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Modern Indian Poetry


Vijay Tankha

ACROSS THE VAST SPACES
By Monika Varma
United Writers, 1975, 20.00

ALAKANANDA
By Monika Varma
Writers Workshop, Kolkata, 1976, 20.00

THE MUD CASTLES
By P. Bandyopadbyay
United Writers, 1976, 20.00

CALL FOR FREEDOM
By P. Bandyopadbyay
United Writers, 1976, 20.00

AN ANTHOLOGY OF INDO-ENGLISH LOVE POETRY
Edited by S.C. Saba
Prayer Books, 1976, 20.00

THE STORY OF SILENCE
By S.C. Saba
Prayer Books, 1976, 20.00

VOLUME II NUMBER 6 November-December 1977

Monika Verma is at least prolific, if these two books, published within a year of each other and averaging over twenty-five poems are any indication. Some of the other poets considered here are even more so. That this is of no great importance should be evident, although this continuous outflow of words suggests the contrary. If of these books hers are the most· interesting, it is only because of the unabashed paucity of serious writing that seems to characterize most published poetry. Nor is it then surprising that the quality of the writing has to be glossed over by beautiful hand­-bound editions, flexi-backs and what not. All these books now with me would look very well upon a shelf. Reading them, however, is a tiresome task. What probably makes some of Monika Varma’s readable is her familiarity with her subject, be it herself. It is pleasant coming across simplicity in any of its forms, even if it be naive. Nature, in her poems, is a visible presence (a biographical note informs us that she lives on a large farm), sought after and stood against, ‘How minute is man’ while Coastal rocks in cave-hewn skies breathe anger; ... man dreams of the mild gold sunlit days   This from ‘Sabavala’: fish brought from sea to basket becomes in a still-life the artist’s speech. But this realm of objects and its complement of art is not seen—­it lies behind the writing; the representa­tion of objects laboured over through millenia appears here in its most simple guise, image of speech. And here lies the poet's strength Even if no one listens I shall sing songs about roses golden red and yellow ones ... It is an old captivity this dealing in a goblin market   The relation of the writer to the world provides an occasion for looking closely at either. In the poem ‘Semantics’ the relation between word and meaning, between the word and the world is worked along a relation between defined terms (Phylloxera, Piezometer, Pierage etc. —obviously a unique word order from any handy dictionary), and what might be called ‘life images’, thus Pierage: dues paid for using a pier the dues we pay, over and over again for the rocking boat excursion ... this pictograph entitled life   But the ideas are sufficiently vague to arouse absolutely nothing. The repeated attempt to give a comprehensive charac­ter to human experience, ...


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