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Click the scene! The Poetry Scene in India Be proud of India!

An Assessment by the Poets

Some Poetry Journals

The Poetry Society (India)

Let us capture what some experts in this arena have to say:

"There was a time in our country when poetry appeared central to life and shaped people's attitude to the universe, to others and to themselves. This was so, not only during the golden days of oral poetry, like the period of the Bhakti but even after the printed word took over, as during the days of the anti-colonial struggle when the enlightened readership that formed the core of the public sphere was decisively moulded or swayed by poetry. The margininalization and reification of poetry seem to be a rather recent phenomena, which I fear, has to be combated with caution, for there are two temptations that can easily mislead a poet who is conscious of poetry's isolation from the public and anxious to retrieve its lost readership... of these temptations is an atavistic return to tradition, conceived as a monolithic transcendental essence that differentiates, defines, excludes and even promotes, xenophobia -- ...
...the second temptation is that of the false modernity of the market-place with its shameless valorisation of careeristic values, its mushrooming of imperialist corporations and consortiums, its share-market squabbles and pornographic power centres, its abhorence of cultural autonomy and intolerence of differences, its manufactured images..."

-- K Satchidanandan in 'Indian Horizons'

"...what happens once poems are ready? We don't get poetry editors in India. We have neither literary agents nor many poetry publishers. As such, a big void between the poets and the readers exists. Few efforts are made to fill this void. The Poetry Society (India) can never fill it on its own..."

-- H K Kaul in 'The Journal of The Poetry Society (India)'

"In examining the phenomenon of Indian verse in English, ... it did not seriously begin to exist till after the withdrawl of the British from India. An important characteristic of Indian verse in English is that it is Indian in sensibility and content, and English in language. It is rooted in and stems from the Indian environment, and reflects its mores, often ironically."

-- R Parthasarthy in 'Ten Twentieth-Century Indian Poets'

"Indeed it is possible to argue that modernism in Indian poetry in English was a glibly and unconvincingly internalized Western imitation; that in its excesses it was insulting and destructive of Indian cultural traditions; that the modernists themselves have realized this and are going back to translation, bilingualism, and religious poetry."

-- Makarand Paranjape in 'Indian Poetry in English'

"Another significant disadvantage which is none of the writer's own doing is his unfashionableness outside India, and the disheartening fact that little of the glory of the Indian writers who have been acclaimed in the West is reflected on us here. Contrast the institution of a Booker prize for Russian writing the instant the USSR split."

-- Vijay Nambisan in 'The Life and Times of a Young Indian Writer'

"Poetry too, in tune with the times, reacting to well-established formal, ritualistic religion, reacting to the brutal indifference of capitalism to poverty, showed this in disillusionment and despair. An open mode of expression, social and sexual, was urged on by a new liberal culture. It would be easy to give examples of this poetry produced in India."

-- Jayanta Mahapatra in 'Slow Swim in Dim Light: Quest for Modernity in Poetry'

"Indo-English poetry, whatever may be its rating compared to language writing, seems firmly entrenched in the Indian literary scene today. Despite the sahibs who still harbour hopes of making it big overseas. Some do, true. Dom Moraes has made it, after his fashion. But for most of us the priorities are quite different. And some of us have made it where we always wanted to: right here, where the action and the living audience is."

-- Pritish Nandy in 'Strangertime: an anthology of Indian poetry in English'

"He bent his head down
And began to remember his
Past glories, present miseries
And future uncertainties
Then slept,
Slept forever."

-- Lines from 'Death of a Poet' by Ganesh Dhole

"India and the east on the other hand are learning that the mind that observes a falling apple and creates a science out of it thinks with another hemisphere of the brain than the one that journeys inwards. ... Delhi-London Poetry Quarterly's aim is to record these ebbs and flows through the medium of a new age poetry ... it happens that the language used is English. That language is not the property of England as Yoga or Sanskrit is not the property of India."

-- Swami Ananda in 'Delhi-London Poetry Quarterly'

"These are not the times for poetry. In these bleeding and battered times poets ought to be doing something else -- fighting on the fronts for saving mankind and providing succour to the injured. ... The society outside poetry is facing grave crisis: it needs concrete action, not poetry. ... In other words, our times are such that it is somehow wrong of poetry to be just poetry. Our society is ablaze ... if at such moments poetry cannot extinguish the flames or provide relief, it should at least be postponed."

-- Ashok Vajpeyi in his Editorial Note in 'Indian Horizons'

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A List of Some Poetry Journals / Poetry Publishers...

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The Poetry Society (India)

The Poetry Society (India) is registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. The main objectives of the Society are:

  • to promote Indian poetry and look after the interests of poets in India;
  • to undertake collection, interpretation, translation, publication, and propaganda of Indian poetry in India and other countries;
  • to arrange expert advice on composition, publishing, distribution and translation of Indian poetry;
  • to help maintain highest standards and foster a sense of literary affinity among the poets writing in different languages in India;
  • to give information and advice on problems relating to copyright and the rights of poets;
  • to assist in settlement of differences and disputes between members of the Society on the one hand, and other bodies and individuals on the other;
  • to award grants, fellowships, prizes, subsidies, subventions and assistance to poets and translators of poetry; and
  • to engage in such educational, literary and charitable activities as would promote and develop the objectives of the Society.
Postal Address:
The Poetry Society (India)
L-67A, Malviya nagar
New Delhi - 110 017
Mr H K Kaul is the Secretary-General of the Society.
The Society conducts an All-India poetry Competition every year.


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