Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Scratch

Arun Kolatkar


what is god
and what is stone
the dividing line
if it exists
is very thin
at jejuri
and every other stone
is god or his cousin

there is no crop
other than god
and god is harvested here
around the year
and round the clock
out of the bad earth
and the hard rock

that giant hunk of rock
the size of a bedroom
is khandoba's wife turned to stone
the crack that runs right across
is the scar from his broadsword
he struck her down with
once in a fit of rage

scratch a rock
and a legend springs

No other Indian poet writing in English(yes, my Bengali brethern, that includes Him too) moves me like Kolaktar does. I do not read much poetry; to me poetry is more of a fad that keeps repeating at regular intervals but you say Kolatkar and I am in. Anytime. This particular poem is one of my favorites in the Jejuri collection. All he needed to see was a scratch to write something so beautiful.

Btw, does anyone know why is it that it is so difficult to find Kolatkar's works in bookstores in India?


Blogger Ludwig said...

Very nice! Kolatkar is mostly excellent, sometimes merely good.

And yes, if someone can enlighten the world as to why his books aren't to be found in Indian bookstores, many will be grateful. Or, someone please just gift me the Kala Ghoda poems.


PS 'Jejuri', is actually pronounced 'Zezuri', if I'm not mistaken. Check with Marathi speaking friend? This is like one of those things Prof. Deshmukh used to say in his lab, "The reading is neglizible, but not jero." One needs to invert appropriately.

3/01/2006 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Falstaff said...

The reason you can't find the Kala Ghoda poems anywhere, is that they're published by this thing called Pras Prakashan which doesn't seem to have any distribution to speak of (at least not outside Maharashtra). If you're really desperate, you could try writing to them, the address is:

Pras Prakashan,
Vrindavan 2B/5, Raheja Township, Malad East, Mumbai 400 097, India.

Alternatively, if you know anyone who's travelling from Bombay, Rhythm House may still have a couple of copies - they seemed to have plenty of stock a couple of months ago, and I can't imagine too many people buy books from there.

3/01/2006 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Veena said...

Lud(Luddo seems much sweeter, can I call you that?): Where is your recording?

Falstaff: Thanks. Will try luck at Rhythm House.

3/02/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Ludwig said...

Its Jezuri apparently. Simultaneously neglizible and jero. What a pass we've come to...

[falstaff] Much thanks for the Pras Prakashan thing. Wonder of wonders, I have a family friend who lives in Malad, in some Raheja thingy no less. He could probably stretch his arm out of the flat window and pick up a copy. Rhythm that the one in Fort? Colaba? I seem to remember blowing some prize money from Malhar '96 at this joint...

[veena] Lud. Luddite. Luddo. Ludovicious. Ludovic 'The Ugly' III, are all grist to this mill.

Ah, the recording. Thought you might've forgotten. Evidently not. Falstaff's URL has been religiously followed and s/w downloaded. Needst take it home, find a mike thingy, some "Ramanov" (for Mayiladuthurai courage), and blabber forth.

PS How wonderful. The "word verification" string below is "uglsx". Sounds like the name of a Motorola phone...

3/02/2006 08:30:00 PM  

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