By Aditi Thakker:
The art of poetry has always thrived in India through various poets. They have represented different aspects of the Indian society, and written about relevant issues in various styles. Some of the poets mentioned here are very famous nationwide, while other are more popular in their own regions and languages. Here’s a range of poets who have successfully expressed themselves in the form of poetry through generations, proving that poetry can never be dead. I’m sure that most of us know about Rabindranath Thakur and the beautiful poetry he wrote. By not including his name in this article, I do not intend any disrespect, but wish to shed light on other poets of commendable calibre.
Kamala Das: A victim of child marriage, Kamala Das wrote English and Malayali poetry to express her thoughts after marriage. She wrote strongly about feminism, womanhood and eroticism. She is known for her impeccable presentation of sexual desires of women of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. Her works include, The Sirens, The Annamalai Poems and My mother at Sixty-six.
Harivanshrai Bachchan: He is one the most influential, inspiring and multi-talented poets the world has seen! He wrote in Hindi and English, on various themes. Poetry was not merely a way of expressing his thoughts but also one of understanding the changing times around him. Madhushala, one of his earlier works talks about the importance of having a purpose in life. Although, it is poetry about alcohol and bars, its imagery draws upon the importance to having self-goals and the pleasure of meeting them. His works include, Dhaar ke Idhar Udhar (Two sides of a sword), Lo Din Beta, Lo Raat Gayi (The Day Passed and the Night has Gone) among others.
Nissim Ezekiel: Ezekiel is known to have addressed contemporary issues with a comic angle. He wrote about India in English, addressing issues of corruption, political movements, and inflation in the 1970-80s. His works include, The Night of the Scorpion, The Patriot, and Goodbye Party for Miss Pushpa T.S. Some of his poetry is read with an intentional Indian accent.
Amrita Pritam: By far the most famous Punjabi poet, her poetry has struck an emotional chord with generations of Indians. She originally wrote in Punjabi, focusing on love and romance. Her later works however involve revolutionary and patriotic poetry, as also feminist thoughts. Her works include, Lok Peera (The People’s Anguish) and Punjabi di Awaz (Voice of the Punjabis). Her poem on post-independence violence, ‘I Ask Wazir Shah Today’ is a must read.
Vikram Seth: Vikram Seth is one of the most famous names in Modern Indian poetry. Having studied many languages including German, Welsh and Mandarin, Seth has an international perspective on poetry and his works generally hold global relevance. His poem, ‘All You Who Sleep Tonight’ expresses the plight of people living away from their loved ones. His works include, Mappings and the Beastly Tales, the latter one being for children.
Kaifi Azmi: Considered to be the most famous Urdu poet of the 20th Century, Azmi started his career presenting ghazals. Initially he wrote romantic poetry but soon embarked on socialist thought, under influence of Communist political parties in India. He wrote about the sufferings and exploitations that a common man had to endure in pre-independence India. His works include, Surmaya, Kaifiyaat and Awaaara Sajde. Aurat (Woman) and Makaan (House) are popular poems written by him.
Habba Khatoon: She started writing poetry as a young Kashmiri girl in the 16th Century. She wrote about the beauty of the Kashmir Valley and the love and romance that bloomed therein. Soon after, she was forced to live away from her husband, she started writing about sorrow, loneliness and pain. She is celebrated as one of the best poets Kashmir has seen, with her songs and poetry still holding prominence in the Valley today. Khatoon’s poetry was always inspired by events in her own life, almost autobiographical in some ways.