Author speak: Shayaree-e-Zindgee: Poetry for Life by JS Mishra

JS Mishra with Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav
By Ambica Gulati

There’s something about verses and rhythms that ignites the soul. It’s music for the body, mind and spirit. And tapping into these verses is JS Mishra’s new book Shayaree-e-Zindgee: Poetry for Life. With 500 couplets from the times getting lost in this technological world, the books is a great revival of the soft language Urdu and a gentle reminder to slow down and enjoy life. Most of us would not remember these poets if such books did not find their way into the market. So what compels people to keep digging into history and finding the fragrances of life from there? Excerpts from an email interview with the author:

What is the reason that you chose to bring out this book?
I have always been interested in Urdu poetry. After sending the manuscript of my previous book Art of Life: Timeless Wisdom from the Gita to my publisher Rupa Publications in 2013, I was keen to read some Urdu poetry to revive my interest, break the monotony and enrich myself.
I have a good collection of books on Urdu poetry, but decided to purchase some more to equip my personal library. While going through various anthologies of Urdu poetry, it occurred to me that although a large number of people are keen to learn and enjoy Urdu couplets, they feel handicapped due to the lack of knowledge of Urdu script and a limited
vocabulary of Urdu language.
Therefore, it struck me as a good exercise to select Urdu couplets and publish a collection with English translation. It was also intended that the couplets selected for this collection should not have many difficult words and be of interest to young generation as well as other readers having interest in Urdu poetry. I decided to take up this endeavour myself and bring out a collection of 500 such couplets of eminent Urdu poets in the present collection.

Which are your favourite poets?
I mostly like Urdu poetry in simple language which is profound in meaning but easy to read and appreciate. My favourite poets are Ghalib, Zauq, Dagh Delhvi, Jigar Moradabadi, Iqbal, Majaz, Firaq, Kaifi Azmi, Nida Fazli, Bashir Badr, Josh Malihabadi, Akbar Allahabadi, Sahir Ludhianvi and Dr. Kunwar Bechain. In a way I like all the poets whose couplets I have selected and translated in this book.

Why do you think now poetry doesn't find it space in the market?
Poetry always requires a sense of aesthetics, sensibility and sensitivity on the part of readers to read and appreciate it. In present times, everybody is in hurry and many of us have neither time nor inclination to accord due priority for reading poetry and other literary works. This trend and situation is reflected in the market space. However, poetry has been closest to the hearts of human beings since ages due to its charm and appeal to the human sensibilities as well as its impact and effectiveness on human mind. It is said that the hymns in Rig Veda were one of the first poetic expressions in human evolution.
Poetry as an art form always provides happiness, solace and relief to the readers. As long as human beings have emotional needs and appreciation for various moods and feelings, as long as they appreciate the sun, the moon and the stars, and have value for tears in other’s eyes, poetry will always have a chance to survive. No wonder the great Victorian poet and critic Mathew Arnold says that the future of poetry is immense.

Do you write poetry too?
Yes, I write poetry in Hindi and sometimes in English. My five poetry collections have been published by publishers such as Vani Prakashan and Prabhat Prakashan of Delhi. My five Hindi poetry books are:
  • Yeh Dhoop Chhanv, Yeh Aakarshan, Published by Granth Academy, New Delhi
  • Ho Himalaya Naya, Ab Ho Ganga Nayee, Published by Granth Academy, New Delhi
  • Chand Sirhane Rakh, Published by Vani Prakashan, New Delhi
  • Banh Kholo, Udo Mukt Aakash Mein, Published by Prabhat Prakashan, New Delhi
  • Bas Yahi Swapna, Bas Yahi Lagan, Published by Prabhat Prakashan, New Delhi
Music albums based on my poems:
  • Chand Ke Saath by Times Music has poems from my collections and sung by legendary singers such as Asha Bhosle, Hariharan and Roop Kumar Rathore.
  •  Rajnigandha by Times Music with poems selected from my collections and sung by eminent singers such as Ustad Rashid Khan, Hariharan and Alka Yagnik.
  •  Ghazal Masterpieces by Times Music has five lyrics from the album Chand ke Saath.
  •  Aman ki Asha-2 by Times Music has two lyrics, one from the album- Chand ke Saath and the other from album- Rajnigandha.
  •  Amanat by Times Music, eight lyrics sung by Rekha Bhardwaj, Roop Kumar Rathore, Javed Ali, Sudeep Banerji and Aditi Paul.
Who do you feel makes for a good poet?
In my opinion a good poet is one whose poetry is easy to read, understand and grasp and also a reader is able to relate with the experiences, feelings and emotions expressed by the poet. Poems and couplets expressing feelings and emotions of society in a particular social context and age are liked and appreciated by people. But immortal poetry is not only able to depict the issues, trends, thoughts, ethos and values of its time and space
but also remains relevant in the context and message for almost all societies and times to come. Such literary works later acquire the status of scriptures and master pieces.

What is next in the pipeline?
In view of my interest and the response to my previous book Art of Life: Timeless Wisdom from the Gita published by Rupa Publications, a prestigious international publication having its office at New Delhi, requested me for writing a book on corporate wisdom based on eternal wisdom of Indian masters as reflected in their monumental works available at present. Preliminary effort has been initiated to discern such wisdom from the works of Chanakya, Ramayana by Valmiki, Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas, the Bhagawad Gita and many other such treatises relevant in the present context of society and age. In addition to this a book having collection of my own Hindi poems translated into English is also in the offing.

Book details
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing India
Pages: 311
Price: Rs 350


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