Just for fun, I tried in my previous post
to respond to Kapil Sibal's poems "in kind", as it were. JF, in a comment, inserted appropriate linebreaks and asked why I "hid" my verse. I'm not sure why, but here is some of what I was thinking:
First, writing lines that rhyme and (more or less) scan is easy. As JF surmises, I took about half an hour over this. Many people can do it better and faster than me (eg, TR
). Sibal wrote his Parliament poem (on whose rhyme scheme mine was modelled) on a flight, if I remember him right; at any rate, in a narrow window of time between the events in question and the publication of the book.
Second, his poems (as read out that day) seemed to lack something. I liked the Tehelka extracts
, but they seemed more like light verse to me -- wry, humorous, biting comments on today's world. It turned out that his poems are meant to be more serious than that. Take the "nano" poem (which he proclaims his favourite): what was a brief and cutting verse in Tehelka turns out to be an excerpt of a much longer and rather meandering poem.
However, I did not want to be too judgmental: I have strong likes and dislikes in poetry but they may not be shared by all. I don't like a lot of "classical" poetry (an overdose of Wordsworth can get tedious), and I do like some poetry that doesn't have any traditional qualities. Also, compared to some other poetry by public figures (like a recent President), Sibal's poems were really pretty good. It was just when he tried to be very serious and philosophical that it didn't quite work out for me
. I am not an expert on poetry and many people may well love his poems. Also, I didn't pick up his book that day (it was getting late for us) so I based it on what I heard; a second, third or fourth exposure to the same poems may well cause a different impact on me.
I wrote that post in verse for my own amusement, and to empirically prove the point that rhyming is the easy part about writing poetry. I've written lots of rhyming text in my time, which I would hesitate to call poetry. But I then formatted it as prose, because I didn't want to sound too
snarky. Also, I thought that most people who actually read the thing will immediately spot that it's a poem. A colleague, Kapil, asked me if I was inspired by Wodehouse. It is possible. The epilogue of one of the Blandings books (Full Moon?) is a similar verse-in-prose news item. Also, Leonard Cohen's lyrics, as printed on recent CD inserts, are formatted as prose, though they rhyme and scan perfectly. So I'm not really breaking new ground here.