Poetry in the time of tempests

The Sahitya Akademi is a major force in Indian publishing. Given the range of languages that festoon our literary scene, the sheer diversity of what they produce is unparalleled... The quality of their publications is also remarkable, given the price at which they bring them out.

One of this year's offerings is a set of essays Nissim Ezekiel Remembered. Writing in today's Hindu, Prabhaker Acharya says "As a commemorative volume, the book is unexceptionable. Even the absence of a biographical sketch is a plus, because it encourages you to build your own biography of Nissim, using the information provided in the memoirs, interviews and chronology. You can see a clear picture of the man emerge, and see his work in the context of his life." Written by friends, admirers, as well as academics who evaluate Ezekiel's poetry, the book is a good example of what the Sahitya Akademi is able to achieve.

In one of his last periods of lucidity, Ezekiel wrote the essay from which this post takes its title. This is reprinted in this volume, and Acharya says that in a sense it constitutes his "poignant, final message." Ezekiel wrote of our history, and warned against the insidious ways in which those in power try to suppress the inconvenient voices from the margin, the angry voices of the dispossessed and even the quiet voice of poetry.

The eloquence of the poet comes through, even in the midst of a mind ravaged by Alzheimer's disease.

In our Literary Criticism Section, Rs 275. 603 pages, ISBN: 9788126026487

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