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Poets Printery

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Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Do You Remember Those Caves? A Poetry Film on Gwalior


do you remember those caves

at the foot of the fort

where we used to play

and the old cemetery

we once hid from the sun

and hordes of maratha warriors

cascading behind a broken window

hunting relentlessly

for stolen moments.

the heart was then a street

pursuing days and nights

and a subdued sky

hid a longforgotten secret.


we traveled the eyes

and hopes

of another day.

YouTube Preview Image

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Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, Symbol of Hope and Courage in South Africa

Amitabh Mitra with Nurses

I saw a documentary film recently on Al Jazeera about Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, affectionately called Bara in Soweto, South Africa. Soweto remains the biggest black township and is synonymous with the struggle against the apartheid. It made me write this photoessay on Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Madantsane. Mdantsane remains the second biggest township in South Africa, situated in the province of Eastern Cape, it provides the leadership to the new South Africa.

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Nights in the Fort


there is a river closing in on a
night of shifting blues
ascending the dark.
a cluster sky
clang closes the gates.
paths and palaces hurtle
merging in a silksheen touch.
your eyes take over the
suddenness of everyday
forlorn tantrums of a skin and
brittle memories rush in
before the fort
falls to a splintered dawn.

Poem and Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

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Susmit Bose, A Maestro of Indo-English Music


I came across Susmit Bose one afternoon on a hot summer day at Delhi sometime in 1978. I am not sure of the year and it might be even before that. Delhi was my favourite hunting ground, hunting for poetry books, trying to sell my poetry book, hunting to fall in love again and again, it was all about love and poetry as it is still now. I have actually never met him till today.

We have a mutual friend who owns a busy café cum gift shop just below Indian Oil Bhavan on Janpath. It is there that I found Susmit Bose’s Long Playing Vinyl Record ‘Train to Calcutta’. Susmit Bose was going to be with me for the next thirty years. I have carried his LP wherever I went. This is one of my most treasured items.

Delhi of the seventies was different. Poetry and Music were emerging in an aroma of genuine Indianess. JS ‘The magazine that thinks young ‘ edited by the maverick Desmond Doig in the seventies was organising music concerts in Kolkata and bringing beat groups from Shillong, Kohima, Darjeeling, Bombay and New Dehi. Indo English Poetry had already taken roots in New Delhi. Reciting poetry near the tea shop next to Godavari at Jawaharlal Nehru University was a regular feature. Evenings and Poetry merged together in unforgettable nights. I feel proud to have been a part of that period.

Susmit Bose came as a sudden storm with simple lyrics that got embedded in permanency.He wrote on his album,

‘These songs convey my sentiments and interpretations of situations around me. I am not trying to preach in my songs but want to share my feelings with you. Having experimented in serious forms in folk music, there are two songs in this album which are the results of this experiment. They are both beautiful songs. The ‘Baul’ ( the folk song of Bengal) written by Kazi Nazrul Islam has had a great impact on me. Viva La Quinte Brigada is a song of the Spanish civil War and has been recorded before by someone whom I regard with great respect – Pete Seeger. I take this opportunity to thank all who helped me to make this dream of recording come true especially Bob Dylan who inspired me a great deal in my music.’

My favourite has always been his song whose lyrics go like this –

I wrote this song

On a Sunday morn

On a train to Calcutta bound

Of a boy who was travelling all alone

The sun went up and all was well

Till the man in the uniform

Was checking all the tickets

And was smiling

A sudden frown came on his face

As he saw the boy around…..

Susmit Bose is now known as an Urban Folk Balladeer. He sings about social issues in English to Indian audiences. His latest song on Binayak Sen, a doctor imprisoned in Chattisgarh created as much furore as my poem on him. A talented filmmaker, he’s produced several successful television shows for Doordarshan, Surabhi, a show on Indian culture being amongst the best-known. He has also released documentary films like Akha Teej on child marriage; A Revival on traditional medicine, For Who; Man Of Heart on the bauls, for IGNCA (Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts). He also arranged the song Hum Honge Kamyab with Anil Biswas and has led the All India Radio Choir. He’s performed in international folk music concerts from Cuba to Berlin, and has sung with folk music legends like Pete Seeger in the US and Canada. He has also performed with Paul Horn, an internationally acclaimed flautist, for a US/UK project on world music.

How do you speak of freedom?

When your thoughts are so in chains

How do you see the rainbow?

Without the rain

(Certain Thoughts, Public Issue, 2005)

Whenever I travel to India, I make it a point to visit the café and ask my friend about Susmit. All of us have grown old and today on my birthday I put his vinyl disc on the player and listen to his immortal songs. What a better way to celebrate a birthday by listening to a giant of Indo-English Music. I remember I had penned a few lines in 1979 –

Connaught Place Blues

We had once walked around
Connaught place for hours
Trying to solve a puzzle
Of a day in its stately columns
Holding aloft the far shores
Of an unfamiliar sky
Morning of jigsaw pieces in The Book Worm or
Mind shopping at the pavement
For love poems
Rushing to embrace
Colors, lips
At a backthought corridor in
Dhoomimal Gallery
Our legs ached
Going round and round
Just trying to be somewhere
Until the one legged man in Dass Studios
Appeared from nowhere
As Sushmit Bose’s voice from the gramophone
Bent down to pick us
Loving was an afternoon
In a season that finally fell in its
Rightful place.

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Proprietary Pains by Shaleen Singh A Collection of Short poems



Poets Printery Publishing proudly presents Shaleen Singh’s unusual poetry, Proprietary Pains

Shaleen Singh belongs to a small town of Budaun in the province of Uttar Pradesh in India. Post Colonial Poetry in India came in varied extent from the metropolis. Yes, there is definitely an invisible bond in ones creativity to the town or village of residence. The rustic surroundings of Budayun have influenced Shaleen’s poetry to a certain level. The Indo-English Poetry Movement that dominated with a few names from the sixties to eighties has lost the anarchy that it professed. Instead poets like Shaleen Singh have brought their own vivid and iconoclastic imagery that defies any norm of poetry, grammar and even English. It is a poetry that is truly Indian. His poems are ultimate, radical and spoken in two or three words. They are like the hot wind that blows so often in summer at Budayun. Its searing effect is reflected on words that are immediate, poetry that seems to grow unhindered in unusual circumstances like the old Banyan tree in his house at Budayun.

Amitabh Mitra

Cover Watercolor by Amitabh Mitra

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We met


we met in strange corridors
on a day of forbearing
a suddensummer broke into the mosque
beating his chest
why did you smile
what did you whisper
who stole the shadows
who opened the doors
your veil caught a gust
of fervid sky
eyelashes uttered
a quiet namaaz
i only prayed to be drenched
in a longawaited

Water Color and Love Poem by Amitabh Mitra

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I never knew


i never knew of such seasons
in a crowded street
off old Gwalior wayside
nestling a pervading touch
of your breath caught in nooks
of sighs behind long ragged nights.
the tongas carry the weight of a destiny
jostling to reach the
far end of feelings
in a raging storm
beyond the fort gates
i saw you perhaps
in a laughter
of orange and brocade
in the eyes of an evening
on the face of a saree
winding back
in a crowded street
off old Gwalior wayside.

Love Poem & Watercolor on handmade paper by Amitabh Mitra

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The Last Prince


My thoughts remains entwined with my friend, Sambhaji Rao Shinde and his family. We both belong to Gwalior. Gwalior is a former princely state in Northern India and now a bustling town of changing environs. Sambhaji raja (Sambhaji prince) as he is lovingly called is revered as the last of a tiny royalty, many of which existed within the fiefdom of Gwalior. This town after the colonial era stood transfixed in time for a while. The many princely families invested in education, business or politics. Some went to become members of parliament only to protect their palaces and wealth from the prying eyes of the tax man, others became successful businessmen, turning their palaces to lavish hotels while still others quietly left the country to live in a British county reminiscing of what they were once.

Sambhaji’s family just didn’t do anything like that. They lived in the Sayaji Palace, a beautiful gothic architecture of marble with huge halls where I once played with Sambhaji and his sisters as we all grew up. We hunted rabbits in summer, flew kites, played cricket and heard tales of valour of the family and their descendents from Sambhaji’s father and uncles. His sisters turned out to be beautiful maidens, princesses disowned by time. I always remained confused of who was more beautiful than the other.

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nizamuddin reeks of a dust filled stare
in a july delhi
when you once stopped suddenly
and asked me
of ruins, ravens and our love
that might rest there
one day.
the storm would only catch the sun
and years would drape long
far from rampaging seasons
we would always remain hidden
in our thoughts here
regal in red silk
and red summers
as always for ever.
loving was a
sweeping feel
of the chador
of the unspoken
on a durgah that

Silk Screen Print and Love Poem by Amitabh Mitra

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Steady Patter


Silk Screen Print and Poem by Amitabh Mitra

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