The Future of Indian Poetry
The Future of Indian Poetry

Indian poetry in English is flat. There is no depth. This was my impression when I read some anthologies edited by Pritish Nandy few decades ago. This remains my impression after reviewing an anthology of more modern poets that I chanced upon recently. I came out with the feeling that I had read a newspaper. To be fair to Indian poets, much modern poetry is similar. Mental. Superficial. Sensational.

DH Lawrence had said that the best literature transforms your blood. My blood remains the same. The skin sags a bit more.

Save a few poems. A few poets.

Ezra Pound described poetry as comprised of three components: logopoeia, melopoiea and phanopoeia. Meaning, music and image. A very anatomic dissection reveals this as the sinews and muscle of poetry. But the best poetry accomplishes something else that is significant. It brings together an intense fusion of thought and feeling, of sensation and gut, intensity and subtlety, wideness and height and depth.

In the Indian context, the term ‘bhaava’ has been used, which implies a profounder feeling and thinking and sensing. TS Eliot while discussing metaphysical poets talks about a poetry where thoughts are felt. Bhaava implies such a fusion but it is yet more than a coming together of mind and heart. It means ‘to be’.

Great art absorbs one, drowns the reader or beholder. Technical perfection is one requirement, perhaps a basic one. But the identification of consciousness with the art opens it to new perspectives, insights, visions. Such new vistas in modern poetry are missing. As Steve Jobs complained, while discussing the products with his developers at Apple, ‘There is no sex in them.”

I am afraid that we have become TS Eliot in pyjamas if not ‘Mathew Arnold in a sari’. To turn this around, we will need to be bold and uncompromising.

A high fusion of content and craft, theme and style is what will distinguish excellence from mediocrity. Indian-English poetry does not seem to dare greatness. That might happen when Indian literature re-discovers or explores its own roots. As Tagore did.

What are these roots or myths? What are the conditions or the darshan? Or perhaps an even deeper question. Who are we? What is unique about us? This is journey we must make, no matter how excruciating or unfulfilling. To boldly sing in our own voice, steep ourselves in our svadharma, to draw in our own blood. To carry it as a woman carries her child in the womb. That is the only way we can deliver a new being, art with its own individuality.

To paraphrase McLeish, I would say, ‘Great poetry must not mean, but be.” In bhaava, in the dare, in the sva-darshana or self-seeing. Such is the future of our poetry if we may dare to hear and trace the notes of our own heart-beat. Shall we follow?

Pariksith Singh

Pariksith Singh is, first of all, a poet and a philosopher, though not of any academic mould. He has evolved, and is still evolving, his own philosophy of life and work which he has been articulating in terms of his very personalized poetry and equally personalized medical practice.

Whether healing a patient, running a business or writing a poem, Pariksith Singh is always looking for that “perfect expression of the spirit in matter” – and this is P. Singh’s unique and consistent signature in all his works.

P. Singh’s literature is the articulation of this “inner quest” for the spirit’s perfection in matter, and therefore an expression of the eternal struggle of form (matter) to attain the supreme fluidity of content (spirit) and content to attain the perfect expression in form.


Dreaming Einstein

Prose by Pariksith Singh

Last night, Einstein came to me in a dream. He was very happy. “I have finally discovered the Unified Field Theory,” he said. “Show me, “I said, ever the skeptic....
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Poetry by Pariksith Singh

Casually Without importance Into this world arrive Without splitting Or choosing As if the breeze should steal Into the garden without a flutter Of leaves Arrive unannounced and leave Just...
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Prose by Pariksith Singh

Recently, I was invited to Pondicherry Literary Festival, held August 17-19 last month. This came as a surprise request from a well-known critic and poet, Makarand Paranjape. We had renewed...
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Home is where the heart is

Prose by Birgit Reizevoort

I hold my breath and I look at my laptop screen. Nothing but a blinking cursor on a white background. My words don’t flow. I so desperately want them to...
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Statistics The Teacher

Prose by Hoshang Dastoor

Of all the subjects that I studied at graduate business school, I found statistics to be one of the most interesting. One used computer simulation to decide on the optimum,...
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