Thursday, June 03, 2010

A Response to Chitra Lele's request

Dear Chitra,

It's really a tough job you want me to do. I need to think about it seriously and deeply. I don't know your context except that globalisation in English language teaching is more functional and utilitarian than creative (as in the sense of poetry or story writing). When I started writing in Hindi (in my teens) I didn't have any competence in English. I was a Hindi medium student and there was no environment to learn good English whether at home or in the college. Soon I discovered that I won't be able to make any impact through my journalistic, poetic or fiction writing in Hindi-- there was so much politics and competition,and no mentor to promote me even if I used to appear in almost every daily and weekly published from Varanasi in those days-- I dabbled in writing in English. As a student in BA I thought my English was good and I could write poetry in English. I was wrong. My literature teachers, too, discouraged me from wasting my energy in writing in English. But, the more they found fault with my writing, the more determined I became to write and publish in English. With continued failures in the seventies, I did succeed, after i became lecturer in English and gradually learnt how to find my rhythm and edit my poetry and/or write what most others won't dare to.
Poetry came to me naturally when thinking in English had become normal and i had to teach English language rather than literature. I learnt to write with no or minimum adjectives; I learnt to be brief and without being wasteful; I learnt to write with a sense of rhythm. It was good that I did not read T S Eliot or the Romantics or the Victorians after becoming a teacher, nor did I need to teach any authors I studied in BA or MA. I taught 'English for Science and Technology" and professionally concentrated on 'specific purposes' language teaching rather than teaching even modern or contemporary literature.
Because my forgetting is faster than remembering, so I always had something new to write or think about.
I didn't have the support of any of the big names in Indian English writing, so I kept on doing what I have been doing all these years just as promoting the less known/unknown poets became my passion. (No Ezekiel, Mahapatra or Ramanujan supported me any time.) I am happy today more new authors are being talked about than it was thirty years ago. Even for research (here at ISM) I promote new or less known authors and poets and leave the old or established ones for others to deal with.
With the emergence of the internet and several international print journals becoming electronic journals, I have been regularly posting my poems etc on various literary sites and it is gratifying that my writing in English is now more accessible globally. I wont die an unknown name and one or the other search engine will mention one or the other of my books or poems in English (as also in other languages).
You are free to use whatever seems relevant to you.
All the best
R K Singh

--- On Mon, 5/31/10, Chitra Lele wrote:

From: Chitra Lele
Subject: Important: Singh Sir, please respond
To: "singh ramkrishna"
Date: Monday, May 31, 2010, 11:48 AM

Dear Singh Sir,
Greetings! How are you?

ONE EARNEST REQUEST: Sir, for my next non-fiction book on the importance of English in today's world of globalization, I need you to write one paragraph on how the English language and your proficiency in it has helped you in your life..10-15 lines will be great. I am going to include your quote in one of my chapters - Real life quotes. Please help, your kind blessings are always needed. May be you could write about how English helped you in promoting poetry.
Please mention your stellar credentials at the end of the quote.

Awaiting your valuable reply.

Kind regards,

Chitra Lele


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