TWO SHORT REVIEWS

Select Songs of Kanakadasa. Tr. Shashidhar G. Vaidya. Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 2018,  pp. 160.  ISBN 978-81-7977-635-3.

 

Kanakadasa, a 16th century poet of the Bhakti Cult, is a Kannada saint-poet known for his ‘keertans’. Unfortunately he is little known to most Indians who do not know Kannada. His poetic stature as a saint-poet, notes Dr A V Navada, is no less than that of Guru Nanak, Tulsidas, Meerabai, Kabir, Narasi Mehta, Lalleshwari and many others recognised world-wide.
The Kannada poet is sung in various ‘raga’ and ‘tala’ for his surrender to God, pursuance of Truth, revelation of reality behind appearances, sociospiritual vision, condemnation of superstitions in a caste-ridden society, and all that disturbs the common man today. He still motivates us for awareness of human realities and following moral values in a degenerating society.
Dr Shashidhar Vaidya’s bilingual and bicultural competence as translator of the Kannada poet’s 102 selected ‘keertans’, divided into 11 sections, gives a feel of the original flavour, meaning, music and lyricism. He is helpful to readers in negotiating Kanakadasa’s vision with his short summary, glossary and explanation that follows each song.
Congrats Dr Vaidya on your great achievement as a contributor to Literatures in Translation and Indian Writing in English.

 

Chandrakanta by Devaki Nandan Khatri. Tr. Ram Bhagwan Singh and C.L. Khatri. New Delhi: Prabhat Paperbacks, 2018, ISBN 978-93-5266-738-3.

 

I first read the Hindi novel as a boy. My father had its copy, which is now lost. But with hazy impressions of its first reading, and reading the work Singh and Khatri have produced in English, I can imagine how challenging their task must have been to create the flavour of the original fantasy and romance in today’s English.

The challenge lies in their interlingual abilities in trying to provide with clarity and precision expressions for the almost untranslatable Hindi idioms and phrases, signs and symbols, imagery and locale, and culturally loaded metaphors and verbal ethos. One can guess how difficult the choice of vocabulary and phrasal idioms must have been to be faithful to the 19th century Hindi discourse style.

A sympathetic reader alone can sense the flow and energy of the original composition despite certain pragmatic communicative issues in the translators’ use of a mix of word-for-word and sense-for sense approach.

Their book is a major contribution to the growing corpus of Indian Literatures in Translation. Kudos to Professors Ram Bhagwan Singh and C.L. Khatri.

 

–Dr R K Singh, Retd Professor of English, IIT-ISM, Dhanbad

 

 

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New Poems published in CREATION AND CRITICISM

1. Vastu Vihar – I

 

Monday worshipers

invoke Shiv on loudspeaker

spoiling rainy day:

 

drizzles splash against

the window panes I await

the first sentence

to preface my memoir

cooling in the drawer

 

their musical noise distracts

 

the long cloudy day

depresses my soul

 

I lounge around inside

cursing cooped up in here

 

2. Vastu Vihar – II

 

Morning air

is so dark here

my breathing is choked:

 

they say my colleagues

from ISM cleared

the existence of

six coking coal chimneys

for a fee

under the table

 

the aged earth mocks

the concaving patch

of the sky.

 

3. Vastu Vihar – III

 

My peers may not know

bu the maid knows

the holes in my vests:

I grow older

at a faster pace

 

it matters little

who owns the tree:

forty years in wood

now good to bottle

if one has taste

 

how sad it’s only

the saw’s drag I hear

and see dustcloud

in Vastu Vihar

florets simply die.

 

4. Uprooting Seeds

 

Growing nude

the plant sways in the field

and matures

 

in golden silk

drifts like a bee

in quiet rhythm

 

the sun wings the flight

and stars stand guard

till beauty plays harlot

 

with half-open heart

abuses night music

provokes hunger

 

in every street

the lewd shrines

pucker the lips

 

without payment

strangers come and go

uprooting seeds.

 

5. Peace in Sin

 

I thought I’d locate you

in the dark lonely street

but I myself got lost

 

mind’s mazy prompts

shocked me into nakedness

I never perceived

 

the misleading sun

the unreal reflections

the dumb show

 

dazzle my eyes

shades of terror in alleys

smell of treachery

 

at the crossroads

the selfish gene’s tarots

of my random choices

 

in dim blue light

smiling breasts invite

autumn breeze

 

I chuckle to myself

hearing raps of inverse world

and peace in sin.

–R.K. Singh

http://www.creationandcriticism.com/poems_ram_krishna_singh.html

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My ten poems translated into French

From BEYOND THE SHADOW : A Collection of Selected Poems by Ram Krishna Singh

AU-DELà DE L’OMBRE : UNE COLLECTION DE POEMES CHOISIS

Translated into French by Bétitra MEGDOUD, Auteure Littéraire. Actrice de Complément. Technicienne de Cinéma. She lives and works in Paris, France.

1

ALLERGIES

The barber sees
a potential customer
in me but I pass

the tense faces
after the long walk sunshine
a fag in the car

short carnival:
neatly hide faded vests drying
in the balcony

helter skelter
afternoon windy rain
allergies again

ALLERGIES

Le barbier voit
un client potentiel
en moi mais je passe

Les visages tendus
après la longue marche au crépuscule
un pédéraste dans la voiture

Le carnaval est court :
soigneusement cachés des gilets délavés séchant
sur le balcon

Pêle-mêle
pluie venteuse de l’après-midi
allergies de nouveau

2

WHO CARES?

Death hides in the body
but who cares? it’s obscure

living on the edge
seeking space into swamp

they all talk about the sun
swelling in the sky

and close eyes to the spider
spinning waves on the ceiling

all alone, but who cares?
suspicion and distance

like lovers they pretend
to leave yet stay longer

dishing out luxuries
showing off generosity

on the heart’s fancy table
waiting to welcome the guest

QUI PRETE SON ATTENTION ?

La mort se cache dans le corps
mais qui s’en préoccupe ? Elle est obscure

vivant sur le rebord
Cherchant de l’espace dans un marécage

Ils parlent tous du soleil
faisant houle dans le ciel

et les yeux près de l’araignée
tournoyant les flots au plafond

tout seul, mais qui s’en soucie ?
suspicion et distance

comme des amants ils prétendent
se quitter restant encore plus longtemps

bombant hors des luxes
frimant la générosité

3

MIRAGE

They say my birth was a heavenly event:
here I am suffering third-rate villains
that erect walls to stop the chariots
from Merkaba: the angels fume but who cares
heaven is a mirage in human zoo

Ils disent que ma naissance fût un évènement céleste
ici je souffre par des vilains de troisième catégorie
qui érigent des murs pour arrêter les chars
depuis Merkaba : les fumées des anges mais qui s’en soucie
le ciel est un mirage dans un zoo humain

4

NEW YEAR

The dates on calendar question
all my undone acts

and memories that haunt or fade
in nightly nakedness

stumbling toward the next day’s sun
without celebration

at 63 January jeers
my degenerating sex

a still itch: mantra and mirror
quiet God and drying petals

NOUVEL AN

Les dates du calendrier questionnent
tous mes actes non faits

et les souvenirs qui hantent ou se fondent
dans la nudité nocturne

trébuchant vers le soleil du lendemain
sans célébration

à 63 Janvier raille
mon sexe en dégénérescence

une démangeaison encore : mantra et miroir
Dieu calme et pétales au séchage

5

GLEAM OF LIGHT

Late August:
clouded midnight, sneezing
restless in bed

all negative vibes
well up the mind

jackals yell outside
I read Hsu Chicheng
for a gleam of light

ECLAT DE LUMIERE

Fin Août
minuit nuageux, éternuant
agité au lit

toute l’ambiance négative
s’élève jusqu’à l’esprit

des chacals hurlent au dehors
Je lis Hsu Chicheng
pour un éclat de lumière

6

I CAN LIVE

I’ve outlived
the winter’s allergies
and depressing rains
in a human zoo

I can live
my retirement too
without pension and medicine:

the wheelchair doesn’t frighten
I can live

uncared and unknown
survive broken home
the numbness of the arms
the pain in the neck
and inflation too

JE PEUX VIVRE

J’ai survécu
aux allergies de l’hiver
et aux pluies déprimantes
dans un zoo humain

je peux vivre
ma retraite aussi
sans pension et médecine

le fauteuil roulant ne m’effraie pas
je peux vivre

négligé et inconnu
survivre au foyer brisé
à l’engourdissement des bras
à la douleur dans le cou
et l’inflation aussi

7

I SEE HISTORY CRIPPLED

Time’s wrinkling fingers
trivialize the sun and snow
in a crooked land

I see history crippled
with midnight dyspnoea
the green umbrella

hosts disaster:
the avalanche waits on its shoulders
the wound opens

JE VOIS UNE HISTOIRE ESTROPIEE

Les doigts du temps qui nous rident
banalise le soleil et la neige
dans une terre tordue

je vois une histoire paralysée
avec la dyspnée de minuit
le parapluie vert

catastrophe des hôtes
l’avalanche attend sur ses épaules
la plaie s’ouvre

8

DEAD OR ALIVE

My shrinking body
even if I donate
what’s there for research:

devil in the spine
abusing tongue in sleep
or bleeding anus

defy all prayers
on bed or in temple—
the same heresy

oozing and stinking
onanist excursion
dead or alive

MORT OU VIF

Mon corps se rétrécit
même si je fais un don
qu’est-ce-qui est là pour la recherche

diable dans la colonne vertébrale
abusant de la langue dans le sommeil
ou saignant l’anus

defie toutes les prières
au lit -ou au temple-
la même hérésie

suintant et puant
excusion onaniste
mort ou vif

9

CLAY DREAMS

They make my face
ugly in my own sight

what shall I see in the mirror?

there is no beauty
or holiness left
in the naked nation:

the streams flow dark
and the hinges of doors moan
politics of corruption

I weep for its names
and the faces they deface
with clay dreams

REVES D’ARGILE

Ils façonnent mon visage
laid à mes propres yeux

que verrai-je dans le miroir ?

il n’y a pas de beauté
ou la sainteté gauche
dans la nation nue

les ruisseaux coulent sombre
et les charnières des portes moann
la politique de la corruption

je pleure pour ses noms
et les visages qu’ils défigurent
avec des rêves d’argile

10

SANGAM

The crack in the sky
is not the rosy cleavage
to rape the body

nor is the beast any free
to escape the bloody river
that reflects stony wrath
in doggy position

they all expect their reward
for burying the noise
of sunny fire wheeling
in frozen passion

turn beggars they all
search warmth with ash-smeared sadhus
at roadside tea stall
whistle and wash off sins

in sangam muddled
with privileged few soar high
but I’m glad I crawl on earth
my roots don’t wave in the air

SANGAM

La fissure dans le ciel
n’est pas le clivage rosé
de violer le corps

ni la bête n’est libre
d’échapper à la rivière sanglante
qui reflète la colère de pierre
en position levrette

ils attendent tous leur récompense
pour avoir enterré le bruit
d’une roue de feu ensoleillée
dans une passion congelée

Tournent les mendiants ils cherchent tous
de la chaleur auprès de sadhus-aux-cendres-barbouillés
en bordure de route le thé décroche,
siffle et lavent les péchés

dans Sangam embrouillé
avec quelques privilégiés s’élancent haut
mais je suis content je rampe sur la terre
mes racinent ne s’agitent pas dans l’air

Thanks Bétitra MEGDOUD for your very friendly gesture and fine translation of some of my poems. I am grateful to you.
–R K Singh

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ROOTLESS

Hidden from the eyes of others
I was made in secret
but can’t remember my birth
from foetus in the womb
to severing of the cord
erased the memory
now rootless in the valley
fading sensations of years
pierce the darkling wings of
world wide web that blob my being
twisted and tangled, brushed
away like a fly, hatemongers
hashtag my creation
pirouetting platitudes
–R.K.Singh
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Three haiku on Childhood

my grand daughter
with fey appearance:
a woodland sprite

the child lost in
letters and numbers
spins new designs

moving between
the fingers of a toddler
the first winter rain

–R K Singh

Published in Poetry Pea, 23 January 2019

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Black Wednesday

after the discourse
beer and biryani in lunch–
happy Drinksgiving

–R K Singh

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Three Poems & Three Haiku

RAINBOW

They color their hair
paint their faces to look younger
then speak aged lies
to emulate rainbows but stare
into the sky to find
which color follows which
before melding into one
they wonder what to do
with beige and indigo shades
that cloud their vision

     CLOSED EYES

The faces appearing
and receding in
the darkness of closed eyes

don’t answer why
they aren’t winged souls
fading in the sun

I emptied before it set
in the gowns of girls
stopped from dancing barefoot:

they shake autumn in the rain
mist blurs the image
water spills in shady pools

     SMALLNESS

I live in a crowd of fakes
smallness rises with age

my mind has ceased to think
new metaphors hardly happen

hunger keeps me awake all night
I mitigate minginess

inner lives are emptied
and filled with fresh stresses

too many fault lines run through
to make sense of the divide

my passion itches and prompts
I nuzzle the virtual too

it’s the same virus replicating
the same hackers that hurt

the vigor and rigor of
the new, left or pushed behind

whatever the remedy
wounds take deaths to heal

–Ram Krishna Singh

 

https://anthonywatkins.wixsite.com/btsnov2018draft/international-poetry

 

Haiku:

Professor Ram Krishna Singh sent us haiku from Dhanbad, India. His work, at least this set, is especially eclectic, featuring masses of people and a wonderful image of “decaying fireflies.”

crowded streets

moving among the years

wretched faces

fingers feel

decaying fireflies

in night lights

slowly rising

from the cloud’s edges

autumn sun

Prof. R.K. Singh

 

https://anthonywatkins.wixsite.com/btsnov2018draft/haiku

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