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Living poets society: Reviving a vanishing art

In the highly inspirational movie ‘Dead Poets Society’, Robin Williams plays an influential American teacher in the 1950s, John Keating, who struggles to instill a sense of awe in his students about the power of poetry.

“We don’t read and write poetry,” he says, “because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” It’s not easy to revive an art which is vanishing.

But efforts are on in Delhi by a group called ‘Be-lagaam’ or untethered, in the sense of freedom. The group, or poets’ collective based out of Delhi, believes that writing verses can be also a therapeutic experience. “Use of poetry as therapy is not new. All our hymns and prayers are actually verses that have a certain sound and rhythm composition,” said Sufi Benaam, an architect by profession and one of the founders of Be-lagaam.

“It is said that poetry takes its roots from sorrow. It might not necessarily be an exact state of sadness but any intense emotional one. Writing down that feeling makes one dissociate with that particular emotion or situation,” Benaam says.

The collective, formed in Delhi in 2013, has members all over India who are connected through social media. It organises poetry meets regularly. On Saturday, the collective launched its first poetry collection, with works of 23 poets. 
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