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About the Book
This is a breath-taking experiment involving three poets, four languages, a pandemic and a million miles of migration. You will not find a bleeding heart here nor any cheap sentiment. Here is a watchful eye and a savage tongue. Here is a calligrapher’s pen and a bow to Ezra Pound. Mustansir Dalvi’s poetry has always meant something more to me than the best words in the best order. Here he shows us the order of things in a disordered world and we are humbled by this act of bravery and of empathy.
Jerry Pinto, poet and translator
Asylum, I want a poem and other poems
First published as an e-chapbook by Yavanika Press in that dreadful plague year, 2020, Mustansir Dalvi’s brilliant and memorable WALK is an act of homage to the suffering of those millions of Indians, already living precariously between village and metropolis, who were turned into migrants in their own land – forced to walk thousands of miles home, on what was effectively a death march, by a callous State and a society that improvises rather than systematising effective forms of compassion.
WALK now returns, under the Poetrywala imprint, as a surging polyphony. Dalvi is joined in this splendid quadriga of a book by Hemant Divate and Udayan Thakker, who have translated these poems into Marathi and Gujarati respectively; the author has rendered himself into a vibrant Hindi. This relay of versions is completed by Sudhir Patwardhan’s painterly testimony to the anguish of the Covid refugees caught up in a humanitarian catastrophe. A poet and translator, Dalvi infuses his writing with multilingual resonance and quicksilver diversity, shuttling among idioms and registers, in-group argot and makeshift patois. As befits the gravity and universal urgency of its subject, this book will reach readers in four languages simultaneously, saying to them, to us: Never forget!
Ranjit Hoskote, Poet, art critic and cultural theorist