It’s about time I let you know how I’m going poetically. I’ve been away now for about 7-8 weeks. Which I should say has been a rollercoaster – ie, full of ups and downs, and not something you can just stop halfway because you feel you need a little break. At times, it’s been astounding, sublime or just plain odd (see photos in the previous post!). Other times, mundane, difficult or exasperating. Mostly, India gives you the opposite of what you’re expecting, or at the very least it goes off on its own tangents.
I’d planned to write a suite of poems exploring the personal side of the medical tourism industry. And I think I’m getting there. There’s a lot of roughness to the drafts, but I should end up with 20 to 30 poems. It hasn’t worked out how I expected – making contacts in the industry itself has been hard (with a few exceptions) and sometimes the smallest hurdles have felt like great walls. As many wise people have said, channel it all into the poetry. And I have.
The dilemma has been that I’m very aware that the outsider’s perspective is very clouded by the obvious sensory assault – poverty, rubbish, religious ritual, traffic, etc – and a poetry composed of this risks not only cliche but distortion. India is much more complex. Of course, I also don’t want to succumb to the current demand from (a segment of) middle-class India to “not focus on poverty”. There is an incredible (perhaps understandable) sensitivity within India to how the nation is depicted in the rest of the world, a desire to be seen to be transcending its historical shackles. Which to me is all the more reason to focus on the economic disparities, as well as exploring what might be behind this sensitivity. India is a country that has enough maturity, intelligence, wealth and ingenuity to not only handle criticism but to come up with its own solutions. By the way, I think Australia has its own version of this…
I suspect the other tricky thing will be the redrafting – I’m trying to do the bulk of that here, because I know that a lot of the heart of a poem depends on mood, which is difficult to recreate. Of course, I could always recruit a thousand auto-rickshaws and cars to encircle our house honking their horns, but there’s more to India and poetry than that.