restricted access Epilogue: No Singular Truths
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213 Epilogue: No Singular Truths In the genre of poetry, Bombay Modern offers an alternative locus for scholarly study to that of fiction in South Asian and postcolonial studies. Bombay Modern reads sathottari poetry as textual concatenations of the rhythms of publishing, of literary gatherings, of translation practices of the new nation, of the bilingual and multilingual energies unleashed by the Samyukta Maharashtra agitations and the Ambedkar movement, and of the global literary, artistic, and popular cultural movements and events that seeped into the membrane of Bombay. It shows how the poem becomes the unit of the modern rhythm of postindependence Bombay. Through its emphasis on material practices of reading and a bilingual method of interpretation, Bombay Modern asks for an expanded ring of interpretation and a double vision of literary history. This book draws the circle around the bilingual life of Bombay, with a circumference that goes well beyond the accepted boundaries of the conventional mapped line of the city. It also presents the sathottari period in poetry to illustrate how familiar categories (of modernism, translation, little magazines) materialize in contingent and local processes, an alternative modernism that constantly fluctuates between the global and the local. In an unpublished draft from the Kolatkar Papers, the poetic speaker talks about himself in the context of the world’s literary figures: “I was born the year Hart Crane killed himself / Nine years after Ulysses was burnt / three years after Auden published his first collection.” This 214  ❘  Epilogue awareness of global writing worlds is an important element of Kolatkar ’s poetry and of the writing of the rest of his contemporaries. But in the unpublished Kolatkar Papers I also found another fragment that states a somewhat different sentiment: eliot pound both hard found dante donald hall spender goethe take my poets you can take them all take my poets yeats and goethe  . . .  if your old guitar is still around will you trade it for my yeats and1 ezra pound Kolatkar likes to do this—he likes to shatter idols, even his own. This fragment shows that the poet does not leave any myth standing and will not allow any pedestal to stay intact. In an early Marathi poem from Arun Kolatkarchya Kavita, this time using religious idols as the metaphor, the poet says: an tuze ganapati sod majhya dolyat rangena ubhe raha mhanava sagalyancha visarjan karanaray2 The short poem refers to the big annual festival of Ganesha/Ganapati in Bombay where idols of Ganesha are installed under public canopies, and at the end of the seven- to ten-day festival the idols are taken out in a noisy procession on the road to the beach where they are slid into the seawater accompanied by loud chants. In this poem, “Ganapati,” Kolatkar’s speaker asks the world to “bring your ganeshas” (an tuze ganapati) and to glide them presumably in the rivers of his eyes (sod majhya dolyat). The speaker says he will take care of the queued ganeshas (rangena ubhe raha mhanava) and bid them all a ritual good-bye by drowning them (sagalyancha visarjan karanaray); his irreverent eye will take in and dislodge all unquestioned dogmas. The attempt in Bombay Modern is to uncover that other story of Kolatkar and of sathottari poetry, to take down the dogma of easy global cosmopolitanisms within which all discussions of modern Indian poetry is framed, and to show the transregional joints of both English and Marath poetry. Epilogue  ❘  215 The book calls for a double vision of literary history, like that of A. K. Ramanujan’s poem: “Adjust my single eye, rainbow bubble / so I too may see all things double.”3 It asks for a focus on close readings and individual writers but also an engagement with the larger multilingual world of material practices that by turn enables, hinders, and cathects the individual texts of literature; it proposes a study of the multilingual world’s literature through a non-singular literary methodology that addresses multiple languages and their social and material histories as contexts for each text. And the book asks for a dual focus on the textual and the material processes that constitute the meaning-making universe of the book. Very often, an individual writer is read in isolation, from his cohort, his period, his surroundings and canonized as a unique appearance in the literature of a region. Bombay Modern draws the line beyond the poet as an individual writer to include the messy material locations of his writing and the complex...


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