Imagine a world where the hottest degree was an MPA, a Masters in Poetry Administration. Where a single poem could send global financial markets into a spin, where poets were the envy of all, and instead of shopping for material objects people ran out to buy poems to hang on the walls of their parlours. This is the world the 25-year-old Hindi poet Shubham Shree imagines in her poem ‘Poetry Management,’ for which she was awarded the prestigious Bharat Bhushan Agarwal Prize in August. It reads, in part:
Writing poetry is bogus!
Yeah, and useless!
Why didn’t I do some MBA-type thing?
It’d be a blast, man!
I’d write a poem; the SENSEX would fall
The poet Mr. So-and-So has written a poem against capitalism
The SENSEX has fallen
Chatter on the channel
This is an example of the fall of American imperialism
Will America be able to control poets inspired by Venezuela?
Assurance from the Finance Minister:
Have faith, small-time investors!
The announcement of the prize was greeted with howls of protest in the Hindi literary world, especially on social media. As the literary blogger Sushil Kumar put it (the translation is mine, as are all the translations in this piece):