the poet-tree (Srijan shukla & gieve patel)
Today, I bring to you two different poems. They are put together for no other reason but because they are about trees and पौधे. The other idea that brings the two poems together is the use of metaphor.
I read Srijan’s poem the way I would read Ginsberg’s Howl, not in terms of style and intent but as a portrait of a kind of person/people. Not once does the poem explicitly state who it is describing. There is an impulse that it describes. I read it as a creativity or creation. The figurine of 'those who plant things' is carved out with love and a lingering awe. There is a tongue-in-cheek admiration, a subtext of wit and celebration of the ordinariness of their becoming. their quiet inspiration. The poem makes me fall in love with people who plant things, and want to be one of them!
As with the first poem Gieve Patel talks about an attitude without ever stating it explicitly. If Srijan’s poem is about creation, nurturing and the creative drive, Patel’s is about killing. The context in which I first encountered this poem made it very clear that the poem is about censorship. However, it could be anything, it could simply be about the way we treat our environment. or about the absurd impulse that we have to destroy beautiful and thriving things/ideas.
The use of metaphor in both these poems makes them open to multiple interpretations. The style is nurturing of imaginative exploration, rather than pedantic.
It is important to remember both impulses today when the BJP state Government is siding with corporate giants and development pundits (even filmmakers and celebrities) in the war against the Aarey forest. While some might read the judgement which temporarily suspended further killing of trees in the area as a positive thing, arguably, the damage has already been done. In line with the development agenda of the centre, this act is another nail in the coffin of an already asphyxiated urban landscape. It is also an attack on the livelihoods of the adivasi communities that reside there in peaceful co-existence with their environment.