About the Book
This book, where nine poets enter into meaningful dialogues with interlocutors, is the result of a three-day seminar organised by Sahitya Akademi and the University of Hyderabad in 1999. What comes out of the dialogue is a sense of the contemporary scene in Indian Poetry in English, which has become bolder and definitely more open as it engages with the problems of articulation. Nine leading Indian poets Keki N Daruwalla, Eunice d’Souza, Shiv K Kumar, Menka Shivdasani, Hoshang Merchant, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Bibhu Padhi, Raj Rao and Makarand Paranjape reflect upon the current Indian English Poetry scene, even as their poems, introduced judiciously into the interviews, come together in a unique anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry in English.
About the Author
Mohan Ramanan is the author of well-known books on Modem Poetry, American Literature and Indian Writing in English. He is also the author of a monograph on Rt. Hon. Y.S. Srinivasa Sastri. He has recently edited a collection of essays titled Humanities in the Present Context which argues for the primacy of the humanistic enterprise in our society. Currently, he is at work on a book on R.K. Narayan and is also engaged in a study of South Indian cultural history.
Afeefa Banu was until recently teaching English in the University of Hyderabad. She resigned her position to take up a teaching assignment in Saudi Arabia. Her interests include Stylistics, Drama, Women’s Studies and New Literatures in English. She was also involved in the literacy mission of Hyderabad University.
Pramod Nayar teaches English in the University of Hyderabad. His interests include English Writing on India, Cultural Studies and Post- Colonial Studies. He has published widely in all these areas. For some time he used to review Indian Poetry in English for Chandrabhaga regularly.
This is a book which in a peculiar way denies that the author is dead. If anything, it asserts the fact of authorship by being a book with a multiplicity of authors, and we do not mean the Editors alone. This volume has had a complicated history. In March 1999, the Department of English, University of Hyderabad, and the Sahitya Akademi jointly organised a two-day seminar on Contemporary Indian English Poetry. It was a seminar with a difference. Ten poets entered into a dialogue with interlocutors for a thirty minute HARD TALK like session. There were occasional audience interventions but the focus clearly was on the poets. Here was an opportunity for a university audience to see live poets in conversation. The programme was telecast by Doordarshan with heavy editing but the interviews are available with the Department of English, University of Hyderabad and the Sahitya Akademi in discs. The Editors without the sophisticated technology available to them to prepare transcripts did a laborious job of getting a usable script. These were sent to the poets for vetting and the present volume has these interviews in a format which has the approval of the poets. They, therefore, along with the interlocuters are also authors of this volume. The Editors have divided the work between them. Mohan Ramanan wrote the first of the three introductory essays for the volume; Afeefa Banu, the second and Pramod Nayar the third. These appear as separate essays and we decided on this strategy because we found that we were three separate individuals with varying perspectives and styles. So rather than impose a false homogeneity on the material in the introductory section we decided that we would assume individual responsibility for the three introductory essays. This then makes for another kind of multiple authorship. Pramod Nayar and Afeefa Banu have prepared the Select Bibliography.
A word about the organisation of the volume. The essay by Mohan Ramanan is on the nineteenth century provenance and he brings the story up to about the time the Modernists fought their rearguard action against the Aurobindonian strain in Indian English poetry. Afeefa Banu is concerned in her essay with the development of the Modernist strain and she touches upon the major figures of the Indian English poetry scene-Ezekiel, Ramanujan, Parthasarathy, Dom Moraes, Jayanta Mohapatra-and several others. Her essay also focuses on women’s writing and other marginalised groups. Pramod Nayar in his essay offers a comprehensive survey of trends, poets, poems, themes and motifs in the period following the Modernists and encompassing the thirty or forty years till the present times. This introductory section of three essays is followed by the interviews. Nine poets are represented - Shiv K Kumar, Keki Daruwalla, Eunice d’Souza, Hoshang Merchant, Bibhu Padhi, Raj Rao, Makarand Paranjape, Menka Shivdasani, and Rukmini Bhaya Nayar. All of them are represented in their voices, because this has been conceived as a volume where the poets are to be heard. We are thankful to the interlocuters - GJV Prasad, Alok Bhalla, Sindhu Menon, Probal Dasgupta, Sachidananda Mohanty, Pramod Nayar, A. Giridhar, Bala Kothandaraman, and Chitra Paniker for their service and for the tremendous effort they put into the job of interviewing poets who are as a class unpredictable or difficult or simply eccentric. They too are authors of this book. We regret the omission of the interview T Vijaykumar did with Arvind K Mehrotra because we did not have Arvind’s approval of the text in time. It is our loss. The interviews are peppered with poems because we felt that finally the poet is known only through the poems. We have, therefore, inserted as many poems as possible to give this volume the flavour of also an anthology.
We thank the Sahitya Akademi for the strong support it gave us in preparing this volume which is getting ready years after the event. We thank the Department of English, University of Hyderabad to which all of us Editors belong for supporting this venture with infrastructure when the seminar was held in 1999 and now with modest funds from the third phase of the Special Assistance Programme of the University Grants Commission under its publication budget. We thank our students Deepa Ornkar, Gudrun Seth and our Project fellow Subrahjyothi Chanda for various kinds of assistance in the preparation of the volume. Mr. R Nagarajan, the Department’s Secretary has rendered yeoman service in typing and preparing the MS.
We trust that even though late in appearance, this volume will prove to be useful to the researcher and the general reader as a reference tool, not to speak of it being a good read.
The Early Years
Modern Indian English Poetry
Recent Poetry-Poetry of the Nineties
Shiv K Kumar in conversation with GJV Prasad
Keki N Daruwalla in conversation with Alok Bhalla
Eunice de Souza in conversation with Sindhu Menon
Hoshang Merchant in conversation with Probal Dasgupta
Bibhu Padhi in conversation with Sachidananda Mohanty
Raj Rao in conversation with Pramod K Nayar
Makarand Paranjape in conversation with A. Giridhar
Menka Shivdasani in conversation with Bala Kothandaraman
Rukmini Bhaya Nair in conversation with Chitra Panikkar
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