dear friends

live update
an antnology of recent marathi poetry
edited and traslated by sachin ketkar
published by hemant divate,poetrywala
(an english imprint of abhidhanantar prakashan)

is ready for the release

30 poets
176 pages
cover price-Rs 225,$10(including shipping charges)

please order ur copy now!

highlights and remarks

1Live Update: An Anthology of New Marathi Poetry edited and translated by Sachin Ketkar (Poetrywala; Mumbai 2005) is a book I would urge every poetry lover in India to read.

Ketkar is himself a distinct new voice as a bi-lingual (Marathi and English) poet, and a sensitive translator of the work of his contemporaries. He also has an original perspective as a translator-critic.

During the last century, Marathi poetry has undergone several revolutionary transformations confronting its 800-years of evolution as a mature literary art tradition on the one hand and its increasing exposure through translation to other poetic traditions, especially of the West.

A new republican spirit has given Marathi poets the confidence to speak from their own chosen ‘location’ in a vastly varied worldscape and we now see individual talent bursting through with vigour. This was the result of a process that took one hundred years of asymmetrical modernization in its stride. The end result is a poetry with as many differences as similarities of tone, texture, technique, and tenor trying to rise above the level of the collective noise of the media and the regimentation imposed by academic literary categories that are fading into obsolescence.

Grab this book at least to hear the small but insistent inner voices of dissent and non-conformity. You may even feel, at times, the refreshing rush of readerly anger. But that’s what makes this book noteworthy.

Dilip Chitre

Hemant Divate

This Magnificent Era of Marathi Poetry

The period of the last ten to fifteen years is extremely fecund and momentous in the history of Marathi poetry. Not only the poets presented in this anthology, but also some of the best poets in Marathi like Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre and Namdeo Dhasal, who (thanks to the separatist professors of Marathi and the so called literary critics have come to be labeled as Sathottari or the post-sixties generation of poets) have published their outstanding work in this period. Chitre’s collected poetry of around one thousand pages in Ekoon Kavita-1, 2, and 3, some of the most important work of Arun Kolatkar in Marathi and English (Bhijki Vahi, Chirimiri, Droan, Kala Ghoda Poems and Sarpa Satra), and six collections of Namdeo Dhasal have seen the light of the day in this period.

After the epoch of medieval bhakti poetry in Marathi (from the end of the 13th to the end of the 17th century), this is the most innovative and prolific period in the history of Marathi poetry. During a period when the future of the Marathi language seemed bleak, the bhakti poets composed their monumental literary works in the language of the common man and rescued it from sinking into oblivion. The poetry written in the present period too suggests a similar breakthrough for the Marathi language and its literary potential.

Today, if he has to survive, the Marathi manus (the Marathi-speaking man) will have to widen his world-view, retrieve his original fighting spirit, and take inspiration from these distinguished trail-blazing poets even though they might not be `saints’ like their bhakta predecessors.

All Indian languages are facing today the same crisis that Marathi is facing. They are losing confidence in the resilience of their mother tongue as they are overawed by the global sweep of English. I believe that all Marathi-speaking schoolchildren must have their mother tongue as their medium of instruction; at the same time, they must be at least bi-lingual in order to gain progressive access to the exponentially growing information in many disciplines and branches of knowledge that is already available in the English language. Encouraging a pluri-lingual culture from an early age would encourage future generations of Indians to a world more varied yet more integrated than the world of their parents and ancestors. This may seem a digression, but poetry paves the way to understanding the world poets share with their readers; and readers’ attitudes to language are formed through early schooling.

The Age of Abhidha Nantar

The poetry magazine Abhidha Nantar has been around on the Marathi literary scene for about twelve years. It is the only literary magazine and literary movement in Marathi to recognize and respond creatively to the forces of globalization already transforming our life and culture. Before Abhidha Nantar, hardly anyone had thought seriously about globalization and its impact on Marathi poetry.  Abhidha Nantar gave generous attention to the linguistic, cultural and literary changes taking place in the last 15 years and the crises of identity they generate. It provided a platform to the new poets who came into their own in the nineties and who were responding to the new cultural and social predicament brought about by the forces of globalization, and also offered a forum for critical speculation and discussion.

Abhidha Nantar began as Abhidha in1992. In a bar named Sapna near the Shahad Railway Station, I shared the idea of starting a little magazine devoted to poetry with my friends. They enthusiastically endorsed the idea and Abhidha was born. It ran for seven years. Though it was not what Abhidha Nantar is today, it was always ideologically open and progressive in its orientation. We always thought we should keep pace with time. The last issue of Abhidha came out in 1998 and, after its registration with RNI the very next year Abhidha Nantar was born.

Globalization was transforming our life and culture at immense speed. (I wrote in one of my editorials that India, which was black and white in the1980s, became multicolour in the 1990s.). Consumerism, a brand-driven life style, the personal computer, satellite and cable TV, the Internet, the mobile telephone and all other products of fast-paced technology had transformed our lives and cultures so much that in the 1990s we were already an integral part of the international process called globalization. Our language changed: human beings came to be increasingly seen as consumers and that raised a whole lot of unprecedented questions for us.

Before Abhidha Nantar highlighted this, hardly any writer in Marathi tried to respond to this changed cultural context. Even the widely acclaimed series of collections by eight young Marathi poets, who wrote serious poetry and who were trying to outgrow the influence of the post-sixties Marathi modernist poetry, had not responded to the changed life and culture transformed by globalization. I repeatedly raised the question, editorially, of how Marathi poetry could remain unaffected by such major social change.

Later in my editorials in the Diwali issues of the magazines from 1999 to 2004, I continuously highlighted and emphasized that poetry written in the nineties had changed considerably due to the altered cultural context. Many poets who published in Abhidha Nantar tried to express in their poems their confusion and sense of suffocation resulting from globalization. Marathi poetry in the 1980s was largely under the influence of the post sixties modernist poetry and it did not reflect the rapidly changing cultural environment. Thus Marathi poetry of the nineties was extremely different from the poetry of the preceding decades. It can be called post-modernist in this sense.

However, Abhidha Nantar is not dogmatic and closed. It does not have any fixed ideological orientation towards globalization. It has merely maintained that creative writers and critics should think about the process of globalization and its impact on their own lives. It provides a platform for those who are creatively responding to it. Today, it has succeeded in making people take note of these changes in culture, poetry and other genres of creative writing.

The Conception of the Anthology

In the year 2002, the internationally renowned poet and translator Dilip Chitre translated my first collection of Marathi poems Chautishi Paryantchya Kavita into English and baptized it as Virus Alert. Later, my poems were translated into other Indian languages viz. Bengali, Urdu, Hindi and Malayalam. During that period, I was honoured with the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad, Kolkatta’s Vagarth Puraskar --- a National Award.

Thanks to all these developments, I came in touch with various poets from different corners of India. My poetry reached a greater audience because of its English avatar and my contemporaries could not share the same wider audience with me. Reflecting on this, I felt that there was an urgent need for an anthology of contemporary Marathi poetry in English. Incidentally, the previous anthology of Marathi poetry came out in the year of my birth (1967): it was edited and mostly translated by Dilip Chitre. There were no such efforts in the last thirty years. I do not know the reasons for this, but I felt that I should publish an update on Chitre’s anthology.

Along with my concept of Kaviteche Ghar, or A Home for Poetry, I presented this concept in the “Shahpur Conclave’ of contemporary Marathi poets arranged by Abhidha Nantar. As I had seen his translations of Narsinh Mehta, the outstanding Gujarati bhakti poet, and some Marathi poets, I had the name of Sachin Ketkar in mind to take up this challenging task. I felt that Sachin was the right person to shoulder this very important cross-linguistic responsibility. 

Though he had seen me at the tenth anniversary celebrations of Abhidha Nantar, I met Sachin for the first time at the conclave. Though some translators of poetry into Marathi and Hindi were present, there was no one else present at the conclave that could undertake English translation.  Sachin enthusiastically came forward to do this work and within the span of six months translated almost half of the poets present in this anthology. At the conclave we had also thought about two more anthologies: one in Marathi and the other in Hindi, but the priority was given to the English anthology.

I am glad to present Live Update: An Anthology of Recent Marathi Poetry.

The publication of this book would not have been possible without the kind support and co-operation of the Abhidha Nantar family, Dilpdada (Dilip Chitre), Vijutai (Vijaya Chitre), Mitra Parekh, Sanjeev Khandekar, my wife Smruti, my cousin Kakoli Chakravarty and the timely help from Dr. Uday Salunkhe. I wish to thank all these people; the poets presented in this anthology, and of course, Sachin Ketkar, though some of them they may not like to be mentioned by name

I welcome candid comments and suggestions from all the keen readers of poetry into whose hands this book may fall. This book is an effort and an invitation to form a community of poetry-loving people to share views; and who, I am sure, will agree with the illuminating words of Tukaram:

Words are the only
Jewels I possess
Words are the only
Clothes I wear
Words are the only food
That sustains my life
Words are the only wealth
I distribute among people

Says Tuka
Witness the Word
He is God
I worship him
With words

(Source: Marathi Abhang by Sant poet Tukaram; English translation by Dilip Chitre-Says Tuka-1)


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