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Both Sides of The Sky (Post -Independence Indian Poetry in English)

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Item Code: NAI429
Publisher: National Book Trust, India
Author: Eunice De Souza
Language: English
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788123753317
Pages: 282
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 360 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

This anthology fulfils the long felt need to have an authentic and comprehensive anthology of Indian poetry in English written in the post-independence era. Brought out under the special 'Golden Jubilee Anthology Series' of the Trust, it covers a wide spectrum of trends and 'schools' of poetry written in English language in India. The anthology also seeks to become a repository of the creative aspirations and dilemmas of the different generations of poets since independence who have chosen to express themselves in a language that now seems to be fully integrated with the socio-political and cultural realities of India.


About the Author

Eunice de Souza (b. 1940) retired as Head of the Department of English, St Xavier's College, Mumbai in 2000. She has published four books of poems, Fix (1979), Women in Dutch Painting (1988), Ways of Belonging (1990) and New and Selected Poems (1994). Ways of Belonging was awarded The Poetry Book Society Recommendation. She edited Nine Indian Women Poets in 1997, published two novellas, and edited various volumes of 19th and early 20th century poetry, fiction and non-fiction written in English in India.



Looking through old issues of Kavi, a little poetry magazine started in 1976, which Santan Rodrigues, Ivan Kostka, Aroop Mitra and Rajiv Rao used to edit, I came across an advertisement from Thackers, a now-defunct Mumbai bookshop. "Where Poetry has pride of place," it reads. Oh well, those were the days! As Mangalesh Dabral, who commissioned this anthology of post-Independence poetry in English for the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the National Book Trust, India, said to me in a note, he thinks of this period as "an epoch of great forgetting." He was referring, among other things, to the fact that I was trying to track down poets whose work has been ignored or forgotten. I have many of the older books, and Adil Jusawalla has a great many old and new books and manuscripts which he lent me. This anthology would have been impossible without his help. It is difficult to find books of poetry in bookshops now, and some are not available even in libraries. Kavi too no longer exists. Despite all these difficulties, there is much to celebrate; many good poems, and some memorable ones. New poets continue to appear, and some publishers are now publishing volumes of collected works.

In his introduction to Twelve Modern Indian Poets, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, who edited the volume, describes the early post-Independence poets as "strugglers in the desert." The struggle was, among other things, to create a new poetry, modern in its concerns and language, international in its standards. There didn't seem to be local models-Aurobindo and Sarojini Naidu were uncongenial. And much as the new poets admired Yeats, Eliot, Auden, they were not interested in being pallid clones.

For all practical purposes, Nissim Ezekiel was among the first to create a paradigm. His name is invariably coupled with the phrase, "barbaric city sick with slums," from one of his best-known poems (A Morning Walk), for he introduced the sordid and corrupting city, specifically Bombay to the landscape of Indian poetry in English, and the concern is there from the very first book. But he was also concerned with something equally, if not more important: an inner search for the poise required to deal with such a world. How do we engage with the world, not attempt to escape or transcend it, and yet remain human beings open to the risks of such engagement? This is a search all of us can recognize as central to our lives. In one way or another, most of the poets in this anthology embark on a search for meaning, through an examination of themselves, their relationships with people, the environment and the world.

I think too much has been made, in almost every critical study I have looked at, of the lack of continuity which is said to exist between pre and post-Independence poetry. But the fact is that many good poets of the pre-1947 period have been ignored or forgotten. The pre-Independence poets were certainly strugglers in the desert too, and any serious history of Indian poetry in English must now take them into account. They were conscious of doing something new, and while they admired the Romantics, they were not interested in being clones either. As the critic Rosinka Chaudhuri remarked in an interview with me, When Derozio, in 1827, wrote his sonnets to India, which he called 'my native land,' he was setting in motion a process that resulted ultimately in shaping the manner in which we think of India ... For me, Derozio is an important figure not only because he was the first poet to self-consciously identify himself as an Indian, but because he is a living example in the history of heterogeneity of race, language and creed that may comprise a true-born Indian.

One difference is that there are many more women writing poetry now. Women in the 19th and early 20th century distinguished themselves in prose-novels and short stories, diaries, letters, autobiographies, travelogues, journalism. In poetry, Kamala Das and Mamta Kalia in different ways have opened up new territory for women, both in content and in language. Kamala's work contemplates, with a brooding, sometimes theatrical intensity, the failures of love, marriage, relationships. Mamta Kalia's poems create a funny-sad world where women nag and sag, and buy plastic buckets for the freebies that go with them. She too contemplates the failures of love and marriage, but in a wry, low-key way.

Mehrotra's phrase "strugglers in the desert" can be applied not just to the effort to create a new poetry, but to find places to publish it. In the beginning, there was the Illustrated Weekly of India, edited from 1947 by C R Mandy, an Irishman with an interest in local writers, and he published both original poetry in English and in translation. At one point he appointed Nissim Ezekiel as assistant editor. There .were journals such as Quest which Ezekiel founded in 1955 and edited, and of which Bruce King says, ''Quest helped make modern Indian poetry part of contemporary Indian culture." But an interesting aspect of the post-Independence poetry scene is the extent to which poets themselves have published the work of other poets, through individual effort, the creation of publishing collectives, and small publishing houses. Bruce King's Modern Indian Poetry in English is invaluable for information in this area. Nissim Ezekiel published Gieve Patel's first book Poems in 1966. What I didn't know till I read King's book was that Ezekiel had hoped it would be the first of a series along the lines of P Lal's Writers Workshop in Calcutta which had begun publication in 1959. But for reasons not mentioned, it turned out to be the only book. Writers Workshop have continued to publish poets who wish to be published, an essential service when few publishers are willing to take on little-known poets. But the list has also included significant volumes such as Ezekiel's The Unfinished Man in 1960, Adil Jussawalla's Land's End in 1962.

The 1970s saw the creation of two major poets' publishing collectives. 'Clearing House' was the creation of Adil Jussawalla, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Gieve Patel, and Arun Kolatkar. 'Newground' was created by Santan Rodrigues, Melanie Silgardo, and Raul d'Gama Rose. More recently, Anand Thakore, Jane. Bhandari, Vivek Narayanan and Deepankar Khiwani have begun publishing under the name 'Harbour Line'.

Perhaps inevitably, the quality of some of the newer work (and a couple of older books) is fairly variable-too prolix or too prosy. Sometimes the poems are competent but bring nothing new to the paradigm within which they are working. Feelings sometimes get the better of form. My own preference is for poems which are both economical and resonant, and as far as possible, that is the kind of poem I have tended to choose.




Acknowledgements xv
Introduction xxi
Nissim Ezekiel  
Island 1
Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher 2
For William Carlos Williams 3
Marriage 3
Morning Prayer 4
The Truth about Dhanya 5
Kamala Das  
The Old Playhouse 7
Luminol 8
For Auntie Katie 9
The Stone Age 10
A. K. Ramanujan  
Self-Portrait 11
Epitaph on a Street Dog 11
Ecology 12
Death and the Good Citizen 13
Lawrence Bantleman  
War Poem 19
Memoriam 20
Joan 20
In Uttar Pradesh 21
Srinivas Rayaprol  
Still Life 23
Poem 24
Oranges on a Table 24
From: Portraits of America: Apartment House 25
Keki N Daruwalla  
Collage 27
Gulzaman's Son 29
The King Speaks to the Scribe 31
Adil Jussawalla  
From: Missing Person (part 1) 34
Entries 36
Fresher 36
Connection 37
Have I Heard Right, I Wonder 37
G. S. Sharad Chandra  
Consistently Ignored 40
Of My 35th Birthday 40
April in Nanjangud 42
Tirumalai 42
Gieve Patel  
On Killing a Tree 44
What is it Between 45
Public Works 46
How Do You Withstand, Body 47
Hill Station 48
Arun Kolatkar  
From Jejuri: An Old Woman 50
The Butterfly 51
The Railway Station 52
Pi-Dog 54
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra  
Canticle for My Son 58
Locking Up 58
Bharati Bhavan Library, Chowk, Allahabad 60
The Knife 61
Mirza Ghalib in Old Age 62
Bhojpuri Descant 62
Dom Moraes  
Gardener 66
What Mother Left 67
Typed with One Finger 68
Valediction 69
Agha Shahid Ali  
Postcard from Kashmir 71
The Dacca Gauzes 72
Farewell 73
Tonight 76
In Arabic 77
Anil Saari  
Run 3: Postscript 79
From: Confessions 80
Gopal Honnalgere  
Beginning of Conversation 82
On Being Senile 82
Boots 84
How to tame a pair of new chappals 85
Tiger's Call 86
Kersy Katrak  
A Letter to Nissim 88
An Elegy for Jacob Epstein 89
Dilip Chitre  
Father Returning Home 91
The Felling of the Banyan Tree 91
Of Garlic and Such 93
From: Unfinished Requiem for a Lost Son: Coda 93
Vinay Dharwadker  
Class Conflicts 95
The Civil Engineer 97
Bougainvillea in Blossom 99
Luis de Camoens 100
Bibhu Padhi  
Poem for My Son 102
House Lizards 103
Now 104
Jayanta Mahapatra  
Hunger 106
The Abandoned British Cemetery at Balasore 107
The Vase 108
More in Dreams Than in the Flesh 110
Village Mythology 111
R. Parthasarathy  
Sunlight on a Broken column 112
Talking to a Statue 113
E.V. Ramakrishnan  
Surat 115
Father's Last Night 115
Stray Cats 116
Darius Cooper  
Sienna-December 28 118
Santan Rodrigues  
The Hand 120
Mushroom 120
The Sundial 121
Joseph Carl Discovers Gravity 122
My Point 123
Melanie Silgardo  
The Earthworm's Story 124
Do Not Tell the Children 124
A March Poem 125
Doris 126
From: Beyond the Comfort Zone 127
Mamta Kalia  
Tribute to Papa 130
Sheer Good Luck . 131
Compulsions 132
Eunice De Souza  
Miss Louise 133
Home for the Aged, Sydney 134
Unfinished Poem 134
Another Way to Die 135
Pilgrim 135
Manohar Shetty  
Exotica 137
Find 138
Personal Effects 139
Peacock 140
Fireflies 142
Imtiaz Dharker  
The Door 143
Living Space 143
There 144
Dealing With the Devil 146
Object 146
Jimmy Avasia  
A Parent's/Child's poem 148
Grandad Was 149
Zero 149
Vikram Seth  
The Accountant's House 150
Unclaimed 151
All You Who Sleep Tonight 152
Soon 153
Meena Shivdasani  
The Head 154
Rukmini Bhaya Nair  
Kali 156
Flame 157
Ruth Vanitha  
My Mother's Tongue 160
Bhakti 160
Sestina: In Praise of Fear 161
Making It Up 163
Magdalene 163
C.P. Surendrean  
Conformist 164
Signature 164
Dog 165
Homage to a Hen 166
Tabish Khair  
The Vanished Dravidians 167
Snakes, Outside the First Book of Moses 168
The Other Half of Kabir's Doha 169
Jeet Thayil  
To Baudelaire 171
After 172
Other People's Deaths 172
At Kabul Zoo, the Lion 175
Vijay Nambisan  
Reflections on May Day  
The Attic 178
The Garden Variety Show 179
Auto Da Fe 180
Charmayne D'Souza  
The White Line Down The Road to Minnesota 182
Next 183
Marilyn Noronha  
Our Marriage 184
There is One Comfort 184
Mamang Dai  
No Dreams 186
Small Towns and the River 187
Gjv Prasad  
Desperately Seeking India 189
Saturday Morning Ritual 190
Gopi krishnan Kottoor  
Old Time Friends 191
Vivek Narayanan  
Hindus on the Moon: The Tale of Pandit the Pundit 193
The City 194
S. Anand  
The Grass is the Snake 195
Meena Kandasamy  
Mulligatawny Dreams 202
Deepankar Khiwani  
Meditations in a Home Accessory Store 204
Three Struggling Poets 205
Anjum Hasan  
My Folks 207
Hills 208
Sampurna Chatarji  
Amplitude 209
Blind As 210
Jane Bhandari  
The Chair 212
The Exiles 212
Arundhathi Subramaniam  
Madras 214
I Live on a Road 215
Imran Khan 217
Tree 218
Anand Thakore  
Living Room 219
Negotiating Negativity on the Western Ghats 220
Bittergourd 220
Ablutions 221
Ranjit Hoskote  
The Reading 224
Fern 225
Revised Passenger List 225
The Soloist Performs with an Orchestra of Events 226
Jerry Pinto  
Prayer 227
Tree 4 227
Tree 5 228
Drawing Home 228
Family Tree 229
Tenzin Tsundue  
The Tibetan in Mumbai 230
Exile House 231
Tishani Doshi  
The Deliverer 233
Overnight in the Dance Theatre 235
Turning into Men Again 235
Sunrise at Sanchistupa 237
Bhisham Bherwani  
The Millennium Chronicle 238
After the Chess Players 239
Elegy 240
Siddharth Menon  
Beetles 241
Accounting 242
Dropping in 243
Guests 246
Bricks 247
Poets in this Anthology 249

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