Modern Indian English Poetry And Its Exponents
----Bijay Kant Dubey
Modernism in Indian English poetry has not started all of a sudden as because it has taken time in developing and branching out not in the aftermath of India’s independence, as the kernels of it lie in previously written in the pre-1947 period. Had the Western impact factor been not, could we have been? If this be so, why could we not discover the countries of the world as Walt Whitman sings of invention and discoveries in his poetry? Tagore had been here; Aurobindo with Savitri was working on the books of transcendental meditation and love divine conquering death mythically under the influence of Mirra Alfassa. Sarojini and Harindranath all were on the Western track of modernism. Nissim Ezekiel, Purshottam Lal, Jayanta Mahapatra, Keki N.Daruwalla, Shiv K.Kumar, Adil Jussawalla, Kamala Das, Shiv K.Kumar, Dom Moraes, Pritish Nandy, Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre, etc. are the poets of the new age who are put forth as the harbingers of modernism in the history of Indian English poetry, but the modernism we talk of is not of India, but of England and Europe. The editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India C.R.Mandy too had not been satisfied with the quality of verses put forward by the so-called modern poets of ours then. Before talking modernism in Indian English poetry, several things need to be taken into consideration. Had the electricity been not discovered, the time and distance won, utensils and accessories been not developed, we would not have been modern. Let us mark at the inventions of day-to-day use without which we shall regress into the dark age. The watch, the radio, the cycle, the telephone, the telegram, are the things to have ushered in. Had there been slates, chalk pencils, note-books not, what would it have happened? Had fact and fiction, logic and reason not contradicted, intercepted and interfered with blind faith, what would it have happened? People would have gone mad religiously, fanaticism would have taken over them and they would have lost the power of reasoning. This modernism has not come to India all of a sudden and we have taken time in to be modern obviously. Only Indian English poetry has not given the base of it. It has come to through inter-action, intra-continental relationship, observation and comprehension. V.K.Gokak and K.R.S. Iyengar as the critics or the poets too were present then watching it all. But apart from something remained left out and the India of a vaster range, dimension and spectrum they could not. But there is something to be said with reservations. Shiv K.Kumar’s fame is on the wane. As a poet he is concerned with the body; flesh and blood. A poet of mundane values, he is neither metaphysical nor religious from his core. Had Shiv K.Kumar written the biography of David Daiches, it would have been greater than his poetry work. Kumar is intellectual and pontifical. His Ph.D. from overseas cannot help him in adding to his poetic verve and warmth. Kamala Das is not the Radha, but the Draupadi of modern Indian English poetry. Pritish Nandy is a romantic; a poet of love, mature or immature. We do not know it if he is a false romantic or true. Arun Kolatkar is a Marathi artist going on a pilgrimage to Jejuri, not Geoffrey Chaucer. Arun Koltkar, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Adil Jussawalla and Dilip Chitre are the birds of the same feather, appearing from Clearing House jointly. C.D.Narasimhaiah too struts as a literary theorist, but is not of the rank of B.Ifor Evans,W.H.Hudson and James Reeves. Nissim too had not been so famous as he is now when Indian English poetry got a booster in the Honours level from the eighties onwards. Before that none knew him as an Indian English poet and there existed something like modern Indian English poetry. We started taking it seriously the U.G.C. made it mandatory the career advancement scheme and the Ph.D. a must for promotion and the peer teams suggested to include in portions from Indian literature in English. Virtually, Indian English poetry is of the twentieth century and old Indian English poetry a study in dusty racks and wooden alamirahs of olden books rarely used in and appreciated. Frankly speaking, habitual reading and compulsion to read has endeared them otherwise the trivial verses of the Indian English poetasters please us not and we take it not too in good sense. From this reading sense, Indian English poetry is but a study in derivative, parodied and copied stuffs. There is nothing as original; everything but imitated, copied, borrowed, derived, drawn from, parodied and recycled. It is better had we translated our good texts and treatises of vernaculars and modern Indian languages. As for Indian English poetry section, books of poems are not prescribed, but the poems and that too from the anthology of ten poets written by R.Parthasarathy. But our question is, will there be no poets after them? Perhaps from the mute silence one can perceive it ‘no’. There may be, but they will be the media-propped and cropped images, Vikram Seth, Tabish Khair and so on.
It is our mistake that we have not studied Adi K.Sett so far who comes before Nissim. For this we shall have to dust the racks of national libraries, would have to visit the old book shops, the stalls of second-hand, used and resold books. It was also a notion then that English is of the English and the second-language cannot as the mother-tongue speakers can. The other was, where will recognition come from, India or England? Even we not at all interested in reading Sarojini and Aurobindo. Many of the so-called modern Indian English poets are not still modern as they speak in vernaculars at their homes and their wives are rustic Indian wives rather than the English women who understand it not English.
Nissim Ezekiel (1924-2004) is one of those poets who are credited with the advent of modernism in Indian English poetry which but we are not sure of as because then there had been no takers or buyers of such a theory. Even Nissim copied, parodied and imitated the Elizabethan sonneteers and lyric-writers to model his love poems adding the metaphysical tinge as seen in Marvell and Donne. A modern poet, he was of the post-1947 period, the post-fifties, the post-independence period, as he started writing from then, a Bombayan city dweller of cosmopolitan Bombay. A Time To Change (1952), Sixty Poems (1953), The Third(1958), The Unfinished Man (1960), The Exact Name (1965), Hymns in Darkness (1976), Latter-Day Psalms(1982), etc. are the books of poems. Nissim is on the overall a poet of irony, joke and humour. To caricature and humour is his job. But is a minority boy. A minority community persona and protagonist, he knows it not ancient India, the glorious past of it, the heritage and culture, historicity of tradition and ethics. Indian thought and culture he could not comprehend it. He is a modern poet of modern culture, city-dwelling life and etiquettes, manners and ways. A.G.Gardiner’s ‘On Saying Please’ is the thing of Nissim Ezekiel. Nissim is in the best a picnicker; a honeymooner; a cinema-goer. To visit the theatre and the art exhibitions; to see cabaret dances pleases him most. He is a goodbye man bidding ta-ta, bye-bye, see you again, waving the hands. A poet of handshake, but shaking not warmly, is Nissim, a modern hollow man grinning and chuckling within, an ironist using doublespeak, criticism and humour. Poetry to Nissim is bird-watching; love-making.
Purshottam Lal (28 August 1929 – 3 November 2010) is not only a professor who used to teach at St.Xavier’s College, Calcutta, but is also the founder of Writers Workshop, Calcutta in 1958 which introduced many a poet into the realm of Indian English poetry. As a poet, even though he negates the influence of Aurobindo, he is a romantic and that too a faded one and apart from being a promoter, he is an apt translator of the Mahabharata in English and this is really an astounding achievement of his creativity. Lal’s poems do not give satisfaction, but instead of, there is something in them to relish upon. His smaller poems finally tend to metaphysics which he wanted to keep away from citing Aurobindo and his shadows.
As for Jayanta Mahapatra (1928-), his books have come big and small press, as such Close the sky, Ten by Ten, Dialogue Publication, Calcutta, 1971, Svayamvara and Other Poems, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1971, A Father’s Hours, United Writers, Calcutta, 1976, A Rain of Rites, University of Georgia Press, Athens (USA), 1976, Waiting, Samkaleen Prakashan, New Delhi, 1979, The False Start, Clearing House, Bombay, 1980,Relationship, Greenfield Review Press, Greenfield, New York 1980, Life Signs, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1983, Dispossessed Nests, Nirala Publications, Jaipur,1986, Selected Poems, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1987, Burden of Waves and Fruit, Three Continents Press, Washington, 1988, Temple, Dangaroo Press, Sydney, 1989, A Whiteness of Bone, Viking Penguin, New Delhi, 1992, The Best of Jayanta Mahapatra, Bodhi Publications, Calicut, 1995, Shadow Space, D.C. Books, Kottayam, 1997, Bare Face, D.C. Books, Kottayam, 2000, Random Descent, Third Eye Communications, Bhubaneswar, 2005, The Lie of Dawns: Poems 1974-2008, Authorspress, New Delhi, 2009, Land, Authorspress, New Delhi, 2013. While reading Mahapatra it seems to us as if we were reading physics and its chapters on light. Though he has come of age, his poetry is a study in images which continue to shift and pass on. Poetry to Mahapatra is a look into the Oriya landscapes; the Orissan view of life, cartography and mapping; poetry to Mahapatra is blank sheets upon which impressions keep generating automatically and deciphering. A poet of Jagannath Puri and Rath-yatra festival, he tells the tales of Orissa, its temples, gods, sacred spots, art and artisans; the Olive Ridley turtles, crocodiles, water bodies and herons; the fishermen, fisher girls and the seacoasts. The poor fisher girl as a persona strikes us deeply in one poem of his where he brings out a pathetic story of hunger, how human hunger can be? We appreciate this picture of poor India. This is his Christian point of view. It is also a fact that once hunger and scarcity of food, drought and famine maligned the soul of India while on the other cholera the other time which but find an express in Jayanta and Daruwalla respectively. To read Mahapatra is to be reminded of sun-burnt solitary muddy villages where hunger did the naked dance and to be reminded of the hearths burnt from dry leaves, wooden logs or cow dung cakes. Poverty, un-employment, illiteracy, backwardness, unculture, superstition and underdevelopment are the things of the far-flung countryside. The veiled and nameless wife telling not the name of her husband also has to say a lot in this connection. The Konark Sun-temple in all its architectural splendor and magnificence with the sculptures carved upon displaying an intrinsic stonework tells of our heritage and culture, thought and tradition which the poet uses as a motif in his poetry. Jayanta Mahapatra is first all an imagist and his poetry a study in imagery and image-making, this is what forms the first-hand image of his. A physicist by training who learnt physics, read and taught in the classrooms, he could never think of poetry until and unless he turned forty. But there is not an aspect of his poetry. His poetry is multi-dimensional and of a wider spectrum of delving. He is a dreamer and a visionary. An Oriya he is first of Orissa then an Indian, of anywhere else, a poet regional, national and international at the same time as were D.H.Lawrence in his description of Nottinghamshire and Thomas Hardy of Wessex. A romantic, he romances with the solitude doing the rounds in the country; the space hanging over. He is so abstract that meaning is not there in between the lines; means it not what he means to say. At the same time he is terse, difficult and complex. Existentialism, nothingness and agnosticism draw him close to and his verses border on the fringe, edge of nothingness to bewilder and distract. He is called a poet of Orissa as for the Orissaan images and references, as such the rivers, lakes, hills, cities, tourist spots, picnic places and others. Sometimes hunger strikes him, sometimes sexuality twitches him. He is also a poet of mornings, noondays, twilights, dusks, evenings, night-times and midnights. The history of Orissa he has not forgotten it; the defeat of Kalinga. When will it rise again? He keeps thinking about. A poet of silence, he sometimes conspires with. The summertime loneliness and the coastal silence provoke us otherwise. As a poet, Jayanta is eco-friendly and feministic, sometimes barely realistic.
Daruwalla (1937-) has Apparition in April,1971, Crossing of Rivers, 1976, Winter Poems, 1980, The Keeper of the Dead, 1982, Landscapes, 1987, A Summer of Tigers, 1995, Night River, 2000, The Map-maker, 2002, The Scarecrow and the Ghost, 2004, etc. as his collections of poems. He received the Sahitya Akademi Award for his book named The Keeper of the Dead in 1984. Collected Poems (1970-2005) has appeared from Penguin, India in 2006; Two Decades of Indian Poetry (1960-1980), published in 1980, is his edited volume. Daruwalla is hard and tough. He does the tougher talks in his poetry and is very hard of heart. The poet as sentimental being is not the thing of his, but the most unsentimental one. The revolver speaks the language of poetry in; the fire and the shot. Poems going off as the shots of fire from the revolver of Ted Hughes is the thing of Daruwalla. He is first a Parsi man. Secondly, he is a policewallah, a policeman, an IPS, that too of the DIG rank and the Additional Director of the RAW. Thirdly, an M.A. in English with which starts the journey from. As a poet he is a craftsman; verbose and bombastic, to pick up obsolete and hard words is the job of Daruwalla. Tragedy is his love; international relations the passion to absorb and his is a myth from foreign lands. The Jacobian dramas, the Greek tragedies, Shakespearean plays are perhaps the first love of Daruwalla as he keeps reverting to Aristotle’s Poetics. The dramatic monologues of Robert Browning can specially be mentioned in this context as he keeps track of dramatic talks. The curfew-clamped towns is the scene of the poem, vengeance, anger, malice and revenge burning within, the moments tense, rumours flaming the fire and as for irate mobs to be controlled, police patrolling the affected areas so that it escalates not, tension lessens down, brews it not more and the military men parading the lonely streets with the street dogs passing through and the windows and doors shut down. Daruwalla likes this; loves it more. The other scenery of being the flood-affected areas, flood waters rising and rising and swirling, taking the areas under its cover, inundating it, flowing dangerously above the danger level, low lands lying under water, everywhere water, water, water, drowned and submerged, villages in the midst of, some livestock swept away and after the waters receding, the sight is different, the stench coming from, a trail of death and destruction to be marked. The third is that of the Kahar caste people, palanquin-carriers taking the palanquin not with the newly-wed girl wife, but the cholera patient to a distant health centre. Daruwalla is a poet of the wolf, the tiger and the hawk.
The missing man of Indian English poetry has produced so far four books of poems, as such, Land’s End(1962), Missing Person (1976), Trying to Say Goodbye (2012) and The Right Kind of Dog and he is none, but the same Adil Jussawalla. The poet wants to say goodbye to poetry, but has failed to bid. A poet of the stitched partition people, he tells a saga in verse, full of painful parting and separation. Jussawalla is a partition man writing bout the partition people; the caravans of refugees in camps bearing so many pains. Jussawalla is a poet of Eklavya as his heart bats for this forester boy. The great royal Mahabharatan guru Dronacharya cannot win the admiration of his. The island activity with the breeze blowing over recomposes him too as well as tells the histories of the land otherwise.
We know it that Summer in Calcutta is the representative collection of Kamala Das (31 March 1934 – 31 May 2009), but the summer she describes, what summer is it? The poem has nothing to do with summer. Maybe it an orange squashed into a glass tumbler taken into; a glass of cold sherbet to cool down and to rejuvenate and this is not enough to say it. But in reality she is a protagonist of summer siestas and sweating relationships. Kamala is but a nautanki girl and her poetry a study in nautanki. We doubt it if she is a disciple of Acharya Rajneesh? Or, maybe it she is a modern lady reading Vatsyayana’s Kamsuttra. If this be not, she is a dissatisfied woman character of D.H.Lawrence. Sex is the joy; pleasure of Kamala. She is only for love, bodily love. She is a desperate woman desperately after sex. Her picture is just like a modern woman in rosary and devotion, appearing to be a yogan, but is not, an ashramite of the Rajneesh ashrama. Summers and gulmohars are the two sides of her poetry. Summer in Calcutta (1965), The Descendants (1967), The Old Playhouse and Other Poems (1973), etc. are the books of poems which have come down to us from Kamala. As a poetess, she is feminine and confessional no doubt. But the charge of sexuality levelled against her cannot be shrugged off and she is Lawrentine, Freudian, Rajneeshite, Vatsyayanite, Plathian and Hardyian. Maybe she is the heroine of The Mayor of Casterbridge of Thomas Hardy and if this is not, she is obviously Clara of Sons and Lovers of D.H.Lawrence. Hers is a trauma and living of man-woman relationship, obsession with the beaten body, possession the boredom. My Story, who hears her story? Poetry to her is an Alphabet of Lust. Her voice is one of feminine angst and bewilderment, pain and pathos, tragedy of living, but how to get rid of, as this is a perennial process of the Divine? We can understand, feel it the voice of protest, anger, but what to do with? The tears of the woman’s life none has come to understand it when the night frightens with the howls of stray dogs and foxes, even the shadows moving with. The ghost of possession leaves her not behind. The guru too is not a guru, but a dhongi babaji. The yogi too is not a yogi, but a bhogi. Kamala too appears as a yogan, but is not, a modern-day lady in the rudraksha rosary.
Gieve Patel(1940-) with his publications Mirrored, Mirroring (Poetry in English), Oxford University Press , 1991,How Do You Withstand, Body, (Poetry in English), Clearing House, 1976, Poems (Poetry in English), Brought out by Nissim Ezekiel, 1966, has come a long way, but the fact is this that he is a poet not for poetry’s sake, but different allied interests. As a poet, he has not so many in his credit and even when he had not, he was famous as a poet. Why are some famous and why some not? We cannot answer it. Just on the basis of two books he got a place in M.K.Naik’s history while many of the pre-independence time poets remain unbibliographed. A poet he is of the physique; of the body, doing a clinical surgery and also the post-mortem, exhuming too for a forensic report. A practicing doctor, he is a Parsi by faith. Human body for dissection and anatomy is the thing of his poetry.
Arun Kolatkar (1 November 1932 – 25 September 2004), isn’t he himself the kala ghoda of modern Indian English poetry? Humour and irony are the things of his poetry and he says all that with a pinch a salt. With a Marathi heart and soul, he sings of Tukaram and Chaitanya. His visit to Jejuri is all about the pilgrimage to a sacred shrine but in the light of scepticism. A graphic artist, he is at his best a visualizer and he visualizes in his poetry. A study of it annihilates faith rather than emboldening it and this no doubt forms the basis of his poetry. Bare realism is the greatest truth of his poetry. He is a Marathi poet crowding the pages of English poetry with his pictures, images, ideas and symbols. Faith and doubt form the basic crux of his poetry. Arun is not a poet scholarly, but mundane and doubtful, skeptical and ironical. Even if he visits a temple, he will with suspense and doubt within. As a man, he is not a good man, but a critical fellow. Having taken eggs, Kolatkar is thinking, should he worship in the temple of Jejuri or not? Jejuri is a dharamshala poem, all about staying and passing time in an inn on the way to pilgrimage, but his heart is not pure from his within? His failures and divorces have turned him into a sceptic. Arun is but a ragpicker of thoughts and ideas.
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra (1947) has Middle earth, 1984, Three crowns books. Delhi: Oxford University Press,Nine enclosures, 1976, Bombay: Clearing House, Distance in statute miles, 1982,Bombay: Clearing House, The transfiguring places: poems, 1998, Delhi: Ravi Dayal Publisher, Collected Poems 1969-2014, 2014, Delhi: Penguin India. Mehrotra with his white long beards does not make out too much though fame comes to him knocking at the doorstep. A Lahorian, he heads the English Deptt. of English of Allahabad University. Critics say he is surreal, works at the consciousness level, marking the external and the internal, trying to corroborate language and experience, but the things are not clear-cut. What is surrealism? Why to call him post-modern? Is it that he fails as a poet for his propaganda of surrealism and post-modernism? Actually chit-chats, tidbits of the conversationalist take the poetic space of these poets calling unconventional and modern. His white and long silvery beards and the silver plate of the balding head and the looks given from the spectacles are more surreal than his poetry. What connection and continuity does he talk about afresh?
A woman-lover, a drinker, a chain-smoker Dom Moraes (19 July 1938 – 2 June 2004) is not an English poet from England, but a Goan Christian from India whatever be his perception with regard to it. None made him aware of it, everyone went on praising for all that. Instead of being an Indian, he posed like an Englishman in India. He lived in England, but returned back to; married and divorced rather than being a good father and a husband. A Beginning, his first book of poems published in 1958, Poems, his second book of poems, John Nobody, his third book of poems, 1965, Beldam & Others, a pamphlet of verse, 1967, Absences, book of poems, 1983, Collected Poems: 1957-1987, 1987, (Penguin). The influence of the insane Catholic mother of Dom too has devastated his career and he got misled in life.
Pritish Nandy (15 January 1951-) is a multi-dimensional personality of multiple choices and interests now. Success is on the footsteps of his. Lady Luck smiled upon when he was in Calcutta and he came into the touch of P.Lal and he groomed him. Born in Bihar’s Bhagalpur in a Bengali Christian family, he came to Calcutta to take his education from La Martiniere and Presidency College. A poet, a media personality, he is an artist, an animal activist, a film producer, a journalist, a critic, an editor, a translator and what not. Apart from all these, he is also a member of the Rajya Sabha as he knows how to do politics, the politics of the poets, to be into the corridors of power, how to come into the media limelight, stealing the shows from politicians. Pritish Nandy as a poet is a lyric-writer and that too of an independent temperament and his poems are lyrics, the lyrics of life, pouring from the heart, taking their forms with a movement of own. Whatever it comes to, he writes, puts down on a piece of paper. But there is something to be said with reservations that his collections are very thinner presentations. A few pages give the picture of one book, how can it be? Of Gods & Olives (Calcutta/ Mexico City, 1967) 32pp, Writers Workshop, On Either Side of Arrogance (Calcutta, 1968) 32pp, Writers Workshop, I Hand You in Turn My Nebbuk Wreath (Calcutta, 1968) 16pp, Dialogue/ Writers Workshop, From the Outer Bank of the Brahmaputra (New York, 1969) 38pp, New Rivers Press, Masks to be Interpreted in Terms of Messages (Calcutta, 1971) 48pp, Writers Workshop, Madness is the Second Stroke (Calcutta, 1972) 56pp, Dialogue, The Poetry of Pritish Nandy: Collected Poems (New Delhi, 1973), Riding the Midnight River: Selected Poems (New Delhi/ London, 1974) 144pp, Arnold Heinemann,Dhritarashtra Downtown: Zero (Calcutta, 1974), Lonesong Street (Calcutta, 1975) 32pp, Poets Press, In Secret Anarchy (Calcutta, 1976) 38pp, United Writers, The Nowhere Man (Calcutta, 1976) 32pp, Arnold Heinemann,A Stranger Called I (Calcutta, 1976), 48pp, Kavita/Arnold Heinemann, Tonight, This Savage Rite/ With Kamala Das (New Delhi, 1977) 55pp, Arnold Heinemann, Anywhere is Another Place (Calcutta, 1979) 48pp, Arnold Heinemann, Pritish Nandy 30 (Calcutta, 1980) 30pp, Kavita/Arnold Heinemann, The Rainbow Last Night (New Delhi, 1981) 48pp, Arnold Heinemann, Again (New Delhi, 2010) 104pp, Rupa Publications, Stuck on 1/Forty(New Delhi, 2012) 124pp, Amaryllis. The launch of the new book Stuck on 1/Forty is a talk of the return of the poet after a two-decade hiatus. Keeping literary pursuits at bay, he moved away to journalism, holding parleys with television and media as did Jussawalla and Moraes for to be a journo. A writer of the best-sellers and music-makers, Pritish plays with emotions, the emotions of life, with passions, the passions of life. The beats, pulsations of heart go catching the rhythms of life, the heartthrob of life stuck into the city centres and he strives for impressions, the impressions of life. of Love, sensual and sensuous, is the thing of his poetry; the scent of the fair sex, jasmines stuck into the hair, the face with a make-up, cosmetics applied on and he smelling the princess in love. Pritish can always be seen in the search of his heroine the girl with a golden voice striding along, Premkumari (Miss Love), Roopkumari (Miss Face) by his side inspiring him to write the poetry full of love, romance and lyricism. He uses in a special typography, breaking the prose passages into stanzas of poesy resonant with sound and meaning, image and idea. Though he takes to the pains of Mira as his own, but his is a media baron’s heart.
Shiv K.Kumar (16 August 1921-) as a poet is a late bloomer, an academician turning to poetry-writing late in his life, that too on the threshold of almost fifty intellectually, laboriously, how can it be, we think about? But his too has happened and he is a poet of mark, whatever be our assessment of his poetry. A modern poet, he has various collections brought out from time to time from different types of press. He too is an associate of P.Lal’s Writers Workshop, Calcutta. Articulate Silences,Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1970, Cobwebs in the Sun, Tata McGraw Hill, New Delhi, 1974, Subterfuges, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1976, Woodpeckers, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1979, Trapfalls in the Sky, Macmillan, Madras, 1986, Woolgathering, Orient Longman, Hyderabad, 1995, Thus Spake the Buddha, UBSPD, New Delhi, 2001, Losing My Way, Peacock Books, New Delhi, 2008, Voice of Buddha: A Poetic Transcreation of The Dhammapada, Atlantic, New Delhi, 2008. ‘Where Have the Dead Gone? And Other Poems’is the latest collection of the poet in which he reflects over death and the passage of time which leaves none.
A.K.Ramanujan (16 March 1929 – 13 July 1993) published The Striders in the year 1966, Interior Landscapes: Love Poems from a Classical Tamil Anthology in 1967, Relations in 1971, Selected Poems of 1976, Hymns for the Drowning in 1981, Poems of Love and War published in the year 1985 and a lot more. A.K.Ramanujan as a poet is a sociologist, a folklorist, a Dravidian man, a South Indian, a Kanadiga, a genealogist and what not. An ironist, he ironies it all, using in doublespeak, overtone, undertone, sweet pinch, pun, fun and humour critically. He will say something and it will mean the other. To criticize and comment ironically is the job of the poet. Ramanujan is such a poet in whom the horoscope-maker, the pundit, the astrologer, the fortune-teller, all have their says. Ramanujan is a poet of master strokes and the sweet punches. To send ripples of laughter is the chuckle of Ramanujan and he tends to with his trickery and tactics; to twist and turn the statements. The family album with the old and new photographs is the property of the poet and he recreates the images with his cutting jokes. The father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, servant, dog, cow and even goat crowd the pages of his for a poetic penetration. Even if he makes a portrait of himself he will with the convex mirror.
R.Parthasarathy (1934-) who hails from Tamil Nadu, South India is a poet not of exile and alienation, separated from one’s own ethos, history, thought and culture, but of the return journey as did they come back from London, Nissim Ezekiel and Adil Jussawalla and lastly Dom Moraes one by one with the retreating steps of their own. A poet with his roots lying strongly in the south takes to poetry in his own way. Before joining the Oxford University Press as its Regional Editor based in Chennai he taught for a few years in Bombay as Lecturer in English. He also worked R. Parthasarathy has translated the old Tamil epic, The Tale of an Anklet: An Epic of South India (Columbia University Press, 1993). He has taught Indian literature at Skidmore College. A poet of Tamil identity and entity, he tells of his ethnicity, roots, myths, motifs and beliefs. Rough Passage is the single work which has given fame to him and he recounts his journey back home from Leeds where he had gone to study and the things of his attachment taking him to the search of the self and native roots. His linkage with Delhi, Bombay and Chennai he cannot discern it. Parthasarathy can say the story of his life in verve.
Keshav Malik (5 November 1924 – 11 June 2014) too is no less than Arun Kolatkar, an art critic, an artist and a poet, he sees the things with his artistic vision and penetration. The Lake Surface and Other Poems, Rippled Shadow, Poems C, Negatives, Shapes in Peeling Plaster, Cut-off Points, Storm Warning, Between Nobodies and Stars, etc. are the works of the poet. Poetry comes to Keshav through the artistic vision and aesthetic sense. We have fear that he will turn poetry into some art.
Had somebody translated Suryakant Tripathy Nirala, Jayshankar Prasad, Maithilisharan Gupta, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar and others, it would have been great. Had we Raskhan, Mirabai, Kabirdas, Tulsidas, Vidyapati, Jayasi and other medieval time poets, it would have endowed us with the wealth of its own. Even in so-called modern Indian English poetry, we just read down the evolving poets and poetesses, who have actually grown from the beginning made in the anthology and credo of P.Lal. But Lal’s work of that sort is just a beginner’s book and here we can see how had they been the moderns of today. They were just in their initial stage; beginning to write.
Even today there are three to four types of poets and poetesses into the realm of Indian English poetry, one is of the independently-published poets, another of the small press brought out, another come through prizes, contests, competitions, draws, another category of journal-appearing ones. Some have got the favour of the critics, some have not. Frankly speaking, Indian English poetry is a study in minor voices and slender anthologies; a one-book Ph.D. matter. Here the books are not analysed, but poems are picked and paraphrased. Many of which mean they not at all. Most of the modern Indian English poets and poetesses whom we read them today were not what they are now. There were no takers of them then. Most of them are but self-styled poets and poetesses.