A song from on high

RAINMAKER Sudeep Sen reads from his book of prose poems,

RAINMAKER Sudeep Sen reads from his book of prose poems, "Rain" Photo: Sandeep Saxena  

This monsoon has given Rain a different form

Rain washes away pollution, and the city takes on a pristine look, somewhat fictional, but soothing nevertheless. No wonder the rain so often permeates the songs of poets. The stranded stray in an expanded puddle, droplets dripping from a dirty sill, a river in spate, rivulets gushing down the mountainside.

Mundane or exotic, every image has its own poetry. So Sudeep Sen's "Rain", a collection of prose poems published by MapinLit, is a welcome addition to the world of words. The book was originally published in the U.K. and the U.S. as "Monsoon". "The editor of Gallerie magazine liked it so much that she brought out a special issue on rain," says the author. "That issue sold out, and since the book was not available, we thought why not bring one out for India. So this is a joint project of Mapin and Gallerie."

Artists from various genres had contributed works to complement the poems. For the Indian book, Sudeep was keen to have only Indian artists, so "Rain" has meandered its way to its present form rather like a cloud to the sea, changed in form not content.

Recently launched at the British Council, New Delhi, with readings by Sudeep and actor Tom Alter, the poems were given form also through the songs and musical compositions of the group Advaita.

To see his work interpreted in different media would only be a step away from seeing it translated into various verbal languages, and translations are something Sudeep, author of some 20 books, is familiar with both as a translator and a poet whose work has been rendered in over a dozen languages.

"Often very good poetry translations are done as a team," he explains. "There is one person who knows the original language and some English, one technical person, and I join as a practicing poet."

This teamwork ensures the spirit of the poem comes out along with its aural form, and yet the whole makes sense to those who don't understand the original language. "You need to log onto the soul of the writing itself," he sums up. There are other aspects of the word Sudeep revels in. He used to write book reviews for The Times of India, and he studied at the Graduate School of Journalism in Columbia University, New York.

"The idea with print journalism is, the reader should get an idea quickly of what is going on." At Columbia, "They really get you into shape, " notes the winner of numerous literary, honours including the 2004 `Pleiades' at the prestigious Struga Poetry Evenings, Macedonia.

His work as editorial director of Aark Arts, Sudeep calls a natural progression. Formed by a group of friends, the publishing house, whose Delhi office he is in the process of setting up, brings out fiction, non-fiction, arts and poetry.

Successful writers who share their work among peers without the mental baggage of celebrity are common in New York and London, notes Sudeep. In India, though, "There's a peculiar sense of aspiring to a Page 3 kind of aura. There's no intimacy. It's very difficult to get through the frosted exterior. It's like translucent glass. "

Oh well, we much prefer the glass when it's misted up from the warm summer rain.


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