English 285SA. South Asian Poetry

Instructor: Vidyan Ravinthiran
Wednesday, 12:45-2:45pm | Location: Barker 018
Course site

Originally, this course centred poets resident in, and writing from, post-Independence India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It will now also examine South Asian-American and British-South Asian writers. In terms of poets living in the Global South, it will concentrate on those who make a decisive break with the wannabe-colonial, archaically emulous stuff which came before them—doing this with the aid of European modernism, and US poetry’s turn to open forms and a streetwise vernacular: writers like Nissim Ezekiel, Srinivas Rayaprol, Kamala Das, Arun Kolatkar, Dom Moraes, Eunice de Souza, Adil Jussawalla and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra—poets whose politics is inextricable from the aesthetic richness of their work. Moving to the US and UK, we’ll ask if a lineage can be mapped out, connecting practitioners of lyric—Sujata Bhatt, Agha Shahid Ali, and A.K. Ramanujan are examples—with the explicitly racialized, post-lyric, experimental work (encompassing prose poetry) of 21st century authors like Bhanu Kapil and Divya Victor.

Focusing on post-1947 Indian poetry, this course will also glance at Sri Lankan poetry from this period. These poets make a decisive break with the wannabe-colonial, archaically emulous stuff which came before them—and they do this with the aid of European modernism, and US poetry’s turn to open forms and a streetwise vernacular. We’ll read Nissim Ezekiel, Sujata Bhatt, A.K. Ramanujan, Kamala Das, Arun Kolatkar, Dom Moraes, Eunice de Souza, Adil Jussawalla, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, and Agha Shahid Ali—poets whose politics is inextricable from the aesthetic richness of their work.