Back in India, I chose for what seemed heroic and thus tried my hand in several projects, some landed me in trouble and drove me into obscurity, some, daring and untried also lifted me above the ordinary and mundane and had given me the “spirits of the air”, to quote Shelley. If I can quote a European poet, “I hated what was easy”. Poetry reading was always an interest in all these years. As I was writing this piece I lay my hands, quite unexpectedly, on a new collection of poems across the globe. “The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry, 1996, 654 pages, covers almost the whole geographical extent of the globe, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Japan, Latin America, Carribean, Russia and Africa. Some 80 major poets! Some of whom are Nobel Prize winners as well as names known throughout the world wherever poetry is discussed seriously.
Even a brief glance of the poets and a cursory reading of the lines, here and there evoke a rare sensation and lift us up out of our immediate surroundings. Poets from Europe, from former East European Communist countries, from Russian, Hungerian, Romanian, Polish, Serbian, Czech, and the twentieth century is a “new dark age, the end of a long and vile century”. Poets who lose their ethnicities, nationalities, the names of their countries often brutally occupied, changed and these souls thrown into jails and tortured! What a century?
Indian India too, we or at any rate, me as a poet, hold such dark premonitions, the unstable realities, the dark men in their many cloaks and veils and masks, speak and give us not surities or stabilities but new unreasoned dark fears and uncertain identities! Post-Independent India and current realities!
Our freedoms are threatened, everyday; lawlessness of the State, our democracy is no stability for our hopes and dreams! Fears have overtaken our dearly held ideals!
These new poets from newer and strange lands hold me in ever-surprising newer poetical visions and I enjoy these new discoveries in the realms of poetical experience.
The modern, late Twentieth century poets are all seem to be cosmopolitan, well-read and widely traveled and, more important, undergone untold oppressions and suppressions, especially those from other parts, for religious or social reasons.
Poets as a human race all seem to be restless and rebellious individuals and are seeking a new meaning and new world always! From India I saw just two poets represented, not those who had written in their mother tongue, but in English! Tamil language seems not on any international literary radar!
Poetry publishing is thriving well in England and there is at Oxford a Professor of Poetry. One living poet occupant of this chair has won a Nobel Prize for poetry and all the occupants of this chair had been leading poets and left their imprint on English literature.
I make a serious weekly reading of the British press, specially the quality journals, Financial Times, The Spectator, The Guardian and the TLS and keep in touch with book reviews and literary criticisms. The Financial Times, (Weekend review) with all is preoccupation with politics and business carries few full pages of literary reviews including poetry book reviews and in fact every week prints a new poem. This is the typical English tradition! Even in serious journals you could spot a new poem, these journals carry lots of prestige.
Some of the recurring themes in my poems here might reflect on what I am thinking and doing in my life and what views I hold on various issues of the day. I have, of course, strong views on many issues and I don’t hesitate to express them in all forms and in all forums open to me!