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Review of Book on Keki

Review of Book on Keki

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Published by Ram Krishna Singh
The essay reviews a book on Keki N Daruwalla's poetry. The book is useful to researchers and students interested in recent Indian poetry in English
The essay reviews a book on Keki N Daruwalla's poetry. The book is useful to researchers and students interested in recent Indian poetry in English

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Published by: Ram Krishna Singh on Nov 14, 2011
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08/07/2013

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BOOK REVIEW: Professor R.K.Singh
KEKI N. DARUWALLA: THE POET AND NOVELIST by ASHA VISWAS. NewDelhi: Bahri Publications, 2011. 173 pp., Rs. 500/-, ISBN 978-81-909771-3-5
Keki N. Daruwalla, who has been writing for over four decades now, is a leadingname in Indian English poetry today (p 31). The uniqueness of his verses has beenrecognized by critics and admirers everywhere. There have been several books onhis poetry, both original and edited, discussing imagery, diction, design, andviewpoint, but the latest one by Asha Viswas, dedicated to her students, should bevery useful to students and teachers alike.Professor Viswas, herself a good poet with three volumes of poetry to her credit,treats Daruwalla on the same pedestal as Nissim Ezekiel and Jayanta Mahapatra,and finds him a more representative voice than Jayanta Mahapatra and others. Ifully agree with her.Asha considers all the nine volumes of poetry and one novel by Keki andappreciates the variety he demonstrates both in form and content (p 34). She toodiscovers that Keki writes with control over emotions and effectively usestechniques such as word play, irony and satire (pp 75-76). She reflects on the poet’slarge thematic canvas which inheres his personal experiences as also hispreoccupation with the often contradictory realities of Indian life, diverse cultural,historic and mythic landscape, and existential realities. To quote Bruce King, KekiDaruwalla writes tough poetry with awareness of the “moral ambiguities andunresolvable conflicts of the human condition.”Professsor Viswas’s introductory chapter seeks to define and highlight modernityand Indianness of Keki, besides his “depth of feeling, economy of language, andoriginality of insight” (cf pp 13-17) that confers on him “a central place in modernIndian English poetry.”In the second chapter, ‘Moorings’, she scrutinizes the poet’s personal life vis-à-visthe growth of his poetic career from 1960s. She draws on her personal interviewwith the poet to develop the chapter besides reviewing the reviews of all hiscollections, two books of short stories, one novel, and one anthology,
Two Decadesof Indian Poetry: 1960-80.
She underlines the poet’s global perspective,experiences and interests.In the third chapter, ‘Treatment of Myth in Keki’s Early Poetry,’ she refers to hismythical poems (five in
Under Orion
, four in
 Apparition in April
, thirteen in
Crossingof Rivers
) to demonstrate the poet’s searching mind, mythopoeic attitude, and
 
eclectic vision. Professor Viswas also uses the techniques of stylistic analysis tointerpret some of the early poems of Keki. The fourth chapter seeks to highlight the poet’s modernity, realism, non-moralapproach, existential concerns, lack of faith in the system, and avoidance of “stockresponse” and “abstract notion”. She observes: “His satire and his iconoclasticapproach invigorate his subject matter as does the speed of his verse andmasculine vigour.” (p 76) The poet-critic’s discussion on the poems in
Landscape
(ch. 5) aims atdemonstrating Keki’s “maturity of vision” that transmutes the “external world intointernal consciousness” (p 78) and helps him attain inner peace (p 81). Asha Viswasfinds in the collection a “perfect harmony between impression and expression”
a la
Sanskrit poets (p 90). The sixth chapter is a critique of 
 A Summer of Tigers
which offers instances of passion and irony (pp 94-98). With her skills in stylistic analysis, Asha Viswas triesto highlight the poet’s “exploration and experimentation” (pp 95, 104) and hissensitivity for “speech rhythms and their syntactic and lexical features” (pp 98,114) on the one hand, and his love for mythology and “racial history” (pp 99, 102,111) and his criticism of Pablo Neruda (pp 110-11), on the other. As she notes: “Hisbest poetry is about the mountains, high pastures, seas and rivers. It is hisrootedness to the ritual scene that gives Keki a shot in the poetic vein.” (p 112) The seventh chapter deals with
Night River,
a “global work” (p 116). While thepoet’s search for permanence in
Landscapes
brings him to the world of nature, in
Night River 
he “changes his route from nature to human imagination” (p 115). HereAsha Viswas finds Keki Orpheus-like and descending into “the darker depths of what we call the subconscious and unconscious.” She seems right as Daruwallahimself admits that here he has tried to dive into the “depths of consciousness andsolitude” (p 117) which is, in fact, “a defence against time, decay, and even death”(p 127). She also discusses some of his dream-poems (pp 118-121) and island-poems (pp 125-26) in the volume. The eighth chapter concerns Keki’s ninth collection,
The Map Maker 
, recording hisvoyage “both within and without.” Here one finds instances of the “subjective andphysical, individual and universal merging into … (an) integrated consciousness” (p128). Asha praises his craftsmanship in melding history, peoples, nature, religion,biography, and vision into “intense reflection” and poetry “that speaks out of thestill centre of the being, the narrative and the dramatic voice” (p 159). Heranalytical comments on pp 140-158 should help every serious student follow thepoetry of Daruwalla in the right spirit. The last chapter discusses Daruwalla’s historical novel
For Pepper and Christ 
(2009)which “presents a dialectical discourse of clashing interests in the backdrop of trade and religion (p 161).
 
 The bibliography at the end testifies to the years of labour Professor Viswas has putin to write the book, keeping in mind the needs of students both at the Honours andPostgraduate level, and researchers and teachers interested in Indian Englishwriting. It is a positive contribution from a poet-professor who views Keki N.Daruwalla with critical empathy and imagination. __________________________________________________________________________________ 
Professor R.K. Singh, Head, Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, IndianSchool of Mines, Dhanbad 826004, JharkhandPoem: R.K. SINGH
LIBERATIONAway from home in academicssex, philosophy and religionI’ve been skeptic about all these yearsrevels of hell in lost memoriescouldn’t be a new dialect for springturn nude with refreshing orgasmI still wander in my mind with firebut no heat or light, sterile emotionrouts the spirit to live makingall presences dark and absencefears are no bread from heavennor unfilled emptiness any skyyet the eagle flies with wide eyesnose opened to stinking patchesthe mud- and ghostscapes that yield

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