‘Making a Poem’ was included in Naik’s 2018 volume Making a Poem. In this collection, as within the poem of the same name, the poet considers his own relationship to writing. He investigates the parts of his own process and the theory that informs him. When asked about his writing he said that he believes “poetry writing is subjective art” and that he “would like to express [his] own point of view”. Naik’s writings have been, and continue to be influential on the Indian literary scene.
In the first lines of ‘Making a Poem,’ the speaker begins by setting out his task. In order to write a poem, one has to embrace the movement of the pen. It’s going to run over the paper and as a snake uncoils, the words will create themselves. They can’t be forced.
He makes references to a “Sage” and that an understanding of one’s own senses is needed in addition to knowledge. The poem concludes with the poet speaking on the beauty of the writing process and the musicality of the materials.
You can read the full poem here.
‘Making a Poem’ by Vihang Naik is a thirteen-line poem that separated into six sets of two lines (couplets) and a single, stand-alone concluding line. The lines do not follow a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern but Naik does make use of several poetic techniques. These help the poet craft a feeling of unity, as well as hint at rhythm. They include alliteration, enjambment, metaphor, and personification.
Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same letter. For example, “Sage” and “senses” in the eighth line and “little light” in the thirteenth line.
A metaphor is one of the most common kinds of figurative language. Poets utilize this technique in order to say that one thing is another thing, without using “like” or “as”. It can be seen in the third and fourth lines when Naik describes writing a poem as “a snake / uncoil[ing]”.
Personification, another popular technique, occurs when a poet imbues a non-human creature or object with human characteristics. For instance, in the twelfth line when Naik describes the “ink” as dancing on his paper.
Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence.
There are a number of examples within ‘Making a Poem’ but one particularly poignant one is seen through the transition between lines twelve and thirteen as a reader is treated to the final steps of making a poem. Another example that makes the text more dynamic is the moment between lines nine and ten when Naik discusses “this episode” with the pen running out of ink. It is a process that must be experienced over and over.
Analysis of Making a Poem
To write a poem the pen
snake uncoil. Words bare
In the first lines of ‘Making a Poem,’ the speaker begins at the first moment a writer encounters their paper and must begin making marks. This can be a very hard step to take and requires a commitment to the task that’s often difficult for writers of all experience levels. The poet wants to speak both on the physical process of writing and address something of the magical qualities inherent to poetry.
Through a metaphor, he compares the movement of the pen on the page to “a snake” that uncoils. It is a process, one that slides from beginning to end, making connections along the way. The fourth line, like most of the lines in ‘Making a Poem’ is enjambed. A reader has to move down to the fifth line in order to find out what comes after “Words bare”.
themselves. You come to know
rule. A Sage needs senses.
‘Making a Poem’ picks back up immediately in the fifth line with a simple conclusion to the phrase “Words bare” that was started in the fourth line. It turns out, very simply, that the words were baring “themselves”. It is not something a writer can force, they come when it’s time. As a poet, one comes to “know / what nakedness is or does,” or more simply, that the purity of words on the page can accomplish. As well as what it means to create them.
In the seventh line the poet references “Manaka.” He is considering the way that various forces work on a poet’s mind and therefore their ability to produce poetry. “A Sage,” he adds, “needs senses.” The poet is considering the “Sage,” a wise man, usually of historical or legendary sources. Even this person who in theory is knowledgeable in all things, needs “senses” in order to proceed, just like a poet.
In this episode the pen runs
out of ink, refill. The sound
A little light. A poem is made.
In the ninth line of ‘Making a Poem’ the speaker notes “this episode.” Its is an interesting moment as it alludes to the cyclical, process-based practice of writing. One has to deal with mundane things like the pen running out of ink. They happen again and again and the writer has to “refill”.
Just as he did in the first lines, Naik taps into the magic of writing. He is most interested in traditional writing with pen and paper. He uses his own senses, and asks the reader to use their’s as well, to hear and see the sound of the “Sheets” of paper “flap[ping]”. There is also the pen to admire as it runs on the paper. It is incredibly graceful, as if dancing.
In the last lines, the poet juxtaposes the “black ink” with the “little light”. Both of these elements are needed in or to make a poem. Then, very suddenly, the poem is made.