Thursday, February 27, 2014

struggles with imagined gods

struggles with imagined gods
Hemant Divate
translated from the Marathi by
Mustansir Dalvi

Published by Poetrywala
An imprint of Paperwall Media & Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN 978-93-82749-07-3
Price: Rs.200
Available at Kitab Khana, Mumbai and on

'struggles with imagined gods' in the press and media:
(click on titles)

Kanika Sharma discusses 'struggles' and Hemant Divate in Mid-day
A Different Kind of Poet

A short review in 
The Caravan: a journal of politics and culture
'What happened to the language' and other poems.

Sampurna Chattarji reviews'struggles' in Woodsmoke
Free Agent in a Land of Devastation

Eunice de Souza discusses 'struggles' in Mumbai Mirror
Some Literary Puzzles

Mustansir Dalvi
On translating Hemant Divate's Poetry
in Poetry at Sangam

‘Hemant Divate writes of his world, of his everyday embedded-ment in it. A prisoner of his own reality, he is aware of his incarceration,’ notes poet-translator Mustansir Dalvi in a specially commissioned translator’s note; we carry extracts from Divate’s recent book Struggles with Imagined Gods. Divate is publisher of the often audacious imprint Poetrywala; his struggle against sentimental poetics and the shallowness of the post-globalized world is keen. Languages wear duplicities, delicacies and skins of time that reflect their philosophical strengths, street tenor and chaotic co-opted multilingual urgencies. Hemant Divate takes this between his teeth, ‘Poets have stopped/ writing in their own language/ and have, instead, begun/ grinding it down into finer and finer grain.// … languages change completely/ every twelve years./ Which means, after thirty-six years/ no language can remain our own.’

Dalvi’s translations are almost combative to contain the patois employed by this gritty poet. We sense his intelligence scanning possibilities before homing in. He writes, ‘[Divate] writes as he speaks, as is the wont of the Marathi manoos of Mumbai. The translations then, to stay authentic have to remain within the realm of the English speaking citizen of Mumbai, equally multilingual – one part Marathi, one part Bambaiyya and two parts everything else… Strange choices have to be made to make Divate’s Marathi poems into English poems.’

This is tough, high voltage stuff."
-Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Poetry at Sangam

advance praise for 'struggles with imagined gods':

“Divate has an appetite for the contemporary, devouring both its poisons and its nourishments with gargantuan ease. A rich feast, but not for weak stomachs.”
-Adil Jussawalla

"Like the surrealists he admires, Hemant Divate favors the trick mirror and the unsettling image, his work reminds us that modernism came to Marathi literature before it came to Indian writing in English"
-Jeet Thayil

“Hemant Divate existentialist ‘struggles with imagined gods’ depicts today’s Indian consumerist society as a meaningless/absurd world, filled with disoriented individuals. With colourful contrasts and his ironic, hallucinated and hectic writing-style, he swamps the reader, forcing self-examination. For this Marathi Sisyphus, poem titles are lower case letters; flattened like society is flattened before the illness of religions. Nostalgia is a refuge, but not a cure. ‘Struggles with imagined gods’ is another of Divate’s necessary contributions to contemporary Indian poetry.”
-Zingonia Zingone

the fresh, juicy meat of a poem

A moment from life is stuck
between the teeth
of a poem.
It lingers in the interstices,
like scraps of meat
leftover, after chewing
on a chicken lollypop,
no different
from the space between two words
filled with the fresh, juicy meat of a poem.

what happened to language?

What happened to the language
of the boy sucking on a sugarcane stick?
What happened to his language, this vagabond,
rolling an old tyre all over his village?
What happened to the everyday tongue
of this little boy, playing thabu and marbles?

What happened to the language of the child
who loved surparambya, gilli–danda, lagori,
tops, mummy–daddy, doctor–doctor?

What happened to this free bird
who blew his whistle lustily during the jatra?
This brawling boy, who played appa–rappi
and cricket with a ball of rags? What happened?

The same boy, who spoke with his own friends later,
self-conscious of his obviously ghati tongue.
What happened to his language?
Kaay zhaala?

tell me when my number is called

So I was pushed
through some kind of machine.
A software was loaded into me, automatically.
How much space is left in my brain?
The reading says zero.

The technician said:
there’s no space in your brain for humanity,
all mind-space is completely full,
the brain has decayed through disuse,
whatever drive you open
is stuffed with brands.
Brand names, logos, and advertisements,
all nestle snugly into each other.
Naturally, you have lost
all awareness about life
In order to load some humanity back into you
shock treatment is necessary.

In this netherworld, I stand last in line
waiting for my number.
My number is the one after Yours.
Tell me when my number is called.

More poems from Struggles with imagined gods (published in Poetry at Sangam):
Mail Address 
Flowers have Turned Brutish 
Anything can Make your Blood Pressure Rise 
Dreams while Shopping 

    life begins
1. the fresh, juicy meat of a poem
2. Praha: I’ll be back
3. three poems for Pedru Uncle
4. mail address
5. a man may die, but...
6. who typed the password to restart?
7. life begins when you enter this room...
8. Rewind- 2

    what happened?
9. what happened to language?
10. flowers have turned brutish
11. funny mood
12. fuck me, if you can
13. brands surround them
14. New Age 1 2 3
15. dreams while shopping
16. here’s a long, winding, uneasy wall
17. anything can make your blood pressure rise
18. despite this, very timidly, he lives a good life
19. what is to be done about the axe embedded in the mind?
20. my struggle with an imagined god
21. tell me when my number is called
22. in Warsaw’s blue cemetery

The poems in this collection were first published in ‘Thambtach yet naahi’ (Abhidanantar, 2006) and ‘Hya room madhye aale ki life suru hote’ (Poetrywala, 2012).

Hemant Divate is a poet, translator, editor and publisher of avant-garde poetry. His collections in Marathi, Chautishiparyantchya Kavita and Thambtach Yet Nahi are considered path-breaking. The renowned poet Dilip Chitre has translated Chautishiparyantchya Kavita into English, titled Virus Alert. His second translation -A Depressingly Monotonous Landscape -was also well received by the critics and readers. His poems are also translated into Spanish, French, German, Irish, Urdu, Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi, Odia, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

Hemant is the winner of the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad Award (Kolkata, India) and the Maharashtra Foundation Award (USA). He is the first Indian poet to be honoured by the Costa Rican government, and his work is translated into Spanish and published as Alarma de Virus. This collection is also published in Irish, titled Foláireamh Víris.

Hemant’s publishing house, Paperwall Media & Publishing Pvt. Ltd, has published more than 50 poetry collections of extraordinary quality in Marathi and English. As founder and editor of the Marathi little magazine Abhidhanantar, Hemant provided a rare platform for fresh talent and great poetry to enrich the post-nineties Marathi literary scene.

Hemant lives and works in Mumbai.

Mustansir Dalvi was born in Bombay. He teaches architecture in Mumbai.

His poem 'Choosing Trains' was awarded First Prize in the Indian national daily Asian Age's Poetry Contest in 2001.

His poems are included in the anthologies These My Words: The Penguin Book of Indian Poetry (Eunice de Souza and Melanie Silgardo, editors), Mind Mutations (Sirrus Poe, editor), The Bigbridge Online Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry (Menka Shivdasani, editor), The Dance of the Peacock: An Anthology of English Poetry from India (Vivekanand Jha, editor) and in the forth coming Anthology of Poetry for Young People (Jane Bhandari and Anju Makhija, editors) from the Sahitya Akademi, Delhi.

Mustansir Dalvi's 2012 English translation of Muhammad Iqbal’s influential Shikwa and Jawaab-e-Shikwa from the Urdu as ‘Taking Issue and Allah’s Answer’ (Penguin Classics) has been described as ‘insolent and heretical’, while making Iqbal’s verse accessible to the modern reader.

'Brouhahas of Cocks' is his first book of poems in English, published by Poetrywala in 2013.

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