Turning images into poetry


Images and words flow in a harmonious swirl together with music and dance, to produce an ecstatic gush of sentiments, emotions, expression, art and poetry at a launch of Amita Sanghvi’s book of poems ‘Lavender Memories 1 & 2’ at the Indian Embassy auditorium here on Wednesday (February 21) under the auspices of Mohammed al Zubair, Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan for Economic Planning Affairs.
Indramani Pandey, India’s Ambassador to the Sultanate, and a large gathering of distinguished guests, including senior faculty members from the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), were among the attendees at this extraordinary exposition of art-inspired poetry.
The art in question is a collection of large-sized, oil on canvas paintings by artist and photographer, Dr Ibrahim al Bakri from the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and previously on the faculty of Rutgers University, USA.
Dr Bakri has extensively recreated the sweeping expanse, magnificence and beauty of Oman’s landscape. But he had no idea the avalanche of feelings his paintings could trigger off in one person. But destiny chooses its own time and players for events to play out and become a reality.
Amita Sanghvi says, “It was a magical moment when, one morning, I saw the art of Prof Bakri. In an instant, I was spellbound. Then, in the next instant, I was writing poem after poem”.
Here’s what Otherine Johnson Neisler, the Deputy Director, for the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at the SQU had to say as a preface to her readings of her favourites from ‘Lavender Memories’ at the India Embassy auditorium.
“Amita comes over to my place one morning. As it happens, Dr Bakri’s book of paintings and photographs is lying on my table. In one glimpse and in an instant, the magic of those images had seized her”.
In the next instant she grabs some papers lying on my desk — actually those were some of my notes — and begins to write poems like someone possessed”.
Continuing her narrative, Otherine recounts, “Before this dramatic moment of revelation, I had no inkling that Amita writes poetry. And neither did she.”
However, what is even more incredible is that whatever Amita had written in a spontaneous outburst of emotions, was lost forever and had to be written all over again.
Otherine says she transcribed her notes into her computer and threw them away, forgetting altogether about the poems written on the other side of those sheets of paper. But the muse inside the poet was strong: She was able to write her poems a second time, with a little help from her.
Before she begins her readings Amita says: “A fascinating feature of the Dr Bakri’s artwork is the delicate and sensitive use of purple-lavender hues”.
“I wrote ‘Lavender Memories’ I and II in moments of appreciation for an artist whose patience enabled him to capture what few of us will ever see. He waited for those dawn moments. Those lavender moments are the fountainhead of my inspiration; my response to the visual treat of the artist”.
Poetry lovers can buy Amita’s collection of poems ‘Lavender Memories 1 & 2’ directly from her.
The novel things about this whole event was the way singer and composer Arundhati D Vignesh Dev Burman set a selection of Amita’s poetry to music and sang them in her deep, clear voice. Accompanying her on the sarod and tabla were Nitish Purohit and Mohanish Jaju respectively. All three musicians had especially come down from India to participate in this very special event.
Says Amita: “It was entirely my concept of presenting art across genres from painting to poetry to songs to dance — as one form of art inspired the other”.
Radhika Savitri, Avasha Pillai and Sujanyaa Sriram from Premila Ramesh’s Nrityanjali/Orbit Training Centre for Performing Arts, gave a visual interpretation of some of Amita’s poetry through their colourful dances.
In conclusion Amita says: “The beauty of the landscape of Oman is highly inspiring. Oman inspires. This peaceful nation enriched by oceans and mountains is a wonderful place for creativity to thrive”.
The last stanza of the title poem, ‘Lavender Memories and other poems’ refers to this blessed land of peace, Oman. This nation, under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, reflects the peaceful co-existence that has touched the core of a poet’s sensitivity. They are as follows:

“A few rays visit
The blessed land
Reflecting serenity,
Ah My heart,
Lifts, Quietly lit”.