Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Story behind the Poetry Contest

Well, before I get started I suggest you read this charming little poem.

Okay, I get it. Don't call your own poem charming. I decided I would write the next post only when I had the time and was happy.

You can pretty much figure how my life has been this past month.

Apart from TEDxSSN, it was boring this previous month. Suddenly, out of the depressing loom of the dreaded UT, I got a phone call informing me that I was short-listed for the Poetry Prize. Needless to say, I got excited and my eyes that were drooping on relational calculus started to shine and open.

Hmmm, "Let's start at the very beginning" I guess. Long long ago, in those gold dust filled halls of the humanities block was announced this Poetry Contest.


Max 72 lines
2-3 poems
Not published before, even on your own blog

My thoughts:

Rules for poetry??
New ones???
Entry fee: Rs.200 ????

Well, then she said first prize Rs. 3000 and sort of made it more interesting. So I thought, what the heck, let me give it a shot.

Then I got down to business one weekend. I neatly numbered 1 to 24 on a diary sheet since I decided to write three poems of 24 lines each. I was confused whether to use a pentameter or heptameter. I settled on a pentameter finally but it wasn't iambic.

I just realised the above sentence wouldn't have made sense to me some time ago. What I'm trying to say is that I was trying to put ten syllables in a line and iambic is when you alternately stress and unstress. (For further fun on iambic pentameters, read Angels and Demons!)

I am the story teller after all, and jotted down a nice little fairy tale with refrains and alliterations. However, it was hard work getting the story to get over in exactly 24 lines with 10 syllables each line AND to maintain the rhyme scheme.

I had to think hard for the others. Harry, of course, naturally came to my mind. Then, I drew a blank. Afterwards, my sister called to play chess. Eureka! My third poem was ready. Again, getting to describe all the characters within the 24 lines was difficult. Then, I typed them out and sent it by mail and print.

And I heard of them no more.

I'd get hints of some activity. The contest was opened for one more month.
More competition.

Then, absolutely no news whatsoever.

After that, I got a mail telling that the prize distribution was on Friday, February 25th. I got all happy, imagining I'd won it only to realise it was forwarded to 20 others as well. And the musical strains of my mother's voice filled the room when I was babbling about it, "First study for your ut, don't keep dreaming!" . Curse you ut!

But on Friday 24th, I was excited. I hoped to get the second prize. I told everyone I was short-listed. My mom was optimistic, she said that even if I didn't win a prize, at least I had come among the top six and that she was happy about that. Perhaps too much "drishti"? Anyway I went to college, read my friend's poem and decided mine were rubbish.

The Ceremony was grand. Hindu journalist, Mr. Mukund Padmanabhan was the chief guest (Ya ya to all those fellow CBSE alumni, the author of that Umberto Eco interview).

And there were speeches.

And there were speeches.

And there were more speeches.

After some hotshot introduction about the judge (which convinced me my poems were useless) , they finally read out the short-listed candidates. You should have heard the titles.

A Vibrant Passion of  Love.
The Dreamer.
Random Something (Sorry Niyathi, wasn't paying attention)

And mine:
A Chat about Chess
Magic Masters over Muggle Me
A Tale of Two CROWNS (instead of crows)

It sounded DUMB!

Finally, the Fiction Second Prize was announced. (Good grief, it was like the Oscars, envelopes and all!). Then, the First Place. Then, the Poetry Second Prize:

My heart was racing.

Some random girl.

Disappointment to the core. Well, at least I was shortlisted. Then they announced the first prize goes to

A Chat about Chess
Magic Masters over Muggle Me
A Tale of Two CROWNS

I gasped. If my friend hadn't pushed, I would have sat right there in my seat. See, if they had called out my name, I would have instinctively gotten up. But I just sat there. And then I went, bumbling and tripping to the dais in my usual fashion, confused whether to step on the stage directly or use the stairs by the side and so many other decisions frankly to be done unconsciously, but I was very, very conscious and naturally felt silly.

Afterwards I felt, what a typical Enid Blyton like story. You know how mostly the youngest girl will check if she's on the reserve team and will be disappointed she wasn't on it only to realise that she was on the main team. 

So that's that and I'm happy for now. I just put up the poems, hope you enjoy reading them.

Of course, I didn't get any change in revaluation of my papers as expected but strangely didn't feel too depressed.

I've decided to be happy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Tale of Two Crows

Long long ago, in a faraway land,
faced two crows who had the gift of the gab.
An arrogant sneer met a soft, gentle
yet firm look. The latter looked very drab
when compared to the majestic and dark
sleek coat that had taken hours to arrange.
“A challenge”, announced the big mighty crow.
Thus the sands of time swirled to winds of change.
“The one who is able to, by means of
his prodigious strength, carry this bag
filled with a substance chosen by his wit
to that tree first will earn the winner tag.”
The handsome haughty crow filled his bag with
cotton. His rival was out of range
as he had used salt. Then, began the rain.
Thus the sands of time swirled to winds of change.
The meek measly one glided to victory
as the salt had dissolved rapidly. He
proved his worth and quietly observed the
other, with forlorn faded feathers. He
felt his rival’s power of silence, while
being dragged by the sagging sack. Exchange
of such stories light up the novice mind to
whom now sands of time swirl to winds of change.

Mirth and Joy - taken from an art forum

Magic Masters over Muggle Me

Around the same age as Harry was when
he discovered magic, did I listen
to my friend’s advice and read the books that
changed my life forever. The Sorting Hat
had chosen me to be one of Harry’s
greatest fans. Bordering on a Dobby
like fashion, I followed the many years
in Hogwarts with passion. A muggle yearns
to be a part of this world since the journey
has truly been magical. As fiery
dragons and Dark forces Harry battled,
in a parallel universe rattled
my soul against evil in my own world.
As Harry caught the Snitch, in a whirl,
I did cheer for him and my very first
poem. Just when Harry had been so cursed
with the worst luck and accidents so
had I been dogged by misfortune. Also,
as he climbed out of it with help from friends
did I forge wondrous friendships. When amends
and sorry were made with alacrity
did I humble and later destiny
was ours to conquer. Alas! my quill dries.
For you dear Harry, till the broomstick flies.

A Chat about Chess

“Chess, milady”, said the king, “is very
serious business. I, for one, am very
slow, moving one square at a time, but in
all directions. Guard yours truly to win.
Beside me, is my faithful queen, a strong
soldier who darts across the board along
all points of the compass for the team. And
on either side of us, the bishops stand
who move diagonally and defeat
the enemy by forcing a retreat
with their wit and shrewdness. Alongside them,
are positioned the brave knights. Strategem
is easy as he is undaunted by
a foe in his path as his steed doth fly
over him in clever L – formation.
Up next are the strong castles. Foundations
so strong hinders diagonal movement.
Hence, they heave their heavy selves and then vent
their power in a straight manner. In front
of us, is a phalanx of pawns. They hunt
their prey one step at a time and forward
alone. They are oft thought cowards
but on the other end become powers.
May the battle begin, my dear flower.”

Chess - John Singer Sargent