Wednesday, June 26, 2013


reviewed by
Writer  Daya Dissanayaka 
Published in DAILY NEWS,

Poetry always has been a universal medium of expression. We can read and appreciate any good poem, written, anytime, anywhere by anyone. We have to go in search of poets around the world, and poets in our neighbouring land and other countries of the SAARC region. We have so much in common with them.
I met such a poet on a winter night in Kolkata a few months back, though I had known him in cyberspace (via e-mail) for over ten years, from the time he was editing Muse India. We talked about his poems in the book just published, 'From Dulong to Beas'. He is a bilingual writer, editor and translator. He writes in Bengali and English. His latest collection of poetry is 'Silent Days', which we can hear, loud and clear.
Jaydeep Sarangi also happens to be the Professor, Department of English at Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College (Calcutta University), academic administrator and the author of a number of significant publications (including twenty nine books) on Postcolonial issues, Indian Writing in English, Australian Literature and Creative Writing in reputed journals/magazines in India and abroad. He is one of the Editors of "Writers Editors Critics" and the Vice President, Guild of Indian English Writers, Editors and Critics, (GIEWEC) and the Vice president of the Society for Poetry, Education, Literature and Languages (SPELL). Recently, he had been awarded with visiting fellow/writer to the University of Wollongong, Australia and the Westerly Centre at the University of Western Australia.
Sarangi is a typical Indian academic, who is so prolific in his creative writing, while engaged in all his academic activities. He reminds me of our own bilingual writer, poet and academic, Prof. Sunanda Mahendra.
Silent Days, is a collection of fifty poems, which was published after his successful release last year of the collection 'From Dulong to Beas'. It is in a away a continuation of his journey from Dulong, where he grew up. Perhaps we should say it is from Dulong to Perth, where the 'Silent Days' was released at the Westerly Center, University of Western Australia.
Sarangi was born in Jhargram, "beyond the Gangetic plains of Bengal, with the most exotic beauties of undulating topography culminating in hill ranges of Belpahari and Kankrajhor and near the Dulong river."
Dr. Dora Sales Salvadore, University Jaume I of Catellon Spain, had this to say about Sarangi. "(his) poetic voice delves into the question of identity, India, Bangali.... only to transcend limits and become, above all human. The images are deeply grounded in, contexualized in India, in particular and precise places. But the hues and meanings are openly universal......As we all know, India has a rich literary tradition. Jaydeep Sarangi is a splendid member of this endless family. Truly, a poet of note". And that is why we in Sri Lanka, and readers everywhere could enjoy his poetry.
Dulong where Sarangi had started not only his life journey, but his poetry too, is a small river flowing slowly through the Midnapur forests in West Bengal. Beas or Vipasha is one of the five rivers of Punjab, known by the Greeks as Hyphasis. It also is said to be the river where Alexander stopped.
In the 'Red Soil Allure' Sarangi has again gone back to Dulong, to the red soil of Midnapur. In the 'Small Rivers of the Mind' too, he is still in Dulong, "It longs to embrace small but scenic rivers/ flowing gently". In the 'Refugee', I believe that Sarangi is still waiting at a station somewhere, to take him elsewhere, as we are all waiting.
The aadivasis in their little villages by the Dulong are in Sarangi's mind, always. They were called Harijans by the Mahatma, to mean they were 'God's Children'. Yet those who consider themselves superior looked down on them and because of the stigma attached to the term, the new identification as 'Dalit' came into use. But it too is a vague term. Only the people are real, and Sarangi feels for them and writes about them. He writes,
"You are not a blank page, I understand
Your history is on your side".

Baul is a part of every Bengali, and a poetry collection from West Bengal, without a tribute to the Baul singers would never be complete. Here Sarangi has translated his own Bengali from 'The Baul Call' from his book, 'Lal Palasher Renu'.
"Distrust will be wiped out
From this world one day
The menace of divisions will dissolve
All will bask in the nectar of Bauls"

Sarangi had been called "India's Bard on the banks of Dulong" in an interview by Santanu Halder, himself a poet from Kolkata. Perhaps this could have prompted Sarangi to write the poem 'Bilingual Bard' where he explains why he writes in English.
"I write in a language that you can understand
My community and dear ones can relate with.
It's a cultural language for global readers.
English is my sword, my refuge
When Bengali is the language of my soul
It may be free licence in English cadence
I use, for a cause; raindrops shaped into a sweet dish.

Raindrops shaped into a sweet dish. That is what Jaydeep Sarangi is offering us.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

46. Il Poeta Bilingue
(from ‘Silent Days’ 2013; available through amazon USA.)

-Jaydeep Sarangi >

(Translated from English to Italian by Antonio Casella, a noted Sicily-born writer who lives in WA,Australia.)

La mia lingua sorge libera dall’anima
Quando il cuore si accende
Di bolle di ansia.
La vita m’invita...
Al povero chandal é vietato entrare all’interno della camera segreta
La poetessa viene impiccata per le sue parole di protesta
Contro millenni di pregiudizi di caste e di fede
Conto solo quando Devi Saraswatu siede sul mio pollice
Le pagine vuote e bianche
Divengono dolci ritmi musicali.

Parlo per la mia terra
Per la gente che soffre
M’identifico con l’antica tradizione
Forse, le generazioni che mi susseguono non più scriveranno
Di una casa lontano da casa.

Scrivo in una lingua che puoi comprendere,
In cui la mia comunitá e i miei cari si possono rispecchiare.
E’ una lingua per i lettori del mondo.
L’inglese é la mia spada, il mio rifugio
Mentre il bengali é la lingua della mia anima.
Sará forse la cadenza libera dell’inglese
Che adopero, per una causa, gocce d’acqua a forma di una squisita pietanza.

La gente lo chiama nobile!
Ha il sapore di un curry di pesce
Preparato per un convegno di nazionalitá miste.

Non porto mai una maschera falsa nelle mie posie.

Monday, June 10, 2013

“Jaydeep Sarangi gives a fresh paint to everyday living. ‘Small rivers’ near tribal villages are his haunts. His language can be unorthodox, where a rock can turn into a ‘reckless flow”, but his poems are a rewarding read, with the scent of herbs coming through the pages.”
-KekiDaruwalla ,One of the leading Indian writers in English and the recipient of the SahityaAkademi Award.

“The myriad of experiences thrust on us in every moment of contemporary life exercises Jaydeep Sarangi’s poetic mind, and produces poems full of questionsand hopes but also recognitions of limitations. The wish to break away, to take flightfrom moment to moment meets a realistic awareness of links to the land of red soil.”….Dr.Dennis Haskell, One of the leading writers from Western Australia  and the Director, Westerly Centre, the University of Western Australia .

“This new collection titled  Silent Days  is a welcome addition to poetry in English by Indian writers. “ ...Lakshmi Kannan in the Introduction to Silent Days

“As we all know, India has a rich literary tradition. JaydeepSarangi is a splendid member of this endless family. Truly, a poet of note.” ...Dr.Dora Sales of the University JaumeI ,Castellón, Spain.

“a few of Jaydeep’s poems reach toward asking metaphysical questions.”... Dr. Paula Hayes (USA) in her Introduction to the book,"From Dulong to Beas" (New Delhi,2012).
Link to a review of  "Silent Days " (Reviewer: Dr Ratan Bhattacharya)

Link  to the Press release of the book:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

SILENT DAYS reviewed by Rob Harle, the famous artist and poet from Australia

Silent Days by Jaydeep Sarangi,
 Cyberwit, Allahabad, India 2013,
 pp. 68 ISBN: 978-81-8253-396-7

 reviewed by  Rob Harle,the famous artist and poet from Australia 

Jaydeep Sarangi's recently published volume of poetry, Silent Days will make a great addition to the libraries of all lovers of fine poetry. His poems have an ethereal and at times enigmatic quality which is difficult to nail down.

Perhaps this is a characteristic of all good poetry. Sarangi juxtaposes simple commonplace items and events with complex human situations. From the gentle flow of an insignificant river to the plight of women and the Dalit in India. His gentle manner makes these poems even more powerful than a heavy handed approach.
Brutal within is voiced
When her innocent body crumbles
She bleeds
As the nation under a colonial rule.
Our youth is touched
With blood at their mouth.
(A Rose is a Rose - p. 20)
Like all accomplished poets Sarangi utilizes metaphors in surprising and fascinating ways. His poems are like the sun's rays warming a cold heart - not emotionally heavy - just a gentle warming of the heart. This paradox of - gentle power - is the best way I can describe Sarangi's beautiful poems.
I sit under a banyan tree
I read Arjun Dangle aloud!
How nice it is to think, time is ripe
Things to follow as history completes the full cycle.
My silent pen becomes my sword.
(From Homeless in my Land - p. 40)
As I mentioned in my review of Sunil Sharma's book Golden Cacti, India is undergoing massive change at many levels. Part of this involves copying or aspiring to develop many aspects of Western societies. I only hope India is wise enough to embrace the good things and leave the bad things alone. India has a magnificent and enviable history of literature, mathematics, philosophy, spirituality and architecture. I think it is time we from the West abandoned our insularism and started seriously reading the literature of India both pre-colonialisation and now in the first decade of the 21st century.

Most Indian scholars and writers are bilingual which is to our advantage as they can translate existing literature and present India today in English – which for good or ill seems to be the prominent language of the academy and Internet. Both Sharma and Sarangi are playing an important role in educating and forging new ties with those of us in the West who are open to their brilliance and kindness.

Silent Days is available from Amazon and as I mentioned will make a great addition to your personal collection or school library.

Review of  'Silent Days' by Ratan Bhattacharya,Dum Dum Miotijheel College

09 June 2013
Sarangi's Silent Days:'Became a home-bound refugee in all stations'
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With 'From Dulong to Beas' (Authopress, 2012), Jaydeep Sarangi established himself as a poet, but with 'Silent Days', he has created a bang in the poetic world.

An out and out Bengali poet, who made his poetic debut with a Bengali book of poems, Lal Palasher Renu, shifting to English poetry writing is a blessing for a wider spectrum of readership in India. Now many more are getting Dr. Sarangi’s poetry for appreciation, which in the words of Dr. Paula Hayes, “reaches towards asking metaphysical questions.”

But the point, our renowned Indian poet Aju Mukhopadhyay raises, is still very true about the poems of  Dr. Sarangi that the red soil in Midnapur where the boy Sarangi grew up left an indelible mark on his consciousness. This is mostly felt in ‘From Dulong to Beas’, but no less so when in a poem like ‘The Red Allure’, he sings “Longing for the red soil / Corrodes me day by day/ Like the ticking of a clock /Tick tick tick…” But this same poet is quite comfortable in his poem ‘Missed Calls’ where he is in Tollygunj auto line or in a crowded bus: “Some calls can be received / Others are missed calls”. The beautiful line that lingers in our mind “With the aroma of chanachur and puffed rice /I remember…/ The pleadings of the boy back home- “Bring me colour pencils today”.
The homesickness that is deeply pronounced in the Dulong poems is no less keenly felt in the crowded bus of Kolkata. What a mingling is this – the country with the city, the rural with the urban and what a graceful easy mobility in the poems of Sarangi.
Just mesmerizing is the next poem ‘For Titas’ where the poet is a Cortez busy with discovering ‘newer lands’ with ‘smaller steps’. He rightly says, “Life’s tracks are parallel /Side-by –side”. The poet is “a man speaking to men’ – wrote Wordsworth in defining the role of a poet. Here in ‘Silent Days’ we find the poet to be ‘Like a man directed towards / The honey of experiences”(I’m on your side).
The great lines that Jaydeep Sarangi utters will echo throughout the ever poetic Silent Days: “My hungry heart can swallow/ The whole world/ Of poems and rhymes.” This is reiterated in his poem ‘I am’: “It is the old attire, I touch with a pen.” The touch of realism in place of sylvan romanticism is there in the lines as found in the poetry of A. K. Ramanujan: “The diabetic bones vibrate;/ The head is noisy/ The mind flows like slippery liquid’.
The black crow is here an image. But in the next poem, observe the shift towards soaring high in imagination: “Blue wings of my imagination / Run wild among my ruined terrace’/ Of sad history of women in our country” (A Rose is a Rose). The poet rightly feels, “Only my native within sinks/ As the rosary of pains”.
The total number of poems is fifty in this volume and nearly all of them reverberate with the idea: ‘I was born as a home-bound’ (Refugee). The same idea of home coming occurs in his other poem that follows ‘In a Home Away from Home’ and here we find the mystical mind of the poet who envisions: “ You are there/ As the old three sisters/ Like old myths”.
How he transforms a myth into a reality in this poem and connects it to a mundane dullness of daily life. He sometimes refers to Shiva and Lakshmi on his poetic sojourn. He sometimes talks of cricket in ‘Cricket Australia’ only to remind us of ‘rich mythology of cricket’ where he again goes universal: “Cricket connects continents’.
A poet’s mind is an enigma for ever which Dr. Sarangi again and again dissects and anatomises as in the poem ‘My Mind’: I’m ready with empty heart / For a fresh war of words’. What a big leap in thought in the poem ‘ Our Journey’: “We wouldn’t come to lunch tomorrow/ It’s so far a destination/ An effort of no love / And labored glory/ Where my thoughts opened the window in a jerk”. Mind is a recurrent subject in the poems and the poet tells: “A rigid mind shivers/ With changing thoughts”.
Other poems, My Family Tree, or Mystery of Life and The House on the Cliff are poetic fantasies which culminate in the poem ‘Towards the Center’: ‘The untold legacy of subjugation” which is beautifully iconised as in Herbert’s hieroglyph poems in the picturisation of ‘SILENCE’.
The poet of red soil knows the meaning of subjugation better than many. The voice of the Dulong Bard is more eloquent here in ‘Why This Neglect?’: ‘None has read /Their tales of pain’. The concluding poem is still a promise for the long pilgrimage: “Somewhere, I hear a door turning for the final time / in a silent room of its own”.
The poetic voice that delves into the questions of identity, suffering, pains and ecstasy now waits for the realization of the ‘essence of life divine’. Silent Days is a marvelous book with its rainbow colours, kaleidoscopic perspectives and splendid nuances which will forever linger in the lonely corridors of our consciousness. 
 (Source: 'Merinnews'. )