Poetry of Protest

Madhu Raghavendra's poems in support of the farmers' protest

farmers protest

Too Much Democracy 

Over 40000 farmers and daily wagers

committed suicide as per NCRB 2019. 

Hate crime is rising rapidly, 

so is the wealth of Indian billionaires.  

Jailed poets and activists are unable 

to get straws and spectacles. 

There is too much measuring 

by the same yardstick, 

too much religionization of things

in this land of delightful diversity. 

There is too much money 

going to untruth to prepare 

colorful shrouds for truth. 

Love is a crime now.

I agree, there is too much democracy. 

Kala kanoon, 2020

You see, it is not the farmer’s hobby 

to protest, or help us learn 

the names of Delhi borders. 

You see, it is not the farmer’s hobby 

to be tear gassed, or water cannoned, 

or be lathi charged, or live on damp highways 

in Delhi’s winter wave, during a pandemic.

If they had an option to stay home, 

they would. They need to know for sure

that the boot on their throats 

will not be pressed any harder. 

You see, it is not the farmer’s hobby

to die. 

The Bani of Protest 

To the farmers marching towards 

justice as effortlessly 

as the lotus eyed feeds 

on sweet rice made by Yashoda

crossing barricades and trenches

thrust by the police on orders of the State, 

the way the ultimate truth arrives 

on tractors and on feet

with a sickle and a plough 

feeding those who come 

their way with both hands

under their tents of fearless feast —

carrying us on a boat across the hunger sea

reminding the system 

bhukhi-aa bhukh na utree 

jay bannaa puree-aa bhaar


and reclaim justice singing 

waahay guru, waahay guru,

waahay guru, waahay jeeyo.

MADHU Raghavendra (poet, curator, and social activist) has authored three books of poetry, Make Me Some Love To Eat, Stick No Bills, and Being Non-essential. He is the founder of Poetry Couture, a movement that has created free spaces for poetry in many cities of India, including the North East. He uses performance poetry as a tool to advocate human and environmental rights.  He regularly curates and reads for the American Center libraries in India. He collaborates with global artists to create cross disciplinary poetry experiences. His poems have been set to classical music and contemporary dance. He conducts performance poetry workshops for young adults, and reads at many literary festivals across India. His works have been featured in many literary journals.



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