Holding the cigarette, a cheerful Eunice de Souza stands in her nightgown, a parrot perched on her head.
This stunning image greets a person when you lay eye on The Penguin Guide of Indian Poets – a new anthology of Indian poets writing in The english language.
The almost 900-page book, edited by poet Jeet Thayil, was more than two decades in the making. It includes the work of 94 poets, ranging from global literary superstars in order to promising young writers.
“I wanted every interesting voice that I came across, old plus new, to be a section of the book, ” Thayil says.
The guide also contains evocative black and white photographs associated with some of the poets, taken by Madhu Kapparath.
Thayil and Kapparath talked to the BBC in regards to the work of 5 of the poets showcased in the book – as well as the stories behind their own photos.
The poet with an acerbic wit
Eunice de Souza (above) wrote pithy, tender poems regarding everything she noticed, felt and considered – from like to womanhood to the organic world to her Goan Catholic roots.
“As a poet she was one of a kind. The work is informal, crafted, anthemic, conversational, sarcastic, tender, amusing – all at the same time, ” Thayil says.
And the way the girl lived her living was equally inspiring.
“She was so intelligent and she resided alone, with the girl pet parrots and dogs keeping the girl company, ” Kapparath says. “I believe you feel things very strongly when you live alone and don’t possess loved ones to cushion you. ”
When needed he took the particular photo, she had gone into the kitchen to produce tea.
“We just hung out within her kitchen; she was smoking the cigarette. Then one associated with her pet parrots flew above her and sat on her behalf head. For some reason, her parrots were often trying to sit on her head when they were unable fighting with her dogs. ”
The man who can associated with phone book rhyme
Vikram Seth’s publications, especially A Suitable Young man, have fans all over the world, but he also changed Indian writing in English with The Golden Gate, a novel written completely in rhythmic sonnets.
“He could make a rhyming version from the phone book and it would be interesting, inch Thayil says.
“He has a scholarly appreciation of the history of English poetry. You see it in every sonnet and [four-line verses known as a] quatrain. There is seriousness, but he or she also brings a lightness of contact that makes for pleasure. ”
Kapparath clicked Seth’s photo in a literary festival in Jaipur, in Rajasthan state.
“He was just sitting there, on the ground. It had been dusk by then. We all made small discuss the relative scale of a backdrop, and a larger context, regarding events that play out in the darkness of a backdrop, ” Kapparath says.
The poet who explored disturbing realities along with clarity
Adil Jussawalla wrote in jagged, fragmented lines about class wars, meaningful corruption and the contradictions that dehumanise plus ravage the human soul.
Kapparath clicked his photo during an afternoon at Jussawalla’s place in Mumbai.
“Adil has this shy quality about him. He’s taken by a certain kind of reticence within their own self which I guess comes from contemplation. This individual was a bit reluctant to have his photo taken – thinking why anyone would want to take a picture of him without his shirt! ”
The poet of in-betweens
Dom Moraes is a seminal figure in Indian English literature and poetry. His work spans poetry, newspapers columns, numerous textbooks and translations.
Their style was heavily influenced by Western poets, but exactly what he wrote about always felt close to home.
“Dom was generous to a fault with other writers, ” Thayil says. “He knew just what it meant to a more youthful writer to be seen by an admired older writer. ”
Concerning this photograph, Kapparath states: “He was in a tearing rush to complete a column while i entered the room. He or she was living in the friend’s house at the time. The thing about Dom was he was never at home; he was always in some temporary abode someplace. ”
The poet who bared her soul
Though Kamala Das published six books of poems, “she was best known for a racy autobiography, My Story (1976), and an eventful life that included a period in politics and a late transformation to Islam”, Thayil writes.
Das is often called a ‘confessional poet’ because of the fierce honesty with which the girl wrote about the girl life, womanhood, menstruation, sex, sexuality plus infidelity, at a time in order to was unthinkable to do this.
“It’s only when we see the girl entire body of function that we realise how brave she had been. She was composing poems in the 60s and 70s that poets today would think twice about, ” Thayil says.
“I required this photograph in her house within Kerala, just after the lady had converted to Islam, ” Kapparath says.
“She was living by herself and had been painting very intensely. We were talking and she mentioned something about grieving for her companions. She just stood there in the gallery within this pose and said ‘This is what I do; I mourn. I actually mourn for them most of. ‘”
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