When we were busy reading the famed poets such as Alfred Tennyson and William Wordsworth, there were many impending poets, preparing themselves to rock the world. Here we bring to you one such poet from New Delhi, AKHIL KATYAL.
Born in Bareilly, U.P., in 1985, Akhil Katyal is a writer and translator based in Delhi where he also teaches literature. His writings have appeared in the UCity Review, North East Review among several others. He finished his Ph.D. from School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of London in 2011. His first book of poems ‘Night Charge Extra’ was shortlisted for the Muse India Satish Verma Young Writer Award 2015.
Akhil feels that poems are often started with a sentence that strikes us or a half sentence and to complete that half sentence, the inspiration comes from everywhere. In all of the poems, the poet makes a reference to time or place as he thinks that it grounds the poem. He believes in maintaining a form in his poems, which though varies. For him, the form is everything; it transforms the world from the dust-bin for our self-indulgence into the vessel of our emotions. There is always a lot of memory at play in his work.
We share with you one of his best poems, ‘For someone who’ll read this’, which perfectly explains what a one-sided conversation between people from different times would be like…
For someone who’ll read this
500 years from now
How are you?
I am sure a lot has changed
between my time and yours,
but we’re not very different,
you have only one thing on me –
I have all these questions for you:
Do cars fly now?
Is Mumbai still standing by the sea?
How do you folks manage without ozone?
Have the aliens come yet?
Who from my century is still remembered?
How long did India and Pakistan last?
When did Kashmir become free?
It must be surprising for you
looking at our time,
our things must seem so strange to you,
our wars so little,
our toilets for ‘men’ and ‘women’
must make you laugh
our cutting down of trees
would be listed in your ‘Early Causes’
our poetry in which the moon is still
a thing far away
must make you wonder, both for that moon
and for the poetry.
You must be baffled,
that we couldn’t even imagine
the things you now take for granted.
But let that be,
would you do me a favour,
for ‘old time’s sake’?
Would you go to the Humayun’s Tomb
in what used to be Delhi
and just as you’re climbing the front staircase,
near the fourth rung, I have cut into
the stone wall to your left –
‘Akhil loves Rohit’
Will you go and see it?
Just that, go see it.
Thank you! Signing off
-Team Social Mela