Robin S Ngangom
Biography of Robin S Ngangom
Robin S Ngangom is an Indian poet and translator from Manipur, North Eastern India.
Robin Singh Ngangom was born in Imphal, Manipur of North Eastern India. He is a bilingual poet who writes in English and Manipuri. He studied literature at St Edmund's College and the North Eastern Hill University Shillong, and serves as a Lecturer in the Dept. of English at NEHU. He is the Editor of New Frontiers, journal of the Northeast Writers' Forum, Guwahati, and is Nominating Editor for Manipuri for Katha Translation Awards, New Delhi.
He was conferred with Katha Award for Translation in 1999, was invited to the UK for the UK Year of Literature and Writing, 1995, and the Udaya Bharati National Award for Poetry, 1994.
His significant publications are Words and the Silence, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1988, An Anthology of New Indian English Poetry, Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 1993, Time's Crossroads, Disha Books, Orient Longman Ltd., Hyderabad, 1994, Khasia in Gwalia, Alun Books, Wales, 1995, A New Book of Indian Poems in English, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 2000, Anthology of Contemporary Poetry from the Northeast, NEHU Publications, Shillong, 2003, Confronting Love: Poems, Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, 2005, The Desire of Roots, Chandrabh'g!, Cuttack, 2006
His work has been featured in The Telegraph Colour Magazine, Calcutta; Debonair, Bombay; Chandrabh'g', Cuttack; Kavya Bharati, American College, Madurai; Poetry Chronicle, Bombay; Poiesis, Bombay; Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi; The Brown Critique, Maharashtra; The New Welsh Review, Wales; Kunapipi, University of Aarhus, Denmark; SWAG Magazine, Swansea, Wales; New Statesman & Society, London; Planet: The Welsh Internationalist, Aberystwyth, Wales; Verse, University of Georgia, Athens, US.
Robin S Ngangom's Works:
The Desire of Roots ( Poetry in English ). Cuttack: Chandrabhaga, India 2006.
Time's Crossroads ( Poetry in English ). Hyderabad: Orient Longman Ltd, India 1994.
Time's Crossroads ( Poetry in English ). Kolkata: Writers Workshop, India 1998.
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Robin S Ngangom Poems
My Invented Land
My native soil was created from tiny sparks that clung to grandmother’s earthen pot which conjured savoury dishes I’ve been looking for
I remember only the detritus of schools which taught fear, where only nuns seemed to believe in the power of the written word and punishment.
The Ignominy Of Geometry
The ignominy of geometry, the inability to evade angles and parallels. Living, we have to suffer that mortification which robs the sacrifice of joy
A sleepless night, a lovelorn night, and poetry arrived silent, to console my wounded being.
Funerals And Marriages
I’ve forgotten acts of kindness or to wish people happiness if they can find it anywhere. I would, if I could, help the bereaved furtively after the mourners have eaten and left.
Hill, you and I have seen only upheaval since our birth. When I was torn from the universal womb I echoed your silent cry.
15 August 2008, Northeast India
Having lost my independence How could I celebrate it Though I've sewn flags on cockeyed schooldays? Margins are superfluous in the big centre's book
The kite transforming into smoke lacing The chinars is not a symbol. The rose has migrated from the garden of paradise. Freedom will never come
Houses (After Cavafy)
We believe we own them but In the evening of a street not a soul will be found. Only a few stars shuffling in the oily sky and Orange trees for neighbours.
A writer can survive without a car but a window with his palm feeling the breath of a street or a garden, a few weeping pens
To your uneventful death, Pacha, the stones hurled at your demented name, and the doors closed on your life it is fitting that none mourn the face of your memory they slapped; from booze artist Pacha, to lunatic Pacha. There are no more tears to shed in this withered country where they kill pregnant women and children; its nipples have long gone dry, and leering death walks your homeland. And why should anyone weep for your lonely alcoholic end? Young boys and soldiers are butchering each other by the dozen, in the hills, the angry streets, day after day, and too many heroes and villains are not worth remembering at all. Death is callous, Pacha, in the land of your innocent birth. Consummate madman, unknown comrade, you were the best of them all; whether you mapped the geography of your stricken town, pen dipped in your drunken blood, or portrayed old men hard of hearing. Breaking heart of roots, savage lover no woman would tame, existential hero and fiercely proud pauper. You laughed yourself insane in the teeth of the gathering storm. Hovel-dweller amidst concrete and iron, anachronistic mendicant, and embracer of manuscripts in pounding rain, angry star which burned in our skies, what were your dreams? Reveal them a little for me, anonymous brother. Poetry in your homeland must die a natural death when one must "sew up his lips and clog his ears with mud," and to be a man, first of all, you must sell yourself to the highest bidder. Immaculate madling with resplendent dreams, you refused to sell them in your land where villains strut as the pure in streets. You only said: "One's homeland is dear. I have not seen all of this land. I have not been able to tread the grass that grows there." For a long time the tramps and lunatics beckoned you, and only they shall honour your name.
The warning disguised as a message came before the village was up and about, and when they left they didn't carry pots or blankets or even machetes. As they went to the outpost of guardians they left chickens running in the yard and the dog lazing on the steps. Flights like theirs Do not have destinations, And only once did they wish for wings. The taste of the herd will return them To dark and dingy towns where They will sell used clothes, wild meat and herbs. The most vulnerable will sell bodies. Because in spite of the land mines They still shared limbs. Words like "the end of history" Will not resonate anywhere in their lives. They do not have meat and drinks left To offer to embedded scribes. As before Their fates will go unreported, arousing Only a shred of curiosity somewhere.
Why do trees weep leaves without warning? Why do the old choose to die in their mountain hamlets? Why did his people turn to terror? Why does love tie him down? How is he a poet if he's afraid to look for answers?
POEM FOR JOSEPH
"It is never too late to come home." But I need a homeland where I can recognize myself, just a map or even a tree or a stone, to mark a spot I could return to like a pissing animal even when there's nothing to return for. Although it's true that in my native land, children have crawled out of burrows they had gouged under hard beds, long after the grownups had fled and roofs came apart like charred heads. You said, you didn't regret how ethnic cleansers had palmed your newly-built home off on a people well on their trail back to pure blood, you didn't mind leaving behind objects of desire you had collected over twenty-five years, or, how you came to live in a rented room with your wife and your children in dog-eat-dog Imphal, among the callous tribe I call my own. Only the photographs you mourned, the beloved sepia of one family tree, since you're the reason why your fathers lived; but, who'll believe now that you lived at all?
The Ignominy Of Geometry
The ignominy of geometry,
the inability to evade angles and parallels.
Living, we have to suffer that mortification
which robs the sacrifice of joy
much of its sheen.
One minute of patronizing certainty
and the boring man is a ‘square’
but when our understanding’s poor