Monday, June 05, 2017

Nabina Das reviews 'Selected Poems Sananta Tanty' in

What Tanty has written is perhaps more pertinent today, given the current political environment. The Kashmir impasse, trouble in the North-East, low-intensity but recurrent conflicts in the so-called backwaters of northern and central India, as well as the urban angst where rifts between religions, upper and oppressed castes, migrant communities and the upwardly mobile are more visible, all offer a foreboding picture of what he said:

I will rebel inside your core, start a revolution
If you rule us at gunpoint forever.

The sky will be the colour of smoke; it will rain blood.

The city will be riotous. People will be oceans.

— "Just For Poetry"

Read the full review HERE.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

"i too call myself i"
'Mor Priyo Saponar Usare Pajore', Around my Favourite Dream, Assamese poet Sananta Tanty's 13th collection of poetry, published in May 2017.

Monday, May 29, 2017

What is your favourite flower?

I wanted to say bokul, filled with the memory of my ancestral village and my grandmother, but the flower of my childhood is a milk white tagar shrubbery (a variety of gardenia?) our next-door neighbour had, next to which we spent our evenings, me and my friend Tublu. We were princes from a faraway land and we rode pitch black horses, with white diamonds on their foreheads.

Today, I don’t remember the scent of the tagar, just a feeling, of slight breeze in sweaty faces.

Monday, April 24, 2017

On the occasion of World Book Day, I talked to four regional language writers (Assamese, Hindi, Kannada and Tamil) to understand the current state of affairs of literatures of their respective languages and the tyranny of English, for Pune-based daily Sakal Times, published on 23 April 2017.
Recently, a friend called to ask why I am not promoting the translations book I published last month. What’s the point, I asked. It’s not that my Facebook friends are ever going to buy the book; it’s poetry, plus translations. In fact, I am too old school to really trust digital marketing. The real reason, however, why I am not going out with the book is because I was going through a serious bout of translator’s dilemma. I have the author’s approval, yet I was not certain if I did the right thing. There was always this nagging suspicion, perhaps there were other ways of doing it; perhaps someone else could have done it better. Today, as two of Sananta Tanty’s poems appear in the Asymptote Journal, I am somewhat relieved, somewhat less diffident. If one of the world’s best translations magazines sees merit in the poems, they couldn’t be all that bad.
The credit goes to Aditi Machado for her enthusiasm for Sananta Tanty’s work.
A big shout out to Kamal Kumar Tanti for typing out the Assamese texts in a word document and to Shalim M Hussain for arranging the recording of the poet’s recitation.
Do read, or listen.

Friday, April 21, 2017

I love buying secondhand books. Each book comes with a story. This copy of ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’, for example, comes wrapped in a plastic wrapper made out of milk sachets. Someone could not afford plastic wrappers, but it did not deter this avid collector to find a way to protect the book.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Will he come, my Venetian suitor, to tell me one last time, 'Stay, Senora, stay! Why do you need to travel? You are home wherever you are. Let me be your courtyard, your titled roof.' Will he come, my Venetian suitor, smelling of gardenia? Will he outrun the chugging train, my Venetian suitor? He runs the length of the empty platform, towards me, caged in the iron embraced of this inevitable departure. Renato! Renato! Look, there is a bunch of gardenia in his hand; the bargain of my love, already given to him, unasked. Will I catch the bunch of gardenia he flings at me? Renato! Renato! He screams beneath the screech of the train's whistle. He wants the train to stop. He wants me to stop. He wants this moment to stop. He wants me catch the bunch of gardenia. Could I? Could I? Why did I leave before the end?

Pages from an Unfinished Autobiography

You write poems. Very good. But how do you make others read it. You summit them to journals and get rejection mails. You try to get them published as a book. There are no publishers, except self-publish service providers. But they charge more cash than you can afford, and don’t give you any creative control. So what do you do?

Your friend suggests he can design the book; and also, he wants to get into publishing and so he will take care of printing, you just pay him the printing cost. But after so many terrible, disappointing experiences, you don’t want to depend on someone else, even if he is a dear friend. So you go to RK Puram and apply for ISBN numbers and start a publishing house of your own. You ask your friend to draw some graphics. You ask your friend to design and help with the printer and you do the book the way you want it. Traditional publishing be damned!

After a year, the books (500 copies of them) are in your hand, and you are faced with the same existential crisis. How do you sell the book?

You set up an account even though you know it’s unlikely anyone would buy it. You send messages to your friends that your book is available online, it’s just Rs 100 and they should buy it. They all reply congratulating you about the book, but hardly a few click the purchase button.

Then you decide to give the book away as gifts. You want the book to reach as many households as possible, and everybody loves a free book. You imagine, not today perhaps, but 100 years down the line someone somewhere would find the book and ‘discover’ you, even when you would be long dead. So in two years, you give away the copies of your book to every person you meet and empty your inventory.

On the way, you encounter some silver lining. A friend writes a glowing review online. An editor of a print magazine offers to review the book. A stranger purchases the book online and writers to you praising the book.

The best was saved for the last. Two years after the original publication, the book somehow finds its way to renowned author Ambai, as CS Lakshmi is known, and she finds the book interesting and does a humbling review in The Wagon Magazine. You stop and realise, this is the moment of your recognition, 100 years too soon.

The book is now history. Read the review here.