Films, Mills, and Poets: Mid-Century Bombay

Poets

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s career so far runs from rebellious ‘little magazines’ in the 1960s to producing magisterial tomes in the present. Mehrotra is a founding donor of the Bombay Poets Archive, held in the Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections. His influential History of Indian Literature in English (2003a, 2003b, 2009) is the authoritative work on the topic. Perhaps Mehrotra’s most enduring legacy is the circle of academic and creative writers he has urged on as contributors to the scholarly tomes, scrappy zines, and the whole nexus of the Bombay Poets and friends.

The Bombay Poets experimented with new ways to use language and with poetry’s presentation too. Anjali Nerlekar’s Bombay Modern : Arun Kolatkar and Bilingual Literary Culture (2016) looks carefully at the work of a poet whose fame has flourished in recent years. Nerlekar points up modernisms of graphics and typography. The covers of the Marathi volumes Bhijaki Vahi and Cirimiri are Kolatkar’s own work, published in scrupulous editions by Ashok Shahane of Pras Prakashan. Atul Dodiya’s contemporary painting of Kolatkar’s poem, “Breakfast time at Kala Ghoda,” carries the Bombay Poets’ experiment forward.

Poet Dilip Chitre and his wife Viju, photographed in Dehu by Henning Stegmuller.
Cover of Vrishchik 1:11-12 (1970) by Vinodray Patel.
Poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra photographed by Rohit Chawla.
Illustration by Gulam Mohammed Sheikh for Arvind Mehrotra's translation of poetry by Kabir.
Poet Adil Jussawalla photographed by Madhu Kapparath.
Klacto, a literary little magazine, featuring William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, 1967