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"My art is my search for the moments beyond the ones of self knowledge. It is the rhythmic fantasy; a restless streak which looks for its own fulfillment! A stillness that moves within! An intense search for my origin and ultimate identity". - Meena

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Bi-weekly Feature Poet - Meena Chopra at "Post Poems" by Rachelle Wiegand

Hello, all of you wonderful Poetry People! Rachelle here once more this week to present to you a brand new feature. The Feature Poet is my brainchild, inspired by my quest to gain insight into the Poets themselves, the people behind the works.
The first Feature Poet is Meena Chopra. I first read Meena’s works here, at Postpoems. I was intrigued by the vivid imagery portrayed in her beautiful works, and found her to be an extremely multi- talented woman.

I contacted her about doing the article, and she was most gracious in obliging.
Meena Chopra lives in New Delhi, India with her husband of 17 years, Bhupinder, and their twelve year old daughter, Taabeer. Taabeer’s name means “the realization of one’s dreams.” A concept that I know Meena has some insight into. Meena and Bhupinder run an advertising agency in New Delhi called “Bhumeeka Advertising” which is “an introduction and portrayal” coined also with the combination of their first names.

Meena is a Poet,  Artist, Wife, career woman, and a Mother.
Quite a lot on this 43 year olds daily responsibilities.

 She was born in Nainital, India, a small hill resort in the foothills of the Himalayas located in North India.
I asked Meena who her greatest poetry influences were. She has many, but to name a few, she likes Kahlil Gibran, Robert Browning, Rabindranath Tagore (Nobel Laureate) and Emily Dickinson for English poets. She admires Gulzar (a contemporary Poet who also directs, writes and produces Hindi films of renown) Neeraj, Amrita Pritam and Kailash Vajpayee in Indian language Poets. 
  
When asked who in her life has most influenced her work, she replied that everything in her life influences her work. Growing up in a serene scenic environment, she began painting at a young age, but not seriously until 1980. She says that it is the life process that influences her.
I wanted to know how where she lives plays a part in her art. Meena says that New Delhi is a very cosmopolitan city with an enormous mix of culture, religion, and society. There is a very active cultural life, if one chooses to be a part of it. At times the hustle and bustle of the busy city becomes stifling, and she retreats to the hills to rejuvenate.
I was curious about Meena’s favorite two poems to read. The first is
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Here is an excerpt:

The Prohet by Kahlil Gibran     

“And a woman who held a babe against her

Bosom said, speak to us of Children.
He said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters
of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts ,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of to-morrow, which you cannot
Visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. 
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he
Bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.


Another poem that Meena is very fond of is Robert Browning’s
Rabbi Ben Ezra.
Here is an excerpt.

Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning 

Ay, note that potter’s wheel,
That metaphor! And feel
Why time spins fast, why passive lies our clay,
Thou, to whom fools propound,
When the wine makes it’s round,
Since life fleets, all is change; the past
Gone, Seize to-day!


What a beautiful, true pieces of poetry.

My next question to Meena was what are the pieces of her own works that she feels the best about. We all have certain pieces of our own works that we feel very good about for various reasons, Meena’s own poetry that she feels the best about are these:

A Death A Beginning

Reverberations


Both pieces are posted here at Postpoems for your enjoyment.

I wanted to know what Meena considered to be her most personal piece of poetry and why. Here is her selection.

Entwined Dimensions by Meena Chopra

Unrevealed mysteries
coloured wide spaces
Entwining dimensions.

The vacuum became horizontal.
Lines deciphered.
Core looked for it’s periphery
Having fallen out from the centre.

Searching-

The centre or the periphery?

Her explanation of this piece is beautiful. Meena says “there is an unending quest of human desire in the search of the ultimate expression. It is the movement of life and it’s process. The complex geometry of life entwined in a circle. Life starts from a “dot” and perhaps ends in a “dot” -period.”

I asked Meena for any insight on style, or mechanics of her works. She replied that she does not adhere to rules of poetry as such. The thoughts and emotions have to be rich and the rest just follows.

She says that she enjoys most of the Poets and poetry here at Postpoems.

Meena has poetry published in a book of verse titled “Ignited Lines” released in London in 1996. The same was also released in New Delhi in 1997.

She has poetry that has been translated and published in Germany in literary journals. She has various works that have been published in magazines and international journals.

The final question asked to Meena in our extensive online chat was
“What is the biggest difference that you find in our cultures, and how do you feel that your culture has influenced your art?”
Meena wanted to contemplate this question for a day or so. She emailed me with her answer the following day.

“Rachelle, your question is very relevant and thought provoking. The basic difference in our cultures is that here in the east we observe life in a cyclic mode of time and this cyclic rhythm of life is already set. Things come and go, we are born, live and die and perhaps are born again. We are not rushing toward a definite goal or purpose. We observe life as it comes. Whereas in the west, time moves, seemingly, in a linear fashion towards a definite objective. West makes a concrete effort to get results in making progress in its evolutionary stride. In short I can say that the west is in a changing mode of time and we are in an observing mode of time. Rachelle, after you put this question to me I started seeing my paintings and poems from a different angle and perspective. They are highly subjective in nature and are full of abstract and dreamlike images. The images of fire, smoke, ash, and vacuum are in abundance. The symbol of fire seems to predominate in both of my art forms.

Now I can see it definitely must be having some connotation with the Indian thought. The Fire and related symbols are most relevant to Indian psyche. Fire is the power by which we live, are nurtured and by which we die. Flame seems to be subjective perception of individual consciousness against the vast sea of the infinite (vacuum).

Symbols of circles and dots are again part of a deep Indian thought. Everything turns into ash and from it rises again. Thanks to you, Rachelle for having asked such a good question. It stimulated and churned my thoughts.”

I hope that this piece featuring Meena has given you all some interesting insight into the woman behind the words. Meena’s artful painting is also very lovely, and I would encourage you all to check it out when you get an opportunity. 

I feel very honored to have gotten to know Meena better through her poetry at Postpoems, and through this article.
This is one of my favorite pieces by Meena:

Haze of Dust 

 

Will you share...
the ashes of your burns ?
feel what I yearn
with the eyes
of your fingers
before it mingles
with the haze
of dust. 

I thank you, Meena for your open-minded insight and graciousness.
Thanks to all of you for reading this.



Bi-weekly Feature Poet~ Meena Chopra at "Post Poems" by Rachelle Wiegand published in 2001

-Rachelle Wiegand

http://postpoems.org/
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