(Last Updated on : 07-08-2014)
Modern English poetry in India is one of the many new literatures which began to emerge at the end of the Second World War, after the end of colonialism. Unlike Africa and Caribbean, creative writings, modern Indian poetry in English did not have an obvious direct relationship with the cultural movements that had led to national independence. The emergence of modern English poetry was a part of modernization which included urbanization, industrialization, mobility, independence, social change, increased in communication facilities (in the form of films, television, radio, journals and newspapers), national and international transportation networks, mass education and the resulting paradox that as an independent national culture emerged and it also participated in the internationally modern, usually westernized world.
Gradually with passing time the English language poetry became more Indianized in nature. The change that came about reflected the change in mentality that had ushered in among the Indian poets. Such Indianisation had been proceeding for several generations and is prominent in the poetry of Kamala Das
and Pritish Nandy and present although more nuanced in the work of Keki N.Daruwalla it is more likely to be felt in the verse of Nissim Ezekiel
and Jayanta Mahapatra or in the kind of rapidly expressed ironies found in the poetry of Ramanujan.
The modern poets as a group tended to be marginal to traditional Hindu society not only by being alienated by their English language education but also more significantly by coming from such communities as the Parsis, Jews and Christians or by being rebels from Hinduism
or by living abroad. Many of the writers came from the families that had already been partly westernized or that moved extensively during their childhood.
There are identifiable periods when Indian English poetry took new directions. In the early 1960s poets, like, Kamala Das and Ezkiel, focussed on the actuality of personal and family life; on the other hand, the experimental poetry of Mehrotra, Kolatkar, Nandy, Chitre and Mahapatra began to appear in the late 60s and early 70s. A renewed more detailed satirical and yet compassionate focus on communal and family heritage had become an important trend in the modern English poetry in India. It can be said about the modern Indian poetry in English that with every passing decade an increasing immediacy and heightened awareness of actual Indian experience is noticeable.
In the beginning it seemed that modern Indian verse was indebted to British as well as to a few European models but in the present age it reveals an awareness of most of world literature including contemporary American, South American and older Indian devotional verse in regional languages.
An important characteristic of modern Indian English poems is that they have an openness which is especially noticeable in the middle portions of the poems and the association that is created in the poems is very logical in nature. The narrative which is generally used in the poem has become an experience itself instead of an example in an argument. In modern Indian poetry in English there has always been a confessional tradition which was particularly noticeable in Ezekiel's poetry.
Besides the immediacy, experimentation, openness and self revelation of modern Indian poetry in English there has been noticed an increasing interest in long poems as a means of going beyond the fragmented vision and isolation associated with the short lyric. Such long poems can be called closest modern culture which can come to the shared national and communal values and experience of the classical epic. In fact the distance between the modern sceptical individual and the traditional beliefs of a community is however the subject of this modern equivalent of the epic.