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Contemporary World Poetry vs World Poetry (Samakala Ulagakavithai versus Ulagakavithai)

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.