Ashwani Kumar’s poems in ‘Banaras and The Other” are a mischievous irreverence turned at times to the present and at times to the past. The personal and the political, memories and nostalgia, mythical characters and contemporary parodies mix and mingle in these poems in diverse proportions to produce a rare poetic energy that belongs entirely to our times of pain and paradox. –K. Satchidanandan
Ashwani Kumar’s Banaras and the Other captivates us as a delightful romp through myth, folklore and history. Read past the revelry, however, and you will see that it engages passionately and provocatively with the fissured, schismatic scenarios of 21st century India.–Ranjit Hoskote
Lost Images (For Ashay) I am backing home where you died. One year later, to find Changes that mask our surrender To the inevitability of life. I remember my Ambulance Ride With my friend whom you called Daddy. It took me a whole year To under
‘In this collection, Arjun Rajendran is unapologetically cosmopolitan, yet rooted in the gritty’
Realities of Indian city streets and our ghostly middle-class parlours, Rajendran’s poems excel in the juxtaposition of seemingly disparate elements, geographies, texts and tropes. Yet it is in these juxtapositions that Rajendran finds both the rhythm of a dirge that would mourn our broken contemporaneity, and celebrations of small moments of solidarity and creativity. With this collection, Rajendran provides a definitive push to the very idea of contemporary Indian English poetry.’ -Nandini Dhar, Author of ‘Historians of Redundant Moments’
Arjun Rajendran’s Cosmonaut in Herges Rocket never fails to surprise and provide something new. So many times, these poems stopped me in my tracks, holding my breath. The poems here create a world: we are given Anna Karenina and the stickers on a Rubik’s Cube, Archie Andrews and the death of a hedgehog, a lost (and found) copy of Lolita and the Bible described as ‘the oldest bestseller about hell.’ All of these -and much more – are made new again, brought into connection with each other to form new constellations from the world we thought we recognized’. -Jennifer Finstrom, Poetry Editor, Eclectica Magazine
“Arjun Rajendran’s poetry mixes the scientific, the symbolic, and the speculative. One poem includes the Dyson sphere, another has a superstitious mother who has quit eating mangoes; one poem talks of a friend coming out, another plays on the Hardy-Ramanujan number. But the unique guile of this poet comes through when all of this happens together. Such that a poem of nostalgia mutates into one about global warming; such that a poem arrives at a longing for comics through the wild route of space travel. One reads Rajendran’s poems with the warm knowledge that he is a poet who can do anything. He is my favourite contemporary poet, and definitely one of India’s finest.’ – Tanuj Solanki, Author of ‘Neon Noon’
Through sex-dolls and addictions, for whom poetry can be just another narcotic throbbing in your vein. Khandekar’s man has stretched himself to the limits of the Machiavellian primate, modifying his behaviour and absurdum to fit in with the changing patterns of a world spinning out of control on the wheel of progress. Meet the ghost in the machine Sanjeev Khandekar’s poetry grins impishly, then socks you in the eye. It makes you feel horns on your head and inspect your skin for green stripes. Khandekar breaks conventions of belief, language and genre to offer a world with no certainties, where you are just a gob of self-awareness floating in a matrix of virtual reality, mutating every moment to balance your inner needs with social expectations. You are the Mutatis Mutandis Man the human ‘with necessary changes’ carried out the modified man tossed between inscrutable science and enigmatic religious faith, the creature who gropes for love and creativity that may lure you towards self-destruction. Meet Khandekar’s Monster and see if he seems familiar.
Khandekar’s poetry, like his art, is disturbingly unconventional; and Abhay Sardesai and Nandita Wagle’s excellent translation from Marathi now brings it to the English reader.
-Antara Dev Sen