The life of Adil Jussawalla and the despair of poetry in India: Open

adil.jussawalaThree writers go to a nursing home to visit an ageing unwell poet. They find him jumping from subject to subject and exhibiting signs of delusion—sometimes he thinks he is in the offices of PEN, the writers’ organisation of which he used to be secretary, and there is a lecture going on nearby. However, they also find him kind and considerate, especially towards his roommate, a giant of a man who keeps coming in and out. One of the three writes about the encounter in a column.

“The scale and precision of imagery and rhetoric are very real. Doyali grapples with multitude of positions and scenarios but the sense of pacing is unique. Readers will not miss a feeling that poems, written in compressed manner, bleed with mystic love for Sufism and highlight the fundamental unity of all religions,” says poet K. K. Srivastava  in his review of Doyali Farah Islam’s YŪSUF and the LOTUS FLOWER 

Yusuf CoverZafar, author of The Resurgence of Satyam published by Random House, India (2012) edits well- known literary journal KITAAB from Singapore. One of the laudable objectives of this journal is to introduce Asian writers to literary world. It surprised me when last year he offered to arrange for KITAAB an interview of mine by Russian poet Adolf  P.Shvedchikov. Anonymity is a virtue that springs humble amazements. At least, sometimes. Last month, he asked me if I could undertake a review of a book of poems titled YŪSUF and the LOTUS FLOWER, a debut book by Doyali Farah Islam as published by Buschek Books Ottawa.


Golden Storms

Heed tales of heroes
who fell off the earth—
eaten by their dragons.
Time to make faith
with common sense,
live and no longer be
dangerous, know Golden Storms
&other poems fulfil a function
save the world another day,
hope, perhaps, for your loves
alone. Empty the mind—
exult the profound kitchen,
wash the dishes transcendence
transcend dance is enough

LeilianvarLeili Anvar, a Professor of Persian language and literature at the Institut National des Langues et Civilizations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris, says that the French have a dreamlike image of Persian poetry.

Anvar, who last week received Iran’s Book of the Year Award for her French translation of “Le cantique des oiseaux” (The Conference of the Bird) by Persian poet and mystic Attar Neyshaburi (C. 1145-1221), said that her personal interest in mystical literature inspired her to translate these types of works.

Wang Xiaoyu’s favorite bedtime routine now is to reach for hersmartphone and play a poem. Every night at 10 pm, the 32-year-old sales executive in Shanghai logs on to a poetry-sharinggroup on the social network WeChat and listens to or reads apoem.

It has become a regular pastime ever since she discovered the group, whose Chinese name literally translates to “Read a poem before you sleep”.

GSP Rao interviews the eminent Singapore poet and one of the pioneers of Singapore Writing in English (SWE) in Muse India

edwinthambooEdwin Thumboo is a pioneering and award winning Singaporean poet in English, academic and administrative policy maker as senior Professor of English and academic at National University of Singapore (NUS), longest serving Dean of the faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Chairman and Director of the University’s Centre of Arts.

Often referred to as the undeclared Poet Laureate of Singapore and the Literary Voice of Singapore. We include the full details of Edwin Thumboo in the Authors Profile. GSP Rao, Managing Editor of Muse India, engages him in a free-wheeling and in-depth conversation for the Hyderabad Literary Festival this year in which the poet-scholar speaks of the Singpaorean Writing from the historical, cultural and ethnic perspectives and about the evolution of his own poetry.

Kitaab Desmond Kon PixA truly multifaceted artist, Singapore’s ex-journalist Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé writes, edits, and publishes books, works in clay and also teaches creative writing. He has edited more than 10 books and co-produced 3 audio books. He worked as an entertainment and lifestyle journalist at 8 Days magazine. Trained in Professional Publishing (Books) at Stanford University, Desmond studied Sociology and Mass Communication at the National University of Singapore, and later received his Master of Theological Studies (World Religions) from Harvard University and Master of Fine Arts (Creative Writing) from the University of Notre Dame.

Desmond is the recipient of the PEN American Center Shorts Prize, Swale Life Poetry Prize, Cyclamens & Swords Poetry Prize, Stepping Stones Nigeria Poetry Prize, Notre Dame Poetry Fellowship, Vallum New International Poetics Award, Singapore International Foundation Grant, NAC Writer-in-the-Gardens Residency, Hiew Siew Nam Distinguished Academic Award, and Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize. His poetry and prose has placed in literary competitions in Canada, England, France, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Nigeria, Scotland, and the US. His work has been published widely, appearing in over 200 anthologies and literary journals, including such established publications as Agni, Confrontation, Copper Nickel, Cutbank, Diagram, Faultline, Georgetown Review, Gulf Coast, Harpur Palate, Harvard Review, Nano Fiction, New Orleans Review, Pank, Platte Valley Review, Slab, Smartish Pace, Sonora Review, Massachusetts Review,New Guard, and Versal, among others.

In this interview with Kitaab’s Zafar Anjum, he talks about his experiences with different art forms and what poetry means to him, and how theorists and philosophers have shaped his mind. He also discusses aspects of his latest collection of poetry, The Arbitrary Sign, and his forthcoming books I Didn’t Know Mani Was A Conceptualist and Sanctus Sanctus Dirgha Sanctus.

Your talent knows no bounds. You have been a journalist, you have studied world religions, and you write poetry and work in clay. Is there anything that I am missing out? How do you manage to wear so many hats?

You’re lovely, Zafar. Thanks for your generosity. I do lots of interdisciplinary work. I used to be conflicted about this, desiring to devote my time and energy to one artform. There is great value in specialisation – it’s like deep-structure reading, you just dive in and swim in the depths of that field forever – but I’ve come to realise that even as a kid, I was meant to work across artistic media. The hats are all funky to wear, and life is a grand party. I fear that my effusive banter on the wonders of living it out loud as an artist betrays little of how reclusive a life such work entails. So, yes, the work is always heady and a blistering blast of rambunctious fun, but my daily routine is one formed around solitude and discipline. I absolutely love reading and writing, removed from the public eye, so this chosen life of intense quirks and habits is not so much a sacrifice as an afforded luxury.

The Invitation

for Michelle

Make happy those who are near,
and those who are far will come.

Chinese proverb

You arrived
in 1994

our first banana
yellow on the outside white on the inside

a Melbourne girl
an unwritten daughter of the 29th generation

upon the yellow
earth of Frankston beach

who runs through the blue
of sea and sky and waves

at the seagulls
in a language apart

from English
or Chinese

all the Chinese

daughters of the sea
to come


to be free
for a secondborn
one hundred years.

K.K.Srivastava reviews The Arbitrary Sign-The Most Misunderstood Alphabet Book in The World (published by Red Wheelbaarrow Books, Singapore)

arbitrary signsThe Arbitrary Sign-The Most Misunderstood Alphabet Book in The World by its author Desmond Kon Zhicheng Mindge’ is a book that reminds me of poets who seek wisdom and knowledge comprehensive enough to acquire solutions to problems of the generalities or overall map of the realities of the whole universe. A poet-metaphysician is usually conversant with a number of concepts in order to be able to utilize his range, depth and quality of experience and temperamental interests for transforming these concepts into key notions. For instance, mathematics gave Plato his concept of ‘horme’; co-ordinate geometry gave Descartes his key concept of ‘clearness and distinctness’; algebraic model gave Leibnitz theory of ‘monadlogical harmony’ and moral experience gave Kant creative concepts of a priori forms. In the book under review every scheme of key-notions illuminates certain facts while leaving other facts in obscurity. The language used is paradoxical, metaphorical, symbolical and analogical-all needed simultaneously to create an ‘intellectualized impact’ on the readers. To begin with, let us see, for example, Zz–

Dhasal who was one of the founder members of Dalit Panthers, a militant movement inspired by the America’s Black Panthers movement: The Indian Express

dhasalThe firebrand Dalit leader and renowned poet Namdeo Dhasal (64), who had been battling colon cancer for some time, died early Wednesday morning at Bombay Hospital here. His last rites would be performed at Chaityabhoomi in Dadar on Thursday.

Senior political leaders of Maharashtra, including Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, paid rich tributes to Dhasal, who was one of the founder members of Dalit Panthers, a militant movement inspired by the America’s Black Panthers movement.