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Spinning the Web

Bare Face by Jayanta Mahapatra. Kottayam: DC Books (India), 2000. $7.95. As Reviewed By: Rabindra K. Swain Today, when India is known abroad more for her fiction than her poetry, Jayanta Mahapatra’s sixteenth volume, Bare Face, arrives. Hopefully, it will win some readers, interested in that country’s literature, from the former genre. When Jayanta Mahapatra started […]

Posted in April 2004: Indian Poetry in English, ReviewsComments (0)

A Home Away from Home

Uncollected Poems and Prose by A. K. Ramanujan. Edited by Molly Daniels-Ramanujan and Keith Harrison. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001. As Reviewed By: Rabindra K. Swain A. K. Ramanujan passed away in 1993, at the age of 64, in Chicago, where he had served at the university as William E. Colvin Professor. He had […]

Posted in April 2004: Indian Poetry in English, ReviewsComments (0)

The Lost Children of America 

A Poem by Jayanta Mahapatra [private] [/private]

Posted in April 2004: Indian Poetry in English, PoemComments (1)

Speak, Ranjit

Reasons for Belonging: Fourteen Contemporary Indian Poets, edited by Ranjit Hoskote. Viking (New Delhi) 2002. 148 pages. 195 Rupees. As Reviewed By: Rabindra K. Swain “For a time,” warns Michael Roberts in his introduction to the first edition of the influential anthology The Faber Book of Modern Verse, “the false poem may be more popular […]

Posted in April 2004: Indian Poetry in English, ReviewsComments (0)

The Real Robert Lowell? 

The Letters of Robert Lowell, edited by Saskia Hamilton. FSG, 852 pages. $40 By: Anthony Moore Robert Traill Spence Lowell IV (1917-1977) came into the world high on the social ladder. As the jingle first heard in the year he was born has it, there were only two rungs higher in Boston “where the Lowells […]

Posted in January 2004: Robert Lowell Special Issue, ReviewsComments (0)

Indispensable Books of  Indian Poetry in English

An inadequate but serviceable list As Compiled By: Preston Merchant Only the Soul Knows How to Sing: Selections from Kamala Das Das stopped writing poetry recently after converting to Islam, though she had been called “the first Hindu woman to write honestly about sexual feelings and love.” Her work is rich, unfettered, and charged with the […]

Posted in April 2004: Indian Poetry in EnglishComments (0)

At Home in the Several Worlds

The Oxford India Ramanujan, edited by Molly Daniels-Ramanujan (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004) As Reviewed By: Preston Merchant It was a singular moment in the history of Indian letters when A. K. Ramanujan walked into the University of Chicago library one Saturday in 1962 and leafed through a box of musty, uncatalogued books, recently […]

Posted in April 2004: Indian Poetry in English, ReviewsComments (0)

Love and the Insurgency

Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001) By: Preston Merchant After Agha Shahid Ali died on December 8, 2001, of brain cancer, Tehelka, an Indian website, presented an online tribute by his friends and admirers. Shahid would have delighted in the fact that he was being featured on a news and gossip site (tehelka means “sensation” in Hindi) […]

Posted in April 2004: Indian Poetry in EnglishComments (0)

The Voice of the Poet Part 8: Robert Lowell

In his enormous Pulitzer Prize-winning account, Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer describes the kaleidoscopic tumult and turmoil of the 1967 march on the Pentagon to protest American involvement in Vietnam. It was an instant in history when the formal orders of the Old and New Left came together, sometimes reluctantly, with hippies, sectarians, self-styled revolutionaries, and demure New England intellectuals. This was perhaps the last time that such a bizarre gathering would occur on American soil. Among the intellectual elites in attendance and chosen as the avant-garde, literally the advance guard of the march, was the inconspicuous and professorial Robert Lowell, looking a bit capsized and alarmed by the day’s events. Mailer described him as America’s greatest living poet, though he also pointed out, in typical Mailer fashion, that the average National Guardsman assigned to defend the Pentagon would no more recognize America’s greatest living poet than much care about such an obscure status. Lowell is most celebrated today for his keen historical sensitivity, and he has been described, hyperbolically, as the greatest historian of his day. It is therefore fitting that he participated in what can be comfortably termed a crucial historical event at a time when his poetry represented the blending of intensely personal and broadly public concerns.

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Philip Larkin and His Adjectives

His Plain Far-Reaching Singleness I have two of Philip Larkin’s poems by heart—“Sad Steps” and “Aubade”—though I admire many more, and it was while reciting the former poem silently to myself during a particularly boring meeting that I noticed a number of things for the first time, most of them related in one way or […]

Posted in Essays, May 2010: Philip Larkin Special Issue, This MonthComments (1)