The poetry workshop “Reading Between the Lines” by Jerry Pinto was held on the 24th of August, 2023, and was co-organized by the Prakriti Foundation and Indian Writing in English Online (an IoE project), being executed by Professor Anna Kurian and Professor Pramod K. Nayar of the Department of English, University of Hyderabad.
With an audience of around 200 students and faculty members from universities across Hyderabad, the workshop began with insights into language and what it means to write in English in India in connection with our own languages. What Pinto insisted on throughout the workshop was what good education must do: it must give us insights into who we are. He related this idea about self-examination through a fable about translation and the work it does in the world, and connected this sense of self-examination to poetry and what it does to our ordered understanding of the world and ourselves. For Pinto, poetry, like love, is essentially undefinable and has powers to confront and make us listen. Poetry arose, he says, from “terror that made us sing out loud.” And from this primordial terror it became a way of relating to our being in the world. Poetry, in Pinto’s words, disorders order and teaches us about becoming human. The workshop taught us that there was no formulaic essence in writing poetry and what it involved was an investment of time in the doing of poetry. As with any craft or skill, it is the doing of poetry that leads to the learning of poetry. The workshop ended with questions about the current state of poetry in India, the writing of poetry, and the relations between translation and poetry.
– Contributed by Manoj Jayakumar, a PhD scholar at the Department of English