H. Masud Taj, oral poet, calligrapher and architect made a rousing presentation of his work at the Sir JJ College of Architecture on 30th August 2013.
Invited by his former colleagues and friends in architecture and academics, he was of course, new to the large student body present for the occasion, where he held their rapt attention with his poetry, his anecdotes about architecture and practice, and a short demonstration of calligraphy. His fond memories of the late architect Nari Gandhi (a former alumnus and who had worked with Frank Lloyd Wright) and his organically conceived buildings were of particular interest. Taj has also written a long poem on Gandhi’s architecture that has been published in Bombay a few years ago (in his singular calligraphy) in a book of photographs.
Unusually, he began by making his audience ask questions first, as he felt that no further questions need be asked after his poetry was done. This ensured both an opening out of issues to discuss, particularly on the forms of poetry and the forms of architecture. The audience got to know him before his poems and the poems themselves were woven in smoothly, punctuating questions and opinions.
Taj particularly read poems from his recently published book ‘Alphabestiary’ (with exegesis by Bruce Mayer). Each letter of the alphabet has a poem, and the menagerie as a whole has creatures known and lesser known, from dragons to fireflies, from ants to xolos, but in his word-craft, Taj allows us to see each animal anew thorough poems that, in his own words ‘relentlessly fabricate mind’. In performance, however Taj transforms an audience space into ecology of images. In the college auditorium too, he held his audience spell bound for more than an hour, reciting old and new poems, that sprang out of his head like ‘ a conference of eyes/ I hold too many points of view.’
We remembered his presence in the academic and poetry circles in Bombay almost twenty years ago. His influence still resonates, our loss, in a sense is Canada’s gain.
-Prof. Mustansir Dalvi
Architect-poet-calligrapher H. Masud Taj featured at The International Festival of Authors, Toronto. His work has appeared in international anthologies; archived in the Special Poetry Collection of Carleton University and being installed in the new Canadian Consulate in India.
Taj's recent collection Alphabestiary (exegesis by Bruce Meyer) - a collection of poetry and prose, celebrates the international language of fauna.