This anthology of papers presented at a seminar organized by the Sahitya Akademi in March 1998, takes stock of the Indian poetry of the five decades after Independence, raises basic conceptual questions, examines paradigm shifts and Interrogates the established canons by foregrounding marginalized voices. The papers examine the growth of modern sensibility in Indian poetry in specific linguistic contexts, relates it to general cultural issues and examines post-colonial avant-garde trends including the feminist and the Dalit movement. The papers are collected under three heads: 'Modernism in Retrospect' examines the historical, political and aesthetic aspects of modernism'; 'After Modernism: Articulating Resistance' takes a close at the alternative trends that challenge the status-quoist mainstream poetry; 'Poetry as Discourse: Some General Issues' takes up issues concerning the present and future of poetry, including the problems of the translation of poetry. Contributors to the volume include Dilip Chitre, E.V. Ramakrishnan, Ramesh Chandra Shah, Makarand Paranj ape, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Chandrakant Patil, M. Asaduddin, Lakshmi Kannan, Raj lukshmee Debee, K.D. Kurtkodi, P.P. Raveendran, S. Carlos, Sudheesh Pachauri and Udayan Vajpeyi, among others.
K. Satchidanandan is a Malayalam poet, essayist and translator and a bilingual critic and editor. He was Professor of English at Christ College, University of Caliput, Kerala, editor of Indian Literature and later Secretary, Sahitya Akademi. He then worked as a Language Policy Consultant for the Govt. of India and has been associated, as editor, with Katha, Delhi and the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature. He edited the poetry quarterly Kerala Kavita in Malayalam and the series of translations from South Asian literature, The South Asian Library of Literature in English. He has 24 collections of poetry in Malayalam, 16 collections of world poetry in translation, four plays, three books of travel and 23 collections of critical essays and interviews besides four collections of essays in English. He has edited several anthologies of poetry and prose in Malayalam, English and Hindi. He has 27 collections of his poems in translation in 18 languages, including five collections in English, six in Hindi and one each in Irish, Arabic; Chinese, German, French and Italian, besides all the major Indian languages. He has won 34 awards and honours for his literary contribution including Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad Award,(Kolkata) Gangadhar Meher Award (Orissa), Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award (5 times), Kumaran Asan Award (Chennai), Bapureddy National Award, NT Rama Rao Award (Hyderabad) Kuvempu Samman (Karnataka), Odakkuzhal Award, Vayalar Award (Kerala), Kusumagraj National Award (Maharashtra), Sahitya Akademi Award for Malayalam and Kala Award, from London for total contribution, Senior Fellowship from the Department of Culture, Government of India, Sreekant Verma Fellowship from the Government of Madhya Pradesh and the K.K.Birla Fellowship for Comparative Literature. He is a Fellow of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi.
One of the most important developments in Indian k.../ Poetry in the post-Independence period in all the 193 languages has perhaps been the break-down of a single voice, a single unifying concern that despite its varieties 224 r of articulation characterized the poetry that just preceded Independence. All the languages had certain father figures 236 or patriarchal pantheons represented by specific concerns, conventions and forms. The editors of Vibhava 244 an anthology of modern Indian writing, call this 'Tagore Syndrome' that, according to them, is characterized by cultural nationalism, romantic love, idealization of nature, 262 metaphysics and mysticism and an ideal of nation-building. The concoction, they say, had become too sweet 294 i or too stale as was the case with lyricism in poetry and realism in fiction. Some writers who came to be celebrated as the pioneers of modernism later wanted to liberate themselves from what they thought was an overbearing literary culture. The image of the writer as the hero in the dazzling halo of the public self no more fitted the new 307 writers who, with a different sensibility, were trying to articulate the existential tensions, anxieties and doubts 314 of individuals sentenced to the solitude, ambiguity and anguish of the post-industrial urban infernos. Dilip Chitre 322 in his introduction to An Anthology of Marathi Poetry alludes to this experience as the 'broken gestalt' and 339 shows with examples from Marathi poetry how the cultures that broke off most violently from the tradition 352 were the very cultures that had a deep-rooted sense of their native ways of feeling because it was individuals in 367 these cultures who experienced the deepest trauma when the mechanised society enjoying the fruits of a mass civilization broke up their sense of an organic inner life.
At the same time poets also began to be exposed in a big way to the experiments in contemporary Western poetry that they admired yet refused to imitate since they were well aware of the indigenous traditions that were rich in situations, characters, symbols, motifs and archetypes that could well serve as a source of metaphors for the conflicts of modern life. B.S. Mardhekar of Marathi, for example, returned to the poetry of Tukaram and Ramdas in search of potent stylistic devices as also a shared sensibility. Tukaram's anguished search for God and the sharp moral didactic of Ramdas assumed a new relevance and intensity in the spiritual crisis Mardhekar was passing through in the postwar years. Constant references to tradition and redeployment of images and situations from the epics can also be seen in the poetry of other pioneers of modernism like Sitanshu Yashaschandra, G.M. Muktibodh, Sachi Routray, Ayyappa Paniker or Gopalakrishna Adiga. Perhaps modernism in poetry - a genre with deeper roots in tradition - was not as complete a break with the past as was modernism in fiction, a genre with a shorter history. Unfortunately, several of our critics tend to examine modernism in general equating the trends in all genres, thus ignoring the specific modalities of its emergence in each genre, each language and, ultimately, each text.
Another kind of division - partly conceptual and partly chronological - applied to the study of modernism has been those of 'high modernism' and the avant-garde. For example, E.V. Ramakrishnan in his comparative study, Making it New has examined in detail the emergence of modernism in poetry with special reference to Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Malayalam in its wider social and literary context. He denounces the tendency to qualify all modernist works as 'avant-garde' since it reduces poetry to pure form. Taking his cue chiefly from Peter Burger he defines avant-garde as a negation of the sociological one where poets faced with forces of standardization brought about by the market society and its consumers culture seem to be forming imagined communities or alternative nation hoods as in the case of movement poets like the Marxist radicals, Dalits women or those with pronounced regional, linguistic, ecological and other concers.
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