the clouds to the hills

the clouds to the hills
Somewhere in Imphal

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rewben Mashangva - the man i admire for every reason

It was in 2000 that I bought "Tantivy" the debut music album of Rewben Mashangva and since then i have been a great fan of his music. But later I got to know him personally. I got the chance to drink a couple of pegs with him every time he performed in Delhi.

Listening to him talk about his early life is like watching Akira Kurosawa's black and white movies. He is the son of a carpenter. His first guitar was made by his father. He too did a bit of carpentry in his childhood days. He didn’t do too well at school staying back for years in class seven or eight in school. Then he gave up education and started working with his dad. He started performing gospel songs in the early eighties in the Ukhrul town hall. But later he started questioning his beliefs and nearly two decades of research and quest told a different story of how Christianity had invaded his culture and the lives of his folks. His music can politically and locally address issues of ethnic conflicts in North East India as seen in songs like 'Winning Peace Together' and 'Our story' from his new upcoming album yet to be released by Times Records. However at the same time it can be about something universal too. Most his political songs are written by Chamroy, an Ukhrul based social activist and writer. For me Chamroy is a poet of a class. His lyrics can make you fly with the clouds above Siroi Hills. For me no one writes better odes on the silent mountains of Manipur than him. His writing is fresh like winter morning dew very much like Rewben's husky voice and altogether they haunt the listeners’ soul.

Recently, after his performance at the IHC folk music festival, we sat and drank together at Dilip Oinam's place who is an artist by profession and a guitar enthusiast. We ended up singing his new Tangkhul folk song 'Ashangla'. The song is in English written by Chamroy but the tune is a Tangkhul folk tune. No matter where he sings he just gives his best shot. He said "I want to stand up, I’m bit drunk and want to sing like I’ m on stage " and then he started "Ashangla! I love you..." and then we all joined him in the  chorus part. Later he told us Ashangla is a name of a girl who belongs to Ao tribe of Nagaland. Again a few days later we gathered at Dilip's place for dinner. Rewben cooked pork for all of us. The curry was like the best pork curry I had ever tasted in my life. He said he put only ginger and chilly powder. I kept telling him there must be something else too and he kept saying "no". But later he told he brought the chilly powder from his village. So it was a very special chilly powder. It takes days to prepare it. You have to dry the green chilly ('hao morok' as he said) and then pound it on shumban (a wooden thing used for pounding ) and remove the powder with pigeon feathers so that you get everything out of the shumban.

I am confused as to what to learn from this guy. Should I learn how to cook this pork curry pounding that green chilly or should I learn his way of looking at life very honestly and doing the things he wants to do? He is a man who has really lived his life beating many odds. He told us that he said to his wife "I have a dream so support me to make it happen".  And his wife did it. He said he is so glad that he has been living that dream today. He didn’t say what dream he had. But I could figure out what he meant. His dream at this point is telling the world a different story that no one had ever tried. Today he represents the Naga folk music and folklore. Looking at his hair cut you can tell a story. Listening to his three feet long bamboo flute you will be reminded of how simple lives were with paddy fields and cattle and local booze. Seeing him play his Tengtela with his foot stomping the stage would remind you of hunting. Looking at his son Saka perform with him gives you hope to bring out more of our lost tradition and culture amidst all the conflicts and violence.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Amit Sengupta replied to one of my poetry

don't cry brother
for tears become saline
lift your eyes to the moon
as early morn arrives
and let the dew drops
cool your eyes
your poem
as beautiful as
your songs
while the  harmonica
enters the barricades of resistance
turning guns into flowers

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What i jot down for Tehelka

"Among many Lou Reed stands out for me for his outspokenness and his raw electric guitar sound. He is one of the most underrated American rockstar...And for past many months and till today Im hooked to Sigur Ros, Icelandic band, sung in Icelandic. Their music haunts me. What is great about this band is they toured all over the group with the Icelandic folk music singing in their mother tongue. After they toured all over the globe, they organised a series of unexpected and free concert for the Icelandic people just to give back what they had taked from iceland musically. And Ani d Franco is one great singer, songwriter and guitar player with whom i fall in love everyday despite her sexual orientation. And Yes Radiohead all the time. I travel with it and i will die with it"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trailing the Trailblazer: An interview of Poet Shri Biren, May 2009

Interview conducted by Ronid Chingangbam
Camera: Deepak Thounaojam

Shri Biren : “Tangkhul Hui” was written around 1964-65. This was written when I was a student but was published after I became a teacher at the D.M. College. It was published in the college magazine and Naorem Khogen was the professor-in-charge of the magazine.

The Absurd Theatre has a lot of elements that can be called poetic or poetic vision. The Absurd Theatre was known for not having a beginning, a middle and an end. The immediate impulsive feelings and thoughts are imprinted on the Absurd Theatre. The process is followed by the sight of the images. Instead of the story, one can see the imagery, most importantly the construction of the poetic spirit and vision.

This is what I do as a poet and I am closer to being a poet than being a writer or a playwright. This is why most of my plays are closer to the poetic vision than the conventional dramatic structure. I became a playwright by virtue of being a poet...not because I know much about Absurd Theatre.

Around 1973, my works were mainly theatrical plays besides writing poetry. I joined Aryan Theatre and the company of Arambam Lokendra. That time Arambam Somorendra went underground. When I became active in theatre and writing plays, I did not get a chance to meet him. I met him after I became indisposed and he got amnesty.

From the late 1960s to 1970s and the publication of “Singnaba” (The Challenge), all have followed the trend I set out. After that I became really ill and have been not well for over 40 years.

Ronid: Did you continue writing during this phase?

Shri Biren: Yes. I wrote “Sanagee Keirak” (The Golden Ladder), “Mapal Naidabasida Ei”(I at the Edgeless Point) – I could not stop writing. I kept on writing. I am not exaggerating. If I did not continue writing, my pulse would have stopped running. I am so used to writing and if I do not write, I feel restless.

In the 1980s, the ASEI LUP began criticizing our work. I did not feel hurt. I think they were doing a good job. Our works were termed Eurocentric. No doubt, my works must have been influenced by T.S. Eliot and I love T.S. Eliot's criticism and theories developed thereon. In his own words “Honest criticism and sensitive appreciation is directed not upon the poets but upon the poetries”.

In my work, “Manipuri Sahityada Wakhanlon Khara” (Few Thoughts on Manipuri Literature), I quoted Eliot in the prologue. I am a literary critic too but I do not criticize by looking at who the writer or the poet is.

In my opinion, English literature inspires us but can not influence us. They call us Eurocentric may be because we drew inspiration from it.
Those poets of the 1980s are really good. The can be called “Nativists” who love the soil and the land. We are also nurtured by the very soil and if I do not locate myself in the Manipuri society, where will I be? If they say whatever I write do not belong to Manipur, I cannot accept that. My perspective and vision, however, may be based on Eurocentric vision. But what I in deed see is the Manipuri society.

And the new crop of poets are looking at tradition – for example Lanchenba's poem, “Hee Nagbu Hondeda”(Boat! you do not row) is inspired by the Lai Haraoba festival. Memchoubi's poem “Nongthang Leima”(The Goddess of Lightening) is inspired by our forefathers' belief in the power of female deities. All their works possess a sense of patriotism.

Whereas we are more critical and do not easily get swayed by patriotism of any Thangjam Ibopishak's “Ei Manipurgeedamakta Seeningde” (I do not want to die for Manipur) says. If you say you love your land and its people, the people include those who are not worthy to be loved – people like who are used to corrupt means to make themselves rich and powerful. When I think of them, I get angry. But why won't anyone love the bountiful nature of Manipur.

After the 1980s, poets like Thoudam Netrajit, R.J. Meitei, Imojit Ningomba etc. Are doing good work.
Some of them like Lanchenba Meitei and Birendrajit Naorem are really erudite and talented.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I earn a constipation tonite with indo-pak match

I just earned a constipation seeing you all so happy with India winning a silly game.,,after all we long for such moment being a citizen of a country which we have been deprived of ,,.wave your flag my child.tomorrow a bullet may hit ur chest saying "Bharat mahan hai".Binayak is in jail,,sharmila is still fasting,,,,Modi is walking free preaching genocide....the stone pelters in kashmir is about to become suicde bombers....the farmers are still suicidal....the poets in south are still mourning for the tamils that have been killed in Eelam,,,etc,,,good night,,,hope u wake up tomorow waht you are not

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Post: Rosemary Moore

Im glad to share a poem by Rosemary Moore on Machang Lalung

Misused, abused, he lived a life he didn't choose,
who are you to hold someone's life in your hands,
abandoned, misfiled, who really cares,
was it worthwhile to lock someone in a cage,
who was worthless to you,
you heartless maniacs, you stole a life,
you cannot give back, broken spirit,
cruelty in its worst form,
hopelessly in hope stared blankly
at the same old walls,
waiting, waiting always waiting,
for better days that never arrived,
eternity is waiting for the abuser,
endlessly unending pit of doom.

Note: Machang Lalung spent 54 years in prison without a trial.
Lalung had been arrested at his home village of Silsang (Assam) in 1951 under section 326 of the Indian Penal Code for “causing grievous harm.” According to civil rights groups who have investigated Lalung’s case, there was no substantive evidence to support the charge against him. In any event, those found guilty of this offence typically receive sentences of no more than 10 years’ imprisonment.
Less than a year after he was taken into custody, Lalung was transferred to a psychiatric hospital in the town, Tezpur. Sixteen years later, in 1967, doctors confirmed that he was “fully fit” to be released, but instead he was transferred to Guwahati Central Jail, where he was imprisoned until July 2005. He passed away sometime in 2006.

Here is a link of a song dedicated to Lalung by my band Imphal Talkies (You need to have Facebook account to listen to the track)!/video/video.php?v=10150108748297798&comments

About Rosemary Moore (A short profile written by herself):

I'm Rosemary Anne Moore, I was born on the 31st of December 1968 in Cape Town, South Africa. I have two younger sisters. I have always loved drawing and painting, as i grew up.

I have been married since 1994 and have two teenagers, a daughter and a son. In 2006 we moved to Darling on the West Coast, near Cape Town. I began oil painting lessons with a local artist, Nina Van Der Westhuizen in May 2007 and stayed with her for two years.

In November 2008, i went to an art exhibition by a local artist, Elmie Smit, who is a big Bob Dylan fan. Shortly after this exhibition, i became so inspired by Bob Dylan's music and lyrics. This ignited my love for poetry, so i decided to write my own poems. I wrote my first poem in December 2008, called Black and Blue, concerning the abuse suffered at the hands of a batterer. This was after a 20 year gap of writing a few poems since my twenties.

I painted 44 oil paintings which were portraits of Bob Dylan and my interpetations of some of his songs. I had my first solo art exhibition on the 23rd of May 2009. You can see my work on my website