Monday, September 25, 2006


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Professor R.K.Singh with his Colleagues

Professor R.K. Singh along with his colleagues Professor R.B. Ghosh and Dr M.A. Rizvi in the Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


R. K. Singh’s Commitment to Fleshly Reality

R. K. Singh is one of the leading luminaries in the firmament of contemporary Indian English Poetry. Sober and sedate, he articulates his feelings and thoughts in measured syllables, eschewing unnecessary flamboyance of language or flights of fancy. Woman is the chief source of his creative afflatus; woman not as an imaginary angel but woman in her all corporeal riches, eyes, thighs, globular breasts. He honestly makes a clean breast of his ungovernable attraction for the feminine body in the following lines:

“I seek new strides in each of your moves/new dreams in your eyes and thighs/…each time I look at you/ I see natural woman/the fount of poetry.”

(I Do Not Question, p.41)

This “natural woman” is not the product of airy imagination, but one with moorings in fleshly reality. The following lines further illumine his psychic commitment to down-to-earth reality in this regard:

“I want to rest in your lap/and drink from your golden breasts/hide me in the
curtain of your hair/shield me in the grove of your flesh.”

(Music Must Sound, Poem No.4)

Singh is bothered by no inhibitions in regard to sex thirsting with whatever Eve he comes into contact. He is thirsting for “female smell in bed” as “aloneness” is agonizing to him : “Let’s kiss/each other in our/strangeness” (Music Must Sound, Poem, 5). One fact, however, remains inexplicable as to whether he succeeds in achieving the desired response. “If life vibrates, music must sound”—this is like an article of faith with him. The stirrings of life must needs generate the music of sex which, in his wise, becomes a synonym of life. Thighs, regarded as the repository of warmth in Indian Erotics, occupy a major place in his sexual imagination. “Hidden between thighs/is the spring music/beyond birth.”

(Music Must Sound, Poem 7).

The poet’s vibration of life impels him to forge rapport with woman, not already familiar to him. His yearning after physical commerce melts his soul :

“ I want to rest in your lap
and drink from your golden breasts
hide me in the curtain of your hair
shield me in the grove of your flesh.
(Music Must Sound, Poem 4)

I cannot but comment that this stanza provides a refreshing contrast to the ones extolling the corporeal glories of Nayikas (beloveds) in a direct manner. The Indian Erotics sets special store by description of female beauty of form, institutionalizing the system of Nakha-shikha which follows a pattern of describing the bodily components from toes to head. The thrust of the passage is the desire of the poet to enjoy the pleasures of his beloved’s flesh. But while articulating his desire, he is eulogizing some of the components of her physical attraction : her soft laps, her luminous spherical breasts, her glossy luxuriant hair, and above all, “the grove of your flesh”. The image the poet nourishes of the richly developed members of the female body finds exquisite expression in this compact phrase. A faint shadow of the traditional pattern of Nakha-shikha is discernible here.

It is, however, a little intriguing that the poet feels no hesitation in inviting and cajoling strange women to share his bed : “Won’t you share/my aloneness/tonight?” Will it be uncharitable to comment that sex constitutes a major drive of his psyche? Borrowing support from the examples of the artists and painters, the poet assumes, as it were, the liberty to portray “all/that animals do and men conceal in the night.”

Let us state that this assertion to emulate animals seems born of a reaction against social or familial unspoken restrictions in matters of sex. Sex, essentially a creative force, distinguishes man from the animals only in the matter of private or demonstrative indulgence. That can be attributed to the fact of his being over-sexy. “A flying horse parched/on the island of her flesh”---perhaps affords a key to the poet’s response of glorying in witnessing sexual combats, exposing him to the charge of being a voyeur.

The sex drive is so strong in the poet that he does not take congnisance of his wife being in the family way in his thirst for gratification. The stanza, beginning “Stooping over his gravid love”, depicts the spoiling of the consummation of the “coital bliss” by the waking up of the child. Frankly speaking, “realism” of this variety is not supportable. The wife’s putting the child to her breasts is perfectly natural, but the mingling of the erotic and the maternal offends taste. “Directness”, sometimes extolled as a virtue of expression in such contexts in appreciation of the modern Indian poets writing in English, needs a second look. Let me be not misunderstood. Kamala Das, a major poetess of the Post-Independence era adopting English for self-expression, is often forthright and evinces an immediacy perhaps unparalleled, and makes herself concede that she is genuinely sincere in her protests against social restrictions and her disenchantment with her unfeeling husband in regard to his sexual bouts with her, without the accompanying “Passion”, evoking a sympathetic chord in the reader’s mind. The urgency of sex being made ‘felt’ takes away the odour usually unflattering from it and renders the Indian “Sahridaya” of the Classical School sympathetic to the “Ashrayalambana” of the emotion of “Rati”. (1) We have failed to recognise any such urgency in the sexual cravings of R.K.Singh.

“A stray sperm/ grows in the ovum/blooms as a puffball” (Music Must Sound, Poem 16) on the face of it, looks an uncalled-for observation. The poem, beginning “How hard we try to empty”, seems, apologetic in tone which is an unconscious effect of the Family Welfare Programme currently under way. The following stanza presents a picture of “Samyoga Shringara” in terms of Indian Erotics.(2)

“under a bloody roof
my tattered trousers remind
the bed sheets love stained
before light shone
in a sulphurous pond
I display
my naked person
to ghosts and witches”

(Music Must Sound, Poem 17)

This is an instance of “Rati” in union. The “Anubhavas”(3) to wit, the manifestations of the enjoyment of “Rati”, are here transparently obvious, needing no special mention or iteration. Let us observe that our Classical Erotic Poetry affords no such pictures of sex-union, whatever be the reasons. Devotional Poetry of the Krishna School contains images of “Vipareet Rati”, reversion of the normal postures as between man and woman in sexual unions, but there, too, the devotional poets like Suradasa become so deeply lyrical in the portrayal that the “Sahridaya”, if not excessively squeamish, loses himself in the emotional overflow of the poet and relishes the “Shrinagara Rasa”. In the instant case, it is difficult for us to identify ourselves with the poet in his experience of sexual delight because of taste being impinged upon in some way or other. We have, no doubt, portrayals in Suradasa’s poetry of Radha cherishing and protecting the ‘love-stained’ ‘Saree’, a constant reminder of her enjoyment of ‘Rati’ with Shrikrishana which has been noticed by the latter’s emissary, Uddhava, when he visits Gokula, armed with Krishna’s message of ‘Yoga’ and ‘Jnana’ for the erstwhile beloveds. Radha does not get the Saree washed as she is resolved to nurture the sweet memory.

Let us again remark that even there the “Sahridyaya” is not obstructed by any mental let or hindrance in the matter of enjoying and feeling for Radha’s disillusioned psyche. Singh’s depiction of sex, deliberately oriented to so-called Realism, offends taste. It may be affirmed that our remarks are not grounded in old die-hard morality. On the contrary, we hold, as I.A. Richards has stated, canons of propriety should flow out of the general atmosphere, woven and promoted by the poet in his created world. And we shall immediately observe that the world created by R.K. Singh in his sexual portrayals lacks the depth and aroma of sincerity which might have induced us to identify ourselves with his frame of mind governing such depictions. His bathing naked in “a sulphurous pond” (a la vakrokti) puts us in mind of the “Jalavihara” (aquatic sports), resorted to by Krishna and his beloveds during the night after the celebrated Dance of the “Rasa”.

The stanza, beginning “Every stain on the bed speaks”, (Music Must Sound, Poem 19) sounds like expiating the wrongs done to the ‘spirit’ of love. This is all very good and desirable. But, Indian Erotics has no accommodation for such expiations and apologies. Our outlook on sex, albeit mainly creative, provides ample room for fleshly delights which is attested by the singular phenomenon of the composition of the reputed Kama-Sutra, (Science of Erotics), by Vatsyayana, who has been hailed as a “Rishi” or Sage. Coming to poetry, the atmosphere created and nurtured by the poet, should be convincing and supportive of the desired import. Let us incidentally remark that apology in amatory contexts is usually offered by the lover to the beloved with whom he has failed to keep his tryst.(4)

As a rule, Singh’s poetry here depicts the unions in a low key. It appears as though he deliberately subdues the palpable emergence of the sexual passion on the surface. In his intercourse, especially with his own wife, he remains grossly matter of fact, rather business-like. But when it comes to extramarital relationships, the element of emotion does make itself register its presence, howsoever weakly. Sample the following lines :

“Giggling behind the hill/is the woman I know/If you touch my finger/you shall
know/what winter is.”
(MMS, Poem 22)

We can deny emotion in these two lines? The following stanza, too, calls for inclusion in this context:

“Danger board shifts
my gaze to veiled beauties
moving like thoughts
with the best of motives
manoeuvre to kill a poet
learning the secret of
the first menstrual flow.”

(MMS, Poem 25)

The picture is typically Indian. Veiled beauties arrest the young poet’s attentive look. Art lies in concealing art, they say. Let us remark that beauty lies in concealing beauty, not in open outrageous demonstration. “Moving like thoughts” is an apposite simile, signifying unostentatious, unobtrusive passage of the ladies. Then the charm of the following two lines, “with the best of motives” et cetera, begs description. “Killing the poet” runs counter to the accepted classical Indian canons of Erotics, but the charm here overrides the classical taboo (of alluding to death) and the modern “Sahridaya” comes to sympathise with the poet in that the spontaneous rise of “Rati”, embedded in the human soul in the form of “Vasana” (a technical expression),(5) is immediately stifled, nipped in the bud, as it were, for obvious reasons, which cuts the poet to the quick. “Manoeuvering” again is an artistic expression which has spontaneously sprung in the poet’s mind. It suggests an amount or a kind of dexterous managing, rather a stratagem, to achieve some designed end. Here the women, passing noiselessly, with their countenances veiled, have clearly forged no stratagem to harm or injure the sensibilities of any one. But the poet, in his unsophisticated simplicity, feels that they have all combined to “kill” his emotional upsurge by not taking any cognizance of his amazed look at them. Here “Kill” conveys an import associated with the Word-power “Lakhana”
enshrined in the Indian verbal science.(6) Then again the beauty of the phrase, “with the best of motives”, enraptures the “Sahridaya”. As a matter of fact, the veiled Eves have no motive at all vis-à-vis the lookers-on. Yet, the poet ascribes the best of motives to them which do not correspond with the practical blow they have dealt to his nascent emotion of “Rati”. Let me repeat that R.K.Singh’s Muse, though usually unostentatious, is not essentially insensitive to the charm of telling phrases.

“The first menstrual flow”, however, acts as a fly in the ointment in the instant context.

Having has intimate connections with Varanasi, it is but natural that the poet’s imagination should have been thrilled at times by the congregation of the fair sex at the holy Ganga ghats. It is a common sight to find women, comprising a fair proportion of charming blondes, bathing nude or half-nude in the cold waters of the Ganga, attracting the delighted lecherous looks of even those, having declined far into the vale of years. The poet takes notice of this phenomenon, and lets us hazard the belief, joins the ranks of the “old gods”, leering “at their bare backs”. Allusion to “Two white moons” is charmingly meaningful.

The poet conjures up images familiar in the family orbit, in a new, refreshing vein. Look at the following stanza.

“in mind
his eyes fire
his images
the poor soul
in scorpion cage
cannot brave
the dark combats”

(MMS, Poem 37)

Manifestly, these lines enshrine the picture of a newly married girl, not yet fully sensitive to the pronounced stirrings of Cupid, having her first encounter with her love-thirsty husband. This depictures a situation of “Samyoga Shringara” (love in union). The husband is the “Ashrayalambana” of “Rati”, the “Vishayalambana” being the girl wife.(7) The darkness of the situation and the unhampered access to her constitute “Uddepana vibhava”(8), that is, the immediate stimulants. The “Vyabhicharis” or Transitories of “Mada” (intoxication), “Harsha” (joy), ‘Avega” (agitation), “Ugrata” (vehemence), “Mati” (rationality), and even “Shanka” (incertitude as to the ultimate success) come into play: “His eyes fire”—here is clear “Uttejana” coupled with his resolve to have his wish fulfilled.

The beauty of the vignette consists in the bipolarity of the reactions, the poet being not oblivious of the feelings of “Trasa” (fear), “Dainya” (depression), “Vreeda” (bashfulness), and other kindred feelings associated with a situation of amorous confrontation on the part of the girl-wife, totally uninitiated in the marital experiences. “Poor soul” is a telling phrase. The different postures adopted during the encounter by the husband prove nightmarish to her. “Scorpion cage”, however, is a phrase a little over-conceived, overdone. But it does pinpoint the psychic trepidation of the young wife in the unaccustomed situation. “Cannot brave the dark combats”—this beautifully sums up the situation. Let us observe without mincing words that the stanza furnishes a lovely vignette of ‘love in Union’, that is, “Samyoga shringara”. Again to borrow a technical phrase from the “Nayika-bheda” (Division of Heroines), this enshrines an image of “Mugdha”(9).

An impression has, willy-nilly, formed in our mind that Singh’s Muse is more delightful and playful in regard to “Parakeeyas” as compared with the “Swakeeya”(10). Here, however, R. K. Singh falls in line with the generality of a cross-section of Indian poets. In classical tradition, love is usually sweeter and more engaging outside the marital orbit, imaginably because of the fact that it remains largely untinctured with the drawbacks of close unchequered intimacy. In certain devotional cults, Radha, the celebrated beloved of Lord Krishna, is a “Parakeeya”. The following stanza enshrines extramarital love :

“I thought I knew her before and my heart bowed to her native virtues
each touch she offered stirred and drew me near
before entering her depths I felt how dark was the dance
I never liked to part with her but the tears in her eyes were saying:
“no no”

(MMS, Poem 2)

To me it is one of the most lovely images available in R.K. Singh’s amatory poetry. It is a case of love springing, apparently not from physical attractions, but from a perception of native virtues in the woman. The poet had the good fortune of being offered “touch after touch” by her which contributed to drawing him nearer her. A woman is primarily the cynosure of eyes because of her physical glories. In the instant case, the attraction is not visual, but internal. But, the poet would have made himself liable to attack on ground of basing his heterosexual love purely on imaginary attributes, ignoring the fundamentals of human nature. That is why, cautious as he is, he alludes to the efficacy of feminine physical touch. The incorporation of this tactile element more than makes up for the absence of any allusion to the woman’s corporeal charms. He enters into her innermost being through these touches, an exquisite accomplishment by a single tool of perception. Reference to “how dark was the dance” is pregnant with a wealth of suggestions. This darkness imaginably alludes to the welter of feelings and emotions which agitated the woman’s soul in giving her heart to the poet. It might have pendulated between responses, positive and negative, for a thousand and one reasons. We have reasons to believe that the two had enjoyed physical commerce for a stretch of time. And, lo and behold, the finale was distressing to the poet, also to her, when she tearfully rejects his enteratics to stay with him. “No, no” might have come to him as a dagger-thrust.

This is a touching picture of “Samayoga Shringara”, culminating in separation, which enhances its poignancy. Here is love fulfilled in ultimate non-fulfilment. Pure frustration would have been less painful. Uravshi in ‘Vikramorvashiyam” of Kalidasa made Pururava frantic with grief when she disappeared after having lived with him for a sufficient while.(11) R.K. Singh is not Pururava, neither is this lady Urvashi. But the Sahridaya is bound to feel for the lover in his unexpected deprival of his sweetheart’s company.

Another beautiful poem involving extramarital love:

“I leave my memories
in prayerful trance
float above my body

till rapping her fingers
at my soul she breaks
the silence: ‘I have come

with my dreams promised
years ago. Won’t you
once kiss and melt in me?

(Memories Unmemoried, p.11)

Frankly, this piece enshrines a dream experience of the poet-lover. While in a sort of trance, he is visited by his old sweetheart who breaks his psychic vacuum, as it were. And it is she who craves for a kiss from him who wishes he melted in her being—the two becoming one—the eventual consummation of love. Let us remind the readers that in the Yogic “Sadhana”, “Sayujya”, Complete Communion with the Divine, constitutes the ‘summum bonum’ of the Yogis(12). Earthly love will undergo an ethereal transubstantiation, should the lovers merge and melt into one. In such cases, the nature and completion of the “Rati” suffers a sea-change. We doubt whether such a melting of souls is considered possible of accomplishment in cases of marital love by the poet.

‘Love is Efflux’ is another lovely poem which glorifies love as an effluent from the corporeal charms of the beloved which illuminates his soul and silently leads him to merge his “being” in “her glowing presence”. We cannot but observe, not disparagingly but with a sense of appreciation, that even when love assumes a non-fleshly complexion as the end product, the poet, with his psychic moorings in realism, accords due prominence to the glories of the flesh: “My being I merge/ in her glowing presence” (MU, p.12).

Never taking to the classical “Nakha-Shikha” description, the poet, nevertheless, recognizes the spirit of beauty as the elusive “Charm”, not “seen, but felt”. He proclaims:

Charm is the/spirit of beauty/divine/mysterious/
honest/expression of the self/not seen/but felt. (MU, p. 15)

This “charm” is consanguineous with the “Lavanya” which, in the classical formulations, transcends the beauty of the different members of the female body and pervades her entire appearances, baffling all verbal enunciations. It is a sort of shimmer which does not forsake a beautiful young damsel even when she has emaciated to a mere skeleton. Classical Indian poetry sets much store by this “Lavanya”, (13) the indefinable “Charm”.

Poems like the above breathe the spirit of love, immune from fleshly associations. But it will be simplistic to believe that Singh’s Muse is ever indifferent to the attractions of the feminine form as that would be much too unrealistic. He will seek his sweetheart ‘in the grammar of silence, in the accent of love” and will “kiss death out of flesh” (I do not question, p. 22). That is to say, flesh is of the essence of love in the eventual analysis and the sincerity of his kiss of her hand carries the potency to exorcise Death out of her. Allusion to death is forbidden in Indian Erotics, but the heartfelt sincerity and transparent honesty of the lover as to the efficacy of his kisses washes away all vestiges of any impropriety. The point being hammered home is that flesh is an indispensable component of heterosexual love. The poet makes no bones about his belief that the value of the physical facet of love cannot be ruled out: “when the sun is erotic/and the moon lyrical/the winds turn tempestuous/in the orbit of love/legs slide by calls of pleasure/for life to continue” (I do not question, p.23).

Though the poet’s experiences are mostly sex dominated, at times they breathe forth a different odour such as in the following stanza:

I feel her hyaline influx
In my deep love leaps
from the soul with subtle glows
her breath runs through my veins
this vassal of the flesh blushes
as I drink the infinite in her.

(My Silence, Poem 3)

As he is in physical union with his sweetheart, he feels the transparent inflow from her contact of mysterious influence into his inner being which invests his love with subtle glows : her breath runs through his veins and resultantly, he feels her shorn of material limitations, becoming a part and parcel of the infinite, and himself suffering a sea-change in essence, drinking “the infinite in her”. And, concomitantly, “this vassal of the flesh blushes”. This is a unique experience in matters of love, suggesting the spiritual force of the beloved. The poet’s honesty is also worthy of appreciation in calling himself “vassal of the flesh”, the slave of physical passion. Such pictures of “Samyoga Shringara” are a rarity in Classical Letters.

Yet another example of Love in Union, to wit, ‘Samyoga Shringara’ not breathing the mysterious air, is available in the following lines:

“Is it the perfume
of your body
that makes the night
Your lush lips
ripple fire
in beautiful silence
your fragrance radiates
flowers and water.
Can I seek
my voice
in your breasts?

(My Silence, Poem 5)

The perfume of her body makes the beloved belong to the class of “Padminis” of Classical Indian tradition whose breath exhales fragrance.(14) The night becoming “drunken’ is charged with a pregnancy of meaning. The atmosphere being intoxicated “breathes there the man with soul so dead” as to escape its influence, far less a person endowed with a psyche already love oriented? The second stanza conjures up the image of the sweetheart lying silently supine in the cosy bed with the lover drinking her richly juicy rubicund lips. Paradoxically on the face of it, the juicy lips emit forth ripples of fire in the lover’s soul. These ripples are the palpable stirrings of “libido”.

Incidentally, let us observe that the touchstone of feminine beauty in Indian classical tradition is its potentiality to sexually agitate the beholder. Singh’s Muse ultimately belongs to this family. Even if no allusion to her fragrance radiating flowers and water had been made, the charm of the picture would not have suffered any diminution inasmuch as the night is already “drunken”. The concluding lines suggest that the whole enjoyment is buried in studied silence in the familial atmosphere, but the spherical breasts impel the poet-lover to articulate his yearnings for the fleshly pleasures: “Can I seek my voice in your breasts”? Let us again observe that such portrayals of love are not to be easily met with in the Indian classical “realms of gold”.

The poet’s experiences extend beyond the bournes of privacy. We have already noticed how his eyes take note of the old gods leering at the naked backs of the bathing women at the Ganga ghats. Here again his eyes catch the phenomenon of “rape and adultery in the crowd’ on the occasion of the Durga Puja. How sarcastically he remarks:“To express sex/a crowd is convenient in the bus”! However, his comment, “while the cowards fear the coming closer of boys and girls”, in this context seems misplaced.

The lascivious seems to exercise an unconscious influence on the poet’s psyche inasmuch as he is intensely human, made of flesh, blood and bones. He seems to take unconscious delight in the spectacle of a sex-greedy person handing over coins to a beggar woman “just to look at/ the tanned fronts/ behind the little holes/ of her only saree”. The stanza beginning ‘while I was petting and necking” (My Silence, poem 14) leave us in no doubt as to his being sex-greedy albeit he feels for the poor woman who was calculating whether the proceeds of the sale of her body that night would enable her to purchase a new Saree.

The following stanza etches the picture of ‘Love in Actual Union”, that is, cohabitation in a symbolical vein, pressing into service analogies from the cycle of seasons:

Spring’s full youth
he unbuttons
her printed skirt
on red cushion
feels autumn
dropping down
the leaves of year
(My Silence, Poem 15)

All that pinpoints the poet’s (My Silence, poem 15) intercourse. With advancing age, it seems the poet cannot successfully respond to his “burning within” and cannot “enjoy the flames of passion”. He rightly remarks: “love is a high explosive/not charged/by induced sexuality” (Flight of Phoenix p.12). In her physical vigour and verve is a ‘sine qua non’ for attaining consummation of “coital bliss”. Waning of physical vigour and waning of the poetic afflatus seem curiously intertwined. “In bed I keep with her/wondering what I’d haul in our/burning, sleek, empty sex/now mind’s dried with dry hive/ I cannot create with bald head:/sky showers ashes of rose” (Flight of Phoenix, Poem 58). “Bald Head” reminds us of the persona in Eliot’s ‘Love Song of Prufrok’. Having a couple of children and crossing the age of forty seems a damper for the fire of sex.

The poet is generally not happy with his life nor with the notional postures and attitudes. Personal unhappiness, tell-talely, springs mainly from his frustrations in the matter of love and sex. Like Shelley, who was nurtured on “bright silver dreams”, Dr. Singh feels restive at the social and familial restrictions impliedly in sex contexts. “Can’t you drop your saree/and all that conspire to conceal/passion in/my eye seeking freedom/to unite and transform/the night through body’s dark alleys/don’t you love your freedom?” (Flight of Phoenix, Poem 41).This desperate utterance aimed at smashing to smithereens the tradition-bound unspoken trammels, imposed on freedom of sex the familial orbit, to confess honestly, does make the “Sahridaya”, not a woman-hater, but feel for the poet-lover as he is deeply struck by the sincerity of his anguish. When he complains about the general prosaic tenor of his life, “unloving life day by day”, and yearns for “a release” from ennui, then, too, imaginably, sex will afford him the much-desired relief. One wonders at the magnitude of his frustrations in that “Coal city” in his personal life, or maybe, his official life also, respecting love :

“Everything is falling apart
every wall is cracking
I too am breaking
to be someone and to belong
drink in love like many
secured sure happy
I too want to live and be loved
not piece by piece friends,
but, will they let me?”

(Flight of Phoenix, Poem 65)

Accordingly, in that his emotional starvation, the sensitive reader cannot but accord him his need of sympathy and commiseration. Nonetheless, when his frustrations get coloured by anger, though veiled, he breaks forth:

“We are nation/of cowards worshipping dumb/images can’t stand/a full fleshed person speaking/nude in god’s home like in bed/performing love with/ wife or self in dark alone/ever ignorant/moralizing/hell of fear/with legs tucked up/posing brave.”

(Flight of Phoenix, Poem 39)

and one fails to carry one’s sympathy with him the whole hog. Juxtaposition of worshipping dumb images and denial of absolute freedom in matter of sex can scarcely enlist our approval. The one militates against reason, but the other is pregnant with possibilities of engendering moral chaos. When he smells “my boneless semen”, taste is violently outraged.

We conclude by alluding to R.K. Singh’s philosophical conception of “Rati’, the root of love. Old concepts of sexual morality do receive a shock when the poet lavishes encomium on “An undressed woman” and the “venerable in myriad colours” as a tool of “ever-growing consciousness”. But, the poet himself is internally immune to any qualms and in an easy, natural frame of mind, he alludes to “the split in cypress” being “vulva”, having its “roots” in “Purush-Prakriti”—the celebrated formulation of the “Sankhya” Philosophy in which Purusha, the counterpart of the Brahmana of the Advaita, remains inert of Himself and feels agitated only by coming into contact with Prakriti, the Feminine Principle—this union ultimately leading to Creation.

In another poem, the poet speaks of “Shiva’ and “Shakti”, a dual single, suggesting the insupportability of “me and she”, i.e., man and woman, the essential principle of creation. In the same vein, he alludes to the Chinese “Yin and Yang” principles and emphasises the harmonization of “lingam’ and “yoni”. This integration of the twin principles of Masculinity and Feminity has its roots in the Vedic provision that the “Paramatman”, the Supreme Being, divided himself into two, man and woman, to enjoy himself, becoming bored by solitariness.(15) All that points to the cardinal truth that “Rati” or sex is a welcome possession of the human consciousness on which the universe has evolved. The poet’s sense of profound joy and gratitude finds uninhibited articulation the following ‘Psalm’:

Blessed is
the bedroom
the bathroom
the kitchen
the drawingroom
the terrace
the lawn
and every little
place and spot
where we prayed
or sexed together
we glorified our house
and declared His mysteries.

(Memories Unmemoried, p.11)

R.K. Singh’s Erotic Muse strikes us with its openness, its seriousness, its candour and its eventual exaltation of Rati to a plan where the apparent glamour of the flesh merges into a Universal Principle of Creation.


References made to R. K. Singh’s poetry are from his following collections:

My Silence (1985), Madras, Poets Press India.

Memories Unmemoried (1988). Berhampur, Poetry Time Publications.

Music must Sound (1990), Dhanbad, author.

Flight of Phoenix (1990) Berhampur, Poetry time Publications.

Two Poets: R. K. Singh (/Ujjal I do not question Singh Bahri (The Grammar of My life), (1994), New Delhi, Bahri Publications.


1. The Rasa-Sutra, that is, the Rasa Formula, of the generally acknowledgedly original Acharya Bharat Muni runs as follows: (Vibhavanubhav vyabhicharisanyogadasnishpattih”). According to this formulation, the “Sthayi Bhava”, to wit, the Dominant Emotion, becomes Rasa from a combination of “Vibhavas”, the “Anubhavas”, and the “Vyabhicharis” (also known alternatively as “Sancharis”).The “Vibhavas” are the Causes or Determinants; the “Anubhavas” are the Consequents or Ensuants and “the Vibhicharis” or “Sancharis” are the Transitory emotions, usually accompanying the rise of the Dominant Emotion, the sthayis, “Rati” (love between man and woman), “Hasa” (laughter), “Krodha” (anger), “Shoka” (grief) et cetera are recognized as the sthayis or the Dominant Emotions while “Nirveda” (detachment from worldly concerns), “Glani” (internal weakness), “Shanka” (apprehension), “Vreeda” (bashfulness), “Harsha” (pleasure) et cetera are identified as the Vyabhicharis since they do not last long, but appear and vanish in the wake of the rise of the Sthayis, the Dominant Emotions. It is out of the combination of these elements that Rasa is produced, the original seed being the Sthayi which itself attains the status of Rasa, becoming palpably felt and experienced. “Vibhavas” or the Causes are divided into two categories, “Alambana” and “Uddipana”. The Alambanas are the Supporting Causes and the Uddipanas are the Stimulating Causes. For example, “Rati” is aroused, involving a man and a woman. They are the Alambanas. These “Alambanas” are again divided into two classes: “Ashrayalambana” and “Vishayalambana”. If “Rati” is awakened in the heart of Dushyanta at the sight of Shakuntala, the former will be called the “Ashrayalambana”, one who “shelters” the emotion; and the latter will be called the “Vishayalambana”, one who is the object of the rise of the emotion of Rati. The “Uddipanas” are the circumstances which stimulate the awakening of the emotion, including the natural surroundings, the actual situation, the beauty of the persons concerned et cetera. “Anubhavas” indicate the rise of a Sthayi, being the external manifestations. The Sancharis are the assistants, accompanying and helping the rise of the Sthayi. For example, Dushyant, attracted by the sight of Shakuntala, feels the kindling of Rati for her, but is also internally visited by Transitories, such as, anxiety, apprehension, agitation, incertitude, et cetera. He casts greedy looks, sighs, paces to and fore—all these are the Consequents which follow as a consequence of the rise of the dominant emotion. These are the Anubhavas. Let it be noted that different Sthayis give rise to different Rasas which justify their appellation because of their becoming tasted or relished by the sensitive readers or beholders of a dramatic performance on the stage.

2. “Rati” produces the “Shringara Rasa”, the Erotic Rrelish. This Shringara is divided into two categories: “Samyoga or “Sambhoga” which suggests ‘Love in Union’, that is, love when the two lovers are together and ‘Viyoga’ or ‘Vipralambha’, Love in Separation, that is, love when the two are separated from each other.

3. “Anubhavas” already explained in 1.

4. Apologies, in Indian Erotics, are tendered by the lover to the beloved when he fails to keep up his appointment with her to visit her. Such beloveds or “Nayikas” are called “Maninis” who usually adopt adverse postures in relation to the lover.

5. “Vasanas” denote the instincts or impulses, better when he visits then known as the “Sthayis”, are transmitted from generation to generation of mankind in the natural way. As such, they are naturally embedded in the soul or psyche needing no teaching or training. These “Vasanas” should not be confounded with the popular notions of “Vasanas” as instincts or impulses smacking of the libidinous or lecherous.

6. Indian Science of Words recognizes three powers of a word, called. “Abhidha”, “Lakshna” and “Vyanjana” . “Abhidha” denotes common usual meaning conveyed by a word which is called “Abhidheyartha” or “Vachyartha”. “Lakshana” denotes a meaning derived from the Vachyartha which is called “Lakhyartha and Vyanjana denotes a meaning really intended by the speaker which transcends the earlier two meanings. This is called “Vyangyaratha”, the suggested meaning..

7 and 8 are already explained in 1.

9. “Nayikas” are variously classified in Indian Erotics. When they are classified according to age, they fall into three categories: “Mugdhas” between the ages of 14 to 16, “Madhyas” between the ages of 17 to 30, and those above 30 or thereabout are known as “Praudhas”. Interestingly, this classification is linked with the psychic capacities or alacrities of the Nayikas concerned to respond to the emotion of Rati. “Mugdhas” are usually apprehensive as to their first encounter with their lovers or husbands.

10 Nayikas are again divided into three categories : “Swakeeyas”, “Parakeeyas”, and “Samanayas”. “Swakeeyes are duly married wives. “Parakeeyas” are those who contract relations of love outside marital orbit, that is, with those, not their husbands. “Samanyas” are whores or prostitutes who welcome each and every person for consideration of monetary gains.

11. Urvashi is the Nayika and Pururava the Nayaka, King Pururava who in special circumstances, liberates her from the clutches of a demon. After giving birth to a son, she leaves Pururava in accordance with an “Abhishapa’, or Curse, which makes Pururava frantic with grief. She has, however, reunited with him in the play.

12. “Sayujya” denotes merging of the “Atman” with the “Paramantman” in the Yogic “Sadhana”.

13. “Lavanaya” is defined by Acharyas thus: “Muktafaleshuchchhayaswaralattvamintaraf./Pratibhati yadgameshu lavanya tadihochyate.” ---That which shimmers in the limbs of the damsels like the liquid shimmers of the pearls is called “Lavanya”.

14. “Padminis” in Indian Erotics are those Nayikas whose breath emits forth fragrance. Interestingly, in classical poetry Padmini Nayikas are sometimes pictured as attracting a host of bees around them due to their fragrance.

15. It is significant to note that Bharata speaks of the ‘Shringara’, the product of “Rati”, in glowing terms, calling it “sacred, holy and immaculate”.


R.S.Tiwary: A veteran tri-lingual writer, poet and critic in Sanskrit, Hindi and English with more than three dozen books, scores of critical articles, and several translations, from Skanda Purana to The Eve of St. Agnes, besides prestigious awards and honours to his credit, Professor Tiwary retired as Principal of K.S. Saket Postgraduate College, Ayodhya in June 1976. He published one of his significant books Current Indian Creativity in English (Jaipur: Book Enclave) in 2003 (from where this article has been reproduced) before leaving his mortal frame on September 9, 2003 at the ripe age of 90.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

R.K.Singh in the quadrangle of the Humanities & Social Sciences

Professor R.K.Singh in his chamber and in the quadrangle of the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences at Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad

Saturday, September 16, 2006


English for Specific Purposes (ESP) was a relatively new development when I started my career as a teacher of English language skills in 1974. I was drawn to it as it emphasized teaching and learning of English for a specific goals rather than for a general or broad purpose. Though the meaning and signification of the term has undergone changes over the past thirty years and is continually undergoing modifications, the ‘S’ and ‘P’ of ESP are still relevant and worth pursuing. The researchers in ELT and EST across India should develop the ideas that will define the classrooms of the 21st century.

Every tertiary level English teacher will agree that people study English mostly as a communication tool: English is the new Latin—the language of education and academic exchange, of science and technology, of international travel, of economics and business, of politics and diplomacy, of infotainment (motion pictures, popular music, advertising and the press), and of internet. English has expanded so much during the last two decades that that a linguist like David Crystal reminds us that 96 per cent of the world’s languages are now spoken by just four per cent of the people. To participate in modern society as well as in the emerging knowledge society, therefore, competence of both speech and writing is necessary, as part of ‘specific purposes’ teaching.

In addition, I also agree with the view that ‘purposes’ of ESP are open to negotiation and it is the teacher’s responsibility also to appreciate what is not identified and itemized beforehand. In fact, a practical teacher should be able to operate within, what John Swales calls, the “here and now” state of affairs. It is with some sort of inbuilt flexibility and utilitarian purposes that one teaches ESP.

As its practitioner at Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, I could realize how the Western, EFL dominated ESP was different from ESP in an ESL context like ours. I had an opportunity to learn and reflect even as teaching the language for immediate, specifiable, defined, and limited objectives appeared more relevant than the ‘general’ English. The classroom realities vis-à-vis the linguistic and educational thinking of the 1980s have not changed much, and so, these are still valid for the ESP/EST teacher and teacher educator.

Though ESP as an approach is now firmly established, it still has fewer supporters in the country, possibly because nobody wants any changes in the conventional teaching-learning practices? As practical teachers, however, we need to gain insights into the potential of classroom for empirical data and make useful short-cuts by looking back to work already done or contributions made from other places.

We also need to recognize certain sociolinguistic realities that have implications for the classroom practices. It is reported that there are 320 million people in the world whose mother tongue is English and it is estimated that over 1.7 billion people speak English. Nearly a quarter of the world’s population speaks English to some extent just as two thirds of the world’s children know some English. Since the internet is the main carrier of English as a transnational medium, non-native speakers have in recent years exercised greater control over its use in ways native speakers may or may not agree. The massive cyber presence of English and the computer mediated communication have “completely revolutionized all our previous concepts to do with language,” cautions David Crystal.

The yardstick of the British or American native speakers for international tests, such as TOEFL, GRE, IELTS or ARELS is now reduced to a means to control ‘standard’ English. I am not alone when I insist that none need to perform as British or American native speakers. It is simply unrealistic and damaging to the interests of the non-native speakers of English who constitute a majority now. I have always told my students that they need not mimic or sound like Londoners or North Americans. The fact is, the features of native English pronunciation actually make the language harder to understand in inter- or intranational contexts, or for practical purposes. Now nobody needs to speak the socalled standardized English. Professor David Crystal, too, appreciates this reality and favours the “local taste” of English in India and elsewhere (The Hindu, October 12, 2004). It is now firmly established as supranational.

In this light the ESP programme in an ESL situation – as English medium learning environment—should focus on developing academic communication skills as well as providing an opportunity for personal language and learning skills development. The teachers, aware of the similarities and differences between ESL, EFL, and EIL, need to integrate language and learning strategies with an understanding of the uses of English in the world today, and in particular, in international and intranational contexts. They need to teach with a positive attitude for international and intercultural communication, negotiating linguistic and cultural differences.

Academic communication skills, both written and oral, have to be imparted in such a way that students in their contexts are able to identify their own language learning needs and to set their own language learning goals; they should be equipped with abilities to reflect on and respond to their own language learning development with skills and strategies that help to relate to an autonomous approach to learning.

It is indeed important to recognize the complexity of language and communication skills development and follow an eclectic approach, with awareness of discourse practices, patterns of rhetorical organization, sentential relationship, grammatical cohesion, usage, discourse markers, translation and interpreting etc, consolidating the achievements of the past.

R. K. Singh
Professor of English & Head
Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences
Indian School of mines
Dhanbad 826004 Jharkhand, INDIA

Prefatory: VOICES OF THE PRESENT (2006)


It is not uncommon to come across learned articles and books on well known Indian English poets such as Nissim Ezekiel, P. Lal, A.K. Ramanujan, R. Parthasarathy, Keshav Malik, Shiv K. Kumar, Kamala Das, Dom Moraes, Dilip Chitre, Pritish Nandy, Keki N. Daruwalla, Jayanta Mahapatra, Adil Jussawalla, Gieve Patel, Arun Kolatkar, Vikram Seth and a few others who rose to prominence after their contact with the West and/or English journalism in India. Their collective contribution to evolution of Indian English tradition has been noteworthy, even if prone to canonization.
But academic critics and scholars have been rather lukewarm about studying several less known and current poets like O.P. Bhatnagar, Syed Ameeruddin, Krishna Srinivas, Dwarakanath H. Kabadi, Ashok Mahajan, Maha Nand Sharma, Gopal Honnalgere, R.K. Singh, Eugene D. Vaz, P. Raja, Niranjan Mohanty, I.H. Rizvi, Som P. Ranchan, Baldev Mirza, R. Sundaresan, I.K. Sharma, G. Soundararaj, K. Raghvendra Rao, Laxmi Narayan Mahapatra, Nilima Wig, Rajanee Krishnan Kutty, Asha Viswas, Vijaya Goel, Mani Rao, Anuradha Nalapet, Sudha R. Iyer, Imtiaz Dharker, Louella Lobo Prabhu, Maria Netto, R. Rabindranath Menon, Hazara Singh, P.C.K. Prem, Kulwant Singh Gill, A. Maria Joseph, T.V. Reddy, P.K. Joy, Biswakesh Tripathy, A. Chittaranajan Sahay, R.V. Smith, Renu Gurnani, D.C. Chambial, Bibhu Padhi, J. Bapu Reddy, H.S. Bhatia, K.B. Rai, O.P. Arora, Pradip Sen, C.L. Khatri, R.C. Shukla, C. Raju, Srinivas Royaprol, S. Mokashi-Punekar, Srinivasa Rangaswami, Kanwar Dinesh Singh, Simanchal Patnaik, Pronab Kumar Majumder, K.V. Raghupathi, Y.S. Rajan, Rita Nath Keshri, Tejinder Kaur, and many others. These poets, writing for over two to three decades, have published more than one collection and appeared regularly in various poetry magazines in India. They are remarkable for their vitality, variety and quality, richness of language, visions and impulses, depth of feeling, sense of self, and willingness to explore and reinvigorate traditional forms and styles.
“There are scores and scores of new poets who are pouring in their anthologies day in and day out. But unfortunately, they are not noted either for lack of knowledge of the existence of this whole range of new poetry or the insensitivity of the critics to the merit of such a literature,” laments poet-critic O.P. Bhatnagar in his article ‘New Directions in Indian poetry in English.’ These poets, “unpolluted by the public school morals and stances,” write with an awareness of their milieu and environment rather than British or American rhetoric or intellectual attitudes like alienation or exile. They share the central core of contemporary realities of Indian life.
Some of them as ‘time travellers’ search for broader connections with the world and ruminate upon nature, truth, reality, metaphysics, prevailing sociopolitical conditions, traditional values, intellectual challenges, personal relationship, love, sex, and flashes of yearnings. They are significant for their sensitivity to the cultural patterns they encounter, the attitudes they develop, and the myths that run through their being.
Some of them make poetry out of arguments with themselves; they are driven to understand themselves, their lives. Their ‘personal’ voice is animated by issues and arguments around the mind/body relation, around what most people try to keep concealed—the sexual feelings, the sensations of the flesh; like any good artist, they also seek to make life show itself. They write with the awareness of what is denied in our ordinary existence, the moral dilemmas, the betrayals, and the paradoxes.
Through imagery of sex, several poets express their refusal to be overcome by what is actually so recalcitrant and repressive, frustrating and unmotivating, disgusting and hopeless in India today. As Ka Naa Subramanyam pointed out decades ago, ours is a literary activity in a non-literary milieu, which, truly speaking, is also a fight for survival. The literary critical opinion has also to evolve from within this non-literary constraint. Therefore, in some poets’ quest, sexpression is not an expression of debasement but inner response to the unacceptable, even at times uncorrectable outer stimuli and search for reliable themes and images that counter the enslaving enemies and enslaving protectors of today’s world. The banal interiority that we may sometimes find in some of the recent poets should be seen as a search for new systemwhich is internally fulfilling and externally ‘poetic.’
The characteristics as discerned in Indian English poets now are there also in a number of American and British poets, just as poets see themselves as part of larger humanity in most countries and languages; they are deeply aware of themselves, articulating directly and simply their joys and sorrows, hopes and anxieties, and physical and spiritual concerns. However, Indian poets’ search for alternatives for poetic inspiration is not esoteric, negative or Westernised.
Recent Indian English poetry adds to, what O.P. Bhatnagar terms as, a process of collective discovery, affirming its richness, sensitivity and cultural complexity. If we examine the potential of the poetry-making mind in English, applying whatever literary criteria, we should now discover aspects of the essentially assimilative genius of the Indian people, and a celebration of the vast chorus of voices that make Indian literature sing.
I would like to view the present volume as complementary to New Indian English Poetry: An Alternative Voice: R.K. Singh (ed. I.K. Sharma, 2004), Indian Writing in English: Voices from the Oblivion (ed. Chhote Lal Khatri, 2004), Current Indian Creativity in English (R.S. Tiwary, 2003), and Continuity: Five Indian English Poets (ed. R.A. Singh, 2003) that Book Enclave published to promote studies on less known/new talents in Indian English Writing. I would feel rewarded if it could motivate scholars and researchers to explore some new poets in depth for postgraduate and doctoral studies.


Prefatory Note vii
1. Krishna Srinivas : Quest for Reality 1
2. I.K. Sharma : A Social Realist 32
3. O.P. Bhatnagar : Obsession with Death 61
4. Laxmi Narayan Mahapatra : A Thinker-Poet 74
5. Niranjan Mohanty : A Poet of the ‘Bhakti’ Cult 84
6. Sex Imagery in Shiv K. Kumar’s Poetry 91
7. Kamala Das and Some Other Recent
Indian English Women Poets :
Expression of Anger and Sexuality 98
8. Filling the Empty Internal Spaces :
Some More Women Poets 112
9. Gopal Honnalgere : Personal and Powerful 126
10. D.S. Maini : “Beyond the Bounds of Thought” 136
11. I.H. Rizvi : A Social Romanticist 144
12. Dwarakanath H. Kabadi : A Poet of ‘Flickers’ 163
13. Some Recent Poems of D.C. Chambial 178
14. P.C.K. Prem : Voyage into Barren Consciousness 188
15. P.K. Joy: A Poet of Christian Sensibility 197
16. Some Poets of the 1980s and 1990s :
Their Quest for the Present 203
17. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Some Other Poets 230
18. S.L. Peeran : A Poet of Inner Vibrancy 244
19. R.S. Tiwary : A Sage Litterateur 254
20. New Indian English Writing :
Post-Colonialism, or Politics of Rejection ? 261


Dedicated to:

I.K. SHARMA, who bridges
the past and present


Voices of the Present: Critical Essays on Some Indian English Poets by R.K.SINGH. Publishers: Book Enclave, Jain Bhavan, Opp. N.E.I., Shanti Nagar, Jaipur 302 006, India. Price: Rs. 695/-. ISBN 81 8152 132 3


Author's address:

R.K. Singh
Professor of English & Head
Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences
Indian School of Mines
Dhanbad 826004 India

From the Flap:

About the Book

Quite a number of contemporary Indian English Poets, now in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, with a 20th century consciousness, have learnt to live with a world in upheaval, following the globalisation of communication, Information Technology revolution and world wide web culture. They have been trying to reach out to a larger audience and creating their identities under many different appearances. They have been seeking to know themselves as composites, contradictory, and even incompatible.
Poetry writing to them is synonymous with life and living. It is their collective creative effort that makes them significant. They think intuitively, turn personal, inward, godward, or spirit-ward, just as they reflect on contemporary socioeconomic, political and religious corruption, intellectual confusion, poverty, war, disease, injustice, gender prejudices, sex, and values that are no longer effective. Their capability lies in their emotional sensitivity, their urge for changing the situation, and for being in peace with themselves.
They express sex as something metaphysically serious: Their body images illuminate the realities of life just as they explore the exterior body and the interior psychology as part of their self realisation. They seek to create a new culture as they rationalise how we ought to live in future. They demonstrate lyrical simplicity, emotional curiosity, and poetic sincerity.

About the Author

Ram Krishna Singh, born, brought up and educated in Varanasi, is university Professor whose main fields of interest consist of Indian English Writing, especially poetry, and English for Specific Purposes, especially for Science and Technology. He has authored over 150 academic articles, 160 book reviews, and 31 books, including eleven collection of poems, namely, My Silence (1985), Memories Unmemoried (1988), Music Must Sound (1990), Flight of Phoenix (1990), Two Poets: R.K. Singh (I DO NOT QUESTION) Ujjal Singh Bahri (THE GRAMMAR OF MY LIFE) (1994), My Silence and Other Selected Poems: 1974-1994 (1996), Above the Earth's Green (1997), Every Stone Drop Pebble (a haiku collection, jointly with Catherine Mair and Patricia Prime, 1999), Cover to Cover: A Collection of Poems (jointly with Ujjal Singh Bahri, 2002), Pacem in Terris (a trilogy collection with Myriam Pierri and Giovanni Campisi, 2003), and The River Returns (a collection of tanka and haiku, 2006).
His poems have been anthologised in over 140 publications and translated into French, Russian, Spanish, Romanian, Chinese, Japanese, Slovene, Bulgarian, German, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Serbian, Croatian, Esperanto, Kannada, Tamil, and Bangla. A book of criticism on his poetry, New Indian English Poetry: An Alternative Voice: R.K. Singh (ed. I.K. Sharma), appeared in 2004. His biobibliography appears in some 30 publications in the UK, USA, India and elsewhere.
R.K. Singh is Professor of English & Head Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - 826004. email:
BOOK REVIEW: Dr M. Mojibur Rahman

EXPERIENCE. (Jaipur: Book Enclave, 2005). pp. xii+289, Rs. 725/-. ISBN
English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is a learner-centered approach to
teaching English as a foreign/second language. It fulfils the needs of
adult learners who need to learn a foreign/second language for use in
their specific fields, such as science, technology, medicine, leisure,
and academic learning.

ESP, which emerged as an approach to English language teaching in the
1960s, has become well known in the ELT circle, especially because
English has acquired the status of an international lingua franca, and
linguists have moved towards a situation-based notion of language. The
initial studies on 'special' languages were basically on register,
which developed in a Firthian environment. Following in Halliday's
footsteps (Halliday, 1978), British linguists who identified 'special
registers' considered it sufficient for teaching purposes to
distinguish them from 'common' language. However, as discovered
later, register differences do not apply to the lexical level only, but
also concern morphosyntactic choices and textual and pragmatic
organization (Swales, 1990; Gotti, 1991; Bhatia, 1993). The social
situation of each of the subdivisions of ESP exerts a strong influence
on the linguistic strategies that are to be adopted. Therefore
contextual and functional needs direct linguistic choices such as
lexical density, the complexity and the length of clause structure, the
degree of formality, the management of information, etc.

Teaching English for Specific Purposes: An Evolving Experience is a
handy reference material for ELT practitioner. R. K. Singh has edited
some of his own articles published in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. This
volume is significant as a historical document, as it reflects the
gradual development in the field of ELT, especially ESP, from 1970s to 1990s in India and other parts of the globe. It provides conceptual
clarities and practical possibilities of ESP approach to tertiary level
English language teaching in professional institutions.

The book starts with an overview of the status of English in India and
in the broad Indian Educational Curriculum, particularly in technical
institutions. Other articles in the book discuss ELT theory and
practice, development of ELT in India, Communicative Language Teaching,
ESP theory and practice, possibilities of technical English, problems
and prospects of ESP in India, needs analysis, teaching language skills
to science and technology students, and possibilities of using literary
texts in ESP classroom. The book, with its blend of theory and practice
from the view point of a practising teacher in the classroom, is full
of insight for teachers of English to be meaningful in their class.

The author arranges his articles in the volume in two sections:
Research Essays and Review Essays. The research essays, 18 in number,
help the readers understand the development of ELT, especially ESP/EST,
in India. The review essays, 22 in number, familiarize them with the
contents, logic, and criticism of several important textbooks and
reference books published in the West. These provide us with the Indian
teachers' perspective, voicing viewpoints that are generally not
available in books elsewhere.
The opening article in the first section tells us about the role and
status of English in India and in Indian Educational Curriculum. In the
beginning of the independent India, the policy makers adopted three
language formula--English, Hindi and Regional Language/Mother Tongue --
in Educational Curriculum, as English plays the role of national and
international lingua franca, library language, medium of instruction in
private schools and higher education, language of science and
technology, language of trade and commerce, etc.

The second article pleads for teaching English well by adopting a more
practical attitude, flexible teaching approach, adopting a need based
teaching programme and pursuing "such teaching activities from which
pupils know they are learning something useful." The author advises:
"...the question we should be asking ourselves is not just what to
teach but more important what to teach to whom and why." The article
'eaching for Communicative Competence or Performance' emphasizes
the productive skills development and integration of skills, supporting
eclectic approach to teaching English.

The articles 'The Needs/Ends Framework of ESP', 'ESP:> Communication Constraints', and 'ESP: A Sociolinguistic
Consideration' discuss the different aspects of ESP. The author
states " effective management of ESP teaching requires a proper
understanding of students' language needs which means that one needs to know what and how they require to communicate with each other, at
which level, and whether in speech or in writing...;' ' also
needs to consider the local circumstances that have a distinct bearing
on the success or failure of the language teaching....'

In article 'ESP in India: Developments in 1984-1985', the author
describes the development of ESP in India in one year, which is also
reflective of the developments in 1980s when different projects were
carried out in different parts of the country . The article enlightens
us about the search for suitable approaches and methods of teaching
English in Indian scenario. Some of the memorable projects include the
Communicative Teaching Project, Bangalore, The TTTI Project, Calcutta,
and The ISM Project, Dhanbad. The ISM project was basically a needs
analysis project, on the basis of which new syllabi were designed
for the students of B. Tech. and M. Sc. Tech.

Throughout the first section, the author tries to search and establish
the ESP approach to teaching English in the Second Language context,
especially to the students of science and technology. The section ends
with the exploration of possibilities to use ESP techniques for
teaching literature.

The second section of the book focuses on some review articles that
were published in different journals in India and abroad in 1980s and
1990s. This section gives a broad view of activities which were going
on in ELT world those days. The reader will find this section very
useful as it gives a sufficient account of classroom text and reference
and research materials published in that period. The review essays
also educate one about various aspects of language learning in EFL, ESL
and ESP contexts. The last five essays concentrate on cross cultural
communication, cultural context in business communication, teaching
translation and interpreting, and translation and power. Each of the
reviews is assessed thoroughly and tells us what is practically useful
in the classroom situation.

R.K.Singh's reflections and comments offer a valuable reference and
motivation to applied language teachers, ELT researchers, curriculum
planners, teacher-educators, academic administrators, and linguists.

On the whole the volume covers a good range of research and review
from the point of view of a practicing teacher. ELT practitioners will
find this book very useful for their appreciation of classroom teaching
realities and research.


Bhatia, V. K. (1993). Analyzing genre: Language use in professional
settings. London: Longman.

Gotti, M. (1991). I linguaggi specialistici. Firenze: La Nuova Italia.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1978). Language as social semiotic. London: Edward

Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre analysis: English for academic and research
settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Dr M. Mojibur Rahman
Lecturer in English
Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences
Indian school of Mines
Dhanbad 826004

Thanks, Dr Rahman, for doing a very good review of my book. Let's hope
readers take note of it and benefit from what has historically evolved
from my activities and reflections as a class room teacher and
researcher. As a practioner of EST in the Second Language context in a
technical university in India, I have tried to put together my articles
and reviews to share what someone from a small technical university
can contribute to ESP/EST devepment in India. I appreciate your
comments on my book.


Friday, September 15, 2006

THE LIFE TREE by APJ Abdul Kalam: Review


THE LIFE TREE : POEMS by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. New Delhi: Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd., 2005, Pages 92, Price Rs. 250/-. ISBN 067004997 – 2

Reviewed by Dr. R.K.Singh

The Life Tree is the latest addition to A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s megabytes of fame. His twenty-six poems, originally composed in English, and/or translated from the Tamil original by Mani Darshi, fuse a formidable discourse, which is personal and public at the same time.

As the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose excellence as a poet is already established, notes in the Foreword, President Abdul Kalam “has contributed invaluably to our country’s progress in space research and defence technologies….He is also a sensitive and thoughtful poet. This confluence of scientific brilliance and poetic talent is truly unique.” In The Life Tree, the scientist’s vision intersects the poet’s, as Abdul Kalam deciphers his own humble past and relates it to the nation’s great future. While the cause of the nation dominates his consciousness, he presents a humanist view of his personal, technological and social domains as ‘mirror of the soul’ to underscore resurgence of a potent Indian identity in the world.

The poet’s aesthetic focus relates to nation building, through a celebration of Indian science and technology, secular culture, human values, and love for nature. He asserts his conviction that the act of creating, be it poetry, science or engineering, is a basic human capacity which needs to be nurtured. Integrative and interdisciplinary as his genius is, he maintains the dynamics of changes at various levels and links his consciousness to higher emotions, making his poetry an instance of the basic urge in human beings to create aesthetic significance, merging arts, nature, and sciences.

APJ Abdul Kalam indicts unthinking, mindless adherence to fundamentalist, religious, casteist, and narrow social systems that disrupt harmonious relationship. His poems of love, faith and optimism in The Life Tree bespeak his innate humanity, selflessness and dedication for transforming Indian society. He seeks to ignite every soul with dream and passion that “will keep the lamp of knowledge burning/To achieve the vision – Developed India.” Abdul Kalam, the visionary scientist poet, is convinced:

“If we work and sweat for the great vision with ignited mind,
The transformation leading to the birth
Of a vibrant, developed India will happen.”

And, this is his prayer too.

He exploits the medium of poetry, articulating subjective experience and meaning, to ensure promotion of excellence with focus on three main areas—education, research and performance—for emergence of a new Developed India. “We want to work for our nation/With our sweat enrich the great land of ours,” asserts the poet. He assimilates new ideas from the contemporary sciences whilst embracing traditional, spiritual and artistic aspects of human experience. He celebrates innovations and indigenous knowledge just as he empathizes with the deprived and poor.

The poet, sad to see waves of communalism and violence, sings the “song of creation” in one of his visionary moods, and feels the “divine splendour reflecting …the heavenly answer:

“You, the human race is the best of my creation,
You will live and live.
You give and give till you are united,
In human happiness and pain;
My bliss will be born in you.
Love is continuum,
That is the mission of humanity,
You will see everyday in Life Tree.
You learn and learn
My best of creations.”

The poet President of India passionately voices the divine knowledge for humankind, the best of Nature’s creations, when he envisions the country as a leader in the emerging Knowledge Society. He sees the Life Tree growing with the mantra: “learn and learn.” (Elsewhere he prays to Almighty “to light the lamp of knowledge” and “grant us a new life.”) He feels “mutual love flowing” all around with intimate belongingness of “billions of billions of lives” in various forms displayed in nature. “You give and give till you are united/In human happiness and pain,” realizes Abdul Kalam in his compassionate thinking and reflection on “nature’s wonder.”

“You are born, live a life of giving
And bond with ties of affection.
Your mission is the Life Tree.”

The metaphor of Life Tree, which provides the book its name, is rich in meaning and message. The poet turns a sage philosopher and devotee, reasoning out the future of India and “the mission of human life” at the same time.

As a poet he seems to be engaged in changing tastes and beliefs from within: His style of poetry seems to stress the need for implicit persuasion to reorient individual, personal, institutional, or public norms, social actions, and roles, making best use of knowledge today. He effectively proves poetry is not only language but it is also articulation of a people’s greatness, achievements, hopes and aspirations, and of common sense. He sets out a new poetics and himself stands out as a leader poet. His aesthetics conforms to his personal experiences, intuitions, and interior self. With implicit presence of the scientist in him throughout, he turns remarkably creative and diverse.

As a lyrical poet with patriotic fervour at the core of his personal reflections, he evinces a firm faith in God and believes in the efficacy of prayers. He seeks God’s blessings for everyone “to be with great teachers/0f high thinking” so that none have to suffer the pangs of communalism and social inequity. In the poem ‘Harmony’, for example, he recalls how a teacher had separated him from his close friend Ramanathan when they were students in standard fifth. As the teacher had failed to “comprehend a Brahmin boy and a Muslim boy sitting together” in the class, he asked the latter to move to the back bench: “My tears dripped; Ramanathan wept/…The socalled educated separate our souls,/Sowing seeds of discord and poison.” The sensitive soul of the poet knew from the beginning that the Almighty has created all equal, and free.

He wants us to remember: “All men are equal and created alike/And the creator endowed them with inalienable rights/To life, to freedom, and to continued happiness.” It is important that people used their inner faculties and brain to defeat the “Satanic temptations” within and kept from communal violence that “break the cage of peace and faith.” As he stresses: “Know ye all: Khuda and Ram/Both are one, blossoming in love.”

The poet’s compassionate heart feels the anguish of everyone, especially the poor and needy. As he recounts, he was greatly moved when Mother Teresa was hospitalized in 1991. He prayed for her recovery because “Her heart is home for those who have none.”

APJ Abdul Kalam also feels God-presence in the harmony of humans and nature: “Keep loving nature and care for its beings,/Then you can see divinity all over” ; “Beauty of consciousness trapped in peace/Blooms of flowers show Almighty in deed./…A touch of them makes all humans go tender” ; and “Nature and humans were created together,/Together they can govern this world./Then only peace and bliss will be here.”

He stands for “a valiant new order”, “freedom from fear”, communal harmony, character building, transparent honesty, self-discipline, optimism, “faith in goodness and sea-deep kindness”, “love and peace of humanity”, unity of minds, harmony of humans, nature and science, and the Life tree a la Agni, which is symbolic of India’s power, pride and prosperity. Expressing Indianness at its fullest, the poet President goes well beyond the administrative initiative of the state and declares in ‘Rock Walls’:

“I have no house, only open spaces
Filled with truth, kindness, desire and dreams:
Desire to see my country developed and great,
Dreams to see happiness and peace abound.”

The clue to the mystery of success, as he says in ‘Message’, is:

“Love for your work and faith in your dreams,
There is no force on earth that can shatter your dreams.”

It is possible by cultivating and strengthening faith in oneself, in ones inner resources, or the creative potentials within.

Some of the best poems in the volume that may stir a reader’s soul include ‘My Mother’, ‘The Life Tree’, ‘Memory’, ‘Tumult’, ‘Ancestor’s Desire’, and ‘Rock Walls’. I find in them the genuine soul-feelings of the poet.

A few poems, namely, ‘The Life tree’, ‘Harmony’, ‘Pursuit of Happiness’, ‘Gratitude’, ‘Whispers of Jasmine’, ‘I am the Child of Bihar’, and ‘My National Prayer’, earlier appeared in The Luminous Spark (Bangalore: Punya Publishing, 2004), which is significant for contribution of half-a-dozen visual artists who illustrated these poems with their brush and colours. The verbal and visual symphony enhances the appeal of some of the poems in The Life Tree too. The poet’s anecdotal notes preceding almost every poem facilitates an understanding of the fine relationship between verbal and visual forms of creative expression. While APJ Abdul Kalam creates verbal imagery, Manav Gupta renders the poet’s spirit into visual imagery with fifteen water colour paintings. Painting and poetry flow into each other, testifying to the poet’s belief that both painting and writing are forms of language.

Abdul Kalam, blessed with the ‘dual muse’, provides a rich feast of the verbal and visual arts, merging aesthetic sensibility, curiosity, analysis, and interpretation. He innately appreciates the painter’s sensitivity to the visual properties of his written form and thus, enhances and reinforces his poetic effect.

To conclude, The Life Tree is a poetic pioneer of the years ahead with Kalam’s personal metaphors that seek to balance linguistic and cultural gaps in conveying aspirations of the new generation. With verbal and visual experimentation, the poems in the volume provide a heightened creative experience. They not only reveal the sage scientist poet’s life, mind and spirit, but also prove that he has a strong bond between him and his media and tools which, in effect, bespeak his inner discipline and individual mastery. His new book expands the national literary constellation, enriching the aesthetic dimension of Indian poetry in English today.

Dr R.K.Singh
Professor of English & Head
Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences
Indian School of Mines
Dhanbad 826004


New Indian English Poetry: An Alternative Voice: R. K. Singh, Edited by I. K. Sharma. Published by: Book Enclave, Jain Bhawan, Opp. N.E.I., Shanti Nagar, Jaipur 302 006, India, 2004. pp. 370. ISBN: 81-8152-085-8. Price: Rs. 850.

Reviewed by Patricia Prime

As a book, New Indian English Poetry is well engineered, well-edited and well-presented. Its sections are so distinct that one is almost startled when they pick up on each other’s threads. Briefly, the book contains critical essays exploring Professor R. K. Singh’s oeuvre: scholars explore from many angles the mystique of Singh’s poetry, the poet himself clarifies many aspects of his art through interviews with an almost “chatty” voice (I liked this; it made for a dramatic change of tone); and foreign critics and readers argue their cases for his work. At the same time, the book talks about the creative use of English in Indian poetry.

Professor I. K. Sharma in his Introduction to the book has this to say about Singh’s output:

He is a strong poet with considerable output to his credit. His ten volumes of verse should, without prejudice, earn him a place among the noteworthies of our developing literature. (‘Fifteen years constitute a literary career’, said Sainte-Beave.) It is unfortunate that poets who have written much less and of no high value are sitting pretty on a high swing with the aid of overarching hands of a literary cabal while they who have ‘plighted their troth’ to muses (like Narmad) lie on the wayside. (6)

New Indian English Poetry figures an attempt at upsetting the boundaries, positions and closures of traditional Indian poetry, and also suggests that these terms may have shifted. Coming as it does at a time when courses on Indian writers in the academy have been enlarged to focus on gender, sexuality and difference. Sharma’s collection responds to an informed sense of what “conversations” have been and where they are going, and particularly to the resource-based question of what is needed by other collections. As Sharma writes:

So I come back to where I started from: chaos. Who are the makers of chaos? Obviously, minor poets, for, they outnumber the dominant group. Unlike the smart set forming a guild of their own inside and outside the country, they are quite restrained and modest. Neither affluent nor well-connected they have had no opportunity for visiting London, Oxford, Wisconsin or Chicago. Nor were they moulded in the Iowa workshop of poetry writing. Yet of their own volition they began to compose poems. In this excursion, they instructed themselves by reading, more reading, and still more reading – dismantling their poetic structure till their daemon had approved it. Self-trained they are our modern Eklavyas who have practised art in their own backyard. (5)

Professor I. K. Sharma seems to be exploring in his Introduction the value of applying western criticism towards Indian English poetry. Now that English is increasingly becoming culturally, nationally and regionally neutral, and is the chosen language of many Indian poets. As he states, it has become the “most fecund segment of Indian English literature.” Sharma castigates academia for its “compound neglect with their snobberies, their workshop of Eliot, Stevens and Frost a perspective that until recently excluded even the livelier American literature and that of the Third World.” Why, therefore, he indicates, it there no academic exploration of a poet’s output before he/she is relegated to the scrap heap?

New Indian English Poetry positions itself as the document that seeks to study one of these poets. It surveys and implicitly honours Singh’s output in a diverse yet cohesive field of production, and in so doing historicizes that field and makes a version of it available within the integrity of the volume.

The essays and interviews can be perused like the strands in knitting. They may seem complex at first, but it is worth taking time with them and tracing the weaves of the threads. There are moments that are wonderful: for example, G. D. Barche’s essay “’Phoenix’ and ‘Icarus’ Reworked in the Erotic Poetry of R. K. Singh,” where the critic states,

Thus R. K. Singh’s treatment of sex is unique. Generally poets have looked upon sex either as ‘phoenix’, i.e. life rejuvenating, or as ‘Icarus’, i.e. life depleting. But the poet here has presented it as a catalytic process, operating simultaneously as rejuvenator and desiccator. He has used myths, images and symbols in the most refreshing manner in order to project sex in its contrasting operations (39)

When Shelley described poets as “the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” it is not too fanciful to imagine he had someone like Professor R. K. Singh in mind. Singh has been praised not only for the “lyrical beauty” of his work, but also for its “eroticism.” For three decades of his life his writing has provided rare shafts of illumination into the complexities of Indian life and culture, and his intelligence and humanity have seen his work published throughout the world.

It seems that while Shelley’s line may be applicable to Singh – he is indeed acknowledged “as a legislator” in some quarters – there is no getting away from the fact that the one thing Singh has never lacked is acknowledgement. His life can be seen as a pageant of recognition as the articles, reviews, interviews and literary comments gathered between two covers by Sharma, can attest.

Singh is part of a set of Indian poets who have had their work widely published and acknowledged and many of their articles about his work appear in this volume: poets, academics and editors such as D. C. Chambial, I. K. Sharma, R. A. Singh, K. D. Singh, K. Srinivas, I. H. Rizvi, and many more. Alongside these Indian poets are writers from other countries: L. Glazier, M. P. Hogan, R. W. Schuler, A. Davis and Uncle River, among others.

The publication of New Indian English Poetry is the fruit of decades of criticism of Singh’s work. The book may well become the definitive school and college text for a generation. It may even raise a slew of questions about the nature of his work itself: issues of cultural identity and ownership, nationalism, politics, eroticism and language have all been stirred up. This Indian poet has re-fashioned the rock solid cornerstone of Indian literature and in so doing has amended the literature not only of the present, but also of the past.

The most pragmatic service of Sharma’s collection is that it assembles a good deal of material, which is hard or occasionally impossible to come by elsewhere. At the same time it allows us to see the depth and breadth of Singh’s field thus represented and weigh its claims, historically and theoretically, to be considered as a grounding, though not by that means removed from dialogue with other ways of configuring his personal literary history. Many universities, libraries and individuals will buy Sharma’s collection whose purchases could not extend to the range of Singh’s output. The reader of New Indian English Poetry will find it an invaluable resource for discovering and for reconsidering: a collection like this leads readers to individual volumes.

Compilations such as this are reactive and proactive. They create their own occasion. Every item selected constitutes an implicit reading of both part and whole, the oeuvre of the writer in question and the aims of the collection. The virtue and value of access and apposition for many differently located readers provided by an excellent and timely book such as this can not be overestimated. We owe to New Indian English Poetry the chance – which is also the collection’s directive – to read across a wealth of material gathered under an inclusive but specific rubric and to “see” what effects and alignments may be produced.

Singh has lived most of his adult life and his literary career under conditions of the most critical scrutiny and expectation. As Sharma states,

An impression may go round that Singh is forever busy in the mortal game of erotics and is largely unconcerned about the ills of the age he lives in. It’s far from the truth. Quite the contrary, he as citizen-artist is acutely aware of the painful realities of the Indian society. Time and again he records his distress in poems without overstretching his poetic ligaments. Ascetic in expression he protests against the multiple virus he notices in different sectors of our life – religious, social, economic, and political. (10)

His status as one of the leading poets of his generation in India has been taken as read as much by his critics as by his supporters.

Many Indian English journals such as Creative Forum, Poetcrit, Poet, Indian Book Chronicle, and more, are among the many publications that make plausible a new conception of the globalisation of poetry. One might argue that earlier in the twentieth century the impulse toward the internationalisation of poetry had been linked to a homogenisation of artistic activity: the hope of a unified field. In the present poetry is disseminated through electronic transmission of texts, correspondence, and journals – a process which assumes the primacy of English. Today’s movement toward globalisation depends upon a respect for, even a savouring of, those elements of language and textual practice that are local in nature, which are somewhat opaque, and which resist homogenisation.

Such a process, of simultaneous globalisation and insistence upon the unassimably local nature of poetry, is one that we find in Singh’s poetry. His poetry may be seen as the kind of intercultural poetics that breaks across the boundaries and definitions of self and nation that were the latent source of its creative powers.

“He is chiefly a poet of love and sex. His Muse is tantalising: half-concealing, half-revealing. He is a past master in the art of concealing art,” so says R. S. Tiwary in his essay “A Peep into the Poetry of R. K. Singh.” (15). Singh has found his voice and discovered the joy of writing about eroticism as it applies to his muse, to his personal life and to the life-giving energy that drives his poetry. It must have been a life-turning point as he came alive to himself through poetry and energy. It became a magical transition to move from the speechless and helpless to a position where one’s work is satisfied by the world and by editors. The confirmation by actual publication of his books must be gratifying. His poems, articles, essays and criticism, have also been widely published in journals and on the Internet.

Satish Kumar states in “Rainbow Hues: The Poetry of R. K. Singh” that,

Poetry in Indian English expresses Indian ethos and sensibility and is in no way cut off from the main trends and sensibility which find powerful utterance in Indian literature. (41).

“Time stands still” is one of the poems chosen by P. C. K. Prem in his article “R. K. Singh: A Poet of Nature, Beauty and Woman”:

Time stands still
in November chill
I fill emptiness
with words paint season
on your face

This is one of Singh’s poems about women, which as Prem states, “It is through the intimate love of a woman that the poet wants to establish his identity.” (73). It is a remarkably bold statement that has been utterly justified by time and achievement. In the poem Singh describes, naturally and expertly how, in the coldness of winter, time waits for the poet to find comfort and warmth in the loved one’s face.

Above the Earth’s Green attracted good reviews. D. C. Chambial in his article “Poetry, Politics and Woman: A Study of R. K. Singh’s Above the Earth’s Green,” says that,

. . . in his poetry, R. K. Singh looks at poetry, politics and woman from his own vantage point and lays them bare for the common reader to comprehend. With a sense of deep commitment towards poetry, he exhibits a marvellous sociopolitical consciousness of his time and milieu. (88)

Singh has been criticised for depicting the union between man and woman in “low key” (R. S. Tiwary, “Secret of the First Menstrual Flow: R. K. Singh’s Commitment to Fleshly Reality”). Tiwary states,

It appears as though he deliberately subdues the palpable emergence of the sexual passion on the surface. In his intercourse, especially with his own wife, he remains grossly matter of fact, rather businesslike. But when it comes to extramarital relationships, the element of emotion does make register its presence, howsoever weakly. (93)

Singh has managed to rise above such criticism to be true to a kind of experience that isn’t corrupted by the way in which he views his relationships.

G. D. Barche examines one poem from the book My Silence for its stylistic assessment in his essay “A Stylistic Assessment of R. K. Singh’s ‘The Works and Days’ Weariness’”. He examines the subject of the poem and its organization, and notes, “ . . . the poet has taken a lot of pains to project the devastating effect of ‘the works and days’ on the poor miner’s life pattern. Equal efforts have gone into the presentation of the suffering at night.” ( 167)

R. A. Singh explains in his essay “The Poetry of R. K. Singh” that the

. . . poetry seems to be rooted in visions and divisions that traverse human existence, feeling the pulse in the rhythmic flow of time. His social visions intersect with the private; his flux of emotions creates a complex sound and silence, waving through love, loneliness, failure, frustration, and memories in search of home in a hostile world. His imaginings are not only delightful to the senses but also challenging to the mind. (170)

There is no section of the population whose position Singh has not explored. Often his poetry has been perceived as rooted in erotica, but he has also fashioned from the everyday lives of his society new images and a new reputation for himself that has fanned out around the world.

This apparent lack of engagement is equally criticised by those who feel he should be far more censorious of social evils, political issues and prejudices. But as Stephen Gill points out in his essay “R. K. Singh: A Mystic Poet of Beauty”:

The poems in My Silence and Other Selected Poems are about hypocrisies, marital complaints, pollution, a search for meaning, inane social/religious norms, the dark aspects of industrial progress and ascertaining the truth. These poems reveal the significance of life time after time, experience by experience. The poet’s constant analytical deliberations plunge him often into the abyss of gloom. (178)

Singh may be described as a poet of the senses, a poet of sensory understanding and a poet whose life view is devoted to the phenomena of the natural world. He is seen too as the Indian poet who, standing out from and often disagreeing with his peers, has both practised and argued for clarity and imagistic richness in poetry. Singh’s poetry may be seen to have three characteristics not often seen in other Indian writers verse: its sensuousness, the often melancholy ethos of the poetry’s seriousness and the poet’s undoubted repugnance for mere “manner” and for emptily fashionable gesture.

In many respects we can see a greater humanisation in Singh’s work than in many other Indian poets. He shows a greater reliance on human presence and human problems. He was praised early on for the visual intensity and purity of his poems. His later work, however, is just as likely to have moments of deep poignancy and self-irony sch as you can find in a poem like “Wordless Plaints”:

dust of alienness
has thickened on my throat . . .
my heart lacerates
I cough worldless plaints

Where he reflects on his anxiety and uncomfortableness and tells how he feels condemned just for thinking about his life.

The difference between poets that makes us call one poet a major poet, and another a minor poet, even though we may think of he or she as a very good poet, is a question of the use of language. The major poet’s work should have bulk; must attempt one or other of the greater poetic forms, which tests gifts of invention and variation and the subject-matter should have universal importance.

When a prolific poet, such as Singh has produced several reasonable volumes in the past twenty years, we are faced with a number of questions. The first leads us to lament that even the best poetry volumes produced seem to have a very short shelf-life. Runs are small, reprints are rare, and larger publishers are notoriously quick to remainder any stock left after the first two years. It is only the small presses who are willing to give book longer shelf life, and the slow returns have seen the demise of many small publishers.

The second question relates to perceived audience. The mainstream seems to treat poetry like a news item: headlines today, forgotten tomorrow. The reality is that poets sell more copies of their books through direct contact at readings, conferences, festivals and the like than through bookshops. And each time a poet performs, the audience widens. Poems live at least as long as the poet, hopefully longer, and the market is expanding, not contracting. A good poem will always find a loving home.

This book should be read by all interested in Indian English poetry. The material is refreshing to many because of its partisanship in an era when many writers and academics tend to evade the important political and social issues, and it is the ability of this book to maintain contact with an ever-changing audience that makes it outstanding. The reprinting of these essays and interviews makes it a publishing venture worth the effort and deserving of success.

2,957 words

Patricia Prime
42 Flanshaw Road
Te Atatu South,
Auckland 8
New Zealand


Another review in French: Courtsey:

Sujet: Indienne New poésie anglaise - une voix alternative - Critique de livre   Mar Sep 28, 2010 11:26 am

Critique de livre:

New Indian poésie anglaise: une autre voix: édité par RKSingh IK Sharma. Publié par l'Enclave de livres, de Jaipur. 2004. p. 370, Prix Rs.850 / -, ISBN 81-8152-085-8.

New Indian poésie anglaise: une voix alternative est une publication importante à la lumière du fait que les grands de l'Inde espace littéraire anglais a été occupé par quelques florissante auteurs universitaires et bureaucratiques, y compris la diaspora ou des auteurs expatriés, et la plupart de partir de l'Inde les auteurs et les poètes, malgré leur qualité, sont restés pratiquement au ban. La presse écrite et visuelle importante et influente des médias universitaires et critiques ont été moins chaud à l'idée d'explorer ou d'examiner des «nouveaux» poètes qui se sentent marginalisés parce que personne ne parle personne de renom à leur sujet lors de forums nationaux ou internationaux.

Conscient de la réalité que la «voix subalternes qui ont éclaté sur la scène de la poésie ne peut pas être chassa" (préface), poète-professeur-parole IK Sharma choisit de présenter un ouvrage complet sur l'un des noté nouveaux poètes, RK Singh, qui a déjà publié une dizaine de recueils de poèmes et a été active en tant que critique, critique et praticien ELT pour plus de 25 ans.

En fait, IK Sharma cherche à défier tous les critiques qui ne voient rien, mais «chaos» dans le monde de la poésie en recueillant 22 articles critiques, 14 essais critiques / commentaires et six interviews publiées en Inde et à l'étranger. Plus de 25 chercheurs, vénérable, d'âge moyen, et les jeunes, d'examiner sous divers angles la mystique de la poésie Singh et de prouver "l'efflorescence créatrice» que des dizaines de nouvelles, marginalisés, poètes incarnent.

Dans son introduction appris, IK Sharma a élargi ses horizons à long terme de la poésie anglaise indiennes en tant que genre, de critiquer les discours de la discrimination et l'exclusion, et préconise discours alternatif et créatif de la nouvelle génération de poètes. C'est l'appréciation exige "des esprits difficiles, de coopération, de collaboration et de critique» et non «net snob» qui a intérêt à l'indifférence, l'hostilité et l'obscurité (pp.203), prévient-il.

Sharma examine RK Singh comme un cas de test et découvre que le poète met dans la "nouveauté et de fraîcheur dans sa façon de communiquer ses idées et ses sentiments ... avec compétence et perspicacité» (p.Cool. Comme le porte-parole souligne: certains aspects essentiels de la poésie RK Singh - la manipulation du langage à un effet spécial, le manque de signes de ponctuation, la pratique de donner aucun titre, l'utilisation de métaphores érotiques, et la représentation de la réalité douloureuse de la société indienne - ont déjà attiré l'attention des lecteurs, mais il est «essentiellement un poète de l'imagination sombre» (p.10) et «artiste conscient de soi" qui sait "la valeur de la dissimulation dans l'art" (p11).

Sans doute, comme un poète, RK Singh est remarquable par sa vitalité, la variété et la qualité. Il n'est pas ésotérique, négatif ou occidentalisé, mais il en appelle à l'échelle nationale et internationale, avec sa vision et ses impulsions, de la profondeur des sentiments, le sens de soi, et la richesse de la langue. Il explore et ranime les formes et les styles traditionnels avec la compréhension de la créativité éclectique.

Ceux qui sont déjà familiers avec son travail, comme les articles de ce volume, aussi, témoigner, reconnaître la compétence RK Singh en tant que poète et lui accorder une haute position, même s'il n'est pas poète un «Metro» et / ou qu'il n'a pas encore été considéré comme un poète dans le centre. IK Sharma reconnaît en lui un poète de promesses et de potentiel de grand avenir et rassemble quelques articles sélectionnés, des essais critiques, commentaires et interviews publiés dans diverses revues depuis la fin des années 1980 non seulement de motiver les chercheurs et les travaux des chercheurs supplémentaires sur RK Singh comme une Indiens poète anglais, mais aussi "à battre le fantôme de« chaos »qui est devenu un alibi de tous les temps à l'inaction."

Tous les contributeurs - la pratique des universitaires et des professionnels de poètes - voir RK Singh du poète avec un sentiment de découverte, d'ouverture à l'innovation artistique, et l'appréciation de la poésie anglaise récente sur les Indiens. Ils reflètent sur son travail avec l'empathie, la reconnaissance et l'égalité. Avec la foi dans le discours du poète, ils négocient les différences et la dimension humaine de la poésie de communiquer; leurs critiques renforce la créativité indienne en anglais.

RS Tiwary les trois textes analysent la poésie RK Singh - l'imagerie, la diction, le style et le contenu érotique - une poétique sanskrit et la vue l'intérêt du poète dans une perspective plus large de la communication littéraire. Mitali De Sarkar deux essais complément à l'approche Tiwary, bien qu'elle se concentre sur la conscience sociale du poète. Les deux essais par GD Barche regarder de plus près, en présentant une évaluation stylistique et commentaires sur l'utilisation de l'imagerie Singh sexe. Bien que les articles de Satish Kumar, RA Singh et Ravi Nandan Sinha cherchent à fournir une vue d'ensemble sur le contenu des collections du poète publié jusque-là, Krishna Srinivas de «Préface» à mon silence, la collecte de jeune fille RK Singh, a une valeur historique.

Différents d'eux, l'article de Michael Paul Hogan cherche ou se rapportent à la vie réelle du poète et de vivre dans Dhanbad tandis que l'article Chhote Lal Khatri est une tentative de projet RK Singh comme le poète le plus connu en anglais indien de Bihar / Jharkhand. article PCK Perm vise à mettre en évidence les thèmes récurrents de la nature, de beauté et de la femme dans le discours créatif RK Singh vis-à-vis de préoccupation du poète sur l'existence de l'homme et de l'identité aujourd'hui dans une société multilingue, multiculturel et multireligieux.

essai porte IK Sharma avec la musique du poète doit sonner comme un "soigneusement élaboré" épique. essai Tejinder Kaur met en lumière les «sept grands volets de sondage comme les sept notes de musique" dans la collection.

Bien que les dissertations judicieuses DS Maini, Stephen Gill, et IH Rizvi traiter des divers aspects de mon silence et autres Selected Poems, les essais par Patricia premier, DC Chambial, et Asha Viswas avis dessus vert de la Terre. Les essais de SL Peeran et Abdul Rashid Bijapure prendre en compte tous les volumes publiés à ce jour et se concentrer sur l'évolution du poète en termes de ses préférences thématiques et la poursuite de la réalité supérieure.

RK Singh est le meilleur dans ses poèmes lyriques et haïku et tanka sont les plus courtes de poèmes lyriques. Les articles et les commentaires sur son haïku et tanka par Patrticia premier, Urmila Kaul, DC Chambial, IH Rizvi, Ann Davis, Ruth Schuler Wildes, Ben Torbieu-Newland et Lyle Glazier point à l'évolution de la croissance littéraires RK Singh. Ses haïkus et poèmes tanka sont importants dans qu'ici il se développe à l'uniformité universelle des sentiments humains et d'expériences dans une forme internationale. Les commentaires du haïku RK Singh et poèmes tanka point sur les atouts de la critique et les faiblesses de la médiation interculturelle et interculturel.

Patricia Premier répond aussi efficacement à John Joseph est beaucoup plus laborieuse commentaires sur la poésie RK Singh dans World Literature Today en plus de présenter, aux côtés de Tejinder Kaur, un tableau comparatif de RK Singh et de la poésie américaine Bahri.

La deuxième partie du volume est composé de six entrevues RK Singh a donné à Patricia premier, Jaswinder Singh, Dinesh Singh Kanwar, Sonja Van Kerkhoff, Atma Ram, et un groupe d'étudiants. Il en ressort propre expérience du poète, détails biographiques, son avis, l'esprit et l'attitude. Il est arrondi à la réflexion oncle River, en désignant les «tensions inhérentes à la synthèse de traditions culturelles» dans la poésie RK Singh.

Ainsi, la variété des articles critiques, des essais critiques et commentaires, mais pas aussi parfait que l'on voudrait qu'ils soient, prouve que RK Singh est un poète à compter avec, méritant une attention plus critiques et universitaires à la maison et à l'étranger. Il est IK Sharma grand de cœur qu'il a choisi de faire un livre sur un homme-poète. Le livre devrait encourager de nouvelles recherches et des études plus approfondies sur la poésie anglaise récente indienne en général et de la poésie RK Singh en particulier. M / s Livre Enclave mérite nos félicitations pour la publication New Indian poésie anglaise: une autre voix: RK Singh, qui renforce la cause de la poésie indienne en anglais au 21e siècle.