Random Reflections On the Post-fifties of Indian English Poetry
They say it that, if you do not know Nissim, it means
You do not now the history of modernism in Indian English poetry
And it starts with him,
But the thing is otherwise.
There was not something like Indian English poetry then,
It used to be Indo-Anglican, Indo-Anglian, Anglo-Indian
And there were none to do one’s Ph.D. on an Indian English poet,
Barring Tagore’s Gitanjali and Aurobindo’s Savitri
And that too later on.
Thirdly, the readers and teachers started taking an interest
In Indian writings in English
Since the nineteen eighties
When the Univ. Grants Commission, New Delhi
Counselled to include in the texts through its peer visiting teams.
There were poets before and after Nissim whom they promoted not
And many dared not publish,
Nissim too as a professor of English was a mediocre,
Not having that scholarship.
Sometimes when I find time, I think and brood over
The fall in standard, the absent authority,
The no-man language and the no-man practitioner critics of it,
Trying to improvise and exploit the vacuum.
How poor and weak are the no-man and nowhere evolving critics
Of evolving Indian English poetry,
Even the Ph.D. students turn into critics overnight.
The mediocre professors after Ph.Ds. on Indian topics in English
Calling themselves great critics!
When I go through older texts of unknown teachers, I wonder to find
Scholarship writ over anonymous and large,
Not like these half-read fellows,
Who know a little, but go on asking for more and more fame.
The British-period educated or classic read scholars frowned upon
Going through the ten to twenty page anthologies
Brought out By P.Lal,
Making the novices and learners poets,
Giving not a chance to the deserving, unknown and rarely available.
Today they are reading them somehow the so-called great modrns
Under pressure from the U.G.C.
And as because they are giving Sahitya Akademi awards continuously
And the Bomabayan poets have got a coverage in magazines too.
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