Poetry empowers children with unparalleled imagination. Art is not luxury. Exposing children to art is not optional. Poetry is a right that no child should be denied of, as it helps them build an expression unique to themselves, that is not bound by language norms, helps them to cope with everyday anxiety, and seek better mental health. I even share a lot of poems when I take sessions on ‘human values and social connectedness’ for faculty development programs organised by the NAAC or the AICTE for government universities.
Understand life better
Culture matters. Poetry helps us understand the history and culture of a certain time and place, enabling us to access newer perspectives of human existence. Art and creative thinking help us respond to situations in everyday life, be it to respond at an interview or making a presentation. Visual art is imagery and so is poetry. Music is rhythm and so is poetry. There is a bit of poetry in everything. For children, art gives the joy of creating something, journaling their feelings in some way, and facilitating an innovative way of learning about life.
Global studies suggest that participatory social programs that include art and poetry induce positive changes and social cohesiveness in the community and encourage empathy. We stand at a point in time when there is barely any difference between the individual and technology, the real and virtual space. This is why it is important to stare at clouds, take a walk in the hills, reduce screen time and read poetry. This is one of the reasons I organize poetry workshops for all, nature poetry walks in Guwahati, every once in a while, where we walk in a group through the woods and rest in a quaint place and read poems.
It has been almost a decade that I have been working on leveraging art and poetry for social change, and have curated themed poetry events on diverse social challenges such as early marriages, gender equality, environment and public health. As a part of team Anamaya which is a multi-stakeholder collaborative committed to serving the tribal and marginalised communities of India. Alongside many innovative public health approaches by Piramal Swasthya, I am also trying to engage communities through activities in art, folklore and poetry to bring out their stories.
Expanding horizons and collaborations
I am somehow, inevitably interested in what poetry can do beyond a page. Poetry helps me question. The way I practice poetry is very anthropological and I love to collaborate and create multidisciplinary poetry experiences with global artists. Currently, as a personal project, I am working with Finnish dancer Vera Lapitskaya on a dance-poetry peace collab. What is art? I examine and seek this statement every waking moment. Is this a question or an answer in itself, which leads to despair and somehow that despair feels home of the art?
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