These are my selected translations of the contemporary Marathi poetry. Most of them appeared in Live Update: An Anthology of Recent Marathi Poetry edited and translated by me.
POEMS OF MANGESH KALE
Mangesh Kale (b.1966) holds post graduate degrees in Hindi and Mass Communication and Journalism. He is into printing and publication. He assists in editing `Shabdavedh’. His collection of poems `Mangesh Narayanrao Kalechi kavita’ (2001) is brought out by Lokvangmay Gruh. The poems given here have appeared in Shabdavedh and Abhidha Nantar. His next collection will be published in the near future.
I) While Prompting an Actor stuck in a Soliloquy
After you grate a person,
he becomes a pumpkin
or if his skin is as hard as a bark of a tree
and that the pen leaks on the paper at any time
and spills profusely on the blank-paper-like life
-khoon ke mafik
If one doesn’t have anything with him,
he properly intones Jana gana mana
and by letting out a jet of torrents of the colossal living
he wishes to relieve himself
even if one drives the nail of this possibility
deep down into this mediocre culture
even then he can’t escape his predicament
of painting the face or receiving claps .
An actor is a flimsy thing.
Even after knowing this the prompter does not wait for anyone.
He is ecstatic.
When the flimsy actor receives an applause
suppose if the tip of the sharpened pencil
turns out to be as thick as a man
the vortex of fantasy may whirr as much as it wants to
but an actor has to come back to man’s house
The actor reacts to himself in the four walls of the house
or the walls prompt him
The actor is a thing
or an object `a’.
Physically he has some sort of existence.
Even if one accepts this fact
he needs a text :
the text that can’t survive without the chaos of characters on the stage
or the one which dissolves in human traffic.
The actor can’t go beyond the categories of humanness,
even then the actor manages to go beyond man
the actor is an ongoing diurnal process .
If the audience can accept this principle,
how serenely can the actor live.
The actor is lost, lost in soliloquy.
Man is lost, lost in the actor.
The prompter’s existence thins out in these two entities
and the actor continues unruffled
to present himself as a human being.
The actors are thronging the stage.
With their paper arrows of words
they want to aim at each other.
This won’t of course hurt anyone
but it results in the audience moistening their eyes.
This is the trick which the director has taught the actors.
The director doesn’t come on the stage.
He stands on the invisible platform and plants words:
the words which don’t have any smell
or whose utterance doesn’t wake up the audience
even then with the quiver of paper arrows
slung on his shoulders
the actor continues to go before the audience.
II) A Hymn of the Left-handed Way
A cattle flea breaks out of the word.
All the four Vedas concealed under ant’s armpits.
The poet looks for the phases of the fifth Veda
in the sodden crowd of general ward.
A kid born due to a vow to the god,
a midwife is lighten and eased by a pregnant woman
and wooden biro catches hold of the poet by ear
and makes him write the alphabet,
Now language will come into the poets’ naked magical snare,
Only the first letter has to be written,
The house is feeling icy.
So the man is getting warmer by becoming a heater.
Man’s ice is formed
in woman’s defroster.
The schoolchildren are taking the bottles of wines to the school
as if they are mineral water bottles .
The blackboard runs after the chalk
to get written on
and the god’s duster has turned useless .
One can’t wipe anything with this bloke
As he cant take
the line that have appeared in front of his glasses,
the poet is making confessions in the poetry book,
O dear Radha! It is difficult to become
and the music of flute doesn’t work in Gokul these days either.
How many ailing Kanhas are in a queue
standing staggered and misspelt?
The bid of wholesale milk has come down
from the Age of Silver to the Age of Market
available for a song.
Many of our generations
are gushing out of balloons.
The coat of everyone’s Image is being formed
on the pan of Imagination.
Man will enter the mammoth vulva of language
and reach right up to the sea
where language has turned salty and wet
without being uttered.
III) From the Conjunctional Jungle of the Story of one’s Life
There is that one empty room.
There is that one empty man.
There is that one empty near him.
There is that one empty left empty
who is never full
who never overflows
who is never full up to the brim.
The one whose fullness is subtracted easily from emptiness.
One who’s constant desire to be full
Creeps through the empty
Once you accept the fact that he is a biography
the pages of present past and future
have to be read.
Suppose he has kicked a donkey hard
on one of the pages of past
or on the other page of present
the donkey has given him a resounding kick
on his ass,
then in the future he is riding on the donkey’s back,
going with immaculate love
through the conjunctional jungle of the story of his life.
One has also to read this way
while leafing through a biography.
He is tired of continuous walking.
The pages have turned brittle by continuous turning,
without putting a finger on the page.
The page is tired of continuous walking.
He has walked across the pages.
These descriptions are officially correct.
To verify these, what is the need of reading
A bania’s biography?
When hoping to find something from book’s barrack
a poet a writer or a similar biographer
or any official artist etc.,
always or sometimes
frenziedly flips through the pages
then what conclusions he has drawn:
e.g. behind a handful of Marathi writer’s novels
is one Western novel
or behind the fat and famous poetry collection
are many lyrics the poet writer painter artist etc.,
has read before
or the milkman’s bill or the newspaperman or similar creditors list
Biographies, calendar’s square-wise
keep spilling into the squares of national holidays
for days together.
Then the biography manages to stretch out its legs.
It is overwhelmed and breathes freely.
Then the biography has a face.
The face has a name,
then such and such address phone pin code and so on,
In short that face has a proper postal address,
One can’t reach any biography’s courtyard
directly by an auto rickshaw
where its breath is being choked in the squares of letters
even after the calendar’s page is overturned
POEMS OF NITIN KULKARNI
Nitin Kulkarni (b.1960) is architect by profession. He got his B.Arch Degree from BKPS
I) As Tall As I am
as tall as I am
has been driven into me
right through the centre of my being.
It has gone in from my feet
and entered the palm of my mind.
One leg in the air
One has a buffer of helplessness even then.
I can see your face encompassing the entire sky
in the mirror of memory.
Just as the values collapse
words get more solid
and poetry gets walled in:
this is the rule, isn’t it?
in order to turn out finest doctors
it is necessary to turn out
finest of patients
and so on and so forth.
II) I Open My Eyes in the Morning
I open my eyes in the morning.
Step out of the bed.
Days open nights close.
Auspicious moments days holidays years leaves travels birth
Saved saved saved saved saved saved saved
III) Hats Off
Hats off to my shoes waiting for my next orders.
Hats off to my city which bangs against my forehead in the evening.
One hears heavenly music one hears the world coughing.
Hats off to both the ears.
A bedridden person fights against death
A person not bedridden fights against life
Hats off to both the souls.
Exactly similar hair has come up
On both right and left cheek
Hats off to nature’s symmetry.
A person who can hear is mad, and the sane is stone deaf.
Hats off to nature’s lost balance
Hats off to natures missed beat
POEMS OF VARJESH SOLANKI
Varjesh Solanki works as with an engineering firm in Mumbai. His collection `Varjesh Ishwarlal Solankichya Kavita’ (2002) is published by Abhidha Nantar Publication the poems given here are from the said collection. Besides other prizes, he has won `Vasant Puraskar’ for his collection given by Vasant Sansthan., Savantwadi,
I) Poems of Advertisements
About films: wanted boys and girls for a new TV serial,
smart, young, having a good command over language, contact us
with your photo for the screen test. Earn! Earn! Earn! Ten thousand a month.
A golden opportunity for the unemployed. Education no bar. A company
with American base wants sales boys and sales girls for door to door marketing.
Meet with your bio-data. Vasai: the second Konkan. Green heaven restaurant
just five minutes from the station. Recognized by Sidco. Twenty four water supply.
With ultra modern amenities. Loan facility available. Booking open. Are you depressed?
Take two pills of super deluxe before sleep and experience the power and strength
which you once had. Internet marriage: www.marathilagna.com 45/55 Maratha caste
fill up online forms. Regarding the change of names: I, vithya dagdo gaitonde
from today onwards will be called vikas dagdo gaitonde as per
Maharastra gazette no. xxxx dated xx/xx/xx. sanju, please come back
from wherever you are your mummy and papa are waiting for you. Entire Patil family.
solve the crossword no.514 please don’t send it to our office address or try to contact
our office regarding the same.
Prayer can change your life. Meet Baba Roshan Bangali. You will get
Any job you want please contact at xxxxx a choice in your hands.
Security in your hands. Swadeshi apnao! Desh bachao! Lost: a brown coloured
resin bag along with mark sheets and leaving certificates. If found please return to
the address mentioned below. You will be suitably rewarded. Get rid of alcohol addiction
without bringing the drunkard here or informing him. Restore the peace in the house.
`Vada Pav' a drama about the contemporary political situation. Actors: the usual ones.
date xx/xx/xx evening 6.30 pm Azad Maidan. Abortion in just Rs.90/- you will be
back by evening. Virar. Akkalkot Maharaj Bhajani Mandal at 7.45 . Jai hind.
You will get fresh sugarcane juice here. As this wall belongs to the railways
Don’t spew on it or urinate or soil it. If anyone is found doing the same
that person will be liable for punishment under the railways law. Opening
shortly xx coaching classes. Success guaranteed. Vada Pav 3.50/- airtime 1.49/-
filter water avoid grub. jo cahe ho jaye coca cola enjoy. Use nirodh with maids
prevent aids. Don’t park the vehicles in front of this gate. Hawkers prohibited.
no stick bills.
We will accept old newspapers, brass, copper, aluminum waste and torn notes here.
xx road was paved with tar due to the efforts of our indefatigable leader
of our party shri.xxxx.
the appreciative citizens are requested to regard this.
yeh davakhana ees jagah pay tees saal say chaloo hai.
Wanted boys and girls for packing in a plastic company. No conditions
About education or experience. Meet us in working hours. Ground floor
Stove/ burner repairer Raju has gone to his village
so this shop will remain closed for a month.
II) About the bolt on the door of public lavatory which doesn’t work from inside
About the bolt on the door of public lavatory
which doesn't work from inside,
you cannot complain anywhere
instead what one experiences
is intimidation in its noises.
an incomprehensible collage
hanging from the wall of an art gallery
in the engraving on
the walls of lavatory
as if it were a signature campaign
started by the local activists in order to obtain
or reject some official regulation.
One sees the zigzag spew paintings
of paan or tobacco spray on the tiles
one sees all of a sudden
an excellent couplet of Ghalib
in true bambaiya Hindi
as if by forced religious conversion.
When people start stirring or there is flurry outside
then you should understand
that this is the bell tolling for your exit.
III) A poem included for typesetting by oversight
When a poem was just about to germinate in me,
on my door landed
a letter from Mr. Editor
“Read the poems you sent me.
Your poems are very raw and crude.
You need to read more deeply and
you need to have wider experience of life
in order to be able to express yourself.
Can't publish you poems. Sorry."
I smack away
the poem like a cockroach
from my body
and step out .
it seems that even here
you can’t achieve anything without advertisement.
Vasai, Virar : suburbs of Mumbai
Swadeshi apnao! Desh bachao: `use indigenous goods and save the nation’, a slogan
Konkan: south western part of Maharastra known for its greenery.
jo cahe ho ... enjoy : slogan for Coca Cola, enjoy Coca Cola whatever happens.
akkalkot maharaj bhajani mandal : Akkalkot Maharaj, a famous saint. Bhajani Mandal, a troupe of people for singing bhajans or devotional songs
yeh davakhana ... chaloo hai: This hospital runs here from past twenty years
nirodh: condom, a cheap brand by that name.
Vada Pav: a common fast food item
bambaiya Hindi :slang Hindi used in Mumbai
POEMS OF HEMANT DIVATE
Hemant Divate (b.1967) is the president of a reputed marketing firm in the field of advertising. He brought out critically acclaimed `Abhidha Nantar’ a quarterly devoted to poetry from more than twelve years. His collections are `Chautishi Paryent chya kavita’( Prabhat Prakashan, Mumbai, 2001) and `Thambtaach Yet Nahi’. The collection is also available in English translation entitled `Virus Alert’. It is translated by the famous poet and translator Dilip Chitre. Abhidha Nantar is also into publishing collections of poetry. He has won many prestigious awards like Bharat Bhasha Puraskar, Vishakha Puraskar. email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The translations offered here are mine.
How much can you accommodate
in such a tiny hard-disk?
A worm finds its way
from here to there.
toward the entire body.
The brain within the brain
From the face however
stares a screensaver.
Within me the data
has gone corrupt.
I am a leaf scraped
from a tree
a book shredded
or am I neglected painting `Myself 2000'
in the contemporary art exhibition in the Jahangir
or am I my own kid
waiting for the balloon
tossed from the sixth floor
I have crept
into our child
he curses `bhanchod'
or how exactly can he rattle off
the names of the medicines
when he falls ill
-he who had never fallen ill.
Don’t whack him
under the ears.
I m scared
I won't pamper myself.
Just let me think for a while.
Just let me listen to my own voice
his voice on the phone saying `Babaaaaa...'
II) And even here he gets fucked
You gave me the password
for laughing weeping
using and getting used
and I became human.
I now live in an e-world
whose naturalness I no longer trust.
When I take air in
and throw it out,
I hardly realize
when it becomes breath,
Likewise, when I trickle from space
into cyber space
along with the sound of the cursor
and try to reach the given address
I don't find you there.
One more relationship is dragged away
into the junk mail.
You are my e-language.
You are my e.
I exist because you exist.
If you did not exist, I would not have existed.
Because of you now
I have culture.
If you were not there
I would never have got
Your cultural gown
is lifted due to global gust of wind
as I put my finger in your navel
I don't smell of sweat
I get a cultural shock
and I dance enthralled
to your tune.
Now even my gown if blown
and my placenta
I used to fetch from katodya tribal's dwellings
tamarind mango cashew nuts berries
target birds with my sling
and with my school bag abandoned on the bank of river
dive myself happily .
How alive I was then!
or am I debarred as if I never have germinated?
Now I get into this computer software
and grope for the world.
Grope for my culture within the dot coms
and voice my appreciation from a racing car
for the india.com hoarding on the fly-over .
Even today people in moth eaten underwear
and damaged slippers with tin tumblers
in their hands
squat on the public railway tracks
The 30 by 20 advertisement of my culture
is really great.
run into e's:
e mail internet e commerce e banking
Mumbai hungama.com, yahoo.com, chaipani.com
khujli. com, gandmasti.com and so on.
This global marketplace
right into our homes.
One for two one for two
sell the old mobile phone at the cost of new
buy maruti at your price
visit the site and be rich.
Cultural convergence of the black and white on sex.com.
e services free for life time.
Your free address in 10 MB.
You can lay anything in 10MB.
Forward this email to ten more people and be happy!
If you don't you will be unhappy.
No more this fucking business no more.
Mumbai closed, work stopped.
For tomorrow's news today
e address e culture e virus e corruption
e illness e here e there
Everywhere e e e e e.
and Hemant Dayanad Divate
no longer belongs to anyone
he belongs only to this e world
only here he has a place.
When he is taken to a nook
and fucked he doesn't say `e..e...e...e..e'
He says ` mommeeee...'
bhanchod: a common curse, literally sister fucker
Dayawan: a popular film, here reference to a steamy kissing scene between the actors Madhuri Dixit and Vinod Khanna
Jahangir: a prestigious art gallery in Mumbai
Khujli : itch , Gandmasti : literally `anal fun’
katodya: a tribal community
Samadhi: the ultimate ecstasy during the consciousness of absolute Truth
Vishkanya: a mythical Poison woman, nourished on poison, believed to be used for royal assassinations in the ancient times.
A POEM BY PRAFUL SHILEDAR
I) Before embarking on my autobiography
I futilely wandered all over
looking for all the signs of my being.
I went around collecting all the evidences
of intimacy and distances.
I actually hung a magnifying lens around my neck,
and examined as I passed
each footprint on the road.
I scrutinized every thing that I could lay my hands on
and investigated minutely for fingerprints.
In test tubes, I collected samples
of the air from various places
seeking out the signs of sighs.
I flashed powerful torch lights
to search for the multicolored bits of my dreams
in the dense darkness of hundreds of nights
of my previous births.
I rummaged through thousands of files
for getting exact descriptions;
Bookmarked hundreds of tomes
Inspected old photo albums
for a recent picture or a photograph from my childhood.
I even broke into cyberspace
with a hope of coming across a website or two.
I rummaged through all the cabinets of my brain,
and dug up the heaps and heaps of seconds
slogging hard for the details
I completely squashed Time
I simply crushed my days and nights.
Now on the slow flame of language
I bake my bhakri by turning it over
before commencing a comprehensive autobiography.
A POEM BY ARUN KALE
During the riots they looked at my ears
`Seems to be one of us' they said and let me go.
I remembered Karna from the talk about ears
from Karna, I remembered
I remembered the religious reasons behind the riots.
Houses had different colours
lament after lament .
The vigilant ears of the riots
were falling down here......
A POEM BY SANJEEV KHANDEKAR
Sanjeev Khandekar is a well-known Marathi poet, writer, and visual artist. His first book Sankalp (1982) was an edited collection of essays by social activists in Maharashtra.It was awarded the Marathi Sahitya Parishad award. His second book Ashant Parva (Season of Unrest) (1992) was novel that has come to be considered a milestone in Marathi literature: it deals with the struggle of constructing a politically sensitive self in post-industrial
Death of the Search Engine
(Error number not given)
Dark as a forest, a gigantic engine
Naked and sprawling
Gaping wide its mouth and
Vomited logic, dry was the slaver.
Search, search, how much I searched
This globe this sky this universe
Processing and information
In the waste bin, cultivating earthworms.
Thus came looking
My agony perpetual
The sky parted its lips
Molten were meanings of my words.
How many stairs have I descended
But forgot all my sums
How shall I turn back now
Someone erased memories of my village.
Where are the rootages, where are my ariel roots
Where are the branches, the flowers, and the fruits?
Nowhere now can I sink my pot,
Inadequate now is my receptacle.
Where is my address, my name too is come away
My village is underwater, to surface in my art
All my numbers and letters
Are a handful of bones and seashells.
He knew exactly where it would hurt the most
For instance, if one punches nose
Or under the eyes or smash the head.
Or you could give a terrific blow
On the neck or throat, like a knife.
Or batter the breast.
Or if one would jab the stomach
Or give a stabbing kick
On the lower abdomen
Even if one would just sharply flick the balls
The pain would surge right up to the head.
So he punched and smashed to pulp
There and then itself. That’s that.
He made a list of such spots whole-heartedly,
He drew figures of these places.
He painted them
And hung them in the front.
His boss saw them and glared.
Then the boss whisked away the paper
Then the boss crumpled the paper
The boss scrunched up the paper repeatedly.
Then the boss turned it into pulp. And flung it away.
So he made a penis out of it
And put it on his nose like a clown.
The boss said, this is not a cock it is a horn.
People said yes yes it’s a horn.
Then an eye grew on the horn.
It turned 360 degrees and set before the very eyes
Like the setting sun.
‘Market is heartless’ everyone said.
He nodded and so the cock nodded too.
People said see see the horn is nodding.
The boss said, how rude of you to shake your horn at me!
The boss whisked away the cock
Made a ball out of it
And threw it away into the dustbin.
I picked it up in the evening.
I put into the shredder in the routine way.
The shredder ran all the night.
He too ran all the night.
It sliced in the way
It blew the shreds in air
As it usually does.
As if they were stars in the moon light.
I even gathered them.
Every day I flew each moonbeam like a kite.
The boss said ` Bravo! Bravo! Well done!
I said that’s the secret of promotion
A POEM BY MOHAN BORSE
Mohan Borse (1961) is a commerce graduate and works in the State Bank of
We are Introducing a New Concept in Market
We are introducing a new concept in market
Doctor, I have an unmanageable itch.
I have red abrasions
Due to incessant scratching.
I don't know
What epidemic is this?
Everyone is scratching their head, back, hands, feet, loins.
Shopping centres are overflowing with medicines.
The newspapers are abound
With the advertisement of government schemes.
The atmosphere is smoggy
Due to the smoke from sacramental fires.
Can’t even see the person beside us.
All the flats are closing their doors, doctor.
One can only hear the screaming from MTV
One can only hear the slogan ‘Yeh dil mange more'.
The news about the starvation deaths
Is smothered in the corner of newspapers
Now I no longer feel
Of scratching my loins
In the midst of a crowded street
A POEM BY NITIN ARUN KULKARNI
Nitin Arun Kulkarni, born 1967 is a painter and art critic. He has Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (Painting) from Sir JJ School of Arts, Mumbai (1988), and is presently pursuing his MA in Ancient Indian Culture from Mumbai Open University. He has won many awards for his paintings and held many exhibitions in Mumbai and elsewhere. His collection of poems Pahilya Kavita (2001) is brought out by Lokvangmay Gruh, Mumbai. Presently he is working as a full time faculty in National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Mumbai.
The colour of jockey shorts, the last appendage
Of my jockey shorts
Put out for drying.
Spongy double chin
Below the folds
The putrid fuzz
Of the thighs, holes
The muscles of elastic
Loose and tattered
The deep red colour
The slopes, the waves, the lines
Show the elevations, plains and dells of
The buttock and the member
From the planes to the heights
Just like a map
Of a continent
Folded and set up on the cords
To be dried.
TWO POEMS BY SALEEL WAGH
Salil Wagh, born 1967. His collections of poems include Salil Waghchya Kavita and Sadhyachya Kavita. He has translated poems of Samsher Bahadur Singh into Marathi.
The Poem Number Zero
Don’t try to
read this or
make a sense of it
this is a dummy copy
don’t try to read this or ma
ke sense of it
this is a dummy copy don’t try
to read this or make a sense of
it this is a dummy copy don’t try to
read this or make a sense of it this is a dummy copy
don’t try to read or make
a sense of it
this is a dummy
copy don’t try to read this
or make a sense of
it this is a dummy copy
don’t try to read this or make
of it this is a dummy
copy don’t try to read this or make a sense of it
this is a dummy copy don’t try
Like a journey
From the yield point to the maximum stress
Charted on the graph
Showing the stress-strain relation
Of a loaded wire.
all the boundaries of eveningness
There is this haste
Or else one digresses
Even before uttering a word,
Simple glances are interpreted as opinions.
State of spiritual absorption turned into a pond
It wakes up from exceptions.
In the evening when the Word of words sets,
The expanse of meanings open:
It is from here that my story gathers momentum
With all its ultimate material.
I always prefer
To write on a lined paper.
I cannot brace
The open void
Of the blank paper that rushes at me.
I draw the lines if there are none.
The reasons for this
are my fucking handwritings.
They can’t remain alone at equal distance
In a straight-line right from the beginning.
The first letter and the second hardly match.
The curves, the vectors of the strokes
Keep on changing like me even now.
If there is no gravitational pull
My basically itinerant handwriting
Runs at the brisk pace of my brain
Then cracks and disintegrates.
My loving touchy coquettish letters
Dart around madly
They forget to which word they belong.
They become uneasy and edgy
They can’t understand
What are they supposed to do?
They can’t understand their own rhythm of dissolution,
Their own ultimate liberation.
Therefore I always
Decide to write on a lined paper.
A POEM BY MALIKA AMAR SHEIKH
Malika Amar Sheikh is a reputed writer in Marathi. Her various collections, including Valucha Priyakar, Mahanagar and Deharutu, have met with wide critical acclaim. She is also well known for her highly controversial autobiography, Mala Udhvasta Vhaychai. A collection of her short fiction and poetry is due to be published later this year.
She doesn’t have arms
Her vision utterly dead
She stands in a showcase
She manages to cling
To the rocky robes of culture
Between her legs
And stony lips
Women in the cities melt
Turn into statues of Venus
A primeval woman
Lets out a stony scream
The city collapses
At her feet
Throwing the sky