Tinderella Tales: When men pour their hearts out…

Bengaluru: “Writing poetry is like dipping a quill in moonlight, or thrusting a knife into your heart and drawing blood." This was the sort of response, found Pramod Shankar, that tended to come his way when he asked men about why they write. 

Every year, Perry Menceis, owner at Urban Solace and the man behind one of Bengaluru's longest-running poetry evenings, has men come up to him on Women's Day and enquire if there happens to be a day just like it for them, too. Perry stumbled upon it quite by accident earlier this month and put the word out at once – a poetry reading by men on International Men's Day.  

"The response was pathetic," he said, on Tuesday evening, to his audience. 

"We had 10 poets on our list, only one had confirmed." Perry had resigned himself to calling the whole thing off, until his friend, Pramod, stepped into the fray. 

"I don't know if this is part of the international conspiracy against men but International Men's Day is also International Toilet Day," he quipped. "I'm sure women are pulling strings in the UN!"  

His jocularity was well-received, save for a couple of cries of feminist indignance but the experiences of the poets, who ranged from young to less young, is no laughing matter. Love is a minefield in the age of Tinderella, an aptly-titled poem by Jay Krishna Menon. In the age of #metoo and #ibelievewomen, men are afraid, more confused about the opposite sex than they were.  

"Is it okay to compliment you on you hair, your dress, Can I smile at you, make you laugh, Without being seen as a bully or a maniac," said Filipino poet Jay Malanga. "Should I offer to carry your bag, or will my bid weigh you down?" The rules are in eternal flux, "But before everything I'm a human being, just like you," he concluded.  

Love in the time of millenials took a darker turn with Jay Krishna Menon and Deevas Gupta, the latter's performance, delivered in a gentle voice and beautiful Hindi, left his audience suddenly looking for flecks of dust in their eyes. Jay Krishna Menon began with a story of his father, the man who never cried. "Nothing good comes of bottling in one's emotions," he said, going on to read Tinderella, a dark, anguish-ridden take on modern love, where everything is superficial. It is, he says, the new fairytale.  

Prashant Shankaran, Pramod's older brother, manages the entrepreneurship incubator at the IIMB and spends his free time writing, by his own admission, "morbidly dark poetry." He kept his theme to love and relationships, a different take, perhaps, from the Tinder generation, describing love, jealousy and parting.  

Pradeep Dharmapalan, who hung up his boots after a long corporate career to write poetry, certainly looked the part, in a bright red muffler and a startling baritone. “I don't have a poem about men, exactly but I might just be able to produce one about a toilet.” 


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