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Dhaka International Poets Summit 2018

Poesy reflections from poets

Ahmed Tahsin Shams and Nazmun Naher Shishir interview the guest poets and share their perspectives on the art of poetry

Published : Saturday, 3 February, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 1727

A talk with Miao-Yi Tu (Taiwan)
Miao-Yi Tu is a poet, writer, editor, and painter who is a board member of "the Battlefront of Taiwanese Literature". She was an editor of Arts of Taiwan Daily and Taiwan Times (1989-1996). She was senior editor of Yushan Society Publishing House in 2000. She was a writer of Tzu Chi Foundation (2001). She has been awarded in poetry with Na-Ying Literary Award, Tainan County (2003), Taipei Literary Award (2005), Tayouan Literary Award (2007), Lin Rung-san Literary Award (2007), and "Wu Cho Liu Shot Story Award" (2011). Her famous prose book "The Land as always a Garden" got the Literary Award of Tainan City (2007). She was also an environmental activist for protecting Takao Hill in Kaohsiungin in 1991-1996. She is the member of Movimiento Poetasdel Mundo since 2014. She attended the International Poetry Festival in Chile (2014) and Bolivia (2017).
You have worked as editor in literature section of two different newspapers in Taiwan. Do you think literature section in newspaper can help growing writers?
Yes, I do believe that. For daily newspapers, literature section is very important. It not only creates writer but also creates readers. It's necessary for a writer to reach the mass readers and get recognition through writing. Only newspaper can work as bridge.  
You are an editor, writer, poet and a painter. Which of these forms you enjoy most?
To me poetry, painting and story writing - all are same. All of these works as different session of one single feeling, expressions and dimensions are different though.
This year you own Kathak Literary Award 2018. How do you feel?
This is amazing. It has increased my responsibility.
How is your stay in Bangladesh?
I am enjoying it fully. Bangladesh is like poetry. In so many difficulties Bangalees are going ahead. Traffic jam doesn't matter. Beautiful terracotta art peeps through buildings. I am surprised by its beauty.

Joyce Ashuntantang (Cameroon):
On the art of communication

Dr Joyce Ashuntantang is a poet, actress, creative writer and Associate Professor of English at the University of Hartford, Connecticut. A graduate of three continents, Dr Ashuntantang received a BA in English with a minor in Theater Arts from the University of Yaounde Cameroon, a Masters in Library and Information science from the University of Aberystwyth, UK, an MA and PhD in English/African Literature from the City University of New York.
I always wished to be an actress, and therefore I don't recite only. Rather, I perform poetry. In our culture, art is not practised being 'left alone'. Art is all about communication to us. I prefer engaging people into the art, not only making them mere spectator, but also engaging them as a part of the poetry or performance.
I don't believe in 'art for art sake'. Instead, I am more into committed writing. I believe artistes should have the habit of 'quarrelling'. And here I mean that only few of us got the privilege to speak against whatever is making us silenced since ages. And we should speak for a cause.

Your Son  
A Poem By Joyce Ashuntantang
 Yesterday our son was your son alone
As he made touchdowns into your patriarchal heart
You pranced the sidelines showing off the semblance of your nose
Your chest moving ahead, you said "That's my boy"
"He's a chip off the old block"
Today he became my son
Because the police nailed him with  a pound of weed
Today he became my son
because no fool like that could have your blood in his veins
Today he became my son in a cold court house with papers to sign
But I am glad I am a mother
My son will always remain my son
Especially when he is helpless just like he was in my womb!

Mario Mathor (Colombia): On planet science and poetry!
Mario Mathor is teacher by profession and specialized in virtual education research, who worked as a teacher in colleges in Colombia for 25 years as Professor of Biology and Chemistry. His essential works took him to fields of literature where he began to explore poetry as a tool for the development of a new planetary consciousness. His works 'Cosmic Encounter with a Human Being' (2014), 'FREE' (2015) and 'NATURAL' (2016) have led him to levels of worldwide recognition for the depth of his poetry and his unique and unequalled stamp which he calls 'cosmo-poetry'. He is also the founder of Amenti Cultural Center where national and international poets are promoted.
After Gabriel Garcia Marquez has won Nobel Prize for Literature, writing industry flourished in Colombia. However, in my writing, as I am from science background, I attempt to combine nature science and poetic aesthetics---cosmic encounter with human being. In most of my poems, planet science and poesy-ness are entwined. They also deal with a new revolution in our consciousness. We all are part of nature and planet---thereby part of poetry! 

Blue Point 
A Poem By Mario Mathor

Blue point far in the stellar horizon
immense of souls and spirits
that carry with it life and death
the fullness and the existence.

Blue Point that reaches my eye
And like a tear falls towards the immense sea of my heart
Filling in me happiness
the beauty of the aura that surrounds myself.

Blue Point where I find caress and verses
where I find laughter and delusions
dreams that drifts into the dawn
in the sunset and evening.

Blue Point accompanied by a white moon
that transcribes into entire nights
between songs and verses.

Blue Point that dresses up with clouds
with light and dark shades
light that shines the path of storms
of sacrifices and of the life.

Blue Point that fill my heart with joy
with pain and thoughts
point where my soul travels and travels my self
foundation of my life in the universe
in the solar system that covers it
in that sun that illuminates the dark mornings
that gives the possibility to love and live.

Blue point that resembles God
with its beauty and soft blue sky
filled with angels and hosts
open the road towards hope
for living
for dying
for dreaming.

TENDO TAIJIN (Japan): On nature and art
Tendo Taijin is a poet, reciter, chanter, writer, calligrapher and photographer. His published collections include: A World of Illusion (1981), The Azure Ring of Ezra Pound (1995), Great God, Kitchee Manitou (1997), Rosso di Maggio (1999), The Wind of Dakar (2005), The Snow of Picos de Europa (2015). In March 2002, he held a solo voice performance at the Arena de Verona, Italy. Since October 2006, he has produced 1,603 poetry performances in his Projet La Voix des Potes, in Tokyo, Japan.
I am an artist: poet, vocal performer, painter. These are not different roles. These different ways of expressing one spirit: art. The essence is similar, whatever the media, the aim is - an artistic communication with the audience. Nature, inner-peace, spirit -- is heaven to me and that is the ultimate inspiration I believe. 
All artiste should play role in awakening. as well as to be aware and to be avant-garde, to be the shield of the society.  
About Dhaka International Poets Summit, I would say -- through such initiatives many countries communicate with each other and new world becomes open. Such exchange of culture widens our views. We come to know tons of styles of writing and art that we might not ever have seen if we would remain in boundary.
The Ruins of Nimrod's Tower  
A Poem By Tendo Taijin
In the middle of a plain
Toward a disintegrated tower reaching to the heavens
We proceed silently on a gravelly road
Poets from around the world who are unprepared to climb

Nothing blocking us all around its perimeter
We stand at the foot of this 7000-year-old tower
The poets from around the world raised their voices -
But no one's voice was heard

I had not determined
We cannot chase after time and space gone by
Within a feeling floating
While searching for my voice and raising it,      I found a single way

Babylon    5000 years before the common era
These stones with their holes were once part of Nimrod's tower
Compared with the strong magnetic field coming from underground

The pyramids of Giza in Egypt
The summit of Pyramid of the Moon in Mexico
Intihuatana, the Hitching Post of the Sun at Macchu Picchu in Peru
The summit of Mount Miwa in Yamato
The solitary torri-gate in the sea at Tsushima's Watazumi Shrine---
The vibrations received as I raised my voice     were all weak

And now, the poets at Babylon

The local poets heard.

Ahmed Tahsin Shams is Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature, Notre Dame University Bangladesh (NDUB). Nazmun Naher Shishir is working with The Daily Observer. Photos: Tomal Samad

A talk with Ibrahim Elmasri (Egypt)
Ibrahim Elmasri is a renowned poet and novelist in the Arab literary world. He works as Chief Editor of News of a well-known television in UAE. He has written more than thirty books.
Being a TV journalist in Egypt, you have covered Iraq war. How do you see war in literature?
Literature is life. I was then very near to life and experienced death closely. What life is in war is impossible to share unless one has experienced it. These experiences taught me to observe life through larger lens. And, that's what literature is in war -- larger than life.
Share your experiences of writing about war?
I take very details from war in my work. All the different cultures, faces create a bridge between me and my work. I have understood that people can be different, people can be different, but at war everyone's pain is shared and their sufferings are same. Temptation of the tension is same.  
Beside journalism you are a poet and novelist. Which of your identity you love most?
I am a poet. Whatever else I do, at the end of the day, I am a poet.
Is it your first visit to Dhaka?
Yes! But, I do not feel any difference then Cairo. Same crowd, street life, jam and same faces and same bridges at roads of Dhaka. I have fallen in love with Dhaka. As much as I love Cairo, I love Dhaka.

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