What was Dinkar's caste

The Blooming of the Backyard - Part II

Since the 1970s, the democratic tradition in India blossomed like never before due to the emergence of the democracy movement and the increasingly self-confident appearance of voices that had previously been marginalized.

The voice of the Dalit

Dalit poetry has become mainstream in Kannada, Marathi, and Gujarati, and shows its distinct presence in languages ​​such as Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam. It is no more than a mere sign of the desperation and resistance of the Dalit communities, which for thirty centuries saw themselves at the bottom of the caste system, but also a self-affirmation of the values ​​of the Dalit and of the legitimate claims that democracy makes guaranteed to all ethnic groups. The movement produced an extraordinarily innovative poet like Namdeo Dhasal in Marathi, and was enriched by the contributions of legions of poets like Siddalingaiah on Kannada, S. Joseph, Vijila and MB Manoj on Malayalam, Sivsagar, J. Gautam, Maddoori Nageshbabu, Paidi Thereshbabu and Satish Chander in Telugu, Anpathavan, Yakkan, Bharati Vasanthan, Puthiya Matavi and Idayavendan in Tamil, Soorajpal Chauhan, Om Prakash Valmiki, Mohandas Naimishrai, Susheela Taksore, Asang Ghosh and Kusum Meghval in Hindi, Santjit Ramdas Khader and Lalsingh Dil in Punjabi, by Marathi poets like Baburao Bagul, Arjun Dangle, Daya Pawar, JV Powar, Arun Kamble, Arun Kale, Sharan Kumar Limbale, Prakash Kharat, Arun Chandra Gavli, Dinkar Manwar, Mahendra Bhavre, Asha Thorat, Meena Gajbhiye, Urmila Pawar, Jyoti Lanjewar and Kumud Pavade and Gujarati poets such as Harish Mangalam, Yoseph Macwan, Mangal Rathod and Kisan Sosa, to name a few. Poets like Meena Kandasamy's have translated Dalit poetry into English.

The Dalit poets developed their own aesthetic, which not infrequently speaks out against the devaluation of traditional poetics when they use expressions earlier than gramya (rural), chyutasamskara (culturally corrupt) and ashleela (obscene) frowned upon, and when they were through dhwani (Hints) and ouchitya (Correctness) to question rules and norms. They introduced a complete vocabulary full of local dialects, slangs, gutter language, and little-known idioms and words into poetry. They re-mapped the map of Indian literature by discovering and exploring so many previously unexposed areas of the experience. Through this purifying renewal, the Dalit writers also had to overcome the deadlock that threatened many literatures. They succeeded in reviving myths, rereading the epics from the perspective of Sambooka or Ekalavya and thereby undermining the ideas of poetry and poetic language that were prevalent in the middle class. Anthologies like Poisoned bread (Marathi poetry, edited by Arjun Dangle, Orient Blackswan, 2009) No Alphabet in Sight, Steel Nibs Are Sprouting (with South Indian Dalit literature, edited by K. Satyanarayana and Susie Tharu, Harper Collins, 2011, 2013), Ekalavyas with Thumbs (Gujarati Dalit literature, edited by K.M. Sheriff, Pushpam, Ahmedabad, 1999), The Oxford India Anthology of Malayalam Dalit Writing and The Anthology of Tamil Dalit Writing (various editors OUP, 2012) brought Dalit literature national and international attention.

An example in Malayalam: This is in my sister's bible:
an out of the glue reference booklet,
a loan application,
a card from a cutthroat moneylender
Announcements of festivities
in the church and in the temple,
the photo of my brother's youngest child,
instructions for knitting a baby's hat
a hundred rupee note
a S. S. L. C. book.

That's not in my sister's Bible:
the old and new testament,
the red envelope.

(S. Joseph, My Sister’s Bible, after translation into English by K. Satchidanandan)

The tribal writers

Like the Dalits, tribal societies in India also demanded a right to land and life and tore their history from oblivion. They recognized and realized that it was they who were the first poets, the first philosophers, the first cosmologists, the first villagers, the first inventors of myths, and the first artists and scientists. The Vedas, the Upanishads, and the epics were composed by ancient tribes. Human history was the history of their oppression and alienation from the so-called mainstream. Their story was also one of the battles against foreign occupiers. The Bhils of Gujarat, the Kurichyas of Kerala, and the Santhals of Bihar were the first to rebel against British rule.

It is telling that heroes like Birsa Munda, Siddhu Kanhu, Chand Bhairav, Thilak Majhi, Tantiya Bhil, Khajya Nayak and Rumalya Nayak have no place in official historiography. Vinayak Tumram described the new tribal literature as “the verbalization of primal pain and the mutilated life of the adivasi". The new tribal literature comes into opposition to VarnaSystem that excluded them from society and, on the other hand, represents the ideal of an equal, non-hierarchical, non-exploitative and non-violent society. Prakriti, Sanskriti and itihas (Nature, culture and history) equally influence their writing, and they celebrate the positive tribal values ​​such as camaraderie, sharing, concern for nature.

In addition to Santhali and Bodo, which recently found a place in the eighth appendix of the constitution, there is also a lot in languages ​​such as Bhili, Mundari, Gondi, Garo, Gammit, Bhartari, Mizo, Lepcha, Garhwali, Pahadi, Kokborok, Tenydie, Adi and Ho new literature that appeals through its oral traditions in connection with its mythopoetic imagination and shows itself presently in a completely independent way. Anil Bodo, Ramdayal Munda, Nirmala Putul, Mamang Dai, Paul Lingdoh, Bhujang Meshram and Vinayak Tumram - some of whom write in English - are just some of the master narrators of this tribal literature of resistance and self-assurance.

The nativists and post-modernists

The nativists or desivadi-Authores celebrated cultural pluralism and questioned the hegemonic canons of markets and revivalists in order to paint the image of an India according to their ideas. They believe that our geopolitical and linguistic federalism is being undermined by the everyday practices of the state, and therefore rely entirely on the affirmation of the multiculturalism and heteroglossy that have shaped Indian culture since ancient times. The preservation of the cultural heritage of the Soodras as seen by the kannada-writers Bandaya- Poets Chandrasekhara Patil, P. Lankesh and Siddalingaiah have made the de-Sanscritization of Malayalam the stated aim of poets such as M. Govindan, NN Kakkad (in his later years) and Attoor Ravivarma, the very deliberate use of local Dialects in the work of numerous poets in Malayalam and Telugu, the reference to local history and their poetic traditions, to provincial archetypes, myths and nature in the work of Kadammanitta Ramakrishnan, KG Sankara Pillai, PP Ramachandran, PN Gopikrishnan, KR Tony, P. Raman Anwar Ali, Anitha Thampi, Mohanakrishnan Kalady or Rafeek Ahmed in Malayalam, Arun Kolatkar in Marathi or Kanji Patel in Gujarati, relying on orality and references to rural life in the uttar-adhunik from Bengali poets like Anuradha Mahapatra, Ekram Ali and Amitabha Gupta, the deliberate emphasis on Tamil tradition and identity of Tamil poets like Jnanakkoothan, Manushyaputran, Vallikkannan, Pasuvayya and others, the return to Bhakti for a present-day spiritual discourse like them HS Shivaprakash, SR Ekkundi or Dilip Chitre undertake in their poetry the emphasis on the Meithei story and the landscape of Manipuri by poets such as Y. Ibomchasingh, Thangjom Ibopishak and Saratchandra Thiyam: these are all attempts to restore regional colorations to the cultural map of India which, under the pressure of the market powers and the Hindu theocrats, became increasingly monochrome. Various poets have gone among the bloggers, trying the new opportunities technology gives them to produce hyperlinked poetry and multimedia poetry. Poets like Latheesh Mohan, Kuzhoor Wilson and Vishnuprasad have given new directions to Malayalam poetry. Performance poetry also made a return, revisited by poets such as Jeet Thayil, Anand Thakore, Jerry Pinto and Vivek Narayanan.

See this poem by Anitha Thampi: The back hurts
while the broom sweeps
in the memory, at sunrise
sprouts of earth,
in the front yard
of the house asleep
with deeply closed eyes.

Maybe the rain would have
can loosen the soil
the night before.
Earthworms need him
have stirred up
toiling, probably sleepless, around
to build small earth houses.

Just to be erased
to be spread
in finger strips,
that the broom leaves behind.
After the morning dance
of the sweeper
their backward movement.

Sweeping done
dawn comes
the light comes on, the eyes
of the house open
No footprint,
Leaves not even falling
How clean is it!

The newspaper comes
which the depths of the night
has cleaned, falls
stumbling against the door.
Then she gets up from cleaning the rags so thirsty,
She drinks the coffee with the coffee grounds.

(Sweep the front yard, from a translation from English by K. Satchidanandan.) This is currently the "backyard blooming" period (to borrow a term from U. R. Anantha Murthy) in Indian literature in general and in poetry in particular. The flourishing is not just for literature; it is a reflection of the democratic longings of the subordinate parts of the Indian people, a collective step towards more democracy. Even if these movements cannot be described as postmodern in the western sense, they take place after the heyday of "high modernism" in Indian poetry and share certain characteristics with postmodernism: the emphasis on difference, a distrust of universal generalizations, the blurring of the boundaries between the “popular” and the “serious” in art, a not simple reappropriation of the past, the rejection of a modernist solipsism and the acceptance of polyphony in society as in literary texts and movements.
K Satchidananda is an Indian poet and critic writing in Malayalam and English. He is considered to be the pioneer of modern poetry in Malayalam. He is a bilingual critic, literary critic, playwright, editor, translator and columnist. He was editor of the Indian Literature Journal and secretary of the Sahitya Akademi. Satchidanandan has published 60 books in Malayalam, including 21 volumes of poetry, as many poetry translations, plays, essays, travelogues and four literary critical essay volumes in English. He has received 32 literary prizes, including the Sahitya Akademi Award. He was knighted by the Italian government.
(This is the second part of a two-part essay on Resistance Poetry from India, titled "The Blooming of the Backyard.")
Translation: Nils Plath