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
Hardback awakening The air is thick, and has revived my books, anticipating the first spell of a Bombay monsoon. Ambient moisture has slaked pages that shuffle and twist, arise to a wakefulness, unleaving. Feeling the discomfort of nearness,
Tukaram was born in 1608 and vanished without a trace in 1650. what little we know of his life is a reconstruction from his own autobiographical poems, the contemporary poetess Bahinabai’s memoirs in verse, and the later biographer of Marathi poet-saints, Mahipati’s account. The rest is all folklore, though it cannot be dismissed on those grounds alone. Modern scholars such as the late V. S. Bendre have made arduous efforts to collate evidence from disparate contemporary sources to establish a well-researched biography of Tukaram. But even this is largely conjectural.
Tukaram is therefore not only the last great Bhakti poet in Marathi but he is also the first truly modern Marathi poet in terms of temper and thematic choice, technique and vision. He is certainly the most vital link between medieval and modern Marathi poetry. Tukaram’s stature in Marathi literature is comparable to that of Shakespeare in English or Goethe in German. He could be called the quintessential Marathi poet reflecting the genius of the language as well as its characteristic literary culture. There is no other Marathi writer who has so deeply and widely influenced Marathi literary culture since. Tukaram’s poetry has shaped the Marathi language, as it is spoken by 70 million people today and not just the literary language. Perhaps one should compare his influence with that of the King James version of the Bible upon speakers of the English language. For Tukaram’s poetry is also used by illiterate millions to voice their prayers or to express their love of God.
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
‘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’