Sahitya Akademi publishes a book-length poem ‘Monsoon’ by Indian poet-diplomat Abhay K

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Book jacket of Abhay K poetry release by Sahitya Akademi. Photo Twitter @TheAbhayk

New Delhi – Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters has published a book-length poem ‘Monsoon’ by Indian poet-diplomat Abhay K on the occasion of its 68th anniversary.

Monsoon is a poem of 150 stanzas of 4 lines each (quatrain/ruba’i) that commences its journey in Madagascar and follows the path of the monsoon invoking the rich flora and fauna, languages, cuisine, music, monuments, landscapes, traditions, myths and legends of the places through which monsoon travels and acts as a messenger to carry the poet’s message from Madagascar to his beloved in Srinagar in the Himalayas.

Monsoon originates in Mascarene High near Madagascar in April and journeys across the Indian Ocean and the Indian subcontinent to reach the high Himalayas in June every year before retreating again to Madagascar after September.

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Monsoon introduces the reader to the rich beauty and splendor of the islands of Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius, Seychelles, Mayotte, Comoros, Zanzibar, Socotra, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Andaman & Nicobar and the Western Ghats, Aravalis, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Sundarbans, West Bengal, Bihar, Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir Valley, their flora and fauna, cuisine, festivals and monuments as monsoon travels through these places. It weaves the Indian Ocean islands and the Indian subcontinent into one poetic thread.

Dr Katherine Schofield, co-editor of Monsoon Feelings and senior lecturer at King’s College London writes, “bhay K’s Monsoon is an extraordinarily lush work, full of multisensory textures of the monsoon as it leaps across the Indian Ocean. It’s almost edible if that is not too strange a thing to say, but the sensations it evokes are as much visceral as they are imaginative.”

Poet Pritish Nandy notes, “Abhay K’s Monsoon is simply magical. Loved the sheer beauty of it all. The read transported me to another world. He is truly an amazing poet”, while Irish poet Gabriel Rosenstock says- “There is a lushness and unapologetic voluptuousness in Abhay K.’s Monsoon which reminds us strongly of the immortal ancients.”

Poet Abhay K says, “Translating Kalidasa’s poems Meghaduta and Ritusamhara inspired me to write Monsoon which seemed a perfect messenger to me carrying my message from Madagascar to Srinagar.” He adds -“Monsoon has the same backdrop of two separated lovers longing for each other as in Meghaduta. While Meghaduta covers the journey of clouds from Ramagiri hills in central India to the mythical city of Alkapuri near Mount Kailash, Monsoon covers a much wider canvas stretching from Madagascar to the Himalayas. Meghaduta has 111 stanzas of four lines each written in Mandakranta meter, whereas Monsoon is a quatrain or ruba’i of 150 stanzas written in free verse.”

Abhay K is the author of ten poetry books including Monsoon (Sahitya Akademi, India, 2022) The Magic of Madagascar (L’Harmattan Paris, 2021), The Alphabets of Latin America (Bloomsbury India, 2020), and the editor of The Book of Bihari Literature (HarperCollins India, 2022), The Bloomsbury Book of Great Indian Love Poems (2020), The Bloomsbury Anthology of Great Indian Poems (2019), New Brazilian Poems (Ibis Libris, Brazil, 2019) and CAPITALS (Bloomsbury India, 2017).

His poems have appeared in over 100 literary magazines including Poetry Salzburg Review, Asia Literary Review among others. His poem ‘Earth Anthem’ has been translated into over 150 languages. He received SAARC Literary Award 2013 and was invited to record his poems at the Library of Congress, Washington DC in 2018. His translations of Kalidasa’s Meghaduta (Bloomsbury India, 2021) and Ritusamhara (Bloomsbury India, 2021) from Sanskrit, have won KLF Poetry Book of the Year Award 2020-21.

Sahitya Akademi was established on 12th March in 1954. Its logo was designed by Satyajit Ray and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was its first President. The first book published by the Academy was Bhagwan Buddha by D.D. Koshambi in 1956. It was a translation from Marathi into Hindi.

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