Several folks in my network write– columns, blogposts or books. I am dedicating Fridays to reading and pondering over a couple of them each week.

Ever since I became interested in the intersections of neuroscience, psychology and writing, I read differently. If you are writer or interested in writing, you may find my analysis useful.

This week I ponder on poems by Tikuli Dogra and Smeetha Bhoumik]

#Poem 1


January night, grim and desolate

on a lonely moonlit highway

unfurling quietly, frostilly still,

rugged mountains scratching the dark,

nocturnal creatures calling the moon,

even the leafless trees whisper,

yesterday is gone, tomorrow is asleep

Tikuli Dogra’s poems have been published in many outlets. Her debut book “Collection of Chaos” was received well and another book release is around the corner this year.

I read this poem on The Thumb Print. Notice how the title is worked into the movement of the verses. From January night, one journeys onto a lonely moonlit highway unfurling, onto rugged mountains scratching and so on. The movements evoked follow each other like in a journey, each leading to something else and culminating and landing in the last line.

Notice the last part of the last line – tomorrow is asleep, indicating a further journey when tomorrow will awake. In the readers’ minds the journey continues.

This poem is utterly visual – night is dark, highway lit by moon, mountains are rugged and you can catch them scratching.

This also makes the journey a painting of sorts – layer above layer of image and texture is added so when you, the reader, get to that last line, you have associated so deeply with the images, you embody it and sense it in your person.

#Poem 2

They Came

They came, singing in the rain

The larks,

their snow-tipped icy shells

About to shatter into smithereens

In force ten winds

Blowing north to north-west,

Meeting me at the junction;

I stood,

a shadow against the gale,

Prepared to play host –

How strange that love & hate

Intersect at these junctions.

Masks down, baring all

For eternity to see;

The boiling rage of hate

The freezing point of love

Knotted here in degrees of restricted freedom

Unable to coalesce

Unable to cease.

The winds are strong, biting, frosty,

I stand huddled up,

As the larks circle up there

Their shells falling like meteors all around…

The sound of singing in my ears;

Far away, a pink pierces & streaks across the blackness

Just a little more…

They came singing in the rain,

The larks.

Smeetha Bhoumik is a well-known poet and painter. She is also the founder of Women Empowered-India, facilitating brilliant discussions around art, gender and voice in society. I picked this poem from Indian Review.

In this poem, the title “They came” indicates the author is still. This contradiction between movement and stillness can be seen in the way tenses have been used through the poem. The lark is – singing, blowing, meeting, falling – while the author is – stood, stand, prepared. This contrast makes the poem dynamic and dramatic.

The poem is utterly visual and then moves into ongoing kinaesthetic sensations like boiling/freezing/huddled up/biting. The temperature of this poem tends towards cold although the phrase “boiling rage of hate” exists. You notice how the sentences freeze through contraction of word space in the third para to that sentence “unable to cease”.

The creative strategy is first, the reader sees what the author sees and then in the third para, begins to feel what she does. By the last line of third para, the reader is quite associated with the author.

Then the reader is thrown off in the fourth para and dissociates. “Just a little more…” becomes the sentence the reader looks at both the pink on black as well as the author.

I think the poem could have ended here.

What these poems teach us is how to engage the readers – how to pace them into your story and lead them where you want them to travel. Read your poems closely. How do you get your readers to associate? How do you lead them?