NORTH-east, normally referred to as ‘insurgent heartland’, comprises of eight states— Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura and is inhabited by a conglomeration of people with different cultures, languages and religions.
This book looks at the uniqueness of the north-eastern poetry which is a consequence of contemporary events and violence especially. Here is a strong rootedness visible in the writing of this region—the roots of the beloved land, the roots of the people’s culture; the roots of the times; and most of all, the roots of the past—all of which are woven into the poetry and provides an opportunity to savour. Those belonging to diverse spaces, cultures, languages and religions, they share a common bond—a sensibility that is defined by a deep connection with the land; the overarching presence of Nature in their lives and predominance of myths and tribal folklore, and the search for an identity. Poems on their love for the land show their patriotism, as also the fact that their land is also The Land of the Half-Humans where you find “for six months just head without body, six months just body without head…” The malaise is what has been called ‘the banality of corruption and the banality of terror’.
The Nepali poet, Rajendra Bhandari describes Gangtok thus:
Sometimes Gangtok loses at mahjong and sighs,
sometimes she wins and rejoices.
In a moment, the heart warms,
the heart dampens.
The rivers dry up in a matter of moments.
The prayer flags keep fluttering
day after night
and night after day.
The Buddha of the Enchey monastery sermonises
the endless epic of
birth, old age and death.
Like the poem The Dancing Earth, the anthology too is a celebration of this life in all its unpredictable variety, richness and contradictions. Redolent of native imagery and forceful yet lyrical cadences, this anthology weaves together a variety of themes capturing the myriad nuances of the north-east.
(Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi-110 017; www.penguinbooksindia.com)