Millennium Post

Diplomatic poetic literature: a growing creativity

A growing tribe of Indian diplomats is seeking emotional refuge in poetry and creative literature to battle workplace blues and the stress of decision making. They pour out their heart in their creativity, which often borders on the spirit of rebellion.

While more and more Indian diplomats like Vikas Swarup, Navtej Sarna and Navdeep Suri have taken to creative writing, both novels and short stories, the genre of ‘diplomatic poetic literature’ recently added one more to its kitty when Amarendra Khatua, the newly-appointed Indian ambassador to Argentina, launched his new collection of love poetry Love

Khatua, a native of Odisha, is at the forefront of reviving contemporary Odiya poetry. ‘I have been writing and publishing for the last 45 years. Poetry is not connected to my professional work – it is my personal world,’ Khatua said.

Khatua began to write poetry decades before he knew about diplomacy and over the years built up a formidable body of 20 publications – 14 in Odiya, three in English, two in Hindi and one in Telugu. His poetry has been translated in all major Indian languages and in Spanish and Russian.

‘I was 10 when I wrote my first poem. Most of my poems are about love and exile from Orissa (Odisha) mostly in English. I wrote in English till I joined the Indian Foreign Service. But after joining the services, I began to wtite in Oriya because of the growing disconnect between my state and myself,’ he said. During his stay in Moscow 2005-2007, emerging poet Abhay K. wrote over 200 poems which he organised into three themes – love, nature and thoughts. It led to four lyrical collections:
Enigmatic Love - Love Poems From the Fairytale city of Moscow, Fallen Leaves of Autumn - Poems on Nature, Candling the Light - Meditation, Reflections and Reminiscences and Remains.

‘Nature, life, emotions, people, beauty, history and heritage – these all inspire me. But what inspires me the most is the blue image of our planet from the space - so fragile, so tender, all life. All joy is here. If heaven exists anywhere; it exists here. Our planet earth, full of life, is my foremost inspiration,’ Abhay K said.

Abhay compromises on his ‘television watching’ time to write. ‘I write poems almost every day, wherever possible. Writing poetry is like doing mathematics or playing bridge, it is a cerebral affair, yet much more than that,’ Abhay said.

For Nirupama Rao, ambassador to the US, poetry is a way of ‘coming up for oxygen that lifts her spirit. Her collection of poetry, ‘Rain Rising’ about her travel around the world and her Indian heritage has been translated into Russian and Chinese.

The anthology puts the poems into three thematic threads – remembrance, reflections and exploration. Her poetry negotiates nostalgia and memories with powerful lines like: ‘I freeze in this sheet of memory/Waiting in this roomful of strangers/To cross-check the miles I’ve clocked.’ Former UN diplomat, minister of state for external affairs and now MP Shashi Tharoor shows his felicity with humorous rhyme and limericks in his best-selling book, The Great Indian Novel, a reinterpretation of the Mahabharata, where he explains the plight of the ailing King Pandu. The prose is interspersed with the writer’s musings in verse in the book.

"It was a time of great grief and much sorrow/When Pandu rose up from the dead/For starting today [not tomorrow]/He must renounce the joys of the bed...’ To young Pandu you can imagine, it came as painful wrench/He could enjoy life’s great pageant/But he could lay hand on a wench.’

The list of diplomats with a penchant for poetics runs on.
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