Breaking through


Breaking through

WHILE India and Taiwan share some common cultural legacies, not much is known in either country of each other's contemporary literary trends or specific authors and works. Language, one suspects, could be the major barrier to literary interaction. And it is refreshing to see some attempts to get past this barrier. A collection of poems by Indian poets has just been translated and published in Taiwan. The Golden Treasury of Modern Indian Poetry, edited and translated by Lee Kuei-shien, in cooperation with Dr. Mohammed Fakhruddin, is the result of an on-going interaction between Taiwanese and Indian poets.

Lee Kuei-shien has been a regular participant at the Indian Poetry Festival organised by the Bangalore-based Poets International, leading a delegation of Taiwanese poets in 2002 and 2003. And when he in turn organised a World Poetry Festival in Taiwan in March this year, the theme being Land and Sea in Poetic Harmony, 10 Indian poets — Gulzar, Dr. A. Arunachalam, Dr. Srinivasa Rangaswami, Miss. Kanaka Durga, Dr. Rita Malhotra, Dr. N.P. Singh, Ms. Monima Choudhury, Dr. Priyadarshini Roy, Ms. Prasanna Kumari, and Dr. Mohammed Fakhruddin — were invited to read their poems at the festival. This anthology contains poems by these 10 poets, apart from poems by four others: A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Krishna Srinivas and N. Narasimha Ramayya. There could be genuine reservations over the extent to which these are representative of modern Indian poetry.

Such reservations would also point to a schism, or several, among contemporary Indian poets. As Srinivasa Rangaswami, one of the poets published here puts it, academics and critics are seen to bring critical baggage from the West to their appreciation or poetry instead of appreciating a poem for what it is. While the issues are debatable, the volume is certainly a step in the right direction, in spite of the numerous typos present throughout, at least in the English versions of the poems which are given alongside their Chinese translations.


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