The Language of Post Independence Indian English Poetry: Dilemmas, Negotations and Resolutions in the Poetry of R. Parthasarathy, Agha Shahid Ali and Sujata Bhatt

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The issue of language has dominated the criticism of Indian English poetry and its detractors claim a disjunction between the medium and the message. Once the poets have chosen to write in English, the most important task for them seems to be to locate themselves securely in their various Indian contexts and find a language to suit their creative endeavours. The attempt is to bridge the gap between the medium and the message, the channel and what it conveys. The central issues, which this paper will explore are the conflicts expressed by Indian English poets in their effort to craft a new poetics and the contribution of these Indian poets to the English language and the extent to which they have been successful in not only indigenizing it, but also extending its boundaries in terms of style and content, to say what it has never been used for before and in a manner which combines the traditions of English and native Indian languages. Parthasarathy talks about the dilemmas of a bilingual poet and there are three dimensions to the articulation of his concerns - the image of English as a colonial legacy and its impact on the creativity of the poet, his return to his ‘mother tongue’ Tamil, and then a dialogue between his English and his Tamil self. Agha Shahid Ali wrote all his poetry in English and also translated extensively from Urdu into English. In his verse he also makes his affinity to Persian and Arabic clear. In his poetry is visible his rich multilingual inheritance and English is transformed. Sujata Bhatt attracted a lot of critical attention when she proclaimed her Gujarati identity by using the script and vocabulary of this language in her English poems. Sujata travels in her poetry between Gujarati, English and German.


Keywords: Indian English Poetry, Language, Multilingualism
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
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Dr. Anjana Neira Dev

Reader, Department of English, Gargi College, University of Delhi
New Delhi, Delhi, India

I teach in an undergraduate women's college and my areas of interest include literature and language as well as the pedagogy of teaching English especially to those for whom it is a second language. Having done my doctorate from the Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Delhi; my orientation to teaching is an inter-disciplinary one and I have a great interest in interacting with fellow academics from across the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Ref: H08P0241