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A look at Arun Kolatkar
|by K.S. Subramanian|
Some poets tend to be too inward looking, so much so that they are too hesitant to acknowledge their poetry, let alone publish them. Gerard Manley Hopkins of Britain in the 19th Century never saw his poetry in the reflected glow of print and was published posthumously. That was sad in a way because the author never knew that he was being read by the British literati, debated and even dissected. A pastor that he was his outpouring was a result of intense soul-searching and persistent belief that he was not living up to his faith. And his language was too complex and outlandish that few ventured to read them, let alone grasp what he said.
A depressing scene and the poet (or any one else for that matter)is forced to shrug off his indifference and concede “And you are reduced to so much small change in her hand.” If one reads his ‘Low Temple’ it is almost hilarious in its black humour. What beats your incredulity is the greater credulity of the priest who insists that the deity of your devotion is an ‘eight-armed goddess’ when you think that she has eighteen. In between runs a skein of sneer in the line “A sceptic match coughs.” But the rounding off in the ending brings out the bleak picture in its totality.
His two poems on Chaitanya, the famous Bhakti bard, are metaphorical reminders of the impermanence of his influence. In a nutshell they hit your evanescent sensibility where it hurts.
Jejuri was his utopia though he had an abiding love for it despite its backwardness, pastoral settings and the tradition. The other poems 'Heart of ruin' and Makarand have a skein of scintillating black humour of an agnostic though Kolatkar was openminded on God and religions. A ruined temple of Maruti is of no consequence to the onlookers or visitors except for a bunch of mongrel's puppies ensconced there. Abandoned, yes but provides shelter to some form of life is the essence of the poem. Similar elements run through two other poems "Station Master" and 'Indicator' where what strikes the reader more is the flow of time over which no one has any control or awareness. Kolatkar seems to have a resigned acceptance of the ultimate truth that meanings are what one makes of life.
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