03 March, 2021

The Poet In His Private Prison

Lifers penning and reciting verse: that's just one way solutions to special needs can be truly creative

The Poet In His Private Prison
Mumbai’s Kalyan jail is an unlikely venue for a kavi sammelan. Even unlikelier is the sight of Mumbai’s noted poets like Akshay Jain and Yagya Sharma sharing the stage with poets serving life sentences. At the sammelan, eight prisoners, including five women, pour their hearts out in verse. Ramesh Bhoir and Praveen Bharucha rue the few moments that wrecked their entire lives. And Janaki Iyer, who writes in English, longs to change the unfair ways of the world. Their themes range from suppression and separation to introspection and reformation.

Life behind bars hasn’t restrained their creative streak. Such creativity, according to Akshar Vishwa Ka Tosh Aivam Kosh or Avitoko, the four-year-old organisation that conceived the sammelan, provides a much-needed support system to individuals as well as society. After gifting these prison poets the satisfaction of reciting their verse in the presence of veterans, Avitoko plans to publish their work, an idea jail authorities have welcomed. Avitoko believes in expression as a cathartic booster and has successfully used art,...

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