MEN BEHIND THE MACHINES
The door stands latched intact
Yet the unseen street lamp’s lacteal glow
Infiltrates through the slit.
A discarded newspaper bag
disturbs the dumb tar road.
Raising my eyes towards the sky
I tell myself:
You are unconcerned with the distance
When the chimes of the church bell
Roll in the lap of darkness
Your eyes of surprise
Focused for Milan’s frescoes
Remain shutters closed.
strange and anonymous
tickling the ears
with shrill needles of sound
when the neutron bomb wipes the homosapiens
it is impossible for
a protozoa to offer
regenesis to man.
The mane of the lion
Marx’s reckonings of daily bread-
all have met their destiny here
like scattered sperms on the mud.
Your ignorance will have
more catalogues tagged to it.
In whatever manner time is measured
beyond the skeletons of concrete hills
and across the neon signs
our speech shall remain
away from the invading computers-
an articulation of flesh and blood.
Translated by the poet.
Rememebering poet Malathi(sathara)
Some writers hone their skills in the little magazines and then sell them in the mass media market. Again the criteria is fame and money. But in the present situation excepting a few old writers no one seems to amaze money through writing. Perhaps this is very special to the Tamil language magazines and publications.There are a few exceptions like Malathi(sathara) who had strayed into the mass media magazines and after getting fed up with the insipidity and mediocrity of the mass magazines they find out the route to serious literature. So Malathi came to serious literature after writing potboilers in popular weeklys and monthlys. But she had no regrets about her literary past.I knew here from 1997 when we first arranged the Women Writers’s Meet in Dharmapuri during that winter. She couldn’t attend that meet for personal reasons and apologized for more than half an hour.
I had not met her. But we continued our conversations over phone. Discussions rambled from recipes to mythology and feminism. She was a postgraduate in Chemistry from Presidency college Madras. Though she was proficient in English often she would say that she preferred reading a translated book in Tamil than reading the original. She said she was saving time on dictionary consultations. She had expressed her strong opinions on womanist poets, feminist poets and women poets. She was perfectly aware of the nuances of these categories and would defend a male point of view if it is sensible. She was a feminist without the anti-male stance.Ofcourse she had so many grudges against men-especially middle class men-but expressed them without the least hostility.
When I anthologized Atamanam’s Complete works for a publisher, I decided to meet Atmanam’s family in person and get the agreement form signed for the publisher. Only this time I sought Malathi’s help to locate Atamanam’s brother Mr.Ragunandhan’s residence. We spent the evening with Atmanam’s brother and his daughters and his ageing mother.
In the mean while Malathy had put together her second book of poems(Thanal Kodi Pookkal) and wanted my introduction. Though I had accepted the assignment I was a bit hesitant because of the mixed quality of her diction and and uneven quality of her poems. But I did like atleast a bunch of them from that collection. But I had inordinately delayed writing the introduction becaue of my mood swings. I felt sorry that I had not done full justice to her work. But she said she was happy.
Before she left for Sathara(Maharashtra) on transfer she had given me a wonderful oppurtunity of listening to Andal’s Thiruppavai everyday over phone during Margazhi. I think we never missed a day or a pasuram. Her enunciation part of Andal will be more lively and enthralling. I heard that the recorded version of her rendering is available in cassette form. But I failed to get one from her. Now someone should enquire either her husband Mr.Valeeswaran or her daughter Ms.Chandni.
When she returned to Bangalore telephones circle after 3 years her health had deteriorated. She had nephrological complications and there were so many proscriptions in her diet. I felt sorry for her for she was a gourmet.
Her mother is a writer and an excellent cook. Her mother’s short stories can be read even now without the feeling of staleness.She is also a great host.
Before her last days she bought a flat in Bangalore and our families frequently met in her house. On one those evening meetings in her house she made me sit after coffee and read that small review she wrote for my book Nadodi Manam.
But I still feel sorry for missing her funeral.
*I should personally thank Mr.Taj for making me write this blog since I read Malathy’s review of my book which Mr.Taj re-blogged from Thinnai.
Contemporary World Poetry is an anthology of world poetry representing 48 poets from all the continents. There are of course some omissions. No English poet from England finds a place here and no representation for Australia and North America have been made. The common(shrewd) reader will easily manage poems of these countries because of the availability of texts. Zeroing on Central and Western Europe for poems by contemporary/modern seems to be a formidable task. Garnering information about their life or texts of their English translation is also a challenge with regard to poets of central Europe. Contemporary World Poetry is not an impetuous project. Its origins lie in the original anthology in Tamil published way back in 1989 when World Poetry Festival was conducted in Bharat Bhavan (Bhopal,MP) for the first time. World Poetry Project’ s seeds were strewn well in advance to the event. The then Cultural Secretary Shri. Ashok Vajpeyi had requested all those willing publishers of little magazines from Indian languages to prepare a sampler for the historic event. We all agreed to lend a hand. Shri Ashok Vajpeyi was gracious enough to send Xeroxed materials of full collections of poems of the participating poets. That is how we got the full text of Ernesto Cardinal and Miroslav Holub’s poems. While in some Indian languages the end product was just a skimpy pamphlet/booklet, it ended up as massive volume in Tamil. The Defacto Edition of Contemporary World Poetry is World Poetry (Ulagakkavithai) anthology published by Meetchi Books in 1989. When we attended the festival we were disappointed because of the absence of Tanikawa Shuntaro of Japan and Tadeuz Rosewicz of Poland.
On the third day of the function copies of World Poetry from regional languages were presented to the participating poets. This is the real story behind the current Contemporary World Poetry. For the original edition there were more than a dozen translators who worked for more than 6 months on the selections of single poet. All the scripts were collected and rechecked for errors by the Meetchi editorial members. For some reason even in the original anthology we had left out poets from Australia and England. The original World Poetry would not have been possible but for the magnanimous help from the Madhyapradesh government. We were supplied with good quality paper and partial printing assistance. I still feel thankful to those who worked for the World Poetry anthology.