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
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
Professor of English & Head
Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences
Indian School of Mines
Dhanbad 826004 India
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org