SACHI NAIK | NT BUZZ
“When I got to know that I would be awarded the ‘Rashtriya Urmi Kavya Puraskar’, it was an ‘exciting shock’,” expresses Konkani professor and HoD of Konkani at Parvatibai Chowgule College of Arts and Science, Hanumant Chopdekar on receiving the award, recently.
‘Urmi’ is a monthly magazine dedicated to poetry, founded by its editor Jayram Khedekar. The magazine publishes poems and their critical analysis. Khedekar launched the magazine to spread the culture of poetry among youth and poetry lovers. Every year, the team organises the Urmi Rashtriya Kavya Mahotsav and holds poetry recitation sessions for a few invited poets from across India. Urmi then felicitates these poets with the ‘Rashtriya Urmi Kavya Puraskar’.
The committee who selected the winners this year decided to felicitate poets who have spread the culture of poetry by assisting the newcomers in getting their poems perfected and published. Apart from Chopdekar, Maharashtra-based Durgesh Sonal also received the honour this year.
Unlike other awards, where the nominees have to apply beforehand, the committee here continuously observes and follows the works of poets across India and shortlists a few based on suggestions from litterateurs, writers, poets, academicians, researchers, professors as well as readers; their process of selection is continuous. Chopdekar has been writing Marathi poems for Urmi magazine over a long time and was asked to send details about his work but until the announcement of the award, little did he know that he would be appraised for his contribution to poetry.
Articulating his thoughts, Chopdekar says: “Why did I get this award? This question came to my mind several times since I had written only a handful of poems in Marathi and most in Konkani. Later, I got to know that award was not simply for writing poems, but also for inspiring others to write, for preparing and developing the culture of poetry among my acquaintances, students, friends, etc.”
Around 13 years back, poetry lovers Ashok Borkar, Arvind Pitre, Ravindra Pawar, Kavita Borkar and Chopdekar came together and organised the ‘Kavya Mehfil’, a multi-lingual poetry recitation programme and they would meet every third Saturday of the month. Chopdekar says this gave birth to numerous poets in Konkani and Marathi, as well as other languages. Today, these poets write for magazines or publish their collection of poems. ‘Kavya Mehfil’ continues to meet to every month at Gomant Vidya Niketan, Margao.
Chopdekar began writing poems in his college days for ‘Himko Mandal’. Himko stood for poems in Hindi (‘Hi’), Marathi (M) and Konkani (Ko). The mandal organised poetry recitation competitions and Chopdekar says that winning a prize at such competitions was motivation enough. Growing up facing the hardships of poverty and related societal issues, his poems reflected his plight. While other students would write romantic and love poems, his poems stood out for the issues faced by society, besides, he also wrote on cultural heritage and folk performances of Goa.
He writes stories based on the true incidents in the society, playing and experimenting with the ideas that come his way. “Story-writing is my forte. Stories and one act plays have to be framed concisely adding a captivating climax to it,” he states.
Chopdekar further cites an example: in 2002, three girls committed suicide at Campal, Panaji. The newspaper reports made several claims and derived possibilities and reasons for the drastic measure. Through their final note, however, it came to fore that these girls couldn’t face the routine hardships caused by poverty. “I wrote a story on this incident titled, ‘Tin Kunvandi’ (Three Puzzles) adding a bit of fiction and a moral.” The same story was later converted into one act play with a modified moral.
After writing about several issues, Chopdekar now wishes to write a novel on traditional professions in Goa such as farming, fishing and work related to cashew plantations, things that he grew up watching and doing in his childhood.
Chopdekar has a piece of advice for the new breed of writers: “A writer always has to give a moral to the story, if not directly then indirectly. Having written stories on true incidents, I realised that if I write the story as per the real incident, I am a reporter. It is when I give a moral to it that I am called a writer. In poems, you do not need to worry about such things as they meant to express your thoughts in flow and fluency. Achieving ‘Rashtriya Urmi Kavya Puraskar’ is truly a motivation to write and experiment more.”
Some of Chopdekar’s works
He has 18 books under his authorship including two collections of poems, seven plays, six children’s books, two collections of one act plays and three literary criticisms. His Konkani poetry collections ‘Aata Kennatari Faatod Jatli’ (1998) and ‘Ek Cheet Mogaal Aaik’ (2013) are well appreciated. ‘Hum Honge Kaamyaab’ (2006), ‘Kaidi No 001’ (2008), ‘Kunvadi’ (2008), ‘Hari Amcho Temporary’ (2009), ‘Haanv Saiba Modern Jaata’ (2010), ‘Dam Damaa Dam’ (2011), ‘Sausarik Namnechyo Asturyo’ (2012), ‘Writer And Fighter: Ravindra Kelekar’ (2013), and ‘Sahitya Dhaara’ (2016) are some books to his credit.