Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Indian poetry in Mint Lounge

For a while now Mint Lounge, the Saturday newspaper for whom I work as a book critic, has been publishing, fairly regularly on its books pages, short poems by some of the best Indian poets at work today, written in a range of forms, from free verse to sonnets and ghazals. Sometimes the paper also publishes an excerpt from new collections or translations of classical literature. The idea is to take English poetry out of the exclusive province of literary and little magazines and out of tiny niches inside bookshops, and to show, by putting it out where a mass audience can find it over their morning coffee, that it may be read for aesthetic pleasure, may elicit a response on the level of both language and music, by just about anybody who can bring himself or herself to slow down and follow the beat of a poem.

Here is a selection of them. The links to the poets lead off to other websites on poetry, or the links to their books, and will allow you to form a small beginner's map of Indian poetry today. "The Herons Have Come" by the Sangam poet Orampokiyar, "New Delhi Love Song" by Michael Creighton, "Moult" by Gieve Patel, "Dogwalker" and "Intimations of Unreality from Recollections of Early Cricket" by Mukul Kesavan, "Not Those" by Ashok Vajpeyi in a translation by Sudeep Sen; "Daybreak" by Sridala Swami, "Identification Marks" by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih; "Ghost Sounds" by Aruni Kashyap, "Still" by Rohit Chopra, "Rome: winter" by Karthika Nair, "War Poetry" by Aseem Kaul, "Distant Gods" by Anjum Hasan, and lastly my own "If I Should Let Every Feeling".

And two old posts: "An Indian poetry special in The Literary Review" and "Tigers in the poetry of William Blake and Salabega".


Aditya Mani Jha said...

Thanks for a really diverse collection... Mukul Kesavan's poems were really good, and your own was delightfully old school, what with the enjambments... the section's title "free verse" seemed rather ironical after that :) However, Gieve Patel's "Moult" really got me thinking... and this comment started getting long and unwieldy, so I decided to write something concrete about it http://amj-litfreak.blogspot.com/2010/07/karnas-metamorphosis.html (You know I had a rather fierce internal debate before posting this link.. but the last time I made a somewhat long comment on one of your articles, you encouraged me to "develop it into something longer" )

Chandrahas said...

Aditya - I read the essay you've written on Gieve Patel's poem, and thought it a very acute meditation on the poem's themes and its engagement with a mythological subject (Indian mythology is one of my own weak points). I'm sure the poet will be extremely pleased to see it too. Indian literature has, without doubt, dozens of good writers (some of whom are scheduled on make an appearance on The Middle Stage in coming weeks), but what it really needs to take the next step forward is more readers on the same level of discernment and ambition as you. Very fine work.