Sanjeev Khandekar (1958) is a poet and a visual artist. Kavita (Granthali, 1990) a collection of his early poetry and Search Engine (Granthali, 2004). These collections have been followed by three volumes of poetry – All that I Wanna Do (Abhidha Nantar, 2005), Mutatis Mutandis (2006) & (2014) and Two Poems (2006). Khandekar?s two books, ‘1,2,3… Happy Galaxy’ and collection of present poetry ‘Smiles’ (2007) are published by Abhida Nantar in 2007. In 1982, he edited Sankalp: A collection of essays by social activists in Maharashtra .It was awarded the Marathi Sahitya Parishad award. His second book, the novel Ashant Parva (Season of Unrest, 1992), concerns itself with the construction of a politically sensitive self in post-industrial India. Khandekar is based in Mumbai.
Nabanita Kanungo’s collection is simultaneously an elegy and a victory song. A documentation of the heartbreaks that have plagued our subcontinent for the past century or so, her poems re-define the lyric form, chronicling the unfolding of a personal self framed by larger political events. Here, history appears as a long, continuous saga of violence, in which Partition memories remain juxtaposed within the everyday lived realities and violences of neoliberal Indian cities. With this collection, Kanungo provides a ghostly account of quotidian survival?stories that remain forever out of official histories?and re-defines the meaning of Anglophone India political poetry of contemporary times.Nabanita Kanungo’s poems ache with an awareness of how poetry cannot truly evoke anything but absence, of how ‘It rains and words say nothing’; ‘Only memory is green’. In this tragedy, Kanungo finds the only solace available to the poet: a luminous quality in the every day, the ‘Mirror where things are simply written with light’. These poems work in the liminal spaces of the world and of the self, between the present moment and its turning into memory, between words and rain.
Das’ poetry more than delivers on the promise made in the penultimate lines of her titular Cyborg Proverbs, offering its reader the gift of penetrating (in)sight through thoughts “as precise as suspicion”. Her syllables breathe aloud, like hushes that unassumingly gasp in the gaps between echoes, in the interstitial moments of alighting bird wings, or roots that braid the air, or the slipperiness of netted fish, and the gush of rain as it nestles its way into the crevices of walls and swells its way through its parasitical, residential act.
Das exquisitely reimagines syntax and her frequently anthropomorphic poems shape-shift upon each ensuing page, making Cyborg Proverbs an enviable feat, aided in no small measure by her studied, patient, bird-watcher gaze and her unspeakable lust for articulating the tacitly sensual.
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
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
Ravi Shankar’s poems are immortal in the flesh, finding in The life of the mind its interpretations, its instrumentality. The surpassing, transient, lyrical moment; and in the life of the World’s body the permanent, unflinching presence of thought, Unconfined by time and space. They are the verbal artifacts of a Singular, many-sided, and distinguished consciousness.Pulitzer Prize winner Vijay Seshadri Engorged with image, thick, viscous and churning, Ravi Shankar’s Poems have the density of mercury as well as its fluidity and Mobility…The energy is visceral. The language is restless, hungry For surprise, the register swinging between the formal and the Demotic (both American and Indian). Underlying this is an Almost voluptuous need to embrace myth, history, metaphysics And pop culture, and bring all of it into a single book, and Sometimes a single poem. This is matched by an alertness to form with references ranging from the Bop to the pada — making for A playful, stylistically supple poetry. – Arundhathi Subramaniam Ravi Shankar’s poems have a fine-tuned sense of form, a rare Delight in language. Through wit and abstraction, they reveal a Metaphysics of longing, binding us to the elements of our moving World. – Meena Alexander
Ravi Shankar is truly, now, one of America’s finest younger poets.-Dick Allen