These are late night poems of the body that sing also of catastrophe, how wide it is, how easy, like ‘being in one place instead of another.’ Anindita Sengupta’s new book is hot, harrowing and masterful. It will stay with me for a long time. ~ Jeet Thayil Anindita Sengupta is a poet of the precise line, the measured image, of mediated passion, the sure ending. Her observation is acute, her politics seldom theatrical and her passage from one world to another and from the object to the spirit smooth and subtle. Her poetry proves that silk can wound and knife can flower. ~ K. Satchidanandan “They rise in this landscape, the ancients – old loves, myths, cities, secret revolutions. Anindita Sengupta’s language is forever old and forever new. Fretful, explosive, terrifying. Her poetry will leave you with beautiful scars.” ~ Janice Pariat
“In my wonderland, there are only beginnings, ‘there is no end’. Plunge into this book of?poems by Claus Ankersen where cat-gods rule, babies are born with stargates for eyes, kisses are catalogued and the 12th pen writes of celebratory sins. Expand the eternity of now. Be nomad, tiger, ‘soulhuntress.’ Head-dive into the mysteries of the world. Dance
Adman, householder, mystic, public intellectual and ashram devotee, Kersy Katrak (1936-2007) has never quite received his due as a poet. Katrak’s ‘lush, provocative, and very readable’verse has, with its rare but persistent appearance in anthologies of Indian poetry in English, remained in a curious way at once unforgotten and unrecognized. This book aims, at long last,to remedy this state of affairs. It is the very first comprehensive collection of Katrak’s poetic work, most of it long out of print,some of it previously published only in hard-to-find periodicals. Katrak’s poetry resonates powerfully with Wallace Steven’s observation that ‘It is equal to living in a tragic land, To live in a tragic time’. His concerns remain,palpably,our concerns: a search for the everyday alchemy that might translate the visceral potentials of collective life into generative forms of belonging. This problem of the relation between inner energies and outer forms is at the core of Katrak’s work as a poet and a mystic. And it is what binds his esoteric commitments to his career in advertising. The anthropologist William Mazzarella’s critical introduction to the present volume is the first substantive exploration of these connections in Katrak’s life and work.
In these her late poems, the volcano that is Eunice de Souza is still erupting. As in her early work too, what she here ‘upchucks’ is lava, molten lines that burn and glow and leave a permanent mark. The tone, as before, is casual, bantering, close to the spoken idiom that is uniquely hers. When terrible things happen the tone changes, quickens, then relaxes again. Life is bemusing, ludicrous; death even more so. In the work of no other poet I can think of do you find such brevity and grandeur, swiftness of utterance and the unbearable weight of grief, unbearable because de Souza is so dry-eyed. ‘The crone’s still capable/of spite’ she writes in one poem, the old necklace-of-skulls self-irony intact, except that in her case ‘spite’ also means ‘wisdom’. It is easy to forget that the crone is deeply moral as well, and like any moral being she too feels that she’s lived ‘In the wrong season.’ There is plenty in these spare but unsparing poems to remind us of the classical virtues we associate with Bhartrhari, for instance, or a Latin epigrammatist like Martial. These are poems to live by. In time, they will come to be seen as classics of our literature, as many of her earlier poems already are. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
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.