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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra: From Lahore to Oxford by Way of Allahbad:

Oxford University is to appoint a Professor of Poetry and the nominations are to close next week. Two poets, Derek Walcott, winner of Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, and Ruth Padel, great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, are in the running. And both are considered favourites.

The dark horse and a new entrant in the race is Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, born in Lahore and a Professor at Allahabad University.

After the Poet-laureateship, this 300 year old position is a high profile position and has been held by the likes of W H Auden and Seamus Heaney.

The author of four collections to date, he is supported by writers including Tariq Ali, Amit Chaudhuri and Toby Litt, and was described by one of his nominators, Oxford English lecturer Peter D McDonald, as "one of the finest poets working in any language", and "a poet-critic of an exceptionally high order". Guardian
Here are some excerpts from Mehrotra's Bhojpuri Descant

A servant who knows
The secrets of the house,
A pretty wife,
Spetched clothes,
A wicked king:
They need careful handling.

A shoe that pinches,
A sharp-tongued wife,
The first-born a daughter
An unproductive farm,
A duncish brother:
They cause endless grief.

A spendthrift son,
A cross-eyed buffalo,
A moody ox:
Get rid of them at once.

An ox with six teeth
Will quickly change hands,
An ox with seven
Will butt its owner,
An ox with nine
Will rush in nine directions
And won't spare even the family priest.

One plough is death,
Two's survival,
Three's good business,
Four's a kingdom.

A wise farmer does his own tilling,
The one less wise walks beside his team,
But the farmer who goes looking for tillmen
Forfeits his seed.

Clouds throughout the day,
A clear sky at night:


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