Just discovered this wonderful poetry resource on youtube called Global Poetry System, a project by Southbank Centre, UK, whose lofty goal is to explore and map the poetry of the world. Within the span of a few minutes, poets read their work or share their relationship with poetry in terms of place, etc. They have 321 videos. Can’t wait to watch all of them. Some of our very own Indian poets are there: Jeet Thayil, Tabish Khair and Karthika Nair, among others. Enjoy!
‘Provoked’ by the power packed in little tweets, 71 year old filmmaker-poet-painter-journalist Pritish Nandy launched his book of 100 poems, two days ago, titled, ‘Stuck on 1/forty.’ Like a tweet, each poem of Nandy’s is defined by 140 characters. Enhanced by bright colors and bold fonts, each poem aspires to grab your attention and make you think.
I don’t think poetry mutates over the years. It only keeps opening up to more new ideas, new vistas and new experiments, particularly in recent times…Stuck on 1/40 is one such experiment. If people read it, like it, share it, if it grows the conversation on the social network, it would have achieved its objective…Twitter is just a means of communication. Means do not inspire people. Content does. But the poems will work only when people read them and like them as poems. That is the most important thing. Poetry is format agnostic. It is even idiom agnostic. Language is changing today.
To get a taste of Nandy’s work, check out the slick youtube promo:
“What happens to my drafts, my manuscripts, after my death?” asks poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra. “They will be kept in boxes and sold by the kilo to the raddiwallah (scrap dealer) is what.”
Cup of tea in hand, I sat up, wondering how and why one of India’s most respected poets would say this. Gayatri Jayaraman’s article in Lounge, the weekend edition of mint, a business newspaper in India, shocked, informed and inspired me. That no dedicated archive for modern Indian poetry exists made me sad and at the same time made my heart race. There was work to do! Many fine Indian poets had gone out of print, some had toiled in obscurity, and others were scattered across the globe, not knowing about the existence of the other. On finishing this article, I felt a great sense of urgency to do something, to somehow help preserve this scattered legacy of words. How could I help? What could I do? Writing is a solitary art. Writing poetry, I feel, even more so, because of its distilled nature to present thoughts and emotions within the frame of a stanza . Between the words lie so many silences and yet this desire to connect. I had been toying with the idea of a literary press specializing in poetry and an online space of sorts on modern Indian poets for months/years. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s statement made me realize I should do this soon.
And so begins this crazy journey. The internet is a godsend, along with Jeet Thayil’s anthology, 60 Indian poets. But there are more, many more poets whose words are out there between the pages of a literary journal, a magazine, a chapbook. I feel like a kid in a candy store. Which candy do I eat first? Which poet/poem do I dive into? There are websites of poets like the late Dilip Chitre, whose compelling words and pictures make him seem as if he never left us. My hope is to bring all of these resources- profiles, poems, pictures, websites, blogs, audio files, etc. under one roof. I invite you all to join me on this journey as well. Welcome to The (Great) Indian Poetry Project!
Kudos to Lounge, the weekly supplement of the Indian business newspaper Mint, for featuring a fortnightly column titled Poetry Pradesh. This fortnight’s column is a discussion between two poets, Sridala Swami and Ranjit Hoskote, on the poetic legacy left by Dom Moraes. Hoskote recently edited Dom Moraes: Selected Poems, published by Penguin India and shares his experiences on exploring and editing one of modern Indian poetry’s finest.