that we are in a steady state for the time being--- it is going to change again --who knows when the call is going to come- change will take place again.


Ms. Neena Wahi soothed the emotion of women by reciting a beautiful Hindi poem entitled “Udne de mujhe udne de”, dedicated to the festival of “rakshabandhan”. She described how a woman does not necessarily seek protection in the new era. A woman seeks love and offers protection to her loved ones. 


Ms. Geeta Patil read two poems: A Little Village Girl, and Summer Waterfalls.  The poems reflected the innocence of the human nature that transcends to the beauty of a waterfall.


A flower fell on the garland musically! Ms. Shrilakshmi Vasan sang her emotions in Carnatic form of music in the Tamil language in her poem titled ‘Kanadhadai Kandavan’ and ‘Ennai Maranthalum’. Her mellifluous notes spoke of Lord Ganesha and how she seeks his blessings before embarking upon a new journey in life.  She spoke of remembering God even if her ‘self’ is forgotten. The song was deeply spiritual and a treat for the ears.


Ms. Poppy Charnalia reminisced in the beautiful memories of everyday life in a home she just moved from. She expressed deep melancholy over leaving the impressions of sounds, incidents and natural beauty she witnessed behind. The poem titled ‘Yeh ghar ab chhor kar jana hai’ moved the audience simply and deeply. She also read Urdu couplets speaking of natural beauty she observes in and around the city of Boston. Each couplet described the superficial beauty while holding a more philosophical meaning behind the words.


Leaving towns lead to the thoughts of leaving countries.  Ms. Pallika Kanani in a sweet Gujarati poem “Jet- Lag” described the deep melancholy she felt for days after she left her home in India and its hustle and bustle behind. The days and nights in the U.S. seemed unreal. Jet lag for her was about missing the spirit of India, learning to live without it!


Mr. Sanjeev Tripathi offered a tribute to India, celebrating 69 years of Independence for the motherland. The poet explained the three beautiful colors of the Indian fag, Tiranga or Tricolor as it is called. He spoke of re-establishing liberty in the true sense as envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi.


Mr. Preetpal Singh, the poet of comedy, introduced a mirthful flower to the garland. His poem in the Punjabi language narrated how difficult it is to please others. One tries hard, but the judgement is for others.  The efforts fall short.  His words made the audience laugh heartily. The poem was a relaxation in the serious rendition of poetic thoughts!


The session ended with the Bengali poem by Mr. Anirban Ghatak.  The poem in Bengali entitled “Abar Samudr”’, compared humans to the vast seas, how the depth of the ocean is as naked as humans on the inside.  The poem was translated in English by Mr. Alok De.


The garland filled up with varied fragrances, hues and textures. It was closed with thoughts about India, equality of Humans regardless of race or gender and the immense beauty of nature holding life lessons in its gentle embrace. 


The meeting closed with a picture where poets stood in a semi-circle much like the exquisite garland of poetry they had just strung together. Dr. Bijoy Misra, the Convener of the group, thanked all.


South Asia Poets of New England (SAPNE) is an offshoot of India Poetry Reading, initiated in Harvard University in 1997.  The groups meets every quarter with an annual meet at Harvard.  The next meeting would be in November, 2016.  The theme would be “Voice of the People”.  Poets wishing to join the group and participate, may contact the following:  Chandu Shah, Sanjeev Tripathi, Jaspal Singh, Bijoy Misra

SAPNE events are sponsored through the non-profit group India Discovery Center, Inc.




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