The poetry anthology Poetry Contemporary edited by P. K. Majumdar, dedicated to ‘the Nobel Laureate Poet Rabindernath Tagore on His 150th Birth Anniversary’ is a poetic tribute of two practicing poets to another legend poet who is still contemporary in his poetry and its themes though not physically alive amidst us. Pronab Kumar Majumdar and Manas Bakshi both are qualitative poets and veteran editor, as one edits Bridge-in Making while the other is widely published admired by readers and critics.
The alphabetically (and not seniority-wise) arranged poets in the anthology are twenty (including both the editors) which are- Aju Mukhopadhyay, Asha Bishwas, Bipin Patsani, Chandramoni Narayanswamy, D. C. Chambial, Hazara Singh, K. K. Shrivastava, K. V. Dominic, K. V. Raghuputhi, Mahasweta Chaturvedi, Manas Bakshi, N. P. Singh, O. P. Arora, P. C. K. Prem, Pronab Kumar Majumdar, P. Raja, P. V. Luxmi Prasad, Rita Nath Keshari, Syed Ameeruddin and S. L. Peeran. The editor(s) have included only living “poets” so the title ‘contemporary poets’ given by them connotes only to the poets who are mortally vibrant and practicing as poets and thus they (editors) have confined themselves to the criteria of physically living as their primary criteria of selecting the poets in the anthology. Besides, another scales taken for selection are well-adjudicated by the editor becomes more clear when we read the ‘Introduction’ of the anthology:
Among the twenty poets included in the anthology, there are four women poets, thirteen poets come from academia, three poets are former bureaucrats, one is serving bureaucrat, one is former banker, one is serving banker and one is former judicial officer.
The criteria of selecting the poets for an anthology of contemporary poets remain a vulnerable issue among critics as to whom the editor should include of the selection is what has been the primary object of the editor while selecting the poet. Here the editor has made clear-
“——-my primary object is to include, along with some major contemporary poets, a few poets of twenty first century who have made their presence in and effect on contemporary Indian English poems to some extant. In such cases, number of poetry collection anuthorised is not the parameter of selection but how much their presence is felt is the main consideration.
An anthology of contemporary poets attains success only when it includes almost all ‘serious practicing poets’ and their “landmark Poetry” so that the reader may be well- introduced with contemporary writers and their writings. Besides, the all quality of poems impartiality in the selection o poets, equal place……….. to each and (and not the favoritism) every poet who may represent all major sections class and community of society.
The present anthology does not fully reach to its maximum satisfaction as its selection of poets and their poems is not up to the mark. However the aim of editor was to “bring to the new readership already contemporary poets excluding earlier poets hegemoni sitically promoted, and the twenty first century poets whose merit is convincing but not included in any anthology. So far. Senior poets and “former bureaucrats” or administrators like P C K Prem, S. L. Peeran, P. Raja, Syed Ameeruddin, Hazara Singh D. C. Chambial, P. K. Majumdar, K. V. Raghupati, Mahashweta Chaturvedi, Aju Mukhopadhyay, Bipin Patsani and Asha Viswas are very well anthologized and extensively published by editors of journals and magazines. And in the second category only poets like K. K. Shrivastava, P. V. Luxmiprasad and K. V. Dominic fall who are new to contemporary reader and the editor has to been fully just to new and fresh voices.
The poems of Bipin Patsani, Hazara Singh, K. K. Shrivastava, K. V. Raghupati, Manas Bakshi, P. K. Majumdar, O. P. Arora, D. C. Chambial, P. C. K. Prem, Syed Ameeruddin and K. V. Raghupati are not only widely published but also hugly anthologized. These qualitative poets have contributed enormously to Indian poetry in English by published them dozens of poetry collections both in india and abroad. Besides, the editor could afford to include more women poets like Rita Malhotra, Nandini Sahu, Nalini Sharma, Sheela Gujral or Meena Kandasamy.
However, the poetry of senior poets like Hazara Singh, D. C. Chambial or Syed Ameeruddin is all time refreshing and profound . mark out the exquisite expression of Manas Bakshi in the following lines-
The buren of being God
More often than not
Because we have changed
The image of God-
As we often change
Our dress and address,
Bed fellows and social geometry concepts. (73)
Or alliterative expression of Syed Ameruddin in his opening lines of “Ambiguity”-
Life a criss-cross crisis
Amidst swindling destinies
And diabolic disillusions. (128)
The poems of new poets like K. V. Dominic and K. K. Shrivastava are worth noticing and praising and these poems carry sincere genuine concern for our society and environment and it also carries wisdom and ethical persons of life- K. K. Shrivastava’s poem ‘Time’s Absurdity’ is a fine example of it-
But never completely
From our heart it slips
Never to return back
The quiet remains of
We try too dig but in vain. (41)
In the same vein N. P. Singh’s Haikus are full of abstract ideas and symbolism and philosophy of life.
Pigs have conquered
The large green park
Devoured all greenery.
X X X
Life spins like a top
Fast, faster, fastest and then
Comes to a stop. (81)
However the poems of Mahashweta Chaturvedi and P. V. Laxmi Prasad are not so good as they lack depth and other stylistic features, the anthology would be better if the editor remained more careful in selection of poems of these poets. A few poems of these poets are poor in publication. For example take the poem “Home is a Fortess” by Mahashweta Chaturvedi-
Home is a fortess
Where possessors of heart
And brain line.
Without any jealous dart
Free from malice
One-mined without ill-will. (63)
Indian English poetry ‘scene’ after independence is though very pleasing and optimistic, yet in this age of flowering and blossoming of poets, host of mediocre and balderdash stuff has also crammed into the literature and so on account of all this, Vilas Sarang ……………once while anthologies that the paper it difficult to recuit sub-editors with adequate command on English. (10 the .
In brief, the efforts of P. K. Majumdar are laudable as he dared to bring out an anthology of “New’ and ‘old’ poets who deserve mainstream writing. Again, the editors and his associate should be commended as they published the anthology from their own publishing concern in this poetically dry age of materialism and marketization.