Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Do IT People Make Lousy Poets?

A few days ago, I met someone, a poet, who writes a poetry blog. While chatting with him, I told him that I am not into contemporary poetry - particularly if it is English. I love Tagore, Nazrul, Sukanta and particularly Jibananda (and maybe some Neruda and Langston Hughes in small doses) but that's about it.

He listened attentively and smiled. Then he gently asked me if I was an IT guy. When I confirmed, he said that he found IT people to be less interested in poetry.

The next few days I mulled over his words. I realized I did not like them. But although I knew IT people who have gone on to be novelists, directors, farmers, photographers, musicians, and other kinds of artists, I did not know one who had become a poet.

Was he right?

Poets come out of other professions all the time. William Carlos Williams, for example, was a doctor who kept index cards in his shirt pocket and wrote poems on them whenever he got a break.

(Incidentally, I first read Williams in an IT book - the front of Linear Systems, by Stanford's Thomas Kailath.)

Noodling around the Web, I found a computer scientist who is also a serious poet. One Richard Gabriel, once a Distinguished Engineer at Sun, now at IBM. (And now the programmer in me says, hey, if he is a poet, maybe he is not that good a programmer - did he write any interesting programs? Ha ha.)

Programming is very much a creative process, as is poetry. I can't think of a reason that programmers cannot be poets. Maybe there is something deeper going on? Or have I simply missed a lot of IT poets? Comments?


farhad said...


And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

Pablo Neruda

ulysses said...

Hi Farhad,

How appropriate! Thanks for posting it.


Lotus Reads said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lotus Reads said...

I know someone in IT and he's a brilliant poet, so don't worry, IT'ers do become poets too! :)

BTW, my review (I prefer to call it impressions or observations) of Tahmima Anam's "A Golden Age" is now up on my blog.