Listen: From Mihir Vatsa to Linda Ashok, six poets under 40 recite their poems on post-globalisation

40 Under 40: An Anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry looks at the post-globalisation years through the eyes of 40 poets — all of whom are under that age as well — writing in English. It has been published by the Mumbai-based imprint Poetrywala. In order to get an idea about what to expect from the future, the anthology fittingly looks at our immediate past.

Here are six poems from the book, recited by the poets themselves.


The Difficulty with Mixing Two Languages Together by Mihir Vatsa

 Listen: From Mihir Vatsa to Linda Ashok, six poets under 40 recite their poems on post-globalisation

Mihir Vatsa

Unfortunately, there were no knights;
but we could do with insurgents. I met one
in a reverie. We sat under a banyan tree,
and talked about remorse. A million
raindrops lonely in a closet. He said he lived
where it was a custom for the children
to smoke coal-dust in joints. I wanted
to stop him, Don’t go there, John!
Don’t follow the traces of despair.
When he left, I thought about the past;
in its storehouse, the presence of three:
columns in the end of Hindi periodicals
encouraging pen friendship, English-medium
textbooks on the desk, and six unsent
letters, hidden together in a book,
to the first English name.


Karma & WWF by Dion D’Souza

Leaning against the table
(one leg wobbly from
a WWF-inspired stunt

pulled by a burly boy upon his feeble classmate) the Marathi teacher,

very fair, very Brahmin,

said she did not believe in the afterlife:
Everything is settled in the here and now.

Dion D'Souza

Dion D'Souza

That still said nothing
of who is keeping score.
Who the anonymous, omnipresent referee,
who, amid much cheering and clanking,
announces the end of a round. And who
heaves up the breathless winner’s arm
upon thudding out the final count.

Or are the tussles without referee?
With us tumbling, free-falling
into the fray, into the ring,

with forces whose might we might

only reckon with, each miscalculated move
also an ingenious one, each wrong

turn also sharply correct—

with life as one long house of levelled mirrors.

The wrestler and his hapless victim each marked time:
the former, a little shaky, dreading the hour

his handiwork would be discovered,
the other, slammed down and now
choking with emotion, awaiting that
when the tables would be turned.

The teacher stood, neck bare,

arms bare, as usual, unsuspecting, yellow
sari draped over her left shoulder, pale,
somewhat frail, speaking plainly, softly.


Diced into Circle by Linda Ashok

Linda Ashok

Linda Ashok

I was barely a teen. A happy face on mother as I stood
confident in my first bra, perfect fit, floral, ready for the
swim. Probably she wanted to freeze that moment, take a
selfie and so, she and I entered a sketch box in the village fair.
Faces placed side by side, cups too… I noted hers were
celadon make, stapled with gold, and mine still aspiring for
the potter’s hands. Today, the sound of a Like wakes me up
with sugar in the eyes. I only doubt if it is father who calls
nostalgia a stupid geometry, even when he’s circled in one.





Baba Yaga by Arjun Rajendran

No one but my cousin found it funny, my story about two boys
under the banyan tree being approached by a figure in white

at an ungodly hour; the apparition, as it turned out, was
Baba Yaga, asking if they’d like curd or tamarind rice? What’s

Arjun Rajendran

Arjun Rajendran

to laugh at, those around pondered, confounded by our inside joke as
we rolled on the floor, repeating the names of those Tamil dishes—

Thayir Sadam. Puli Sadam— in a possessed tone, not caring how
silly we looked. I’d repeat the joke every summer I met him,

always creating the same effect, until a long silence-by then,
we were taller, mature. I moved to another continent

and like a returned bracelet, the witch became all mine to keep;
she’d awaken after some rum, emerge from behind

an Oak, push tiffin boxes under my nose; trembling, I’d bring
a spoonful of rice to my mouth, hear her chuckle in my boyhood voice.


Flashback Sonnet: B-Film Actress Seeks Lost Bastard Child by Ranjani Murali

You were conceived on a beach with flare lamps, fanfare,
rubber horns, bus-halt screech, the hero with a penchant for number-plate

Ranjani Murali

Ranjani Murali

watching, salt-rock, stiff nods from directors wiping
necks with blue-checked handkerchiefs, disco-ball shard light dancing
off haywards 5000s, sambrani plumes from nearby balconies, the clamor

of sundal boys’ cycle bells and aluminum cans,

and even a hunched man taking notes on suitable body
angles. Start roll camera was not a cue for extending bare knee, it was a precise

rupturing of polished prism by an eye of light flecked with raw silica—crystals
wrenched from sheerness, coating the love-scene with an opacity that your fetal,
forming eyes could have never known; you, a springing of cinematic effusions and silicate

songs in the rain, perhaps now bridge-layer, cement-mixer, glass carver, perhaps master
of straight edges or crenelle, or maybe just a construction worker passing by water, seeing
through sand, as my skin did that day: an observation of pure refraction, gaze in glass.


Back in the orchard by Semeen Ali

I bit into a green guava

Hard as it was

The seeds stuck between my teeth

As much as I tried to remove them

They held on


Semeen Ali

Semeen Ali

I had bitten into my first green guava


Amdud I had called it.

I had tried to climb a guava tree

In my mother’s home

My home

The peeling trunk had been of no help

On afternoons that spoke to no one

When people pretended to fall asleep

A soft thud in the backyard

And I the self-appointed policeman

Rushing through long verandahs

To shoo away the “ nasty children”

Would pause to wake up someone

What if I was out numbered?

Evening would come softly

The last song of the koel

Sung while sitting on one of the branches

The futile attempts to climb the guava tree.

Another evening has arrived

The tree is laden with guavas

No appointed policemen required

The house is slowly emptying itself

The inhabitants disappearing

No longer does a koel sing its song here

I pluck a guava to take a bite

It does not taste the way it always did.

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Updated Date: Jun 04, 2016 14:34:08 IST