Firstpost Poetry Project: Ramneek Singh presents 'Shehar Matrix'

Neerja Deodhar

Beginning 22 June, Firstpost embarks on a 10 week-long journey of poetry. Featuring poets who write in English and Hindi, this project is meant to both showcase their art as well as their individual creative processes. These poets write for the page and for the stage, and the themes of their works range from love and friendships to how power-hungry human society can be. Their verses, expressed in the 'spoken word' format, are brought to life by visuals and supported by music.

Presenting €" The Firstpost Poetry Project.

This is the third poet featured in this series.


"When you have a passion for something, you don't really ask yourself the question 'Why am I doing this?' You just continue pursuing it. It's like falling in love; you don't question why you are in love, you just feel that way."

Poetry means many different things to Ramneek Singh. When he had just begun writing, he did not measure the value that this art form held in his life. After some time, it became the only thing he actively participated in as a child, apart from academics. Over the years, it has helped him to understand his own opinions on matters of society and politics. It has prompted him to probe his own mind and think about his experiences.

"It is akin to an alarm that the poet rings when they see something wrong happening in society," he says. He believes that both the written and spoken word can be effectively used as weapons.

The audience is integral to the art form, he opines. "Having an audience accentuates the performance and the experience of the poet themselves. Before the advent of the performance poetry scene and before it boomed, I didn't quite know what could be achieved," he says.

The merit of spoken word as an art form lies in both its urgency as well as its direct nature, Singh says. "There are certain things happening in the world about which we must speak urgently. If I write a poem to be published in a book, it will take longer to reach people and its relevance may be lost. Sometimes, one wants to react to something happening in the present, so that people may understand what is happening and take action. For this, performance poetry is necessary."

But he is quick to note that poems should not lack flow and rhythm just because they are being performed. "The poem has to be lyrical," he asserts.

He also appreciates page poetry and says that the goal of both forms is the same €" to be understood. "Page poetry is a craft unto itself. You can experiment to a great extent when it comes to the physical space on the page; you can leave a lot unsaid even if there are many thoughts swirling around in your head. You want your reader to figure it out €" that is where the poet's satisfaction lies. It is like a riddle."

He doesn't have a definitive answer to the question, 'What draws you to poetry?' "I don't think there is any answer for me, except poetry. I don't think I can excel at anything else the way I do at poetry."

Shehar Matrix


Bahut nazdeek se

Bahut saaf nahi dikhta

Thodi unchaayi se dekhne par

Subah subah chote chote cut-piece park mein

Umar lambi karne aaye log

Haath hawaa mein latka ke

Jab thahaake lagaate hain

Toh shehar hass deta hai shaitaani hasi

Usse hadbadaayi bheed ko dekhne mein mazaa aata hai

Shaayad usse kabootaron ke uss jhund ki yaad aa jaati hai

Jo shikaari se bachne ke liye sabak yaad karta hai

Aur din bhar ratta lagaata rehta hai

Shikaari aayega, daana daalega, daana nahi chugna

Aur daana dalte hi uss par kood padta hai, par sabak jaari rahta hai ki

Shikaari aayega daana daalega daana nahi chugna


Kandhe par latke shikaari ke jaal mein faskar bhi

Shikaari aayega daana daalega daana nahi chugna


Naak ki disha mein chale jaa rahe hain sab

Shehar matrix mein badal gaya hai

Jungle bache nahi

Na jaane kis ke darr se humne shehar ko CCTV ke shaamiyaane se dhak diya hai


Shehar neend mein hone ka bahaana karta hai

Jab raaton raat jhuggiyon ke beecho beech

Township waale beej bo diye jaate hain

Aur subah hote hote ugg aate hain eent aur concrete ke daanav

Jinki naak ke neeche se nikalte hain fly-over

Aur flyover ki surakhsha mein tainaat


Jahaan se utarte hain sapne neeche

Aur utpaat machaate hain

Dimaag mein uske

Jiski naukri abhi lagi hi hai

Jisse ghar khareedna hai

Sapno ka ghar

Rustomjee waala €" poora 555 square foot

Jisse voh khareed sakta hai sirf teen crore bayalis lakh rupaye mein

Ya bees hazaar ki aasaan 120 kishton mein

Usse yakeen hai

Itne acche builder usse kahaan milenge

Jo banaakar denge usse ek ghar

Ek cute ka bageecha

Aur 20 saal ki guarantee vaala badaa sa EMI ka pinjra

Jisme se voh dekhega duniya

Window-sill par baithkar ginega bachi hui kishte

Aur apne khareede hue bakse mein

Sikha dega khush rehna apne saath apne bacchon ko bhi

Bacche, jinke liye suraj ab A-Wing ke peeche se nikalta hai

Aur C-Wing waali building ke peeche chhup jaata hai

Jo aasmaan mein jahaaz ki light ko

Tootataa sitaara samajh kar mannatein maangte hain

Jinhe iss baat ka andaaza tak nahi ki

Unke hisse mein kya kya nahi aaya


Jaayaz bhi hai

Paida hote hi parinde ki pinjre mein rakh diya jaaye

Toh usse aasmaan ko dekhkar bechaini nahin hoti

Usse apni gulaami ka ehsaas nahin hota


Vaham ki ek parat dhak ke rakhti hai vaham ki kayi parton ko

Apni pareshaani chhupa ke muskuraane waale sab ek se dikhte hain

Shehar apni sahuliyat ke liye

Sab ke chehre ek jaise kar deta hai

Jinki shinaakth ke liye bheed se doori ka hona bahut zaroori hai


Bahut nazdeek se

Bahut saaf nahi dikhta


Read about the first and second poet featured in this series

Also See: Firstpost Poetry Project: Shruti Sunderraman presents 'Flowers and Friends'

Amir Khusrau, the poet of the nation: Singing of a divine beloved and homeland

Palestine in photos: Tracing the West Bank's history, natural diversity

Read more on long-reads by Firstpost.