The third panel for the Feminist Poetry Festival organised by SheThePeople had the speaker-poet Rochelle Potkar talking and teaching the audience about the art of writing poetry. The session was moderated by the author and storyteller Kena Shree. The event took place online, with more than a hundred people participating. The panel was named How To Write poetry.

Everybody Can Be A Poet

When asked about whether a poet is born or bred, Rochelle Potkar said that she believed every person has the potential to become a poet— “We all have music in us, we have words in us, and we have drama in us. And poetry is just that, rhythm, drama and words.” Potkar said that she agrees to the fact that all of these factors need to be developed further, nurtured further, but despite that she has seen “starters writing marvellous poetry”.

The panel then discussed how it’s not necessary to have a certain look for a poet to be considered legitimate. Moderator Kena Shree described her views in Hindi, “Soorat se nahi hota hai kavi” (Looks don’t make a poet). To which Potkar added, “Any ordinary person can have a poet hidden inside”. Talking about the elitism that has crept in in the poetry circle, Potkar commented how poetry is “close to nature, close to your primal being”. Hence, for her there can be no ivory tower of poetry, for it is “like a glass of water: it’s for everybody to taste, and it cannot be held in”.

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Different forms of Poetry

The speaker and the moderator then shared some of their poems with the audience. They talked about how poetry for women is a means to reclaim the female narrative. Both of the poets’ poetries ranged from haibuns to haikus to free verses. The panel then shifted to a workshop mode, where Potkar helped the audience to understand the nuances of different forms of poetry writing. Potkar and Shree also discussed about the contemporisation of poetry forms. Potkar explained how haiku in English does not follow the 5-7-5 syllable rule anymore. It instead focuses more on the juxtaposition of two different images.

The session ended with the audience sharing their poems. They concluded the event by expressing how liberating the experience was for them, and thanking the audience for the time and passion they showed for poetry. Potkar lastly added some wise remarks for the young women poets, “As woman poets, you have to remember that there’s no one on top of you. Nobody can tell you what to do. Life and Art both come with shackles, ones that you’ll learn to unshackle. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. But remember to tell yourself that ‘if this is an art form I want to learn from, I’ll only bow to this art form. Nobody else is my master or mistress except Art itself.'”

Also Read: How Kamala Das’ Poetry Voiced My Sense Of Fearless And Free Womanhood

Dyuti Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.

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