Riyas Qurana

Not To Step Into The Arena Of Poetry Just On Request by Riyas Qurana

‘Not To Step Into The Arena Of Poetry Just On Request’ is about a deteriorating friendship of the narrator, due to the misinterpretations.

‘Not To Step Into The Arena Of Poetry Just On Request’ by Riyas Qurana is a poem about the deteriorating friendship of the narrator, due to the misinterpretations of their personal poetic territory. As the title of this poem suggests, Qurana strongly feels that you cannot “step” into someone else’s poetic territory even if requested because one can never receive the words of a poem the same as another person. He feels that each individual poem is a unique form of art that cannot be reproduced especially in the interpretation of each piece. The narrator in this poem is presented with a very strong voice and opinions that he does not wish to compromise. He is also very quick to judge and label the thought process of his friend, letting the readers know that this account of the conflict is very heavily biased due to his anger. The main idea that the narrator presents is that no one can hope to be welcomed into someone else’s “arena of poetry”  because the words of the poet have a life of their own and do not stay the same for anyone.

Not To Step Into The Arena Of Poetry Just On Request by Riyas Qurana

Not To Step Into The Arena Of Poetry Just On Request Analysis

First Stanza

He would have been willing
To take me into arena of his poetry
Everything seen disappeared
He confessed.

This stanza begins with a complaint from the speaker in this poem. The narrator’s hopes of understanding his friend through his poetry is quickly extinguished as he realizes that everything has “disappeared”.  This stanza exposes the conflict that unfolds in the poem. A friend of the narrator seems to have wanted to share his poetry with him but is unable to get across his ideas and words. This is an interesting concept as it highlights that each individual perceives emotions, ideas, and words differently and furthermore, interprets them in a unique way that cannot be reproduced for anyone else. Consequently, when an individual introduces their poetic territory or “arena” to another and invites them to accept the words as they themselves felt and expressed them, this “arena” becomes “empty”. Qurana states that this happens “often” as people expect others to understand the world around them the way they themselves do since it is the only way they can comprehend it. The last line of this stanza demonstrates that the friend or acquaintance in this poem is realizing that his poetic territory has “disappeared” in the presence of the narrator. As he confesses this realization to the narrator, it indicates to the reader that the narrator is presenting himself as a superior persona by implying, that he seems to understand this concept while his friend does not. By the use of the word “confessed”, Qurana immediately enforces a negative connotation to the situation, insinuating that his friend was realizing a mistake.


Second Stanza

He looked at me
Being confused in mind.

This is the only couplet in the poem, emphasizing the importance of the words it carries. Although this is the smallest part of the poem, it cuts into incredibly substantial ideas. The first line discusses communication; “He looked at me” after the confession from his friend, this “look” exposes that Qurana is trying to emphasize the idea that a person’s facial expressions speak volumes about their thought process especially when it comes to communicating those thoughts to others. The reason this line is so significant is that it calls attention to the fact that is poem is truly about the two individuals and their understanding of each other, rather than the poetic territory that they are exploring together. Moving on to the second line of this couplet, the reader is again, met with the indication that the narrator is depicting himself to be more superior than his friend seeing that he is confused even after his “confession”. The noteworthy point in the second line is that Qurana stresses that the friend or acquaintance is “confused in mind”, putting an emphasis on the idea that it was his mind that was still confused, even if he had outwardly confessed his realization. The clarification that the narrator makes about the friend’s mind being confused, essentially speaks volumes about his own mind. He seems to believe that he has a greater understanding of his friend’s mind and can label it as a confused mind given that it does not match with the way he perceives the situation.


Third Stanza

No one gives birth to a poem
I said.
And poems never await
Just for reading.
The poem can not be detained for long
Said I further.

Stanza three starts out with the notion of giving “birth” to a poem. Giving birth is a process that not only assists in the construction of families, but also gives a position of ownership or right of possession to the one who gave birth. The narrator swiftly strips away the right of possession of a poem from his friend as he tells him that “no one gives birth to a poem” in the opening line of the stanza. This line also continues to draw attention to the overbearing attitude that the narrator has had throughout this poem. He carries on teaching his friend about the nature of poems and poetic territory by explaining that poems never exactly “await just for reading” and “cannot be detained for long”. These concepts help the reader understand Qurana’s idea of poetry and poetic territory. He seems to claim that no one can own a poem seeing that a poem will never just wait around to be read. Essentially, Qurana is implying that once a poet writes out a poem, it no longer belongs to him in the sense that the way readers will perceive, understand and interpret those words will never be identical to what he had initially intended. The poem, ‘Not To Step Into The Arena Of Poetry Just On Request’, then never stays the same and so can never be truly “owned” by anyone, it is its own entity free of ownership. Furthermore, when you try to share that poem with others you lose all control over it. It no longer says “detained” in your mind and becomes a new story for every individual who comes across it. On the occasion that words are strung together to form a poem, it is only a matter of time before they are shared with others and eventually freed from the poet.


Fourth Stanza

He seems not believing me.
No poem to identify among words.
Innovative thoughts enter into and become poem
when you read each time
and they find their way out
when you finished reading, I said.

The fourth stanza of Qurana’s poem maintains the domineering voice of the narrator as he continues to educate his friend about the nature of poetry. The first line stating that he is not being believed furthermore emphasizes the unremarkable image that the narrator has been painting of his friend.  The narrator tries to explain that words are not poetry, your “thoughts enter” into the words adding emotion and meaning behind them converting the simple words into a poem, which when read “find their way out” into the world with their diverse meanings for the various readers that encounter this poem. Through this stanza, it becomes evident that the narrator has a very strong opinion on what a poem is and refuses to accept the fact that others might not identify with it the same way.


Fifth Stanza

Just now, he has found his way out
Breaking my friendship.
Locking all his words
If you do not trust me,
Break these words and see.

This last stanza not only concludes the poem but also concludes the friendship of the two characters in the poem. The very first line in the stanza exposes that his friend has “found his way out” of the friendship and apparently locked up “all his words”. This description relates to the readers that because of their difference in understanding of poetic territory the friendship of the characters has fallen out. It seems that the narrator was not able to comprehend the ideas from his friend’s poems the way his friend had wanted causing a rift in their relationship; causing the narrator to be very upset. The narrator continues to claim that in his anger and rage he found poems. Basically saying that through this conflict he was able to find emotions and words for a poem, and he heavily implies that the result of the conflict is this poem itself.  In order for the readers to be able to understand the conflict, the narrator recommends that they “break these words and see”, suggesting that his words are not straight forward and in order to understand the nature of the conflict a proper analysis of his words must be conducted.

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Noor Rehman Poetry Expert
Noor has an Honours in the Bachelor of Arts with a double major in English Literature and History. She teaches elementary and high school English, and loves to help students develop a love for in depth analysis, and writing in general. Because of her interest in History, she also really enjoys reading historical fiction (but nothing beats reading and rereading Harry Potter!). Reading and writing short stories and poetry has been a passion of hers, that she proudly carries from childhood.
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