That's Kapil for you-I am sure you can recognize him from behind too
It began for Kapil Sibal (Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences) quite unintentionally. When he wrote poems for judges who were retiring, the verses were always laudatory—“At the bar, the golden rule, in order to seek discretionary relief, is to be exceptionally laudatory about the judges. I did not, after their retirement want to deviate from this well-accepted norm,” he says in the introduction of I Witness, Partial Observations, his first book of verse. It unleashes unbridled wit and scorn, nostalgia and angst of this lawyer-politician
At an evening of poetry at Landmark, Kapil Sibal in conversation with Kanimozhi explains, “I never thought I will write a book on poetry. It was result of boredom on long flights that I decided to pen a few thoughts mostly for self- entertainment.” When Kanimozhi asks him how he feels as a poet, he replies, “It would be too presumptive of me to think of myself as poet. That is why I call it parital observations.”
Kanimozhi goes on to ask him what makes him decide on a poem. He replies, “I write on what I see around me. And things are changing rapidly. Before people used to write love letters now they send SMSes.”
The themes of Sibal’s poems dwell on a wide range of subjects like love, Tsunami, nano, parents etc... The seductive excitement of Twenty20 cannot be more succinctly expressed, “Instant stroke play / without any foreplay:/” But the subjects turn often to the comfort of his core areas—the political and judicial realm. Who better than a politician can poetically describe the ways of a sycophant and his feelings, “I suitably choreograph my way / almost to perfection /” then the poem ends, “My leader is thoughtful and kind,/ makes me feel most wanted; / endangered species that he is,/ I can’t take him for granted. /”There is also a poem devoted to the July 22 vote of confidence, To Trust or not to Trust, and an ode to the other politico-poet A B Vajpayee which is titled Man behind the mask. Sibal’s “thoughts in quarantine” sure did compile them into an amusing and interesting book of verse. Some of the lines get your attention and will soon become part of the quotable quotes. Take the lines from Winner’s Recipe, where he holds forth on elections, “Most electoral victories / an ephemeral illusion.Kapil Sibal has not minced words in his satire of journalists, politicians and lawyers in his poem Defining Moments.
So how does this lawyer turned politician see a poet?
Kapil Sibal gives an exclusive byte, “Poets always exaggerate things—all art is an exaggeration of reality. It is not just exaggeration, it is philosophical, it is a veneer of reality. You see reality as you see it, all art is partial. My poems are rooted in contemporary Indian context. The problem with modern poetry is it is too esoteric, too distanced from reality-completely uncommunicative. All art is a form of communication and it should be appreciated by the consumer of art.”
Will you be quoting poetry in the courts and for your political speeches like Vajpayee?
“There is a time and place for everything. Poetry has its own place in the overall architecture that we are part of. In the context of that I will continue to use it as form of expression as I will prose. I have also two books in mind.”