The result of the first ever Nagaland Poetry Competition conducted under the aegis of the Poetry Society (India) was announced on Monday in the presence of Governor Shyamal Datta. The competition which witnessed more than 400 entries from all over Nagaland was finally watered down to a winning list of 12 poetry in three diverse categories. The overwhelming response to the competition only goes to show the reservoir of hidden feelings waiting to blossom into something as vital and meaningful as the outpouring of human sentiment, the hitherto unspoken words on everyday issues as love, friendship, brotherhood and more importantly of ordinary people’s needs and desperate cry for help as expressed in the numerous poems penned down.
There is therefore no doubt that poetry reflects the signs of the times and that it is the mirror upon which the realities of life are reflected. As such, it needs to be acknowledged that poetry can be a means of instructing and guiding and what a poet writes should therefore not be taken lightly but should rather be seen as what the conscience of society is speaking.
It is encouraging seeing that like music; Nagas also have an inherent talent to pen poetry. The increase in publication of poetry by local poets brought out in the daily newspaper is welcome. Unlike some of the opinion pieces and articles that appear in the local dailies and which are more often than not derogatory and self effacing, the poems are a refreshing change. Besides, most of the poetries composed are an unbiased reflection of the state that Naga society is presently in. Poems are any day more constructive and instructive and break the glass of ivory tower mentality so much so that they offer a true picture of the social, economic and political life of the times. For those reading them seriously, poems convey to the people a message, a didactic message—attempting to make lives better and more comprehensive.
Given all these points, poetry needs to be encouraged and the platform being given through the initiative of the Poetry Society of India needs to be applauded and encouraged. That poetry itself can also be great leveler was evident from the profile of some of the winners from different age groups, professions, culture and economic background. Knowing that poetry has the ability to raise issues of social concern, much importance needs to be attached to this art.
It has been said before that a nation that has no literature of its own has no soul even though it may have a long history. The patriotic urge of the freedom-loving people of Scotland was the result of the patriotic literature of that country, especially of the inspiring poetry of Walter Scott. As such poets should not be seen as mere composers of songs and lyrics, rather what they write, if studied carefully, are critical comments, written without partiality. As impartial judges therefore what is conveyed through poetry is as good as telling the truth. In this sense, there is a need to encourage the flowering of local poets who can speak out without inhibition and whose poetry can inspire society and the nation at large.