A Hole in the Wall: Religion and Urban Modernity in the Poetry of Nissim Ezekiel and Arun Kolatkar

Talk by Professor William Elison, UCSB

Monday, January 27, 2020

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Young Research Library Presentation Room

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Bombay Modernism was a poetry movement active in the city in the 1960s and 1970s. Its exponents wrote (for the most part) in English—an indicator of relative privilege within postcolonial society. Generally speaking, I will argue, their poetry celebrates Bombay for its diversity of lifeways. But on the question of religion, critical attention to the Modernists’ city of multitudes reveals a fissure: between images and figurations assimilable within modern Indian discourses of secularism and cosmopolitanism, on the one hand, and symbols and practices that fall under the purview of subaltern religiosity, on the other. This talk will probe the distinction through a comparison of works by two celebrated poets: Nissim Ezekiel and Arun Kolatkar.

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