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Aug 13, 2015

A Gallery of Portraits In Poetry

A Gallery of Portraits In Poetry (Indian English Poets)
Bijay Kant Dubey 

Indian English poetry

There is nothing as Indian English poetry
Though some have called it
As is there anything
Like British English,
King’s or Queen’s Standard,
Not even the local one
And what it pains us is this
It is nowhere spoken in India,
Nor does it have a feeder dialect
To vitalize it
And even it is, it is but written English,
Grammatical English,
Solve the grammar exercises
And try to be correct,
Speak you not,
Even if you, you will keep mugging,
Haltingly, full of hitch and obstruction?

Indian English poetry has a history of its own,
It is but a part of India Studies,
Indian culture,
Indology, Asiatic researches, Oriental studies,
Sanskrit studies,
But rather deriving from,
It has differently
In the negation of Indian art and culture,
Thought and philosophy,
Indian themes and delineation,
To Western theories and texts,
But fails to be of that order
And submission,
Standard and presentation,
Somewhere weaker no doubt.

There is nothing as Indian English language,
If it is not spoken anywhere
How to call it Indian English,
A misnomer is it,
Is there anything like
Zimbabwean English, South African variety,
There is nothing,
Nothing like this,
Indian English is nowhere,
Nowhere practiced.

Which is but Bihari English,
Bengali English,
Oriya English,
Assamese English,
Punjabi English,
Haryanvi English,
Delhite English,
Kashmiri English,
Himachali English,
Hindustani English,
Pakistani English,
Maharashtrian English,
Gujarati English,
Rajasthani English.

Which is but Naga English,
Sikkimese English,
Lepcha English, Bhutia English,
Nepali English,
Manipuri English,
Arunchali English,
Mizo English,
Santhali English,
Munda English,
Sindhi English,
Marwari English.

The speakers of English
Here in India
Come from different
Linguistic groups,
Indo-Aryan, Dravidian,
Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Chinese
And that is why
The Anglo-Indians switched
Over to local languages,
Barring the foreign elements
So strong
On the people of
Pondicherry and Goa,
Telling of Portugal and France.

Even the Bhojupurains
Speaking in English,
The rough and tough people,
Clumsy and uncouth,
The indentured labourers
And their sons and daughters
In Mauritius, Kenya and others,
The predecessors of V.S.Naipaul,
Coming to Gorakhpur,
Tracing the roots,
So are Magadhi, Angika and Maithili speakers
Of Bihar,
The Hindi dialects.

The Mad & Maniac Poet

Poetic frenzy took to
Michael Madhusudan Dutt
And he like an Englishman started thinking
And behaving,
A poet under the draughts of
English education and culture,
European way of life
As did Gandhi emulate the English,
So did he write,
The Captive Ladie,
But fame did not come to him as usual
And he turned to Bengali,
Really, a great poet
Who had talent,
But the times had not been his.

Savitri And the Age After

Rather than calling the pre-independence period
Or the post-independence period
Of Indian English poetry,
I would like to call it
The age of Savitri and the age after,
Aurobindo’s Savitri,
The golden age of epics
A return to Vedism, Upanishadism and Puranism,
The ashrama trend,
Vedic literature
Whose fragrance is it
In Jayanta Mahapatra too
But in a  different way.

There Were Poets Before

There were poets before Nissim and his friends
Whom we know them not
And remember we not,
As we call him
The father of modernism in Indian English poetry,
Modernism is not at all related to poetry,
It comes from all the streams,
Fashion, apparel, time, manner and etiquette,
Understanding and comprehension,
Experience, hearing and learning,
Tour and travel,
Mutual exchanges.

P. Lal Has Not Done Justice

P.Lal has not done justice
To the poets of the beginning,
Those at the start of modernism
In Indian English poetry,
Just in the fifties,
Adi K.Sett, P.R.Kaikini and others.

Writers Workshop, Calcutta founded in 1958
Is but a factory of poets,
P.Lal just published them
Taking the charges,
Served literature
As for talent search
As well as damaged it too.

To Khushwant Singh, it was just
Like the vanity publication
And many papers reviewed them not
Taking to be a commoners’ press
And publication.

Kamala Das

A sadhvi or a yogan
In the ashrama,
Or one of Vatsyayana?

Who she is,
A poetess of love
Or sex and bodily lover,
One of flesh,
Confessing relationships
Erotic and sensual?

Kamala Das not a yogi, but a bhogi,
Just like a fraud and fake
Indian babji
Taking ganja
In the ashrama
With his disciple love.

Kamala Das too is the same,
One of Lawrentine guru-shisya prem,
A Rajneeshite disciple
Talking of sambhoga to samadhi,
Sex to bliss,
A modern-age yogan
In the rudraksha rosary.

She is not a Mira, but a Radha,
A Radha,
Mad after duplicate Krishna,
False and fraud Krishna,
A love woman,
A hysteric gone mad
And her works of kaam-vasana.

Purshottam Lal

Purshottam Lal is first of all
A promoter
Rather than a poet,
A romantic not,
But a faded and jaded romantic,
Even in the negation of Aurobindo
Seems to be drawn to metaphysics,
A poet of a mediocre merit,
But famous
Or has evolved in course of time
As others have,
But emboldening his stature
Just as a translator
Of the Mahabharata. 

Nissim Ezekiel

Nissim Ezekiel, a poet of Bombay
Like his Bombayan friends,
He is of Bombay,
Writing about Bombay,
A Maharashtrian Jew
His mind and heart lies it in Israel,
Suffers from the quest for identity,
How far Indian is his Indian English poetry,
Devoid of Indian thought, culture and tradition,
Myth, mysticism and spirituality,
Religion, ethics, religion and philosophy,
He treads a path of his own,
A modern man
From the city spaces,
That too from metros and mega cities
Telling about city-life and living,
Townsliving, art and culture,
Manners and ethics,
Not the rural countryside
Where dwells it the soul of India
Into the nondescript, far-off villages
Of hamlets and thorps
Clustered and littered around
Over a vast stretch of land.

The Poetry of Nissim

Nissim as a poet and his poetry,
Poetic themes of his,
What to say it,
Nissim is a poet of
Pleasantries and good manners,
Doublespeak and irony,
Just cutting with his tactics,
A poet of please and thank you,
Bye and goodbye,
On saying please,
I love you, I like you,
How are you?, I am fine, how you,
So nice of you,
See you again,
An Englishman in India,
If not, a London returned,
Wanting to date,
But the heart a Jewish heart,
Papa wills cold,
Wanting to see a film in the cinema hall
With the beloved,
To write love-letters to her
Under the pretext of meeting
Or exchanging books,
Out in the a park,
Meeting with and talking to
And reading
The Elizabethan lyrics and metaphysical,
Forget me not,
Your name
I am writing on the sea-beach,
Going to see his coy mistress
And awaking he not with the rising sun.

The Drawbacks of Nissim

Though he lived in India,
But lived as a minority man
Without understanding India,
Indian culture,
The history of the land,
Its thought and philosophy,
Religion and spirituality,
Morality and ethics,
Cosmology ad theology,
A Jew was he
Jewish ditto
Without smacking in the aroma
Coming from the Vedas, the Upanishads
And the Puranas,
Right or wrong,
Mythical or reasonable,
At least we could have heard
His comments.

Nissim suffers from the quest for identity,
An Indian in India
Under question,
Whether a foreigner or Indian,
Just like Dom,
But the theme of Indianness
Bails him out
And he is a poet of
The urban space,
The city-bred culture and ethics,
City-dwelling and culture,
Birthday gift, marriage party, tea party,
Outing, love-marriage,
Picnic and honeymoon,
The talks of his.

Nissim is of the Gandhian freedom fighter
A follower of satya, ahimsha and swaraj,
Going on the ways,
In the khadi cap, dhoti, kurta
And with a bamboo lathi in hand,
Drawing pension after independence,
Decorating the dais,
Of Gujarati English,
Saying hi-hello to Miss Pushpa,
Giggling and grinning with
Ad chuckling,
Doing bye-bye to Pushpa
At the airport,
A foreign returnee he
Giving tips to her in departing for
The overseas.

Doing the drama
With a scorpion bite,
Gathering people
And showing to,
Making a fuss out of
Ad the critics after,
The whole of India
And the academics,
Just the scorpion bite
The thing of discussion,
The thing of poetic debate and deliberation,
M.K.Naik deliberating,
The others too into the footsteps of his.

Jayanta Mahapatra

Jayanta Mahapatra is the first poet
To have received the Sahitya Akdemi award
For his book, Relationship
Which is but a fragment of
Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
To show connection with
Odisha and the Odias,
The Ganga and Kalinga dynasties.

The sea and the Konark Sun Temple,
The sea beach and the Jagannath Puri Temple,
The Khandagiri caves,
The River Daya,
The Chilika Lake,
He remembers them in his poetry.

There are different aspects of his poetry
And for it his poetry is complex,
Flimsy, photographic,
Imagistic and picturesque,
But not descriptive at all,
Abstract and terse,
Difficult to mean them.

A poet of Odisha, its topography and demography,
Scenes and sites
He is a poet of the place,
A poet of silence,
Of the sea-beach,
Lonely countryside,
The veiled woman.

A poet feministic,
He clings to the roots of nativity
As well as his base of subject,
We mean physics,
Dealing with light and darkness,
The origin of the universe.

Nothingness, angst and bewilderment,
Skepticism and atheism,
Engage the poetic space
Of the poet
And he lapses in dreams,
Landscapic and vacant,
A dreamer and a visionary.

The space and its vacuum,
Endless skies
The realm of his reflection,
Light breaking at dawn
And retreating at twilight,
Strike the poetic mind
And he loses in.   
A Reading of Keki N.Daruwalla

Keki N.Daruwalla the Parsi poet
From Lahore,
Displaced and dislocated,
Searching for roots,
Finding place
In the IPS
Of the U.P.,
Mostly the Uttarakhand region,
A DIG promoted
To switch over
To the RAW
To membership
Of the Minorities Commission
After retirement.

A Sahitya Akademi award winner,
A Padma Shri,
Is a poet of the brave heart
Dealing with tragedy and drama talk mainly,
Painting violence, wrath, human anger,
Malice, envy,
Vengeance, jealousy;
Curfew-clamped towns with
The shoot at sight orders,
Riots and tension  brewing;
The flood-hit areas
Under water,
Submerged or drowned,
Muddy waters swirling
And inundating,
Flowing above the danger level.

A poet of the night of the jackal,
The wolf howling,
Bloody, brutal and bestial,
He returning
When it is dark
With the hunter,
One of the kite, vulture and hawk,
The Towers of Silence,
He thinking of the laws of nature,
Wild and mystical,
Calm and ruffling,
He marking the tiger
With the rifle in hands.

A poet verbose and bombastic,
He is wordy and textured,
Old, archaic and obsolete,
And unemotional,
Hard and tougher,
Deriving and drawing from
The RAW visits and studies
Even going to Iran,
Searching the roots of Zoroastrianism
And the stuffs of international relations
Which the RAW men have to undertake
For diplomacy and reading.

P.Lal’s Friends

P.Lal’s friends,
The birds of a feather flock together,
The same first poem writers
Or the first book authors,
The ramshackle poets not,
But poetasters, rhymers, non-poets and commoners
Are the poets of modern Indian poetry in English,
Getting prizes one by one
And the branded critics recommending them.

After finding none as the buyers and takers of their poetry,
Poetry not exactly, but the verses,
They founded Writers’ workshop, Calcutta
To publish themselves
Or those who contacted them
Or got the favour with
Rather than representing the whole of India,
Represented they a coterie,
A section of acquaintances,
The Bombayans, the Calcuttans
And the Madrasis,
A factory of Indian English poets and poetesses
Leaving as the burden of the anonymous critics
Rather than historiographing them,
Biographing in who’s who?

Whom Did He Not Publish?

Whom did he not publish,
P.Lal published Kamala, Pritish,
Daruwalla,  Jayanta,
Adil, Katrak,
Whose books did he not bring out,
Those of Shiv K.Kumar,
Lawrence Bentleman?

Dom Moraes

A woman-lover, a wine-drinker and a chain-smoker
Dom thought of himself
An Englishman,
But was an Indian,
A Goan Christian,
Though he tried to be
A Dylan Thomas,
But could he be,
A journo he was.

Adil Jussawalla

Adil Jussawalla
After publishing Land’s End and Missing Person
Went he missing
And resurfaced after
A thirty-five year break,
With his new launches
The Right Kind of Dog and Trying to Say Goodbye.

A Parsi poet, he is of
Broken statements,
What he wrote about,
The half-said words and sentences,
Broken rhythms of earlier verse
Just brought in confusion
And we failed to mean
All that in his verses.

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

Arvind though in the white glistening beards
Long and flowing
Is not the Tagore,
But it looks to be,
One from Lahore
And the English Deptt. of Allahabad Univ.,
A poet surreal,
A writer of a few,
Inclusive of tidbits, chit-chats
And the trifle
Though he had been a contestant
For the Professor of Poetry
For Oxford,
Which he perhaps deserved it not
Though got the lobbies with
To be in the picture.

Hurriedly Called We

In a hurry, a haste,
A huff,
Called we them
Modern Indian English poets,
But they were not,
Are not even,
As India had been in search of,
Just to represent
The literary taste in India
And the feedback to be returned
To the West,
They are but P.Lal’s findings,
P.Lal’s not,
But C.R.Mandy,
The Editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India.

Reading bad verses
Submitted by the Indians,
The mind eroded it, corroded it
And the moderns were not so
As they are,
These are the poets of today
Evolved and developed
From there
Otherwise could not have been
The poets of India.

Modern Poetry

Modern poetry is the poetry of exile and alienation,
Angst and bewilderment,
Dislocation and displacement,
Annihilation and deconstruction,
Malaise and crisis.

Without reading Eliot, Yeats, Auden,
Spender, MacNeice,
We cannot talk of modernity and modernism
In Indian English poetry.

Modern Indian English Poets

Modern Indian English poets
Just make a mockery of
Indian hunger,
Want and scarcity of foodstuffs,
The mud-housemen,
Slum-dwellers and cottagers.

Isms In modern Poetry

There are several isms and tendencies
In modern English poetry
Which Indian English poetry cannot escape it
As they derive and draw from
The mainstream
And keep track of
Imagism, surrealism, symbolism,
Decadentism and lyricism
And poetry-movements
And the ‘ies’,
The thirties, the forties and the fifties,
Running as thus.

Has Poetry Died With R.Parthasarathy’s Anthology of Ten Indian English Poets

Has poetry died with the publication of R Parthasarathy’s
Ten Indian English Poets,
Will there be no more poets after
Which is but a wrong notion
And what it hurts me is this that
R.Parthasarathy writes about himself
In the same,
None but he himself
About his own poetry?

Is Indian English Poetry A One-book Ph.D.?
Indian English poetry is a one-book Ph.D.,
Where to get material from,
The books not available,
The poets unrecognized,
Whose whereabouts unknown?

Rabindrananth Tagore’s Gitanjali
Is one-book Ph.D.,
R.Parthasarathy’s Rough Passage,
Vivekananda’s In Search of God & Other Poems,
Intermixing their poetry with prose.

Anglo-Indian Poetry, Indo-English Poetry, Indian Poetry In English Or Indian English Poetry?

Is it Anglo-Indian poetry to Indo-English poetry,
Indian poetry in English or Indian English poetry,
This is how Indian English poetry has evolved
All through the ages,
It was European
Then turned it anglicized of Indianized
Now the theme of Indianness bails it out
For the translation

Contemporary Indian English Poetry today

There are different types of poets into
The realm of Indian English poetry,
One is of the Writers Workshop, Calcutta publications,
Another of the independently published authors,
Another of the media-propped and lucky draws,
Another of the book houses,
But one should keep it in mind
That Vikram Seth’s first book was
Also rejected in the West
And it was by P.Lal’s press.

Strange Is It That You're Talking About English Poetry From The Northeast

Strange is it to hear about
That you’re talking about
English poetry from the northeast,
You say it,
Is there anything like
Indian English poetry
And if it is not
Then how to talk of
English poetry from the northeast,
Poetry not in oral dialects,
But written English,
From Nagaland, Assam, Sikkim,
Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya,

Now I can see it
That the academics from academia
Will manoeuvre and manipulate it
The level
To be poets and poetesses
If not
Then poetasters, rhymers, petty poets
Writing doggerel
To come to light
Through politics or poetry
As the so-called Indian litterati
Are editing literary journals
To be poets, critics, reviewers,
Research guides, university professors
And external examiners for the Ph.D.

The Seven Sisterly States, if You Are From The Northeast

If you are from Nagaland, sing of it,
The land of the nags,
Its tradition and modernity,
If from Manipur, tell us
About the myth and mystery of it,
If from Sikkim, tell us
About the land of Buddha and Buddhism,
The art, culture and language of it,
If from Assam, tell us about
The Karbis, the Bodos and others,
The Bihu songs and dances,
If from Mizoram, about ancient tradition
And the shift to Christianity
And also the Burmese borders,
If from Arunachal the land of the rising sun,
The monastery and the passes
Leading to China,
If from Meghalaya, the clouds glistening
And the rains.

There Is Nothing As English Poetry From The Northeast

There is nothing as English poetry
From the northeast,
Actually, the academics
After marking the authority absent
And literary vacuum prevailing,
The students and teachers are trying
Their best to be poets
Of India fame
Through the branding
Northeast English poetry,
But one should mark it
Fame is not all,
Awards is not all,
Think of those who are scholars
But without recognition,
Without name and fame,
Without any awards in their bag.

Indian English Poetry—A Re-assessment & Revaluation

Indian English poetry, as the history and origin of it,
Shows it
Is but a study in
Slender anthologies and minor voices,
The first poem writers,
The first book authors
And those who are going to write.

The trend continues in,
Of contributing a few
And contributing it,
One calling oneself a poet or poetess
Of state-level not,
But India-level,
An editor introducing
The acquaintances of his.

The critic too a no-man
And the verse practitioner too a no-man
And Indian English poetry
A study in no-men,
Even those who do researches
On Indian English poetry
Start calling themselves poets and poetesses,
Is it not a repudiation of morality and ethics?

Indian English Poetry Itself

Indian English poetry itself
Is a study in
Self-styled poets and poetesses
Proclaiming writers,
Say, who is not,
Sri Aurobindo’s books arrived
From his Pondicherry Ashrama,
Vivekananda’s Ramkrishna Mission,
P.Lal’s from his Writers Workshop?

Even Arun Kolatkar, Adil Jussawalla,
Dilip Chitre and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
As for clearing house, Pune,
A joint collaborative venture
Of self-styled poets,
As there had been no takers
Or buyers of their theories then.

What you see Nissim Ezekiel today
He was not,
Today we extol him,
But know it not the base
As his was of one of
The Elizabethans and the Metaphysicals,
Thomas Wyatt, Edmund Spenser and Shakespeare,
Marvell and Donne
And this is about his love poetry.

While in the latter written later on
He plays with irony and humour,
Tries to smile,
Mock at and burst into
Guffaws and laughters,
Chuckling and grinning
Insider not,
But outsider.

Do You Know That?

Do you know
That K.R.Srinivas Iyengar, V.K.Gokak and M.KNaik,
They too are writers of verse,
But we read them not,
Which but we should have.

Only Nissim Ezekiel, Kamala Das, Jayanta Mahapatra,
They cannot form the course of our studies,
We need to include the poets
Of the forties and the fifties,
A few more from the Pondicherry School
Can also be studied
Together with Aurobindo,
Which but do we not.
There Was A Time

There was a time when the researchers
Like it not to do their theses
On evolving Indian English poetry
And even by the way
Some did their works on Indian themes,
The English departmental teachers
Old and sober,
Schooled in classical and British texts
Used to frown upon
As for something Indian
And frankly speaking, the dull and bogus professors
Used to take up Indian English.

To day it is a matter of funding,
People taking money for major and minor projects
From the UGC
As it has pressurized the teachers
For the Ph.D. programmes
And publications,
Seminars and symposia
And workshops
Relevant under the Career Advancement Scheme.  

English Is Here

English is here
Of the Purdahwalli, the ghumtawalli,
The burkhawalli
And if this be the picture,
How to call oneself modern,
An Englishman?

Medievalism cost heavy
Upon us
And we paid the price
For intra-conspiracies and rifts,
The invaders looted and plundered India
All that was good in India.

The woman under the veil
Like the missing person
Saying it not her name
Or the name of her husband,
Just the tattoo saying it,
Backward, uneducated and below the poverty level.

There Were No Takers Or Buyers of Indian English Verse

There were no takers or buyers
Of Indian English verse then,
O takers of them,
No buyers of their theories,
People had not been in knowledge
That there existed one
Like Nissim Ezekiel or P.Lal.

But when the UGC made it essential
To introduce the Indian poets
And the Ph.D. a must for promotion,
The teachers started exploring possibilities,  
For Ph.Ds.,
Not on British literature.

But on Indian matters,
Be it the first class or third-class matter,
But the Ph.D. essential
Not for knowledge,
But for career advancement,
Do it somehow.

From the eighties the departments
Have started to read,
Before that it used to be sporadically
As we are today,
Indian English poetry,
Kamala Das, Kamala Das, Nissim Ezekiel, Nissim Ezekiel.

Decline of Poetry In The Modern Age

With the advancement of science and technology
In the modern age,
The age of information technology,
Some say it,
Poetry has declined in the modern age.

The Trend of Today

The poets of today, I mean the contemporary times
Are involved in mutual-praise and admiration,
One praising another,
One beats one’s own drums,
One writes about oneself.

Any edit the journals just for to be poets,
Just to get articles published
On their poetry,
I know them,
I can name them,
You call me a poet,
I shall too call you,
Where have we gone to?

Poetry of The Hollow Men, Modern Hollow Men

Poetry of the hollow men,
Modern hollow men,
Read we,
Write we,
The poets as the hollow men,
The readers as the hollow men
All but hollow and shallow
From within,
Modern men the hollow men,
Mechanical and technical.

Science or Poetry?

Science or poetry,
Fact or fiction,
Faith or doubt,
Whom to attach to
As science too not less than?

For a man of physics,
Poetry is in physics,
One for of mathematics
It is in mathematics.

The world is not the creation
Of poetry,
But of science too
And the poet is not all. 

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