The (Great) Indian Poetry Project is abuzz with the energy and enthusiasm of young blood. Our interns, Rhea, Shreya and Radhika, have been exploring Modern Indian Poetry with a fine eye and writing beautiful poems inspired by poets all over the world. Indian poets whose work they have resonated with are Tishani Doshi, Anjum Hasan, Nissim Ezekiel, Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Arundhathi Subramaniam, among others. Our interns are also helping build our poetry archive by writing profiles of Modern Indian poets and reviewing books that have touched them. Check out what they have been reading:
All good things take time. As many of you know, the (Great) Indian poetry project is very ambitious in scope, with a big online component. With hundreds of modern Indian poets come thousands of poems, and through those poems, a powerful, multi-hued history of Modern India and its people. We are painstakingly collecting all the information of these wonderful poets and promise you an online archive like no other. We thank all of you for your support and patience so far. From June onwards, we will be introducing profiles, reviews, and interviews.
Another component of The (Great) Indian Poetry Project is a specialized press that will introduce new poetic voices through the publication of their first books. With two other talented poets, Minal Hajratwala and Ellen Kombiyil, we have formed The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective and our first offering will be out later this summer.
We are also collaborating with another poet, on a project that would display poetry in public places, aptly called Poetry in Public India.
Stay tuned for all things poetry.
What happens when six talented writers journey 2000 Km across India by train? Check out THE BOOKWALLAH to find out. As part of a pre-event sponsored by The Bangalore Literary Festival, THE BOOKWALLAH brings to namma Bengaluru three Indian writers-poet Sudeep Sen, literary critic and novelist Chandrahas Choudhury and poet & writer Annie Zaidi, along with Australian novelists Michelle De Kretser, Kirsty Murray and journalist/media personality Benjamin Law.
These writers bring with them a unique travelling library, housed in handmade Kangaroo leather trunks that convert into bookcases, aiming to forge connections and glean/share stories.
The first day’s events, at the Bangalore International Centre, Domlur, were a marriage of poetry and prose, with Chandrahas Choudhury illustrating “Ten Ways the Novel Can Change Your Life” with beautiful excerpts from the novels of Chekov, Mo Yan, Orhan Pamuk and more. Next, poet Sudeep Sen, in his lilting voice, read from his newly launched…
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Yes Folks, it’s that time of year again. Literary festivals are popping up like wild mushrooms all over India and the next few months offer a cornucopia of events for the literary inclined. The Kovalam Literary Festival (KLF) kicked off the season last week, with an event in Delhi and a weekend litfest in Kovalam, Kerala. Poet, writer and Booker Nominee Jeet Thayil was the star attraction at the Delhi event, in conversation with Aleph Books founder and writer David Davidar. Close on the heels of KLF are Literature Live in Bombay (OCT 31-NOV 4), The Poetry with Prakriti Festival in Chennai (slated to be in early December), The Bangalore Literature Festival (DEC 7-9), The Goa Arts and Literature festival (DEC 13-17), Mumbai Fully Booked, a Times of India initiative (slated for December), The Hyderabad Literary Festival (JAN 18-20, 2013) and the grandest of them all, The Jaipur Literature Festival (JAN 24-28, 2013). Those who can’t make it for any of the above or who haven’t quite got their fill, can get a taste of more literary action at Mumbai’s most popular arts event, The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (FEB 2-10, 2012).
Stay tuned to TGIPP regarding poetry related updates for these festivals.
Sudeep Sen, poet and editor of the Harper Collins Book of English Poetry by Indians, has been an ardent promoter of the work coming out of the Indian subcontinent. He’s been closely involved in the realization of other anthologies in the past, viz., World Literature Today Writing from Modern India (2010), The Literary Review Indian Poetry (2009) and Midnight’s Grandchildren: Post-Independence English Poetry from India (2004). His own poems have appeared in several Indian as well as international publications. His work has also been widely translated in several languages. A Pushcart Prize nominee for his work in Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems by HarperCollins, he is also on the editorial boards of various renowned journals and magazines.
Speaking to mainstream daily, The Times of India, Sudeep Sen shared:
‘The point and power of poetry is absolute. It is urgent, inescapable and transcendental. Beautiful writing through pretty phraseology is only a very small fraction of the entire art form. There is much more beyond this narrow notion of aesthetics. Unlike prose, which tends largely to be prosaic, poetry is something we humans resort to in our most intimate and precious moments — birth, death, love, rejection, grief, happiness, prayer and so on’.
The interview makes for a fine read and is a strong representation for the quality of English poetry coming out of India. Read more here.
Mark your calendars for Saturday, 29th September 2012. The global 100 Thousand Poets for Change initiative has a local chapter in Bangalore. Come over to Atta Galatta in Koramangala and enjoy poetry readings by the city’s most active poets. If you like poetry and have a heart for social causes, you are welcome to join us even if you may only be passing through Bangalore. Like our Facebook page for all the details of this event or note the updates here.
“Art presents the opportunity to influence change in the global social, environmental and political landscape. Poetry, very specifically, can gather people together for issues affecting the world. As a genre it forms an ideal creative outlet while allowing room for expression without the limits of overly rigid rules.”
For Mehrotra and some of his contemporaries, the spatial perspective on modernity and the appetite for moving sideways explains much—for instance, why Kolatkar could choose to speak in Williams’ diction in Jejuri; why Ramanujan could reach for Marianne Moore when translating from the ancient Tamil; why Mehrotra, as both a poet and translator, could fashion affinities with the Surrealists, with Pound (in his translations of Prakrit love poetry), and with the idiom of the American comic book (the recent Kabir translations). In his penchant for making the canonical uncanonical, in his inversions of linear progression, and in his assumption that literature is a space rather than an inheritance, Mehrotra is akin to Borges. “A borrowed voice sets the true one/free,”
A long essay by Amit Chaudhuri, in the September issue of The Caravan, called The Sideways Movement, addresses and traces the issues of an indigenous tradition of Indian English writing, tailoring the Emperor’s clothes, so to speak, to suit one’s purpose. Chaudhuri shares how an essay written twenty years ago, by poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, The Emperor Has No Clothes, created a commotion by accusing most Indian English writers of the time, of adopting English and its traditions, without any innovations or customizations. In that infamous essay, Mehrotra made statements such as:
(Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” Chandrabhaga, #7, 1982.)
Barring a few, most Indian English writers acquire the language they write in and seldom lick it off their mothers’ teats. …. This whole question of multilingualism should be looked at less jingoistically if it is to have any meaning, as I think it does.
Mehrotra was brave, in calling a spade a spade, urging writers at that time to take the medium of English and make it their own.
Chaudhuri goes on to examine the implications of Mehrotra’s essay, which was re-released as part of a collection, in 2011, called Partial Recall. Looking to other poets such as A.K. Ramanujan, Arun Kolatkar, Nissim Ezekiel, and R. Parthasarathy, Chaudhuri pieces together a trajectory of modern Indian poetry which is multi-layered in its influences and varied in their stance of what constitutes ‘Indian.’
Set aside time and a scholarly bent of mind to get through this essay;)
Folks in Bangalore,
Mark your calendars for SEPTEMBER 29, for an evening of poetry, music and awareness. I am so very excited to be involved in this event. 100 Thousand Poets for Change (www.100tpc.org) is spearheaded by an American poet, Michael Rothenberg, to bring writers, musicians and artists together, all on one day, in different parts of the world, to raise awareness on issues that affect our society and greater world. To learn more about the Bangalore event, visit the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/100TPCBangalore
I have always been a believer in the power of words to create/promote social change. Mahatma Gandhi, through words and action, was able to arouse a whole nation to fight for their freedom. Martin Luther King through his famous speech, I have a Dream, was able to inspire African Americans to fight for their civil rights. And singers like John Lennon, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, through their…
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The much anticipated HarperCollins Book of English Poetry, edited by Indian poet Sudeep Sen, is finally available at bookstores! Published by HarperCollins India, this anthology showcases the work of poets from India and the Indian diaspora born after 1950. What makes this anthology even more unique is that ninety percent of the poems are original and have not been published elsewhere. Here’s a video review of the anthology by Mint Lounge’s Supriya Nair and here’s a poem by Sudeep Sen, which is also included in the anthology. Enjoy!
India’s diplomats seem to be wielding the pen for more poetic causes. Amarendra Khatua, India’s newly appointed ambassador to Argentina, adds another book of poems, Love Abracadabra, to the list of Indian diplomats who are writing and publishing books. Khatua, who has bee promoting poetry from his native state Odisha, for more than forty years, has a long list of publications: 14 in Odiya, two in Hindi, one in Telugu and three in English. Khatua shares the title of Indian diplomat/poet with ambassador to the U.S. Nirupama Rao and emerging poet Abhay Kumar, First Secretary, Embassy of India, Kathmandu, who have both published books of poems inspired by their travels outside of India.
Diplomats writing poetry is certainly not a new trend, with Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), the nobel prize winning poet from Chile, serving as a diplomat for much of his adult life. Neruda’s words reverberate around the world, even today, with its explosive metaphors and honest exploration of one’s relationship with the greater world.
Let’s hope India’s diplomat-poets can create the same effect.