16 June, 2021

Gently Down The Stream

Kolatkar's last offerings relish carrying mortality's burden

Madhu Kapparath
Gently Down The Stream
In many ways, this is a singular book. A posthumous publication of Arun Kolatkar’s uncollected verse in English (in the original and in translation), it follows fairly soon after the poet’s death in 2004, and represents a real reassessment of the known oeuvre—more revealing, for instance, than the conventionally designed but rewarding volume of A.K. Ramanujan’s uncollected verse published a few years ago. It has none of the solemnity that dead writers’ books have in this country; Vrindavan Dandavate’s metonymic graphic on the cover, with its straight lines and bobbing squiggles, its predominance of blue, sets the expectation of The Boatride into motion. Neither does it have the manufactured air of successful novels; it’s clearly been put together by those who hung out with Kolatkar and adored his poetry rather than a team of marketing men. One can’t think of a more ebulliently material example than The Boatride to suit Auden’s observation on Yeats’s death: "He became his admirers". And it contains more information...

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