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HimachalThisWeek


Contemporary English Poetry In India

HTWProf N.K. Singh

Former Chairman International Airports Authority of India

We have been reading a lot of prose and all newspapers are overburdened with unpoetic writing. Poetry unlike prose is like a string of lyre that plays its resonant song uninfluenced by the mundane logic and dry as dust portrayal of daily events. A poet tends to create something that is either an imaginative mtif or re interpretation of the drab reality in innovative way. It was Fredrick Nietzsche who valued all arts and sciences and placed poetry on the top of it as it delves in creativity.

India after British occupation learnt their language and many Indians could achieve fame in a foreign language that soon became a favorite medium of writing in India too. Although many thought best writing is possible only in one’s native tongue and a lot of writing exists in Indian languages. Most of the scholars place Sanskrit and western nations Latin as the mother languages. Sanskrit poetry of Kalidas remained the forte of the country’s literary treasure and was favorably compared to Shakespeare in English. The language, however, faded due to invaders who used Persian and later Urdu as court languages.

Hindi or folk version of Brajbhasha, Awadhi or Bengali along with countless local dialects continued to flourish in the country. When it comes to lyrics and love poems there is unbeatable Ghalib, Mir and more recently Firaq, Faiz. and many contemporary Urdu poets. Nevertheless to gain international communication English remained essential. Take the example of Rabindranath Tagore who wrote originally in Bengali and later himself translated Gitanjali in English. It soon became hit and even Nobel Prize was awarded to him. This honour led to proliferation of English poetry writing.

Recently a book of Indian poets writing in English has been published by Author Press and is edited by Mandira Ghosh, Indian Poetry through the passage of time. It is a collection of 30 poets and selection covers diverse views and an array of writers who represent poets in different countries and regions in India. Mandira says ‘poets are visionaries. The anthology reveals mind and heart of 30 poets.’

H.K. Kaul is the President of Poetry Society (India) who is not only a poet but also an institutions builder. In Hind Sight he writes ‘Slowly taking the sheen away/ in my desperate desire to change/ From tainted environs/I put my best foot forward/ In those symmetric environs/Which had engulfed my hind sight.. J.P. Das a former Civil servant and known poet from Odisha being strange odour of earth and fields of his nativity into the poems when he says “From the air plane/ the flood ravaged countryside/ looks like a surreal painting/ to be in an ornate frame/ and hung on the walls/ of unrepentant souls.’’

Amrendra Khatua, a serving diplomat, is fondly sketching A Krisna Poem ‘’ Every finger will lift mountains/ Each kiss will produce music that will/ Enchant and detonate a flute’. Sujata Choudhary a civil servant paints a micro portrait of ‘Each moment /a moment of you/for ever in me’. Amitabh Mitra a doctor based in London visually paints the memories’ of Gwaliar ‘I have stalked a shadow ever since/ Stony forgotten windows/Gun embankments/Laughter at lone corners/Of hide and seek/ Again. Dr Amit Ranjan once a Fullbright Scholar brings an amusing story with alliteration ‘Susan Tells Me/ I don’t know what he looks like/ his name is peter/ but sweat Susan tells me/ he is a cheater’. Despite sound a nursery rhyme it is witty episode about a simple girl. The collection has many faces and diverse experiences. It is hoped readers will enjoy it.

 

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