lyrikline blog

Poetry from India

With the start of 2018 we’ll be able to present more poetry from India on Lyrikline thanks to a newly established partnership in India. The Enchanting Verses Literary Review and poet and editor Sonnet Mondal as its country-editor for India take care of the selection and recording of new Indian poets. Their first contribution to Lyrikline is poet Anju Makhija and we’re glad that more new voices are already being prepared.

Many thanks to Sonnet Mondal not only for his efforts in presenting Indian poetry but also for an insight into poetry in India he compiled, giving us an idea about the developments from the beginning to today, the diversity of languages and the various traditions of this rich poetry universe of India.

 

Poetry from India (by Sonnet Mondal)

The literary history and tradition of India spins around poetry. From the Vedic times to the 21st century, Indian poetry has come a long way through epics, cultural intersections, conquests, devotion, local dialects, and festivals. Vedvyasa’s Mahabharata, considered as the longest epic poem in the world is so huge that there’s a saying — ‘What’s missing in the Mahabharata doesn’t exist in India’. With 110,000 couplets in eighteen sections — this epic is about seven times the combined length of Homer’s the Iliad and the Odyssey. Other India epics that substantially used poetry as the medium of expression were — Valmiki’s Ramayana, Māgha’s Shishupala Vadha, Māgha’s Kiratarjuniya, Aśvaghoṣa’s Buddhacarita and Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda. Even in these times — poetry flourished in other languages — in other parts of the country. The Sangam literature era — from 300 BC to 300 AD contains about 2381 poems in Tamil composed by 473 poets from diverse backgrounds. The Bhakti movement during the 15th and 17th century AD saw an emergence of devotional poetry, the influence of which still remains contemporary. Influenced by Vedic beliefs — the works of poets like Andal, Kabir, Tulsidas, Ramananda, Tukaram, Mirabai, and Narsinh Mehta still remain a muse of the post-post modern period.

Though most of the early Indian poetry appeared in Sanskrit — there was a shift in course of language towards the medieval period. Amir Khusrau penned mainly in Persian, but composed almost half a million verses in Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Braj Bhasha, Hindavi as well as the Khadi Boli. Later Hindus started writing in Persian and this led to the development of Indo-Persian literature. The Abd-Allāh cites over 130 names of Hindu-Persian poets who lived in the late 18th and 19th century. The first evidence of a Hindu writing Persian poetry is attributed to a Brahmin named Pandit Dungar Mal. In late 17th century — Sikhs also started contributing to the Persian poetry of India, and Guru Gobind Singh himself wrote an extensive Persian poem — Zˈafarnāma.

From Jayadeva in 12th century and Amir Khusrau in the 15th century, to Michael Madhusudan Dutt and Tagore in the 19th Century, poetry in Indian vernaculars reigned supreme. The father of Bengali Sonnet, Michael Madhusudan Dutt brought a revolution by penning the famous tragic epic — Meghnad Bodh Kavya and also by introducing blank verse in Bengali poetry.

The local and regional languages first encountered English in the beginning of the 18th century — with the break-up of the Mughal empire to British India. The first Nationalist Poet of Modern India- Henry Louis Vivian Derozio — considered the father of Indian English Poetry wrote in English and was much influenced by the English Romantic poets. Tagore translated his own work into English — in his book Gitanjali. Later, Nissim Ezekiel and A.K. Ramanujan wrote much under the influence of post-war American Poets and some British poets like Wilfred Owen. Ramanujan travelled to America in 1959 and stayed in Chicago until his death in 1993. He wrote profusely during these years. Indian English poetry- from Derozio and Toru Dutt through Nissim Ezekiel, A.K. Ramanujan and Jayanta Mahapatra to present day poets is recognized worldwide. It has come up as a form that has its own tradition, lyrical quality, approach, delivery and style. Inspite of the surge of Indian English literature, regional language literature through the hundreds of languages spoken in India today — has remained close to the hearts of readers. Regional languages in the country has given rise to many countries within one country bounded by boundaries without lines. Regional poetry in India, allows an insight into the diverse depictions and presentation of same things by different regions of India.

Delving into Indian poetry, is like descending an age old cave in search of minerals, wall arts and history. Selecting poets for Lyrikline cannot be all inclusive but there would be a constant quest to include the best contemporaries from various Indian languages.

Sonnet Mondal, photo: John Minihan

Sonnet Mondal, photo: John Minihan

ref:​ (Abd-Allāh, p. 216; McLeod, p. 80; Shackle and Mandair, pp. 137-44).

 

Sonnet Mondal is the author of Ink and Line and five other books of poetry. Winner of the 2016 Gayatri Gamarsh Memorial Award for literary excellence, Mondal was one of the authors of the ‘Silk Routes’ project of the IWP, University of Iowa, from 2014 to 2016. He is the editor-in-chief of the Enchanting Verses Literary Review, and lives in Kolkata.

Petr Borkovec zur tschechischen Lyrik der letzten zwanzig Jahre

Posted in Autoren / poets, country portrait, Länderporträt, our network partners, Petr Borkovec by lyrikline on 1. November 2017

Petr Borkovec (*1970) ist ein weit über Tschechien hinaus geschätzter Dichter. Wir kennen ihn, seit er 2004 als Gast des Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD nach Berlin kam. Fast genauso so lange kann man seine Gedichte schon auf lyrikline hören; nun um 5 neue, 2017 aufgenommene Gedichte erweitert.

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Foto: Dirk Skiba

Petr organisiert in Prag die Lesungen des Café Fra und war u.a. Kurator der deutsch-tschechischen Lyrik-Reihe Im Hier und Jetzt des Goethe-Institut Prag. Er hat einen exzellenten Überblick über aktuelle Poesie und 2012 einen lesenswerten Essay zur tschechischen Lyrik der letzten 20 Jahre geschrieben, den es inzwischen auch in deutscher Übersetzung gibt. Wir danken unserem tschechischen Lyrikline-Partner für den Hinweis auf diesen Essay und dem Autor und dem Goethe-Institut Prag dafür, dass wir ihn hier veröffentlichen dürfen. (Den tschechischen Originaltext findet man unterhalb der deutschen Übersetzung.)


Die Begegnung mit den Arbeiten eines jungen Dichters lässt den Lyriker Petr Borkovec über die tschechische Lyrik der letzten zwanzig Jahre nachdenken.

Heute habe ich einen Brief mit Gedichten bekommen, von einem Autor, der 1990 geboren wurde. Die Gedichte sind, glaube ich, gut, einige sind mir sehr nahe, bestimmt werde ich was davon drucken. Der Dichter wurde in dem Jahr geboren, in dem ich mein erstes Buch veröffentlicht habe. Beide sind also gleichalt. Es wäre so schön, sage ich mir, wenn ich seine Lyrik überhaupt nicht verstünde, spüren würde, wie fern sie mir in jeder Hinsicht ist, und gleichzeitig von ihr fasziniert wäre, ihr verfiele. Doch das passiert nicht. Ich lese sie, wähle aus, sortiere, ordne, einige Gedichte lege ich beiseite. Entweder ist aus mir ein literarischer Routinier geworden (was wahrscheinlich ist) oder die tschechische Lyrik hat sich in den letzten zwanzig Jahren nicht allzu sehr verändert.
Ich weiß es nicht. Normalerweise denke ich darüber nicht nach.

Vor zwanzig Jahren…

Kein Dichter hat hier in diesen zwanzig Jahren literarisch Revolution gemacht und die tschechische Dichtung in eine unerwartete und unerforschte Richtung gewendet, das ist wahr. Aber wollte das jemand? (more…)

Poetry from Burundi

Posted in Adams Sinarinzi, Autoren / poets, country portrait, Länderporträt, our network partners by Heiko Strunk on 20. April 2016

By Adams Sinarinzi of Ubuntu Advocates Initiative, the Lyrikline partner organisation in Burundi

Presenting poetry from Burundi is not an easy task. T.S. Eliot seemed to think true poetry is hardly translated, and one needs to truly sense where those words are from. Until the emergence of the modern, there was no need of presentingpoetry, for poetry was part of life.

….do you feel her drive?
Look at his eyes,
Do you read his verse? 
[1]

But the unity of life, some will say, was lost with the last myth and cosmic societies, that Burundi belonged to until a century ago. Dissolved by the increasing requirements of the modern world, several separate and independent spheres were born. One of them, the arts and culture, has grown (often unwillingly) to acquire the function of precisely representing the lost unity.

Beyond their powers to express the various contradictions and sensitivities, the world literature offers us symbolic levers for an understanding and appropriation of our lives. The young contemporary Burundian literature is best understood in this context, which is of an attempt to understand its environment and express its sensibility to the world.

In his academic book La Littérature de langue française au Burundi, [2] Professor J. Ngorwanubusa of the University of Burundi regrets however the few avenues for the literature of Burundi. There is barely any publishing house; a few reviews had been existing in the 1960s and 1970s but never survived except a few Christian reviews run by a few members of the Burundi Catholic Church.

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But the interested literary person won’t miss the corners behind the central market where the old (often stolen!) books are sold, the oldest book storeLibrairie St Paul, or the French cultural center (whose interesting café hosts the unfortunately more and more penniless intellectuals in the city!) and of course the newly opened Lire Africa in Gallerie Alexander, specializing in fiction from Africa. A blog by the poet Thierry Manirambona (“la plume burundaise”) lists an impressive archeology of Burundian books old and new, and a few poets do publish their poetry  directly on the internet as the acclaimed Ketty Nivyabandi.

Poetry in print might be hard to find in the country, but if you are insisting you will discover the underground intellectual and literary scene of the marvelous Café literaire Samandari that meets every Thursday evening at the Burundi Palace right in the middle of the city center. But one should say they met there, for since a year now these meetings are no longer held. (more…)

Map of a Thousand Lives – A Brief Introduction to Poetry in Malaysia

By Pauline Fan of Kala, the Lyrikline partner organisation in Malaysia

An attempt to chart the origins and evolution of modern poetry in Malaysia unearths complex historical processes and cultural interactions that have shaped contemporary Malaysian society. To speak of the writing of poetry in Malaysia, one must grapple with – or at least try to imagine – the essentially pluralist and polyglot nature of its people as well as the changing socio-cultural landscape, where “the map of a thousand lives will be seen* ”.

Malaysia is a country where at least four main languages predominate – Malay, English, Chinese and Tamil, further punctuated by a multitude of dialects and colloquialisms according to clan or region. The multicultural and multilingual population of the Malay Peninsula has been evident since at least the 15th century, when the Sultanate of Malacca rose to become one of the most thriving entrepôts in Asia, drawing merchants, scholars, and envoys from neighbouring kingdoms and faraway empires alike. Successive waves of immigrants from all over the Malay Archipelago, China, and India – some of whom settled, intermarried, and formed new distinct communities and cultures such as the peranakan or Straits-born communities – added yet more layers to the inextricable diversity of Malaysian society.

The conquest of Malacca by Portuguese (1511) and Dutch (1641) imperial powers preceded British colonial control, and later the Japanese occupation, of the Malay Peninsula and the northern provinces of Borneo.  Each of these imperialist presences left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of Malaysia, including on the Malay language in the case of Portuguese, Dutch and English, adding to the vast compendium of loanwords in Malay from Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Chinese. The Malay language served as a lingua franca for the Malay Archipelago for centuries, and forms the basis of the standardised national languages of both Malaysia (Bahasa Malaysia) and Indonesia (Bahasa Indonesia), mutually intelligible with some differences in vocabulary and spelling.

Oral traditions and pan-Malay poets

The origins of Malay-language poetry can be traced to the vast and various oral traditions that have been cradled in the Malay Archipelago as well as classical Malay texts known as Hikayat that date back as far as the 14th century. Traditional Malay poetic forms include the syair, the pantun, the gurindamand seloka, all of which are found in both oral and written literature. While traditional or classical, many of these poetic forms are intrinsically innovative, urging improvisation and spontaneous composition. The pantun, for instance, was sometimes performed as balas pantun, a call-and-response ‘duel’ or ‘flirtation’ between two poets, especially during performances of the Dondang Sayang (love ballads) of Malacca. (more…)

Insights: Contemporary Poetry in Turkey

Posted in Autoren / poets, country portrait, Länderporträt, Metin Celal, our network partners by Heiko Strunk on 17. June 2011

by Metin Celal

The foundations of Turkish poetry are built upon Divan (Ottoman) Poetry and Folk Poetry. Divan Poetry is form driven by aruz-prosody and not easily understandable due to its mixed usage of Turkish, Arabic and Persian while Folk Poetry is content driven using syllabic meter and folkloric elements.

Turkish poetry grew from the conflicts and contrasts between these two approaches. Two major poets marked the beginning of contemporary Turkish poetry after the establishment of the Republic in 1923. Yahya Kemal, while providing important late examples of Divan Poetry, announced the onset of contemporary Turkish poetry with his use of language and image structures. Ahmet Haşim served a similar function by changing the usage of Divan Poetry’s forms, by his decisive search for innovation and by his introduction of new poetry from the West. Nâzım Hikmet and Necip Fazıl complement these two major poets, and contemporary Turkish poetry has since been developing in the footsteps of these four pioneers, always bearing traces of one or more of them.

The disengagement from Divan Literature, and the replacement of the Arabic Alphabet with the Latin Alphabet, changed the Turkish language and reintroduced syllabic meter to Turkish Poetry. Rising nationalism also established a “National Literature, New Language” movement. Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı, Ziya Osman Saba and Ahmet Muhip Dıranas, used syllabic meter to write poems according to their own unique styles. French Literature especially inspired the poets of the new generation who tried to overcome the limitations of syllabic poetry, limitations such as meter and rhyme, by enriching the poetry’s content. Nâzım Hikmet implemented the most important changes in this period. With his socialist approach, he reduced structure, brought in free verse and introduced new themes into Turkish poetry. Necip Fazıl, whose focus was on the spiritual and theindividual, brought a new voice to poetry by using syllabic meter with a modern edge. In time, Necip Fazıl moved towards a more mystical construct and pioneered a poetics driven by the religious, aesthetic and political roots of Islam.

One of the most important movements (more…)