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Jun 30, 2015

Contemporary Indian English Poetry: Latest Entries

Contemporary Indian English Poetry: Latest Entries
                                                                             ---Dr.Bijay Kant Dubey

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
 Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us-if at all-not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
        ----T.S.Eliot in The Hollow Men

To discuss and deliberate upon contemporary Indian English poetry is not to leave the historical past and legacy, the shaky beginnings of it when the genre made a way for itself in the first quarter of the nineteenth century with the unknown writers and authors trying to understand India or Indian culture and society or the Indians deriving  from cross-cultural syndromes in the spurt of the moments, the wisps and whiffs of British education. To talk to about Indian English poetry is not to come to it directly, as it had not been so, as we are calling it.  Perhaps Indian English poetry is a misnomer to denote it as it connotates not properly. Where’s English, whose English, is the question in askance to be replied. Be sure of it that Indian English poetry had not been Indian, but Indology, Oriental Studies, Asiatic researches, India studies and translations studies. To talk about it is to discuss the presidencies of Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi and Madras and to delve into British administration in India, the opening  of  schools and colleges and hospitals, the courts and other office complexes.

India had not been so, but regressed into darkness, medievalism, as for the years of misrule , loot and plunder of it but the foreigners who kept marauding the spirit of it  did not spare it with their barbaric, blood-thirsty caravans and hordes. The purdah system finished it all what good it was in society and the pushed womankind wept at a corner, hiding the face. Taxshila, Nalalnda, Vikramshila, Odantapuri lay in ruins and we could not write the history of our art and culture and historiography. There was none to save her; feel the emotions  and the Sati system, child marriage, patriarchal preference, all those wreaked havoc which but the British took notice of and tried to bail out of the rampant crisis. A society segregated by caste, class and sect got united  under the British education and the feeling of nationalism dawned upon to add to the fervour. New discoveries and inventions bedazzled them. The railways, the tram, the post-office, the telegraph, the motor car, the watch and all these added to to the melody of life in re-fashioning them. The craze for English education grew it together with the development of the vernaculars and modern Indian languages. The connectivity in terms of dams, bridges, roadways, footbridges, connect ways, cross-overs and fly-overs gave a new dimension to impregnable India of varied and vast landscapes, wooded and hilly.

People describe the history, origin, growth and development of Indian English poetry in a different way, but the things are not so, as because Oriental studies, Indology and Asiatic researches did it more; the translation and rendering of the Sanskrit texts gave a wider scope to the understanding of the East. The West took to notice and started attaching to Indian scriptures and ancient lore rather than missionary zeal shown for expansion. The schools were opened which a few could avail of. Rammohun, Vidyasagar, Ranande, Dayanand and others added to the dimension with their new thinking and idea; the spectrum of vision.

In the midst of all that, against such a background, the bell tolled in India, Derozio learnt and strove to write in English, one of a mixed descent, from the Indo-Portuguese father and the English mother. The things seen by the riverside on the banks of the Ganges at Bhagalpore would have cast an impact on the young and reasonable mind of the poet  and he envisaged all through The Fakir of Jungheera. Michael Madhusudan Dutt went after them, but drew back after taking the native stock in confidence, coming to terms to realization that he must continue in the mother tongue, but his attempts no less than bearing fruits in the writing of The Captive Ladie and other sonnets. His love of Europe and Europeanization took him to foreign and he entered into marriage alliances with foreigners, ate, drank and dressed like the sahibs, but could not feel satisfied. Money-laundering, divorces and other setbacks jolted him for a return. Toru and Kashiprasad and thereafter Manmohan trekked along the unchartered course of it. Sarojini sang like a cuckoo, but the voice stopped it after switching to the politician’s chair. We do not know it if poetry was a mode just to come into power. A Christian convert Toru could find solace finally in the mythical characters of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Bengali culture adapted to irony, doublespeak, artificiality and imitation; theatrical and histrionic attitude can be felt through apart from the Vaishanvite and coastal influences. Something of the opera, of the theatre, of the Krishnalila remained as a residue to be seen all through linguistically.

Even today we speak of Aurobindo’s Savitri and other poems, analyse and interpret them in our courses of studies where it is classified as Indian English poetry portion or special paper containing it, but forget to prescribe and include in K.D.Sethna. There must be something on the Aurobindonian School of Poetry Writing which may be designated as The Pondicherry School too. Even on the moderns the shadows of the pre-1947 and the Pondicherry school poets hang over them whether we accept it or not. Tagore’s influence too can be felt. The visits of the foreigners, airports, exchange of fellowships and company jobs too have given a boost up to it. Had Gandhi, Vivekananda and others not popularized Indian culture, could they have been? Jones, Goethe, Winternitz, Keith, Grierson, Maxmuller, Deussen, Sopenhauer, Thoreau, Emerson and others have themselves given to it and we cannot think of Indian poetry in absence of them. Still now Jayanta Mahapatra’s Relationship is full of echoes from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

Contemporary Indian poetry in English does not mean it that Jayanta , Daruwalla, are not, as because they too are still writing and contributing to. The word, contemporary  is  a vague term, never ending, ever new. Actually there are three types of poets and poetesses into the realm of Indian English poetry. One is the group propped by P.Lal and his Writers Workshop, Calcutta, another is that of the media-limelight and the Sahitya Akademi winners and the Padma Shris or something like that, another of the self-published . But this needs to be noted in that P.Lal too was a self-published poet. So was Aurobindo as his books arrived from Pondicherry Ashrama. P.Lal too flourished in the negation of the Maharshi, but was not so much successful, as he seemed to be closer to metaphysics.

The post-1947 period writers are actually not the things of concern here as what they had to get have got.  The established writers of today used to send their poems to the editor, C.R.Mandy as for publication in the Illustrated Weekly of India, but the editor had not been totally satisfied with the quality of the verses written by the Indians. Even K.R.S.Iyengar had been disillusioned with as for chartering the course of it and the goals to achieve. Today we call them great. Most of the poets and poetesses whom we see them today are the Writers Workshop, Calcutta products; really a factory of creative writers. Just after seeing the manuscripts of Gieve Patel and Kolatkar, naik said a lot about them in his critical studies. The Bombayans hung they heavy on the critical studies of Naik and the Calcuttans on P.Lal. Nissim too supported it while the rest of India remained cut off from their circle of study so elaborately.

To  think of poetry in the aftermath of Nissim, Lal, Kamala, Daruwalla, Jayanta, Gieve, Arun and so on is definitely a tedious task to be dispensed with as because sidelining them we cannot think of Indian poetry in English and this has become indispensable. But has Indian poetry in English stopped after them; the publication of the slick volume of the ten poets by R.Partharsarthy? Will there be no poets after Nissim and Kamala? One thing  also disturbs us is this that many like to call themselves as Kamalas. What others should have, but instead of they themselves are calling.

Nissim prides over for being a convent-educated boy and this is for he laughs at the patriot’s English, the freedom fighter speaking in, yea, Bapu’s khadi-wearing blunt or dedicated student some of which have just drawn the pension falsely. Some of those jailed were just small boys then without any idea of the freedom movement. The geography department professor too speaks in errantly using broken English. But there is nothing as that can be said of Indian thought, culture and tradition in Nissim. Kamala too is obsessed with sexuality and is mad after sex. She is not a Radha, but a false Radha.

What it pains us most is this, while writing critical papers, I.K.Sharma, D.C.Chambial, T.V.Reddy, P.C.Katoch, R.K.Singh, they even like to say about themselves which is but a trend of ours and of which none is an exception though we know it man is born selfish by nature cannot be contradicted. Even M.K.Naik has talked about his poetry in his latest critical study as R.Parhthasarathy has in the anothology.

A.C. Sahay, Narenderpal Singh, Krishna Srinivas, V.S.Skand Prasad, Kulwant Singh Gill, Hazara Singh, Simanchal Patnaik, Har Prasad Sharma, Maha Nand Sharma, Pronab Kumar Majumder, Manas Bakshi,Ravi Nandan Sinha, O.N.Gupta, R.R.Menon, I.K.Sharma, Niranjan Mishra, D.H.Kabadi, Baldev Mirza, I.H.Rizvi, Madan Lal Kaul, R.V.Smith, Shiela Gujral, S.C.Dwivedi, Amar Nath Dwivedi, T.V.reddy, R.K.Singh, I.K.Sharma, H.S.Bhatia, Romen Basu, P.C.Katoch, Vijay Vishal, Kedar Nath Sharma, D.C.Chambial, Anil K.Sharma, I.H.Rizvi, Charu Sheel Singh, Syed Ameeruddin,  Stephen Gill, etc. are the poets of the new age and the new times which one may confront and contradict too, but the thing is not that the major poets have been left behind and the journal poets have been highlighted. This is just to focus upon the current scene which may be helpful from the developmental point of view.

What is more important to be noted is this that Indian English poetry is a study in slender volumes and minor poets. The authority is unavailable and we judge it on the basis of Sahitya Akademi and Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan awards given to the writers, how can it be? It is such a realm where the poet too is a no-man and the critic too a no-man and the literature an exchange between the two no-men. Even the Sahitya Akademi awards given to Indian English poets from 1981, be that . Generally, the small poets and poetesses turned to the editing of literary journals like to indulge in muttual admiration and self-praise which is but harmful to any creative literature and this can be marked today. For the Career Advancement Scheme, the journals can be upgraded by asking  them to be indexed, referred and refereed and peer-reviewed. The research scholars and the teachers are equally after the Academic Performance Index score, calculating in terms of points, a business world map to be struck, a promotion to be enjoyed. Numbers have to be in the quantitative, not the qualitative to make a way for. The sly will run so as usual, just  beyond the catch of law as for the lapses of it.

R.R.Menon, K.V.Murti, O.P.Bhatnagar, I.K.Sharma, are the poets who appear on the sidelines of critical papers, but have evolved in due course of time. I.K.Sharma has promoted himself too in the exchange journals while the others have not been attended so much.

R.R.Menon is quantitatively as well as qualitatively strong enough. Ode to Parted Love and Other Poems (1958), Dasavatara and Other Poems (1967), Seventy Seven (1973), Straws in the Wind (1973), Shadows in the Sun (1976), Grass in the Garden (1978), Heart on a Shoe-String (1978), Pebbles on the Shore (1980), Poems (1985), Sounds of Silence (1993), etc. are the books of his poems. Most of the poetry-volumes of R.R.Menon have arrived from Writers Workshop, Calcutta, but fame did not go in his favour well.

Just a poem named Radha And Krishna will suffice to do it:
The proclamation of your intense love
keeps me prisoner. Like Penelope I weave
my dark tensions in the eye of light, and wait.
You, an unfettered swinger ever on your toes,
live on sixteen hundred and eight hopes your toes,
among many more uncounted, all led astray
by lilting tunes you turn your flute to play.

Anger makes you crimson and the rose
is shame-struck. What do you really propose?
Mind it is that matters, no matter what the mind
can’t see. Every moment sees us both combined.
I am that universal feeling set afloat
in hearts so pure like yours as they row the boat
alone. Music moves them, and the wave image
of seas that envelope endures. Only in its umbrage
they conjure up some passing selfish thought.

The pin-holes make from a monochromatic source
on wave-lengths of love images of immense force.
(Straws in the Wind, R.R.Menon, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1973, p.12)  

Om Prakash Bhatnagar has Thought Poems, 1976, Feeling Fossils, 1977, Angels of Retreat, 1979, Oneiric Visions, 1980, Shadows In Floodlights, 1984, The Audible Landscape, 1993 and Cooling Flames of Darkness, 2001 to embolden his stance as a poet.

I.K.Sharma had not been so, but has come of age and has evolved. His progress had been very slow, moving at  a snail’s pace he has reached the height. To talk about him is to describe irony, humour and satire. The Shifting Sand-dunes, 1976, The Native Embers, 1986, Dharamsala And Other Poems, 1993, Camel, Cockroach, and Captains, 1998, etc. are his thinner collections of poems.

H.S.Bhatia has more than three collections of poems, The Necklace Wild, The Burning Petals and The Music Comes. He is rooted into the soil; society and its problems are the things of his poetry. He is earthly and direct to the grassroots level. Social consciousness, reality and concern are the things of his poetry.

K.V.S.Murti who had been from Vishakhapatnam was concerned with wit, metaphysics, logic and fact . Something as syllogism destroys the beauty of his poetry. Allegory of Eternity (1975), Triple-Light (1975), Sparks of the Absolute (1976), Spectrum (1976), Symphony of Discords (1977), Araku (1982) and others of his can be mentioned in this context.

Dwarakanath H.Kabadi is without any doubt a major poet whose flickers flick it all with its dazzle and glow, patterned like the haiku, but without the punctuation marks inserted in, which is but his major contribution to Indian poetry. A Kannada-speaking auditor by profession, he has done marvels which the words fail to put in. He is a compendium of thought, idea, image and reflection; a store-house of information.  

Let us see a few from Kabadi’s book of flickers:

a wandering gypsy girl
gathering butterflies
for her memory garden 
(Rye On The Ravines, Poets International Organisation, Bangalore, 1985, p.107)

her dimples
so cute and  deep
ripples in a lotus pond (Ibid, p. 115)

that typist clattering
on thought board
mistakes mistakes and mistakes (Ibid, p.137)

Maha Nand Sharma who used to teach at Meerut University has given to us The Pageant of Seasons (1956), Flowers and Buds (1984), A Rudraksha Rosary & Other Poems (1987), Scattered Leaves (1991), A Spiritual Warrior (1991), Divine Glimpses (1996), Gushing Streams (1996) and Flowering of a Lotus (1998), Autumn Strains (2004). The poet fails to strike through his smaller poems, but delves deep in the poems of the epical format dealing with Indian thought, mythology and our ancient lore.

Pronab Kumar Majumder, a bureaucrat writing poems in English and Bengali,has tried his hands  at all sorts of writing, ranging from poems, short stories, short novels to one act plays. This he has accomplished through editing his journal, Bridge-in-Making, published from Calcutta and the publications brought out. Pronab’s poetry is a time bomb dropped, heat and dust ruffling it all, storms gathering and crows crying, everything but full of hullabaloo and pandemonium. Kalpurusha is his protagonist, the Age Persona, the Time Keeper. Time Mechanical and Time Cosmic come under the purview of his delineation very often and he derives from to dwell far. The wrist watch, the tower clock and the alarm, the daybreak, the midnight and the twilight too supplies the poetic notes and hints to him symbolically.

Dialogue With Time, Replies of Time, Life And Eternity, In The Ruins of Time, Creating Killing Cosmic Time, Where Time Is Dead, OnTime UnTime, Time Never Returns to Console and Other Poems, Sparkles of Time, My India: Through The Corridor of Time, Where I Is A Noun, Faces of Love, Passage to Peace, Random Poetry, Sundown Poetry & Other Poems, Haiku Fair, Dialogue with Rimi, Poetry House, Adieu: Dear Rimi, etc. are the collections of poems. Pronab has a great love for Rimi working as a home keeper, a saleswoman or a beautician; an air hostess, a media anchor or a manager, but speaks she very sweetly. Rimi is his heartbeat and pulsation of busy, fast and active life. Wearing the goggles, smiles she sweetly at the plaza while taking pizzas. At the bus terminus and the airport, she can seen waiting for to catch the bus or to take the fight. Boarding the train goes she to attend her office duty and work, returns back to in the evening to attend to her family work and this is none but the guts of Rimi to adorn life in such a way. Poetry House too tells of the poetry stock and store of Pronab, we mean the book depot of his. Even at the haiku fair, not in Japan, but in India, he makes his presence felt and registered. Rimi: An Endless Poetry, Poetry: Contemporary And Classical are the latest entries. The pace of life; the rhythm of speech at least can be felt in modern life and its expression. The poet searches for the sun dial of William Hazlitt.

I.H.Rizvi appears on the scene with Falling Petals (1975), Unfading Blooms (1984), Thirsty Pebbles (1986), Wandering Fragrance (1989), Wounded Roses Sing (1993), Snowflakes of Dreams (1996), Gathering Broken Glasses (1997), Clouds In Cages (1999), Fettered Birds (2002), Dripping Wounds (2004), Love Never Dies (2005), Haiku & Other Poems (2005), The Valley Still Blossoms (2007), Bleeding Flowers (2009) and others added to from time to time. Rizvi’s romanticism can be viewed in his use and application of scenic and thematic penetration. He is a poet of love and its lyricism, fancy and imagination.

Though a poet of the romantic trend and tenor, T.V.Reddy is closer to the latter-day romantic poetry and the Victorian mode of reflection and brooding. Something of Cowper and Goldsmith is in him and these can be marked in the dictum, man made the town, God made the country and the portrayal of the village master. A poet of pensive memories, broken rhythms, melting melodies, fleeting bubbles and raining grief, he is sad, gloomy, forlorn and dejected describing the things under the fall of the twilight. Heart-broken and love-lorn, he takes to the course of his own as per his melody’s sake.

Kulwant Singh Gill is definitely a master poet of symbolism and the symbolical use which one can feel it while perusing his poetry volumes. A poet of the Punjab, and that too Ludhiana, he tells of his native land, the problems of the country, love and terrorism in a free-flowing language. The verve and worth of his excellence can be felt only after reading his narrative poems, often telling  some muted in stories with flow and ease. Kulwant Singh Gill’s  Scattered Beads, 1989, Beyond the Spectrum, 1990, Passionate Pilgrim, 1994, Thus Spake Punjab, 1999, Saint Soldier Supreme:  Guru Gobind Singh, 1999  and others are enough to tell of his trials with poetry.

Simanchal Patnaik, a Senior Subordinate Judge, who had been from Berhampur, Orissa excelled in writing the verses for the occasions. Mainly events, happenings and news items formed the crux and base for his poetry. A few of his solid texts are voluminous and bulky enough. Delightful World of Poems (1982), Bedroom Poems (1986),  Sonnets & Other Poems (1989), Poetry in Tranquillity (1991), Poetry of Himalayan Wisdom (1995), Queen of English Poetry (1999), Gems of English Poetry (2003), etc. can be counted. To him, poetry is but a book of general knowledge and the poet a reader of it. A newspaper reader, he is a converter of news items.

Sarbeswar Samal who used to teach at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack is also a poet of note and distinction. My India And Universe, Blossoms of Heart, Where Shall We Turn? and others as his volumes of poesy tell of love, beauty, patriotism, pilgrimage and temple towns.

Narenderpal Singh who got the Sahitya Akademi award for his Punjabi novel Ba Mulahaza Hoshiar in 1976 has also brought out a few collections of poems in English from Writers Workshop, Calcutta. Narenderpal is very funny and loveful. He can lure and tempt and can crack jokes upon. Charitable blood-donors are one such example while the other of the pundit sprinkling the Ganga water for the cure of a boy in high fever.

Romen Basu, a writer of novels and short stories, is a UNO official so it is  quite natural that the things of elsewhere, the round the globe will make inroads into the thematics of his poetry, tending to us beautifully. Romen’s poems remain dotted with the description of different cultures, climes and etiquettes, variegated and varied in tone and tenor. Gliding on Silent Waters, The Unquiet Waves, The Surrendered Self, Wings at a Distance, Committed Footprints, are the books of his poems to consolidate his position as a verse writer, but the critics had not been kind enough to him .

Kedar Nath Sharma with Song of Life, 1989, The Whiff, 1991, Our Ancient Orchard, 2001, Raceme, 2003, Paradise Returned & Other Poems, 2014 and others has come a long way to carve a niche for himself in the domain of Indian poetry in English. Sometimes his language turns turtle.  A poet from green and mountainous Himachal, he sings of the hills, dales, vales and the wilds, mystical and shadowy, lurking in beautifully.

Onkar Nath Gupta’s Lilacs in Lab appeared in 2001, Mosaic of Love And Legends in 2005, Prism of Poetry in 2011, Spilled Feelings in 2014 and others tell of his fine mixing of satire with mythology. He is down to realities and can regale well. Onkar Nath Gupta has several collections of poems to recreate out of irony, humour and satire. Society is the field of his attraction and delineation.

Vijay Vishal’s Speechless Messages appeared in 1992 and Parting Wish too from Writers Workshop, Calcutta in 2001. The poet means to say that the poems may be speechless messages, transmuted, but expressive enough to hint to. Why does modern man love cacti so much, why does he like to exchange it now-a-days? What it ails our society comes under his purview of description. The death of wife comes to him as a shock and he strikes down with Parting Wish in the Elizabethan style of writing, a tribute to the dead and departed soul.

Stephen Gill as an Indo-Canadian has The Dove of Peace, The Flowers of Thirst, Songs For Harmony, Divergent Shades and others to talk of peace, humanism, love and friendship. Sometimes it appears that he sheds crocodile’s tears and the peace he talks of is impossible which the warring nations and races will not take to understanding.

P.K.Joy too has The Final Goal, For A More Beautiful World, Forced Smiles and others as his volumes of verse to make us burst into a laughter. Bubbling humour draws our attention. There is something of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s  Art of Living in him, not sure of whether he has or not, but the elements seem to be soothing the tensions of life, its unnecessary and unwanted cares and anxieties.

P.C.Katoch as a poet goes after Matthew  Arnold, T.S.Eliot and the other moderns. Mainly narratives form the base of his poetry. The loss of value and tradition can be felt in his poetry. Arnold’s poetry as the criticism of life  and Eliot’s emphasis on tradition and individual talent form the crux of Katoch and his poetry. He searches for meaning in life and it is really inspirational to go through his literary ventures, endeavours put down for analysis.

Amarendra Kumar who hails from Hajipur, Bihar is a poet who often likes to draw from the modern masters of British poetry. Phonetics is his love, but it does not show any sign elsewhere in his poetry. The Real Episode (1981), Sound and Shell (1986), Stage Dilemma (1988), Song/Anti-Song (1996) and others are the books of poems.

Baldev Mirza who used to edit Skylark from Aligarh was very artistic and full of imagination. Buddha had been the love of his which he turned into his poetic theme too. Shall I speak out, Words on Fire, Buddha My Love, Across the falling snow, When the stars ache, Theatre of Silence and others are the slim volumes of his  poesy.

Vatsyayana’s Kamsuttras are the source of inspiration for R.K.Singh and he derives from Khajuraho, Konark and others. The sculptures in love and erotica are the things of the poet which he loves so much as did love Kamala and D.H.Lawrence. R.K.Singh is  spiritually sick and his is a story in paradise lost, a study in temptation, the fall of man resulting in the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden. Rajneesh, Freud and Lawrence seem to be his mentors. Sambhoga to samadhi is the substance of his poetry. But Singh should know it that sexual bliss cannot give permanent joys.   

Syed Ameeruddin’s Visions of Deliverance and Visioned Summits tell of the poetry of love and its vision. The aesthetic and metaphysical sides of love are there in his poetry.

Hazara Singh as a poet is very, very inspirational and hale and hearty enough to tell about life techniques, healthy living and how to keep fit. Generally, freedom fighters, patriots, martyrs and nationalists form the company of his to partake his experiences of life. The struggle for freedom, India’s liberation from the shackles of slavery and the ruthless Tommy is the thing of his reminiscence and recreation. But the historical point is not in him, just the Baconian and Russellean epigram and wisdom take the space of his poetry.

Madan Lal Kaul as a poet is of the godmen and religious verses as those by Rossetti and Herbert, Newman and Hopkins are. A disciple of the Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, he is a poet of spiritual progression of soul and the divine journey of life.

D.C.Chambial who has Broken Images, The Cargoes of Bleeding Hearts & Other Poems, Perceptions, A Cobweb of Words, Gyrating Hawks & Sinking Roads is societal, romantic, caustic, romantic and artistic. Words convey, trap and glisten as gossamers; cobwebs in the sun with the dews hanging onto. The forays into the realms and domains of consciousness are penetrating no doubt and he here he is very adept in handling them.

Manas Bakshi imprints and impresses with his shorter, but long-lasting poems, just as the blocks of thinking. He says little and it says more is the thing to be felt with regard to Manas and his poetry. Perhaps some artist’s vision is in him; that of a dreamer who keeps dreaming. How the poetic brush and paints of his! Really, the golden boy of contemporary poetry! Long Awaited, In The Age of Living Death, The Welkin is Blue Yet in agony, Of Dreams And Death, From Adam To Myself, Not Because I Live Today, Man of The Seventh Hour, The Midnight Star, Between Flower And Flame, etc. as his representative works can show them the best.  

V.S.Skand Prasad used to edit Samvedana from Mangalore. R.V.Smith who had on the Indian Express too is a poet apart from writing a book on Delhi. The list of the practitioners will not exhaust which is but our history and tradition. Indian English poetry in reality is a study in minor voices and slender anthologies. To read the history and tradition of it is to be lost in the crowds of nameless faces. Quantitatively it is bulky no doubt, but qualitatively it is so weak to be called firm and stable. The poet too is a no-man and the critic too a no-man. Whose priority is it none can say it. The authority is silent.

What it pains us most is this that the researchers visit the house of Jayanta Mahapatra just for a courtesy call, but after visiting him ask for joint photographs and interviews to be kept personal not, but to post on the internet. Many small editors wanting to be poets use their journals as exchange copies for promoting and popularizing each other. Many of the aspirant teachers have just started them as for to vent their dormant wish of becoming reputed poets within a shorter span of time without suffering, struggling and sacrificing for literature.

There was a time when the old-timed, classic-read professors used to frown upon working on the Indian English poetry collections. Sahitya Akademi itself has started giving the award from 1981 and this can show it all. There were no takers or buyers of the theory then and it used to sell not then. Side by side it was also difficult to work for one’s Ph.D. on British stuffs. But when the UGC pressurized upon, the peer teams advised to include in as per the advice of the sympathetic scholars among them, the universities started prescribing them. Even the poems by Tagore or Aurobindo were not in English courses of Hons. and P.G.levels.  The Ph.Ds. done on Indian stuffs used to appear as third-rate dissertations. But when the Ph.D. was made compulsory for career advancement, the dormant teachers too started searching for new and greener pastures. Sometimes a small Indian English prof-poet helps the research student in writing the thesis and that too on his poetry himself and the incumbent too after the award of the degree prides over in being a student of his and starts calling himself or herself a small poet or poetess not, but a great master.

Indian English poetry lacks in classical scholarship and cultural stuffs as most of the contemporary poets and poetesses too hail from city spaces and centres so the urban things hang heavy on them. India whose soul dwells in villages remains cut off from. There is none can enlighten upon Indian thought, culture and philosophy; religion, faith, belief and spirituality; metaphysics, theology and cosmology.

Many like to turn to Indian poetry in English as for cashing cheap popularity and as it is easier to be a poet here rather than in a modern Indian language as there is a tough competition. But it has been seen that a writer of first poems too has changed over into big name. Just a collection is enough to pedal one’s own name and fame.

Sometimes it disheartens us to hear it that the M.Phils. are done on the lesser known poets and poetesses rather than the solid ones. We do not mean to forbid them from getting registered on the new topics as for their dissertation paper, but there should be impartiality in the selection and judgement.

A few poet-profs who have the opportunities of heading the institutions of higher learning have manipulated and manouevred the things in their favour by encouraging to get candidates registered on the friends’ poetry and also by introducing the mediocre colleagues as critics which is but harmful for Indian English poetry. A few journal editor-poets like to edit literary journals just to highlight themselves and it will be quite natural that the varsity professors and research students will like to oblige them by writing articles on their poetry just to please them.  Sometimes the editors write the articles on their own poetry and ascribe and attribute them to distant teachers or subscribers to be published in their names which is very bad for it. The politics of poetry and of the practising poets is strange to be stated. Sometimes, when the mood turns to worse, we want to designate it as a study in poetasters and versifiers. The catalogue of Writers Workshop, Calcutta is not the only catalogue of Indian poetry in English as for bibliography’s sake.

Globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation too have added to the rise and growth of Indian English  poetry. Spoken English, fashion and apparel designing, film and cinema studies, photography, theatrical performances, catwalks, city centres, love marriages and so on have added to life-style and thinking. Had there been not the  television set, the mobile handset and the internet, the things could have been otherwise. Now the world has shrunken to be put on the palm of the hand and information technology can connect even the farthest through its towers. Had it been not, the people from the north after having domiciled in the northeast would not have their best to present themselves as the critics of English poetry from the northeast. Had there been, we would have heard from M.K. Naik and K.R.S.Iyengar. One can definitely translate the oral dialects and its treasure of folk literature. Had there been not the English newspapers, we would have failed in our sentence construction, syntax and vocabulary as for to avoid grammatical lapses and errors. It is also a fact that the Indians may not write well if they mark not the contemporary tendencies doing the rounds in English poetry. Without reading Wyatt, Drayton, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Herrick, Marvell, Herbert, Donne, Pope, Dryden, Scott, Blake, Gray, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Byron, Coleridge, Tennyson, Arnold, Hardy, Lawrence, Eliot, Pound, Yeats,  Auden, Bridges, Spender, Mare, Masefield, Hughes, the Indians  cannot begin with their verses.  Inspiration comes from them and it cannot be negated; new thoughts and ideas.  

Today there is a trend that one will not be a poet if one domiciles not abroad, settles not there in foreign countries. To be a poet is to be a diasporan and it is essential for acceptance as a poet otherwise there will be no takers of his or her in India. The other thing is this that one has to beat one’s drum in this world of today if one wants to be in the limelight. Arrange for book releases and launches, parties and live flashes in five-star hotels and there must be some media managers or big authors to cut the silken  ribbon.

Let us see the first stanza from Baldev Mirza’s Theatre of Silence:

I have raised a theatre
                of silence            
with scraps of rags and newspapers
for silence to grow
like a creeper and curl
                around me

All night I sit crying
                for words
frozen on my tongue
headlines begin to rattle
-              --rapes
                --bride burning
                --rapid pace of industries
                --people dying of hunger
(Theatre of Silence, Baldev Mirza, Skylark Publications, Aligarh, 2004, p.5)            

The gods of small things they go ploughing the fields of poesy in their own way unsure of what they are going to reap and harvest. The practitioners are many more, but who to catalogue and bibliograph them? What good is it in Vikram Seth God knows only and the media persons? What deal has he struck with them? Why is Tabish Khair famous? Who can but say it? But there was a time when Tabish used to edit a small journal named Rachna from Gaya. Poetry of prizes and competitions or the lottery draws of Kaun Banega Crorepati, believe we not in.

In this world of today, poetry too is turning towards eco-centric notions and theories as it is the need of the hour. How to save Green Earth from climatic change, acid rain, atomic summer and its radiation, environmental pollution and ecological disaster concern us most. Are we really on the brink of extinction depresses us to think about it. Many a flora and fauna is about to be lost; many a species to lose the way, all these the things of our cares and anxieties. So, to be environment-friendly is the talk of the day, be it the domain of economics, commerce, chemistry, history, politics or society.

Another poet Anil Kumar Sharma is like a conglomerate; a gourmet of all, history, politics, culture, materialism, law, jurisprudence, metaphysics and spirituality. A cocktail of all is his poetry pieces, jumbling, dovetailing automatically and breaking, attaching and detaching. What a sadhu or a dhongi, telling of maya and bairagya as well! Sharma’s is a confused poetic diction, perhaps interdisciplinary in essence. But the lapses of law as pointed out by Galsworthy and Housman have not come to us from his pen. Instead of, he does marvels and poetry distils out of his pen.

To sum up, we may take two small poems from H.S.Bhatia’s The Burning Petals, named ‘Ages’ and ‘Justice’ one by one for our perusal:


I’ve seen
the ages pass---
long processions,
colourful and bloody,
headed by gay musicians,
the tails, long tails,
trailed by sombrous sighs
and doleful depressions.
(The Burning Petals, H.S.Bhatia, Sita Publications International, Khanna, 1983-84, p.36)


The Burning Petals
will not wait
for the day of doom,
the day of judgement
to get a fair and honest
They’ll fly right
into your face
to get the things out.
(Ibid, p. 40)

These poets appearing in journals and books too have a diction and pattern of their own seconded by a poetic definition which we can feel after going though their poems.

Manas Bakshi writes very beautiful lines, lyrical and sonorous indeed which can be marked in the poem Substitute :

This is not
Perhaps, the time
I could give you
A red rose of total change—

Instead, I give
The imprint of an age
Poems of love, pain and mortality
Have retained.
( The Welkin Is Blue Yet Again, Manas  Bakshi, Firma KLM Private Limited, Calcutta, 1995,p.7)

There is beauty of art; beauty of style in him and these distil as pure lyrics of love and reflection from his pen. We may take another poem named Bitter-Sweet for our study from the same collection:

Sunrays on a sunflower
Never betray it
With a kiss

But human being does---

Not content with
Earned or promised!
(Ibid, p.21)

The white horses run past Konark and the Sun-God comes on the chariot  of His drawn by them at dawn break as Jayanta Mahapatra comes to envisage in his relationship with Orissa and its historical past, legacy, myth and mysticism of the land. But Pronab Kumar Majumder as a man keeps marking the score-card and recording the fall of the wicket and the hat. He is a man of time; a poet of time, a registrar of it initialing the deed and the document to say that lands are settled, not measured exactly. The earth is the same, human life and existence so and the sky is the limit, as he has come to grapple with after holding parleys and long, long interesting and boring dialogues with time, sometimes easily passed, sometimes passing they not. Time seems to be his good friend, philosopher and guide,  and counsellor and he a recluse of time. To read him is to be reminded of the bells told historically in Gray’s Elegy, Traherne’s resounding church-bells and so on. Time’s watch he keeps it with him to read and denote. But on the pathway Rimi intercepts and interrupts him while going somewhere in a hurry and he stops to listen to her, how the things going with her, how she maintains it all single-handedly. Together with Pronab we too like to see the modern girl Rimi, smiling and in the goggles, doing ta-ta, bye-bye and going to work as a beautician, a saleswoman, a business manager in the office, but on the return journey a home-keeper hurrying down to see her son and daughter at home. Only in Rimi there is a departure from his as usual theme and it can be seen as a herald of change in his writing style.
Just to change the style and the talk, we may take Chambial’s  in Freud’s Horizon how he uses in the unconscious, the subconscious and the conscious reservoirs and layers of consciousness, improvising to be used in for a poetic dip:

Night walks,
snakes writhe, horses run
wild like whales in sea.

Infinite stars
are born and die
in the womb of sky.

long to gallop through fair
daisies, pansies and lilies.

Dare not
throw pebbles into serene
lake on Freud’s horizon.
 (Gyrating Hawks and Sinking Roads, D.C.Chambial, Kanta Sahitya Prakashan, Maranda, 1996, p. 26)

  To conclude, what else can be better than quoting from and putting  in Torso of A Woman by Nissim Ezekiel as for an artistic vision:

Here it is again,
in colour or in stone,
not the whole woman
but her, ‘torso’:
arms cut off
just below the shoulders,
legs cut off
just below the knees,
unperturbed, for art’s sake.

 I hate it,
however great the image,
Praise the form,
praise the modelling,
praise the dynamic movement
and the complex synthesis
of muscular tensions:
the woman plainly needs
her common arms and legs.

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