The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the Decade 2013-2022 as the “International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures” building on the efforts in the UNESCO General Conference which had called for “the development of a universal global consciousness” based on dialogue and cooperation in a climate of trust and mutual understanding and for a “new humanism for the twenty-first century”. Thus we look at the creative efforts of individuals who built bridges of understanding over the divides of cultures, social classes, and ethnicity and created a foundation for the New Humanism.
Garry Snyder, whose birth anniversary we mark on 8 May, is a model of the cultural bridge-builder, creating links between Japanese–Chinese and US culture and at the same time developing a new awareness of Nature.
A Zen View of Nature
Gary Snyder: (1930–)
The most revolutionary consciousness is to be found among the most ruthlessly exploited classes:
animals, trees, water, air, grasses.–Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder reached the consciousness of a wide reading public in the USA as Japhy Ryder, the name given to him in Jack Kerouac’s 1958 novel The Dharma Bums. Kerouac, then the best known of the USA-based Beat Generation, sums up Snyder’s life till then “the number one Dharma Bum of them all was he, Japhy Ryder, who coined the phrase. Japhy Ryder was a kid from eastern Oregon brought up in a log cabin deep in the woods with his father and mother and sister, from the beginning, a woods boy, an axman, farmer, interested in animals and Indian lore so that when he finally got to college by hook or crook he was already well equipped for his early studies in anthropology and later Indian myth and in the actual texts of Indian mythology. Finally he learned Chinese and Japanese and became an Oriental scholar and discovered the greatest Dharma Bums of them all, the Zen Lunatics of China and Japan. At the same time, being a Northwest boy with idealistic tendencies, he got interested in old-fashioned Industrial Workers of the World anarchism and learned to play the guitar and sing old workers songs to go with his Indian songs and general folksong interests.”
The adventures of Snyder as Japhy Ryder in the mid-1950s San Francisco Renaissance, along with Allen Ginsberg, the older poet Kenneth Rexroth and the scholar of Asian thought Alan Watts are well told in The Dharma Bums, a book less known than the Kerouac classic On the Road but still worth reading. A reflection of the Beat period comes from Snyder’s 1955 poem “For a Far-out Friend”:
Visions of your body Kept me high for weeks, I even had
A sort of trance for you
A day in a dentist’s chair.
I found you again, gone stone,
In Zimmer’s book of Indian Art:
Dancing in that life with
Grace and love, with rings and
A little golden belt, just above
your naked snatch,
And I thought – more grace and love
In that wild Deva life where you belong,
Than in this dress-and-girdle life
You’ll ever give
By the time The Dharma Bums was published in 1958, Snyder was living in Japan, studying Zen having become a Zen Monk under the name of Chofu, and working on translations from Japanese and Chinese. He spent most of his time in Japan until 1968. When he returned to the USA, the Beat Generation of San Francisco had gone on its way. Allen Ginsberg had gone back to New York to lead a Zen-poetical battle against the war in Vietnam.
Snyder’s return to the USA was on the eve of a broad ecological consciousness that took its political form with the UN-sponsored 1972 Stockholm conference on the environment. Synder was influenced by the most famous of the American “back to nature books, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (1854). For Snyder “Human economies are based on utilizing whatever nature makes available, and it would be very prudent and healthy for all complex societies to be informed about ecological and economic systems at the same time. A lot of what happens in the economic realm runs counter to the health of the ecological system.”
Gary Snyder has become the poetic spokesman for bioregionalism. “The differing regions of the world have long had each their own precise subsistence pattern developed over millennia by people who had settled in there and learned what particular kinds of plants the ground would ‘say’ at that spot. Countless local ecosystem habitation styles emerged. People developed specific ways to be in each of those niches: plant knowledge, boats, fishing, the smaller animals and smaller tools — a spirit of what was to be there evolved, that spoke of a direct sense of relation to the ‘land’ — which really means, the totality of the local bio-region system, from cirrus clouds to leaf-mold. Bio-regional problems are always linked to the larger biological world. But paying attention to your immediate region gives us a quicker way to monitor and understand what is happening and thus to be able to apprise our citizens more swiftly.”
For Gary Snyder, there is a close link between the spirit of a region and creativity.
“Creativity is an expression of gratitude and a celebration of a place. All art is essentially devotional. A place will specifically express itself through the colours and shapes and materials used by the artist. Many natural cultures transform their landscape into the very clothes and designs they wear. The old Scottish tartans, for instance, reflect the deep purples and blues, oranges and reds of the colour of the Highlands in the autumn. Craft, and art come together as part of the pure expression of the place. You make your art out of that which grows there, you dye your clothes from plants that grow there. It is wonderful reinforcement of the whole picture — and of course it is spiritual. It is the song of the place to itself.”
Snyder’s poetry, deeply influenced by the Zen tradition, is the opposite of the much-practiced ‘confessional poetry’ which is a confrontation with the self and the ways the ego has been twisted by social determinants. Confessional poetry is much influenced by Freudian theory in which the inward voyage is a dense tangle of repressed memories, forbidden desires and multiple associations. On the other hand for Snyder “the practice of meditation, for which one needs only the ground beneath one’s feet wipes out mountains of junk being pumped into the mind by the mass media and supermarket universities. The belief in a serene and generous fulfillment of natural loving desires destroys ideologies which blind, maim and repress.” Zen allows the person to calm the ego and to discover the order and value within the world as it is.
Snyder brings his long study of Eastern religious thought to present wholeness and a sense of time. While we live in a world of seeming separation and division, our universe is a unified whole brimming with life and infused with a spiritual presence. He writes, “I try to hold both history and wildness in my mind, so that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our time.” A good introduction to the writing of Gary Snyder is his 1974 book Turtle Island. The title comes from the native Indian name for North America. The book was awarded in 1975 the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry – a leading award for literature.
Hermann Hesse: Revolt and Enlightenment
Hermann Hessse (1877–1962), whose birth anniversary we mark on 2 July, was born into a German Protestant missionary family which had worked particularly in India. His mother was born in India, and his maternal grandfather had translated Christian scriptures into Indian languages and later in his life developed a German- Indian languages dictionary. His father had also been a Protestant missionary in India, but by the time Hermann Hesse was born in 1877 had returned to Germany to the Black Forest area where he founded a small publishing house to publish Protestant books. Hermann’s father thought that he should follow the pattern of both sides of his family, become a Protestant minister and perhaps go and preach in Asia.
However, in a theme which he takes up in his main novels, he revolted early against family authority, and so his father sent him away to a boarding school. In fact, he went to several different boarding schools where he remained in revolt against school authority. He finally finished secondary school and started university. However German universities of his time were as authority-bound as were secondary schools, and he quickly dropped out.
He first thought of becoming a painter and then decided to be a novelist while earning his living in odd jobs, his father having cut off all financial support. In the years prior to the First World War, he wrote a number of novels in the romantic style of the time. He started to earn money from his writing and editing. In 1911, he went to India but not to convert Indians to Christianity but to learn about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese philosophy. Hesse’s Indian experience set the stage for his awareness that true freedom must be an inner one.
The outbreak of the First World War had a heavy negative impact on Hermann Hesse, a pacifist who believed that an avenue to peace was to build bridges between cultures. As he was already living in Bern, Switzerland, he refused to return to Germany for war service. He lost his earlier popularity among German readers who were, for the most part, caught up in the war spirit. He was denounced in the press as”a viper nourished at the breast of an unsuspecting audience.” By 1916, his marriage and family fell apart, and he was under great mental strain, his wife confined to a mental institution and his son seriously ill.
Thus, in 1916-1917 he undertook a psychoanalysis supervised by C.G. Jung. Through Jungian psychoanalysis he developed the idea of a correspondence between an inner state of being and its expression in the outer world. The war was not only raging on the battlefield but also within the spirit of a generation whose values had collapsed. He wrote Demian in 1917. His hero says “The world wants to renew itself. There is a smell of death in the air. Nothing can be born without first dying”. Demian dies on a Flanders battlefield unable to develop a new system of values. The book was taken up by youth in the years following the end of the war when many came to wonder if the outcome was worth the sacrifices.
Rebellion against established structures, the quest for personal values and a religious impulse are all elements in Siddhartha, published in 1922, perhaps his most widely-read book. Hesse reworks the early quest of the Buddha into a life-long process. In the novel, Siddhartha, son of a Brahman, has been brought up a faithful observer of his father’s religion. At 18, deciding that he cannot find true fulfillment in conventional Hinduism, he sets out in search of an even more austere religion. Three years of asceticism brings him to the realization that extreme and exclusive concentration on the spirit cuts him off from the world of nature and thus takes him even further from the harmony he seeks.
In a reversal, he devotes himself for 20 years to a life of the senses, becoming a successful merchant and finding sensual love. However, he understands that a life of matter has brought him no closer to tranquility. Thus he abandons his wife and his possessions. He spends 20 years as a ferryman on a river. He listens to the whisperings of the water and in the company of a sage, he achieves a harmony of being. As Hesse writes “From that hour, Siddhartha ceased to fight against his destiny. There shone on his face the serenity of knowledge of one who is no longer confronted with the conflict of desires, who has found salvation, who is in harmony with the stream of events, with the stream of life, full of sympathy and compassion, surrendering himself to the stream, belonging to the unity of all things.”
It is not clear that Hesse found the harmony of enlightenment in his own life. In his last major work The Glass Bead Game (1943) he describes what might be an ideal Buddhist monastery devoted to the discovery, preservation and dissemination of knowledge. The chief monk leaves and goes out into the world where he quickly dies. Hesse stresses his faith in a society that treasures the traditions and culture of the past while remaining open to the future. This is the Middle Way, the core value of the Buddhist view of Enlightenment.
Poonam Mulchandani 3 poems
Is this what fairy tales are made of?
Of long nights under the flowers? Or tall trees covered with stars? Of cabins in the woods? Or of the last drag that I took? Of my heart wrapped in wool? Or of the moon that spun so full? Of the love that I escape from? Or of the joy that I grow on? Of the legends of Mohicans? Or untold stories of the Indians? Of the sweet sound of freedom? Or of the ripples in the lily pond? Of strings that strum my pain? Or the warning of the rain? Of the mystery that I await? Or is it just a picture that I create? Is this what fairy tales are made of?
Or is it just things I want to dream of?
Short road trips can go a long way
To show you that you never must stay
Limited to your typical day
For if you do
You may miss out too
Like I almost did
I almost missed
Of the holy mountain
In its mighty mist
I almost missed
The poetry in stone
Of the thousand pillars
Where the monkeys roam
I almost missed
How the sunlight shone
Through fields of grass
Where rice is grown
I almost missed
The big display
Of golden boulders
In their magnific array
I almost missed
The winding roads To be lost in which
I will never be bored
I almost missed
Of the village folk
That laughed at our craziness
I almost missed
The delicious meal
That was shared around
A homely zeal
I almost missed
The moments shared
With good friends
Who always care
I almost missed
All this and more
If I would’ve decided
to be a bore
and stayed at home
to do my chores
So never again
Will I refrain
When a friend asks me
To hit the road again.
Gingee/Thiruvanamalai, January, 2017
The Little Prince
I know that you may have read this before
But I urge for you to read it some more
Every time you feel like you may be lost
Like this little prince who wanted to protect his one flower
from the frost
You will see the messages hidden between the lines
To guide you through those seemingly difficult times
Your planet may seem so small sometimes
But there you can make the day last as long as you like
So be an explorer, and a geographer, a discoverer if you may
But don’t ever forget your childlike play
Don’t ever let your imagination get away
So when you see the drawing of a hat
Don’t see it for only just that
For it may be a boa digesting an elephant
Or something more curioser that can only be seen by an
Remember that what is most important is usually invisible
The eyes may be blind
So look with your heart and it will shine
Think of your great grandfather who fixed St.Exupery’s
Remember that there will always be lands where you may have
And even if you grow up
There will be many things you may not know
And even when you grow up
You will always be my little prince
Elizabeth Cherian 6 poems/4 paintings
Red Elephant – Elizabeth Cherian
One day after I woke up
I went to fill my coffee cup
When I stopped dead in my tracks
For in my kitchen, in a pair of slacks
Was an elephant, looking rather red
And he asked me if he could be fed.
“All I need to eat are some fruits
A ton of them is what I need for my glutes.”
With a horrified look at him I said
“Maybe I should’ve just stayed in bed”.
There was a pan I once knew
Who a complete tantrum threw
She didn’t do what she was supposed to
But hatched a plot and away she flew.
This caused friends some heartache and grief
But she said she‘d now turned over a new leaf.
Red Pan-1 – Elizabeth Cherian
Red Pan-2 – Elizabeth Cherian
Red Pan 2
For awhile she was happy, that old pan of mine
Then one day I noticed she didn’t look too fine
Before I knew
Again she flew
I didn’t have a clue.
She returned with a fella –
and she didn’t look so blue.
Then she announced she had now become a Mrs.
I told her they both could do all the dishes
But now and then I can hear the sound of kisses
The Baya Weaver is a pretty bird
With an amazing nest, have you heard?
I had once read a lecture
About birds and architecture
If you see it with your own eye
Then you will know I do not lie.
With a head so yellow
He’s a handsome fellow
Black and white wings
Great Bear – Elizabeth Cherian
Show clearly as he brings
Some nesting things.
I’ll paint you the sky
So we can fly high
I’ll paint you some stars
And also add Mars
I’ll paint you the Great Bear
When he’s out of his lair.
The Wooly necked Stork
The Wooly neck Stork
Does not like to eat pork.
He has a muffler that’s white
It must be just right
When he flies in the day or night
As it’s cold up there
So this he must wear.
He has on his head a small black cap
That he wears even when he takes a nap.
His coat is a formal black – a great fit
With some flecks of brown and grey in it.
His black beak has a red tinge
When worms see it I bet they cringe.
Bishnupada Ray musings & a poem
the drudgery of day to day duty when the mind settles for some rest, the
oppressive bouts of morbid thoughts come back like a moribund psychological
novel. Inside the chest cavity the heart shrinks amidst the expanding emptiness
and then starts burning in loneliness. The footprints that have left my home
are indelible, but after some distance they are no more visible in the
moonlight that seems to have spread a gentle pale white shroud over them. My
memory keeps awake and awaiting for their knocking on the door, but I know the
last wish will always be to silence them, to wish them dead and buried, as in TheMonkey’s
Paw. The mystery why they have left my home in the first place is
unanswerable. I do not like to blame them; they have their own understanding of
the situation. Only thing I know is that with every footprint going out of my
home my stature as a human being comes under doubt and test. There seems to be
a great leak somewhere in my being, like my leaking organs. The half brothers
of guilt and remorse go on playacting in the backstage with the famous Macbeth
lines ‘…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’.
Winter brings about a peculiar feeling
of alienation in me. The winter solstice is a difficult time for me. The sun
goes far away over the Tropic of Capricorn. My Tropic of Cancer becomes
destitute of the sun and I am alienated from everything. More and more I find
myself sun-centric. With the sun I feel safe. Warmth and heat from the blazing
sun keep me naturally fit. Summer fuses me into oneness with nature and I feel
myself like being Pan. The summer solstice is the time of abundant energy and
joy. I like to breathe the hot air, bathe in the hot air and cool in the hot
air with sweat. Then rain comes like a climax with the fulfillment and bliss of
orgasm. Raindrops fall on every pore of my skin and make my body hair dance
like peacock with life. Winter is backward, mechanical and joyless. The soul,
like metal, expands in summer; in winter it shrinks and freezes. Winter is
oppression and bondage. Summer is liberation and rain is its blessing. With the
fecundity of summer I perceive; with the barrenness of winter I create.
In Time of Breaking
something is breaking
tectonic plates are breaking
something is breaking
hole is preventing
the birth of
a new star
something is breaking
in the mind
chronic hate mauls
frame of a volcano
and a fear
into a mass
and a night
but from the
of this slow
of the heap
of broken images
light of release from fear
recovery of faith
beauty and power
of a godly
Abishake Koul 4 poems
can feel the gentle wind
the nagging chill
I walk barefoot
sand is everywhere
it doesn’t cling
rustling of leaves
the waves along the shore
amidst the ruckus
can go back
those innocent times
up as an elderly
pen resting in my diary
the shady trees
the green grass
my thoughts soar
remember the face
smile and the eyes
boy who sold lemonade
library by a corner
seat for an elderly
reserved, always waiting
guy who sold momos
free soup tasted better
winters were a delight
of mindful aberrations
glances on mirrors
without a care
walks, long talks
future and growing old
receptive to nature
powers and sanctity
were certain beliefs
even bigger dreams
I still search
that smiling face
the earthly shade
I turn the smelly pages
my old diary
simple valiant past
its songs unwritten
behind in crevices
an elderly brain
I had cried when
I got the part,
I didn’t sing too well,
The song was lengthy,
And they were all gonna watch it.The music stripped me bare at times, A feeling so overwhelming, That I forget about time, The pace was set too fast.
I have been playing the role far too long now, The words don’t mean the same anymore, The silent trumpet letting out a cry at times, Some days I don’t look at mirrors.
I tried to run away once, My bags were always packed, And a list to manage contents, Perks of living out of boxes.
There was a romantic in the play, A die hard blue eyed lover, Never trimmed his mustache, The role never let him.
He sometimes cried at night, And then went for a smoke, I never asked him why, He never shared.
Maybe it was he never found love, Not even in lively retreats, Of tents and canvasses, Living reel in real.
Cinderella Do I even know
you? Cinderella asked, Sitting with poise, On a starry night.Her eyes shining, Like white diamonds, And a smile that would, Make stars shoot & fly.
Beautiful, No need to even ask, So, the fool said no, To dream another time.
An old Man, a
dead Girl & a Boatman
He is lonely, old
and keeps climbing up a trail on the mountain side,
He tells about his past demons up there which antagonize him,
His nightmares keep him busy as does the daily uphill grind, Too much labor seeping through, drowning the music and time.They kept calling the girl, the one already long dead, They wanted to keep their promises made over guilt, A blue old place ready to be rented, the doors open, They feared that wrath of Gods hadn’t been felt in a long time.
The boatman kept waiting, the long call of sea always came, Rowing was a means to wash sins, hollowed and diabolical, Telling legends to little kids and secretly blessing couples, He rowed faster when he carried priests across the bay.
viii. Sneha S poem
the coarse brown-grayness
of a bhakri on his plate —
mispronounced in the street
he was born in an era
where yellow newspapers
outlined a sun’s beam.
today, hurried commuters
full of sweaty armpits
chase the six thirty local,
disturb his surprised peace.
the old man breathes this
anxious air, wipes his
spectacles to look —
at speckles of tired,
worn-out, undead faces.
dust has settled everywhere
a few particles on his spectacles —
he still sees the mosaic
of squished fruits and vegetables
abandoned in the dark,
in silent acceptance of their fate.
he rolls the makeshift carpet
pachaas rupaiya daily wage,
burdened by the reflection
of railway pillars, sounds
of a distant Coimbatore express,
walking towards the station
platform. municipal workers
gather to assimilate dust in
their lungs and the remainder
an excruciating sunrise
delayed by a quarter
lurks around the city
uninhabited, with its quiet,
rustic leftovers. monuments
stoic with cold surfaces.
he prepares to sleep
on a tattered blanket —
the treasured steel trunk
is fast asleep beneath the
wooden bed, full of stamps,
black and white photographs
and daily wage. he offers
his wage to the feet of two
bronze idols of gods before
pulling the blanket over.
Barnali Ray Shuklafilm Musings & Reflections on Satyajit Ray’s iconic ‘Feluda’
Filmmaker Barnali Ray Shukla recounts her memories of Satyajit Ray’s immortal creation ‘Feluda’ and getting to be part of Feluda – 50 Years Of Ray’s Detective, a filmic tribute to the fictional character!
When you find a stranger reading a book which you hold really special, you are not strangers anymore.Watching films in a movie theatre comes closest to that, each time. A surrender by choice, to an adopted reality, captive with numerous strangers.
All this in a darkened theatre. And sometimes we take a character home. Feluda is that someone.
The dapper, quintessential sleuth who doesn’t give up and doesn’t give in. Most of us have been that in our heads, in a certain stage of our life. Some still continue to be. He is a seeker, stands up for the underdog, his wit is so distilled that you may seem new to yourself if you are not in the moment.
Well-informed in the pre-internet era and his laid-back dynamism the prescribed combination of brain and brawn. A confidante, what we miss most perhaps. And that’s why we hope to run into them, in real life. Something to be noted here, his stories never had the presence of women. Not a single story and now that I tell you this, when you watch the films or read the stories, you wouldn’t even notice. A choice I’m told, made by the Ray himself.
If only I could ask him over a cup of Darjeeling, maybe in afterlife.
I’m sure I speak for most of our generation, the ones fortunate enough to be growing up on Ray’s work. Then Gen-neXt and Gen-whY happened. The secret is, Feluda remained just as he was, only more topical and current with each passing year. Then, we got busy with our lives. However, at times between chai and adda, begunis and phish-fry, black coffee and plum cake, the Bengali evoked Feluda as much as Neruda. I certainly hope that spilled over to the diaspora which waited to know more about home.
The evocation, a little romanticized, perhaps Holmes and Spiderman were far across the Atlantic.
We firefight through our day, most confide in Facebook, hide in public on twitter, instagram moments and blog sometimes and choose to forget that we once had friends.
Few of them lived in books and a handful, in the movies.
Two years back, while I stared at the phone for the elusive call which changes lives, it rang. Not with a promise of a film or a cheque but a call from Mr Sandip Ray’s ex-associate.
I was most surprised, pleasantly so, when Mr Sagnik Chatterjee, erstwhile assistant director to Mr Sandip Ray, announced that he was working on a feature-length documentary on Feluda and that I would be part of it. I wanted to believe him but drove away the thoughts as one of Sagnik’s friendly capers.
However, a month later, I received a parcel from Mr Ray’s office with trivia and details on Feluda. The memorabilia priceless!
A personal note said that I would represent the Probashi Bengali, the Bengali who is away from Bengal and tastes her home with films, literature, aromas, fabrics. I’m keen to watch the film when it finds its way into theatres here in our city.
Feluda has a life of his own, a life that even the auteur would have liked to see. I wish to believe that the master is watching over three generations of films and actors who have essayed the role of Feluda, who are all on board this documentary. Right from the illustrious Soumitra Chatterjee to the current favourite, Abir Chatterjee.
This documentary, Feluda—50 Years Of Ray’s Detective, premiered in the United States at the New York Indian Film Festival 2017 on May 2, which happens to be Mr Satyajit Ray’s birthday.(Barnali Ray Shukla’s article originally appeared on Flickside – published in brown critique with permission)
x. Steffen Horstmann Jalsaghar
Jalsaghar is a luminous collection by one of the finest practitioners of the ghazal form in English. Fifteen years in the making, this seminal work spans centuries and continents, of which Oxford scholar Brenda Lyons writes: “Steffen Horstmann’s Jalsaghar renews in English the enduring power and lyricism of the ancient ghazal. His is a voice echoing the elegant rhythms of Agha Shahid Ali. This collection is historically attuned and deeply rooted in Hindu and Urdu literary traditions. A stunning achievement.”
Steffen Horstmann’s ghazals illuminate the form’s potential in English. He has been devoted to the study of the ghazal’s development over the centuries and has stayed current regarding its adoption into English poetry. As a result, his ghazals are well-grounded in the traditions of both English poetry and the ghazal.
Steffen Horstmannwas born in Niskayuna, New York, and attended the University of Arizona. As Agha Shahid Ali’s student, he studied the history of the ghazal form and began writing his own ghazals in English. Horstmann’s poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout the world, including Baltimore Review, Free State Review, Istanbul Literary Review, Louisiana Literature, Oyez Review, Texas Poetry Journal, and Tiferet. He resides in Naples, Florida.
Goirick Brahmachari is a widely anthologized poet whose work has been published in many noted publications. His first book, For the love of Pork, was published in January 2016 by Les Editions du Zaporogue. He has won the Muse India-Satish Verma Young Writer Award for 2016 and Srinival Rayaprol poetry Prize 2016.
His chapbook, Joining the Dots, published by Nivasini, was launched at Kunzum Cafe, Delhi on March 5, 2017.
xii. Gayatri Lakhiani Invisible Eye
Invisible Eye is
a collection of 45 poems. The poems are a mélange of emotions: loss of
Homeland, Sind and roots find a centre place in the poems. These originate from
childhood stories reiterated by the poet’s father who was born in Karachi, Sind
Undivided India. Isolation, distances, voyages of the mind are some of the
other themes interwoven in the poems. The poems wear happy and sad Greek masks
depicting life in its candid form; exploring newness and staleness of
relationships, nostalgia of places, and stillness of moments captured in
frames. Colours in their unique hues diffuse the poems with shades of desire
and delusion treading on unknown paths.
Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla was born in Mumbai she educated at Narsee Monjee
College of Commerce and Economics and did her Masters in Commerce from Mumbai
University. She received her Degree from Alliance Française de Bombay and an
International Diploma in Teaching from University of Cambridge. A poet,
freelancer and French teacher her poems have been published in periodicals
like The American Poetry Anthology, The Indian P.E.N., The Brown
Critique, The Journal of the Poetry Society (India), The Brown Boat, Taj Mahal
Review, Pea River Journal and Open Road Review. Her poem
“Anagram” won the 2013 Commendation Prize at ‘The All India Poetry
Competition (New Delhi, India).
Publisher:Authorspress; Ist Edition edition (2016) Paperback:60 pages
xiii. Mihir Chitre Hyphenated
Very few prefaces have the ability to catch a reader’s attention and Chitre’s is one of them. The opening lines give a peek into what is to follow: “I have been a lot of people at times; at times, simultaneously, all or some of those; at other times struggling to be even one of those. Most of these different selves were induced by time . . .”
A moment. An era. A space. Chitre through his poems manages to give us a glimpse of the fissures that are created by time. The first section compels the reader to come out of their comfort zone. It is the description of Bombay or Mumbai as we now call it. The poems are not a sweeping statement on the city but are an acute observation of people and the place. The book begins with a poem on the school – the elephant in the room – the sexuality, the repression, the frustration, the anger, the abuse; towards the end of the poem, the poet writes:
The day has dismantled into disorder
Paperback, 110 pages
Published 2014 by Sahitya Akademi
xiv. Adil Jussawalla Gulestan
Gulestan, a not-so-long ten-part poem, is part of an extraordinary late outburst of publications of volumes of poetry and prose by someone who for decades, apparently, had devoted himself to journalism, editing and publishing others — during the many years between Missing Person (1976) and Trying to Say Goodbye (2011). Adil Jussawalla has always been unlike poets like Nissim Ezekiel, Keki Daruwalla, Eunice De Souza, Kamala Das and Dom Moraes, in the obliqueness, intensity, and difficulty of his verse. Rather than conversing, he can be vatic, highly lyrical, organising the fragments, images and emotions in his poems more by themes than sustained discussion. The result is deeper, yet somewhat puzzling and vague.
The interpretation of Gulestan is helped by introductory and closing notes informing the reader that the poem was begun during the 2006 attack on Mumbai, when Jussawalla was turning 70, and that the concluding words of the poem constitute “the first of the one hundred and one names of God in Zoroastrian scripture”. This is a poem about the disenchantment of ageing, loss of belief and fear of approaching death, coinciding with the murderous attack on the city where Jussawalla lives and has long been at home.
Explorations and quests are usually written about discoveries of unknown lands, treasures, stars and medicines. But artists are explorers too! When you enter Gardens Without End, you are at the center of a crossroad of several cultures. The combination of naturalist, surrealist, fantasy and children’s book styles with the usage of a ghazal, an Indo-Arabic form of poetry written in rhyming couplets makes Gardens Without End a truly unique artist exploration.
This is the 2nd book of a 2 part series that includes earlier etchings, drawings and the artist’s process but still weaves in the original story : An artist has a dream where a key is found in the pattern of a box turtle’s shell. In a daydream he wonders what the meaning of the key is? He wonders if one of the Earth’s oldest inhabitants, the tortoise, could dream how far back could they dream? With rich pen and ink drawings, etchings and watercolor illustrations, these musings lead Benrali to make his own discovery; A Garden Without End.
‘They ask me why do you write poems? I write poems – people have the right to bear arms.’ (‘Write Poetry’)
Chandramohan S’s second collection of poems titled Letters to Namdeo Dhasal released in Delhi stands proof to his Dalit aesthetics.
Why does he writes poems? Chandramohan answers: ‘I write poems-People have the right to bear arms’ (‘Write Poetry’). Language and the caste ‘hymens’ are his major concerns as he knows language is hijacked for ideological purposes. ‘The adjectives were abandoned/suffixes and prefixes scrambled/Vowels lynched and hung upside down/epithets beheaded’ (‘Occupied Language’). He proudly says: “This poem is not pimple free/is printed on rough paper.’ (‘Plus Size Poem’). There is an urgency to evoke, there is an anger to protest and there is sarcasm to irritate in his poems.
Publisher: desirepaths Publishers; First Edition edition (2016) Paperback: 67 pages
xvii. editor’s choice
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Based out of New Delhi and New York, Sun Publishing was launched in 2016 and has
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Beyond Milestones — A Journey Through Life
Rametra & Akash Wasil
A Journey Through Life is a heartwarming dialogue between grandfather, Surinder Rametra, and grandson, Akash Wasil, which began as an aim to impart a few of his life experiences, but turned out to be a joint effort, covering deep-rooted philosophy of life guided by the inner core. Profound in its feeling, Rametra shares his spiritual and interpersonal life learnings, through time and place that has long changed beyond recognition by what the world calls progress.
Pastoral Pang Yet Hangs
(A collection of poems from the Land of the Himalayas – Nepal)
Written in the original Nepali by Mamata Karmacharya, this translated version takes one through the sensibilities of a non-resident Nepalese which has a touch of innocence and being close-to-nature; those free-flowing rivers down the mountain side. How the poet feels alone being away from her natural home has been quite beautifully crafted in her poems.
Majhe Nadee(in Bengali)
Majhe Nadee (The River in Between) was originally written in English. This story
is a dramatic telling of events revolving around the life of a young woman
named Mira in 1960’s suburban Calcutta. It begins with a bride-viewing ceremony
for her best friend, where she meets a man named Kirit. Kirit, who belongs to a
higher caste, is expected to marry a woman of similar standing and fortune. But
he falls in love with Mira. They marry despite the vociferous objections of his
mother. Mira moves into her husband’s house, where she is despised by her
mother-in-law but finds an ally in Sangita, the wife of Kirit’s older
brother. After seven months of marriage, Kirit dies in an accident. As
Kirit belonged to the Brahmin caste, Mira’s childless widowhood marks the beginning
of her life as a ghost; considered bad luck, family members shun even her
shadow . . .
xviii. The Reader’s Critique Readers’ Critique is a literary review blog for every accomplished and aspiring author and for everyone who is an enthusiast and enjoys reading.
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Women’s History month events Poetic Justice: A Poetry Get-together
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Dosti House at the U.S. Consulate Mumbai and WE (Women Empowered India) brought “Poetic Justice”, a poetry get-together with sessions moderated by poets Arundhati Subramaniam, Sudeep Sen, Bina Sarkar Ellias and led by Shuchi Mehta.
Bhakti: Many Voices, Many Ways
Pune International Centre is a place where, in an intellectually stimulating and peaceful environment, enlightened discussions and debates can be held about the future of this great city, of this great nation – and indeed the world. “Bhakti: Many Voices, Many Ways”, brought together several of India’s most renowned and awarded poets/translators who presented their own English translations (as well as translations done by others) of India’s well known bhakti poets. They also discussed the strength and significance of bhakti poetry in its many forms in India. The event took place on Sunday, 2April 2017 in Pune in between.
T.R. Joy is an English & Life Skills
Consultant as well as a writer in English and translator. Allied Publishers, Mumbai
brought out his book of poems, Brooding in a Wound in 2001. His English translations
of O.N.V. Kurup’s Malayalam poems are included in Gestures: An Anthology of South
Asian Poetry edited by K. Satchidanandan, 1996 and This Ancient Lyre (Selected
Poems by ONV Kurup) edited by A. J. Thomas, 2005, both published by Sahitya Akademi,
New Delhi. He has also published critical studies and cultural features, some of
which have been anthologized. He was the publisher and an
associate editor of Poiesis, a journal of the Poetry Circle, Mumbai. A Ph.D. in English, he taught
at A. Vartak College, Vasai Road near Mumbai, at the University of Mumbai, and at
Loyola College (Autonomous), Chennai. An Exam Consultant with IDP-IELTS
Australia, he was also a guest faculty at the Department of Humanities & Social
Sciences, IIT Madras. Currently he is working on Uneven Haikus, an English translation of the late Malayalam poet Kunhunni’s
collection of poems. The draft of his critical study, The Secular Aesthetics: An Indian
Model is also ready for peer review. He lives in Chennai with his
wife, Dr Usha Antony, daughter, Nithila, and her grandpa, Mr B. Antony. [email protected]
Rene Wadlowis the President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation on and problem-solving in economic and social issues. Rene is also editor of the web journal: www.transnational-perspectives.org. PoonamMulchandaniis an architect based out of Auroville. This is how she describes herself:I’m just a curious mind trying to absorb and process the sense of this wonderful world we live in. Writing transports me through this adventure openly. Come journey with me. Elizabeth Cherian studied Visual Communication at the NID, Ahmedabad, and has worked with various corporates and NGOs over the last 30 years. Currently based in Goa, she also practices reflexology. Bishnupada Rayis an Associate Professor of English at the University of North Bengal. His poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies. He won a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2009. His latest book of poetry Fox Land and Selected Poems was published in 2016 by the Brown Critique.
Abishake Koul is a poet from the mountains. Born and brought up in Jammu & Kashmir, he did his engineering from BIT Mesra, Ranchi. He is currently pursuing MBA from IIM, Lucknow. He started writing poems in school, scribbling verses at the back of his notebooks and got published in the local newspapers and school magazines. He has been published in the journal Contemporary Literary Review of India, the anthology Chants of Peace, The Punch Magazine and The Unknown Pen. An awardee of the prestigious GREAT scholarship, Sneha Subramanian Kanta reads for her second postgraduate degree in England. She is the recipient of the Alfaaz (Kalaage) prize for her poem ‘At Dusk With the Gods’ and the co-founder of Parentheses Journal, a literary initiative that operates across hybrid spheres. Her work is forthcoming in Rise Up Review, Bindweed Magazine, Wild Women’s Medicine Circle and elsewhere.
Barnali Ray Shuklais a filmmaker and a writer. Starting off as a cell-biologist specializing in plant tissue culture and a topper of the Delhi University both at graduate and post graduate level, Barnali soon turned towards film-making. Over the years, she has worked with Ram Gopal Varma, Sudhir Mishra and Ekta Kapoor. Her first feature-film as a writer-director ‘Kucch Luv Jaisaa’, was released in May 2011. Apart from story and scriptwriting, she also writes poetry and was published in Kitaab . The Big-bridge webzine has also published her. Her first documentary film is ‘LIQUID BORDERS’, was an official selection at the International Peace/Film Festival at Orlando, Florida, where it was premiered in the USA. She likes to describe herself as a ‘mutant poet’ and when she is not doing any of the above, she goes off to climb mountains. ‘Musings & Reflections on Satyajit Ray’s iconic “Feluda”‘ originally appeared on Flickside (http://flickside.com/2017/04/29/feluda-50-years-rays-detective-satyajit/)