New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) Today's youngsters are writing a lot of poetry to put their emotions into words unlike in the past when they liked to read and think, says iconic Indian storyteller of British origin Ruskin Bond.
"Children all want to burst into verse you might say. But they would write better poetry if they read more of it. I watch a lot of television; but I think more than television," Ruskin Bond told IANS in an interview.
Children nowadays have their heads in the laptop and "can't really do without it," the storyteller added, pointing to the changing reading habits of children.
Bond's new anthology of poetry, "Hip Hop Boys and Other Poems (Penguin-India)", which was released last week, resurrects the vintage spirit of the poet's lyrical snapshots from his home in Mussoorie and the neighbouring hills of Uttarakhand - for children.
The soul of the illustrated anthology, as the name hints, is about the "hip-hop children who dance to the rhythm of the mountain rain" and explore nature as a learning room.
"Love is a law unto itself/Love gained is often lost/And that is lost is found again", the 78-year-old Bond read from his anthology at the launch.
"This new anthology is based on poems that are suitable for children. Some of the poems are old, some are new and some have been specifically written for the collection (with the hip-hop dancing boys in mind)," he said.
Bond says "Nature has been his main inspiration - birds, animals and trees".
"Some of the poems are personal in nature, some are funny and some are sad," Bond said, describing the mood of his poems.
One of the poem reads thus:
If a tortoise could run
And losses be won/And bullies be buttered on toast;
If a song brought a shower/and a gun grew a flower,
This world would be nicer than most!
"But they're not really fables. Some of them might have a message, but they're more realistic poems that are based on my observations of nature," the writer-poet said.
The author of popular novels and anthologies of short stories like "The Room on the Roof", "Susanna's Seven Husbands" and "The Night Train at Deoli" says the volume of existing children's literature in India is big - and diverse.
"There is a great tradition of folk literature like the Panchatantra, Jataka Tales, etc. And recently, there's been quite a flowering of children's writers. I think there are more books for children because of the Internet. And there are many more books available now, both Indian and foreign, which wasn't the case 30 years ago," Bond said.
Age has not sapped the writer's creative energy. "People inspire me, nature inspires me. I'm not really that energetic any more. I sleep a lot. In fact, I'm very unenergetic most of the time. Maybe, that is why I am a writer and not a football player," he said.
Bond said "sometimes he has to push himself to do more work".
"But once I get going, I can write for long days at a stretch, have to push myself to do more work, but once I get going, I can write for long days at a stretch," Bond said.
Born in 1934 in Kasauli, the author was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi award for his collection, "Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra" in 1992 and with the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award, for his contribution to children's literature.
Bond, known for his supernatural stories, collaborated with filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj last year on the Priyanka Chopra-starrer "Saat Khoon Maaf" based on his novella "Susanne's Seven Husbands".
"All my life, I ve been writing for readers. Some of my books are suitable for adults, some for children. However, if I had to pick one to write for, without hesitation, I'd be a children's writer," Bond said.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)