Six Marathi poets.
P. S. Rege, the oldest of these poets, was a member of the generation of "modernists" who appeared in Marathi in the 1930s and 1940s. He was born in Ratnagiri District, in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, in 1910. He studied economics in Bombay and London in the 1930s, taught economics at various colleges in Maharashtra and Goa, and retired in the 1970s as the principal of Elphinstone College, Bombay. He began writing in the 1930s and continued until his death in 1978. Rege's work in Marathi includes eight books of poems, two collections of short fiction, three novels, several plays, and two volumes of essays and criticism. Among his later collections of poetry are Dusara pakshi (The Other Bird; 1966), Priyala (Love and Desire; 1972), and Suhrdgatha (The Good-Hearted Story; 1975), the last a volume of selected poems.
In the years immediately following Indian Independence (1947), several highly accomplished younger poets joined the nava kavya (new poetry) movement inaugurated by B. S. Mardhekar and P. S. Rege. Among the younger poets were Indira Sant, Vinda Karandikar, and Mangesh Padgaonkar, all of whom began publishing their mature work in the 1950s. Padgaonkar, represented here by a late satiric poem, was born in Vengurla, Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra, in 1929, and was educated in Bombay. He received his Bachelor's degree, a teacher's diploma, and a Master's degree in Marathi and Sanskrit from Kirti College, Bombay. Between 1958 and 1960 he worked as an assistant producer at All-India Radio, Bombay. For the next five years he was a professor of Marathi, first at Somaiya College and then at Mithibai College. In 1965-70 he returned to All-India Radio as a producer, and in 1970 he became a Marathi editor with the United States Information Service in Bombay, a position he held until his retirement in the late 1980s. Among his publications are a verse play, a book of essays and sketches, and a dozen collections of poetry, including Vidushak (The Jester; 1966), Salaam (Salutations; 1978), and Ghazal (Ghazals; 1984). He received the national Sahitya Akademi Award in 1980.
In the late 1950s and the 1960s, the nays kavya poets--most of whom were based in Bombay--found their esthetics, politics, and sense of literary and social history challenged by a group of poets from various smaller towns and cities in Maharashtra, who consciously modeled their work on European and American avant-garde movements. Among these poets influenced by the surrealists, dadaists, and the Beat writers were Arun Kolatkar and Dilip Chitre. Kolatkar was born in Kolhapur in 1934 and received his early education there. Subsequently he studied art in Bombay and Pune, receiving a diploma from the J. J. School of Art, Bombay, in 1957. Since then he has worked mainly in advertising and has won national professional awards for his work. Since the mid-1950s he has published poetry in English and Marathi, as well as English translations of Marathi poetry. His books are Jejuri (1976), a long sequence of poems in English, and Arun Kolatkarchya kavita (Arun Kolatkar's Poems; 1977), collected poems in Marathi. The former won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in England, and the latter received the Maharashtra government poetry award.
Dilip Chitre, born in 1938, grew up in Baroda and Bombay and studied English literature at Bombay University. In the early 1960s he lived and worked as a schoolteacher in Ethiopia. Since then he has lived in Bombay and Pane, among other places, and has worked in advertising and as an editor and free-lance writer. In the 1980s he also served as the director of Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal. He has published poetry, fiction, criticism, and travel and journalistic writing in English and Marathi, and has translated extensively from Marathi into English. His publications include Travelling in a Cage (1980), poems in English; Kavite nantarchya kavita (Poems After Poetry; 1978), poems in Marathi; and An Anthology of Marathi Poetry, 1945-65 (1967) and Says Tuka (1991), both edited volumes of translations. Among his honors are the Maharashtra government poetry award in 1960-61 and the Karad Puraskar and the Godavareesh Memorial Award, both in 1981. He was a visitor to the Iowa International Writing Program in 1975-77.
In the 1960s and 1970s the largely middle-class preoccupations of the early modernists, the post-Independence nava kavya poets, and the avant-garde
experimentalists was displaced quite radically by the work of poets from the lowest classes and caste-groups in Maharashtrian society, especially Dalit poets like Namdeo Dhasal and "proletarian" poets like Narayan Surve. Surve was born around 1926. Orphaned or abandoned soon after birth, he grew up in the streets of Bombay, sleeping on the pavement and earning a meager livelihood by doing odd jobs and wage labor. He taught himself to read and write, and published his first book of poems, Majhe vidyapith (My School), in 1966. He has since been associated with the workers' union movement and has supported himself as a schoolteacher in Bombay. His second collection of poems, Jahirnama (Public Announcement), appeared in 1978. In the 1970s Surve was often championed in India as well as in the Soviet Union and various Eastern bloc countries as a "truly proletarian" poet. English versions of his early poems are available in On the Pavements of Life (1973).
In the 1970s and 1980s a multifaceted women's movement appeared around the predominantly male establishments in Marathi poetry. Among the more sophisticated women poets to emerge in the last ten years has been Rajani Parulekar, who was born in Paras, Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra, in 1945. She received her M.A. from Elphinstone College, Bombay, and teaches Marathi literature at Burhani College there. Her collection of long narrative poems, Dirgha kavita (Long Poems; 1985), won a Maharashtra state award. Her new book, Kahi dirgha kavita (Some Long Poems), appeared in 1993. Together with older women poets like Indira Sant (who, as a nava kavya poet, began writing in the 1930s), and contemporaries like Prabha Ganorkar, Aruna Dhere, and Jyoti Lan-jewar (a Dalit woman poet), Parulekar has contributed to a significant gender shift in recent Marathi writing.
With the exception of Dilip Chitre's poems, rendered here by Philip C. Engblom, all the poems below have been translated from Marathi by Vinay Dharwadker.
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|Title Annotation:||Indian Literatures: In the Fifth Decade of Independence|
|Publication:||World Literature Today|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1994|
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