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'Adapt, use new media to survive'
Marathi poet Sandeep Khare comes straight to the point. "I am unambiguous about the fact that in this era of marketing, poets have to adapt, embrace new technology and diverse media to survive and be heard, " he says. "It is a fact that the average Marathi reader is not buying books of poetry the way he used to earlier. It could possibly be the pace of today's life that's at the root of the problem. Also, poetry is not taught seriously in schools and colleges either. But look at it the other way. Today, more than ever before, the age of technology and marketing has opened up a brand new media to make your voice heard. Make use of it. "
The 37-year-old, one of the few poets to have caught the popular imagination, would know. After all, he has employed various media successfully - from CDs of his lyrics to stage shows featuring his poetry reading. The impressive sale of his collection, Maunachi Bhashantare (Translations of Silence) is a case in a point: seven editions in three years, and still counting.
Award winning poet Sudhir Moghe nods in agreement. In his 70s now, Moghe says, "It is a fact that the media explosion and world of globalisation has upped the pressure on artistes. But then, no poet can wish away his time and era. He can, however, choose, how to react to it. If your purity of expression and conviction shines through, it is a poem worth reading. It matters not if you have conformed to the old world meter or new-age free verse;it is inconsequential if there's a mixture of Hindi and English words. "
Leading book seller Ramesh Rathivadekar adds, "While book lovers are buying more books than ever before, and poets are coming out with collections the whole year round, it is true that very few actually buy poetry collections. If at all they buy, it is mostly selected and abridged versions of yesteryear poets like Shanta Shelke, Kusumagraj, GD Madgular, Vinda Karandikar, and so on. "
He is quick to say, not without a little sadness, that the days when poets could survive on poetry are long past. "Where is the time for people to read poetry books? Today, more than ever, there is a need for people who care about poetry to create an atmosphere and environment that is conducive to its spread - poetry readings, innovative kavi sammelans, stage shows, interactive lecture on poetry, the works. "
This is a point backed by noted critic DB Kulkarni, president of the 83rd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan that was held in Pune last year. Even as the valedictory session had actor Amitabh Bachchan read out his late father Harivansh Rai Bachchan's poems, Kulkarni said it was not just the poem but also the way it was read out that mattered, and that every poet worth his salt must master the skill to do so.
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