07 August 2009

Not mere fashion

Online discussions allow readers to give initial reactions to a work, pointing the way to literary theorists with more time to reflect. The thread in Another Subcontinent in January 2008 highlights an issue that a multilingual literary critic must face, namely, when a word is available in the writer's mother tongue, should the writer use a word in some other language?

"Sadly," writes one of the participants in the thread, "most of the discussions committed by the participants on this very thread lead to mark us as if we both are against the new trends, inevitable usage of multilingual form, and not in mood to allow the poet to use his/her genius while composing a particular poem. I, for me, just cannot beckon my flag in signaling as if its red-mark anywhere; because I am of the strong believer in writer’s total freedom. What I found in Indiego’s poem was the use of a particular term (wrench) in a deliberate form. She could have used this very word in her other work where reader might have gotten the feeling of appropriate use; but somehow I failed to see the usage in any relevance other than poet’s insistence in using multi-usage. Even Ehasaas is there as if pulled to make the poem in more fashionable manner, rather than illustrating pure need. I believe Indiego writes in beautiful manner, giving free reins to her inclinations and using words just as they come to her mind, irrespective of language. As a follower of new poetry and student of literature, I find her poem showing a keen sense of form and structure, and a special concern for the use of the right words in the right place. In other words, she could have written this in pure Marathi language in more expressive manner discarding question of 'new trend' in using multi-languages. I believe that a poet should labour to find the right words of the original language just as that great quotation of a beautiful girl goes, 'We must labour to be beautiful.' Here, once again, I would like to admit wholeheartedly that I am not favoring the poetry written only in conventional style measuring the various poetic meters; but would wish to see the usage of multi-languages in poem in natural form, not in deliberate attempt for the sake of keeping the wind of new trend."

It cannot be denied that some multilingual poets use "foreign" words out of whim or a desire to impress, but it cannot also be denied that some (if not most) multilingual poets have more serious artistic intentions (note my repeated references to T. S. Eliot's use of French). There is no doubt that we should worry about form, structure, and other language-independent aspects of a poem, but we should also study the language-specific aspects, such as the interaction of the sound of the word in its original language and the sound it makes in the language of the poem.

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