Indian Poet Invited to Deliver Keynote at Turkish Organization “Why Poetry Matters.”


By Kuaybe Basturk

AUSTIN: Raindrop Women’s Association organized the last Coffee Night of the year this past weekend on December 7, with a title of “Why Poetry Matters?  It was such a success! Described as soulful and profound the speech left a deep mark on the audience.

Usha Akella with her daughter Anannya at the book signing in Austin

Usha Akella with her daughter Anannya at the book signing in Austin

The keynote speaker of the night was Usha Akella, an Indian poet living in America for many years. She made an inspiring speech which began with exploring the divine heartbeat in everything and unity of the soul. She also shared some of her poems from her upcoming book “Rosary of Latitudes.” The night began with a delicious dinner which was cooked by Turkish ladies volunteering for Raindrop. Then, it was time for a wonderful speech in which Usha described poetry as “the language of the soul waiting to be heard”  She mentioned Rumi  and she said: “We listen, for his voice tells us what we want to hear most—that Life is Love and Oneness, laws as real as gravity. If harmony is the flour of Rumi’s poetry, love is the yeast.”


Usha Akella standing with Kuaybe Baştürk, the co-host of the event

She continued her speech by talking about her poetry life. “Long before I understood this consciously Poetry marked me as hers. I wrote poetry till the age of twenty-seven in the absence of mentors, resources, creative writing programs, readings or journals. During those years, writing was a substitute for breathing; as a chronic asthmatic, on many days my bed was my boat, the window my mast and my imagination was the wind that set me sailing. The Sufis say that on the inhalation the universe condenses as the Self; and on the exhalation, the Self expands into the universe. When I write, there is the bliss of perfect aloneness, the external disappears- this is joy; and when the poem is written it completes itself in the heart of the reader- this is harmony. The Breath, quite simply is an inextricable factor in the making of poetry, sharply so for me. Poetry is the ‘word’ that is completed between two souls, more so than any other literary form. Its very essence requires two becoming one. Consider, ‘Metaphor,’ the soul of poetry. The way it yokes disparate objects by attesting similarities not thought of before. It is the eye of the Poet that sees the hidden oneness in all things.”

She shared her observation that poets tend to fall into three categories, seers, seekers and stirrers.. “Every poet, is first a seeker of some sort- his own self, a better world or the divine. “ “The stirrers use poetry as the vehicle for social and political activism. These poets are the dreamers who dream for all of us and cannot be content with the world as it is.”

She concluded her speech by answering the question which was the title of the night “Why poetry matters?”

Poetry matters because the soul matters and in the end triumphs. I’ve come to believe in the quiet mission of poetry:

Reflecting the human heart, it unites us in our universality.

Aspiring for the divine, it shows us what is noblest in our souls. 

Revealing where change is needed, it calls for our compassion. 

Poetry is alchemy, humanizing and transformative. 

Poetry will matter,

As long as there is one last living heart on the planet that knows it “is.” 

As long as the human race has humanity left in it. 

As long as we dare to be vulnerable and alive, Poetry will be the medium to express it.”

After Usha Akella was given her gift by RAWA branch representative, Kuaybe Basturk, writer/editor, made a short presentation with some lines and short parts from different poems to answer “Why poetry matters?” She said “Poetry matters because it touches somewhere in our hearts which we are not even aware of it most of the time!”  And red the lines she selected from different poets to help the audience feel that “touch”.

The night ended with a poetry game creatively designed by Kuaybe Basturk and a book signing beautifully arranged and assisted by Akella’s young daughter. Guests wrote their memories in a guest book. What left behind was warm memories on a cold December night!!