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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Rina Singh: Poet, Artist, Writer

RINA SINGH was born in India, and came to Canada in 1980. She has a Master's degree in Creative Writing from Concordia University, and a teaching degree from McGill University. Before moving from Montreal (where she lived for 10 years) to Toronto, she taught creative writing to gifted children at McGill University.

Rina's poems and short stories have appeared in several Canadian literary journals. Her poems were anthologized in The Court of Women (1995), published by Second Story Press. She has published a volume of poetry translations Silences (1994) with Rupa, Harper Collins, and a picture book for children entitled The Magic Braid (1995), with Sister Vision, The Foolish Men of Agra (1998) with Key Porter and Moon Tales (1999) with Bloomsbury, U.K.. She lives in Toronto with her restaurateur husband and two children, Amrita and Angad.

"Sunday at 2.30 for you," the voice mail message left by Munir Sami said.

Munir is the past President of the Writer's Forum. The Forum has a tradition of meeting on the last Sunday of every month, regularly since 1982. The current President is poet Nuzhat Siddiqui.

Rina Singh read from Silences - a translation of Gulzar's poems into English. This translation is into its tenth re-print: a rare feat for a book of translation.

Rina Singh spoke on the problems faced by a translator when internet was not universally available. Her passion to get just the right word to use in her translation efforts led her to seek out others by the slow and tortuous process of airmail. This process was long, slow and arduous but it paid for in Silences where she managed to capture the meaning and nuances of Gulzar's poetry.

She read from Silences first in Gulzarā€™s original Hindi/Urdu and then her own translation. The audience listened with rapt attention.

One of the poems she read from the collection was Deja vu:

I wonder what it was that
I wanted to say to you today!

I met you and I forget
what I said
what I had thought I'd say,
when I met you
I had this feeling
I have already said it to you.

There are things I've never said to you before
but somehow it feels
I must have;
what strange confusion!

I swear I'm not absent-minded
or inattentive;
I have become only
a little forgetful
in your love.

She also read some of her original poems. The first one she read was:

The Poetics of Desire

Throw away your papers tonight
put aside your pen
let your fingers
write on my body,
an empty page
a word,
a sentence,
write a poem
if your syntax hurts my skin
if I sigh, if I moan
just tighten your embrace
if your fingers stammer
dip them in darkness
and start again
fill up my margins
suffocate me with your grammar
proofread the madness
you have created
erase with your lips
any mistakes
your fingers make
read to me
what you have written
see the pages of my life
come alive
in your fingers


I look at the gift
you gave me
a Wiltshire knife
on my birthday
and think of all the things
I can do with it
I can slice
the head
of a lettuce
I can carve
a smile
on a pumpkin
I can clip
the wings
of a chicken
I can thrust it
in the heart
of a celery
I can peel
the skin
of a potato
I can slash
the stomach
of an eggplant
I can behead a mushroom
I can hurt a tomato
I can hurt as many tomatoes
as I want
the possibilities are endless
Be nice to me
down the years
your gift
with a lifetime guarantee

A Morning Walk

This morning
I took a poem for a walk
the long night
of unwritten darkness
had made it restless
to stretch.
At first,
the eager beast
dragged me
till I jerked it
back on the leash.
Then having settled
into a rhythm
I let it frolic a bit
I let it sniff the metaphors
I let it bark
at some passing adjectives
snapped at it to heel
on seeing some run on sentences
till we came to an open space.
With no noun in sight
I unleashed it on the green
and set it free
to run
in lines,
in phrases,
in clauses.
It ran without commas,
it ran without pauses
till I caught a glimpse
of another poem
a high bred
handsome looking poem
behind its poet.
I abruptly beckoned mine
to come back.
On the way home
I found myself
on the leash
looking for something
to sink my teeth into.

After her reading a break was announced by Munir Sami so that the audience can purchase copies of Silences and interact with her.

Another time I hope to do a more in depth profile of Rina Singh.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ooh may i link you?

May 08, 2006 7:13 PM  
Blogger lenin said...

good and fine to give a comment on
i enjoy reading

May 16, 2006 8:18 AM  

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