Sunday, December 18, 2005

Let my life rot in hell, but be world saved

Varnamala: Contemporary Oriya Poetry : An Overview Rabindra K Swain
Radhanath Ray (1848-1908) is the principal architect of the era of initial modernity in Oriya poetry. During the later part of nineteenth century, as in other Indian languages, interaction of the Indian Muse with the Western perceptions starts in Oriya too. With Radhanath modern sensibility enters into Oriya literature. The other noted poets of this period are Gangadhar Meher, Madhusudan Rao and Nandakishore Bal.
In between the eras of “initial modernity” and “neomodernity,” we find the Satyabadi and the Sabuja groups. Gopabandhu Das, Nilakantha Das and Godabarish Mishra are value-teachers in nation-building, life and poetry. Baikunthanath Patnaik is the cynosure of the Sabuja period. Non-Sabuja poets who shine are Kuntala Kumari Sabat, Mayadhar Mansingh, Ananta Patnaik and Radhamohan Gadanayak.
Satchidananda Rautroy is the harbinger of the era of “neo-modernity” in Oriya poetry. As Ramakanta Rath and Haraprasad Das observe, he is the “principal idiom-maker of modern Oriya poeltry.” He has a wide range and a world-view. His phenomenal presence is acknowledged by major poets younger to Rautroy, who have had their own zones since long. This anthology starts with the poems of Satchidananda Rautroy.
A rebel and a romantic, a humanist par excellence, Rautroy has authored numerous works of poetry. His format is mostly sculpturesque, his architectonics neat and elegant. A poet almost having a pact with Time, a poet with macro world-vision and micro attention to details, Sochi Rautroy’s impact has spanned the entire second-half of twentieth century Oriya poetry.
Next to Sochi Rautroy and his peer Ananta Patnaik, it is Guruprasad Mohanty who is reckoned as an icon in contemporary Oriya poetry. With a poetic corpus of hardly twenty poems, he virtually gave up writing. The degree of decadence portrayed in his poems may not be reflective of the reality of Cuttack and Orissa of his times, even his poetry may often mirror too much of Eliot in a desi frame, but the free flowing traits of Guruprasadian lyricism ingrained in his style captivated generations of readers.
Despite his anglicized construct in diction and narration, Ramakanta Rath, especially the early Ramakanta, attracted the attention of critics and younger poets. He has a unique blend of modernist esotericism, sardonic slant and a recurring vein of negation turned into art. A poet of complex man-woman relationship, that borders on oblivion, he has the power of juxtaposing the physical and the metaphysical in a deep dark world of realizations. “I am your husband’s skeleton,” he may tell someone, and “you are my beautiful widow.”
As Jayanta Mahapatra has put it, no major Oriya poet remained wholly uninfluenced by Rautroy, but they have taken different courses in the process of their growth. If Guruprasad remained a “poet of a season” inspiring generations of poets or Ramakanta gradually entered into a mellower world of SriRadha, Sitakant Mahapatra, Soubhagya Kumar Misra and Rajendra Kishore Panda evolved their own diction, a world very much their own.
Sitakant’s vision of a suffering world, perpetually in the process of self-redemption, maintains a strong link with the Oriya tradition and heritage. The ‘sky of words’ has a link with ‘the speckled river.’ A lonesome ‘islander’ may be led towards an ‘oceanization.’
If Sitakant and pre-Sitakant poets tended to be reticent and, often, too undertonal, Soubhagya Kumar and Rajendra Kishore came up with the trait of vigour of Rautroy and, in their own individual ways, charged it with new dimensions and wider connotations. Rajendra refuses to be ‘classified' : “the male, the rebel, the ascetic, the child, the lover, the jester alternate” in poetry, says he. Variegated though, the residual is a positive vision, despite the presentday oddities. He espouses a humanist cause: “Tender is the rebellion;” he is “prepared to bloom with the bud or burst with the bomb, unconditionally," every moment.
Soubhagya is a master micro-observer, turning even trivia into art, enlivened by wit and a racy narrative. His earlier swiftness has turned into sedate subtlety. He continues to take the reader to insightful stumblings. His ‘blind honeybee’ finds honey-saps even in unimaginable founts. Soubhagya and Rajendra, each having distinct ‘creationism,’ have one common point : they have inspired their younger fellowpoets immensely, making them non-hesitant, bold and have ‘oriented them towards poetic freed-speech’ in handling complex and unusual themes. The Oriya poetic diction has become vibrant and resilient in usage and connotation.
Sochi Rautroy’s lineage is very strong. Sitakant, Soubhagya and Rajendra have many peers, with their individual strength. The oracular Dipak Mishra with a strong sense of Clio and other Muses, the automystic Harihar Mishra with his Puri-Mahodadhi waves, the esoteric-intellectual Haraprasad Das with his neo-Charyapadic chants, the creative-errant Kamalakant Lenka with his undying metameaning ramblings, the poet-Adonis J P Das with his neat and symbolic articulations, the eternal adventist Pratibha Satpathy invoking the Lord, Savari-like, or bemoaning the lost child, the ever serene Sourindra Barik : all of them and many others have contributed to Oriya poetry. Jayanta Mahapatra, eminent in Indian-English poetry, has turned bilingual and has published original Oriya poems in several collections. Devdas Chhotray, the truant prince-of-romance, continues his search for evanescent Mallika!
If Brahmotri Mohanty has left the mossyard long back and has entered the sanctum, Rabi Singh continues to combat the forces of exploitation. Brajanath Rath loves both the red and pink colours of creativity. While Mamata Dash unifies subtle love with divine grace, Aparna invokes the passionate reality with unhesitant candour; Giribala’s poetry contains the feministic dissent within poetic limits. Asutosh Parida is a poet of creative dissent, a voice of conscience and humanist commitment.
Among the next generation poets who are both “young and not-so-young,” Amaresh Patnaik, Haraprasad Paricha Patnaik, Abhaya Kumar Padhi, Rohinikanta Mukherjee, Aswini Kumar Mishra, Hrushikesh Mallick, Bhagirathi Mishra, Satrughna Pandab and Aparna Mohanty have evinced their creative talents in variegated utterances. If one is a quasi-surrealist, another is village-nostalgic. Another moves from seerlike chant to populist polemics.
The latest group of poets who have attracted current attention are the young ones. Although universal inference is not always desirable, it seems that they have not absorbed much from their immediate predecessors. Many of them have taken the mantras from seniors, looking back to the generation earlier. But some of them have also looked around, and looked within. The bold approach, the ‘directspeak’ diction, the open-ended observations have been expanded. And, where all these aspects have been charged with flashes of vision, the results have been excellent. Among the emerging voices of this generation are Manoranjan Dash, Akhil Nayak, Pabitra Mohan Dash, Sucheta Mishra, Basudev Sunani, Sunil Prusty, Ajay Pradhan, Manoj Meher, Arupanand Panigrahi and many others. The oozings and cross-movements have been going on. It is premature to predict the courses of the streams and substreams. Back Contents Next

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article on Oriya Poets