An attentive critique on contemporary reality—modernity, capitalism, industrialization—this first US publication of Mangalesh Dabral, presented in bilingual English and Hindi, speaks for the dislocated, disillusioned people of our time. Juxtaposing the rugged Himalayan backdrop of Dabral’s youth with his later migration in search of earning a livelihood, this collection explores the tense relationship between country and city. Speaking in the language of deep irony, these compassionate poems also depict the reality of diaspora among ordinary people and the middle class, underlining the big disillusionments of post-Independence India.
I looked at the city
and walked in
who would ever want to live her
and never went back.
“The significance of the anthology lies in displaying, between its elegant covers, the striking range of Dabral’s poetic quiver. He is a poet of personal loss and memory as much as of collective grief and rage and of the historical present. He can be restrained and subdued, and also spew volcanic fire. He can dwell long on the most ordinary but also penetrate the vast unseen, whatever the scale. He can speak to the past and to the present on their terms, and to each from the vantage point of the other. . . . This poet can suddenly throw you, astonished, into another space, into another part of the world, into abysses where the only life-thread may be your imagination.”—Biblio: A Review of Books
“Dabral’s work is infused with the sense, as Robert Duncan put it, that 'the drama of our time is the coming of all men into one fate.’ But the work is equally inhabited by the hurdles. This tension is also the core of Dabral’s artfulness—his polemics lean to the side, obliquely, burdened by something more gravely consequential than his singular desire. Consolations are few.”—Ron Slate, On the Seawall
“[Dabral] fulfills the role of a poet as an observer who allows us to see the world through a new set of eyes. He takes ordinary moments or mundane objects and makes them shine in a way they’ve never been shown before...This new [collection] is carefully edited and beautifully produced. The selection of verses will please admirers of Dabral’s work while attracting and inspiring new readers. . . . Both in the original Hindi and in the English renditions, Mangalesh Dabral's voice remains true and honest, an eloquent cry from the mountains that echoes in the city.”—The Hindu
“[Dabrals themes] are so simple they verge on being impersonal: childhood, sunshine, concerns about the future. Nothing here is developed enough to give it an individual character. It is up to the reader to supply the details. This poem, like many of Dabral’s works, escapes from impersonality only when the readers dip into their own memories and enrich the poem with their own associations.”—Words Without Borders
“One should use silence in order to tell about the aesthetics of absence in the poems of Mangalesh Dabral. His is a poetry of displacements inside of personal cities and abandoned oblivions; the duality of the world contained in each open door settles in his eye, as when someone goes away leaving both flowers and beggars behind. The translator of Herbert, Ritsos, and Neruda—Mangalesh Dabral—writes in Hindi and speaks about home, yet brings the dust of the world in among his lines.”—Nikola Madzirov, author of Remnants of Another Age
“In many of [Mangalesh Dabral’s] poems you can still feel the fresh Himalayan breeze and see the observing consciousness of the boy who has come from the village to the big city. Although now a praised and acknowledged poet, Mangalesh’s tone is still unassuming. Although critical as well: Is the world good enough for our children? Is human contact becoming reduced to impersonal communications via cell phones? Mangalesh’s poems are like fingertips that feel out the world and translate what they come across.”—Annette Van Der Hoek, Poetry International Foundation
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2016