24 June, 2021

My Book of the Century

My Book of the Century
In 1976 there appeared from Clearing House, a small publishing co-op in Bombay, a set of 4 books-in square format, priced at Rs 12.50 each, but available to subscribers at half that price. One of the books was Arun Kolatkar's Jejuri. It went on to win a prize, and soon it also went out of print. A 2nd edition was brought out by Kolatkar's Marathi publisher, Ashok Shahane. Subsequently, he brought out a 3rd edition. The print runs were small, and only a couple of bookstores in Bombay stocked the title. For more than 20 years trade publishers have been wanting to bring out Jejuri, a request Kolatkar has consistently turned down. There is no reason to believe he is going to change his mind now. Meanwhile, he continues to write, and his new work is as marvellous as his old was, if not more so. It engages with the world, as only poems can; and it is disengaged from it, as only poems can be. My book of the century, Kolatkar's Collected Poems, is still being written, and won't be widely available, if it ever is, until the next.

(Arvind Krishna Mehrotra is a poet)

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