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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Danny Naicker, Co-ordinator Live Poets Society, Durban writes


On the 25 March 2009 once again the Live Poets Society was graced by the larger than life presence of the feisty spirited Dr. Amitabh Mitra.

Here you have a Medical Scientist far removed from the daily grind of a busy Trauma Unit of a provincial hospital in the Eastern Cape. Standing on stage brewing a lethal lovers potion in a cauldron, mixed with a concoction of words that come alive like magic. You can feel the chemistry oozing from the heady brew. When you confront his poetry you want to listen forever and drink the elixir till your senses are intoxicated.

Dr. Amitabh Mitra is truly a modern day alchemist transmuting the potency of words into feelings of desiderata, which resonates with a longing, and grief for the loss of a lover. and for the places of memories were lovers once stole clandestine moments. His poetry tells us about the price of love, which is sometimes greater than any heart is willing to pay.

There is another side, another dimension to his poetry that Amitabh conjures like a magician with a mystical wand. He conjures colours with a stroke of a brush that explodes on the canvas creating an affinity that blends the written words to the colours on the canvas, embracing the picture to the words and vice versa.

This is Poetry and Art in sublime analogous motion breaking free from the mundane, complementary to each other, outwitting conventional norms that tend to confine us in boxes of self-censorship, weighing down our thoughts and imaginations that we become afraid to breathe new life into this ancient art form called poetry.

When listening to Amitabh’s recitals or reading his works we can only arrive at one conclusion that Amitabh is not afraid to explore outside the box and break with conventional arguments, he gives to poetry his own a brand of pungent, spicy, aromatic flavour, The tiniest scent of that aroma sets our appetite wild with pangs of hunger

About the man himself , what can one say, only to say in admiration here goes a man who is flamboyant and charismatic yet so humble and full of humility. He is an intellectual who never projects or is boastful about his academic accomplishments.

His love of poetry and for the many struggling poets who would never have had the opportunity of seeing their work in print are indebted to Dr. Amitabh Mitra. He has created an avenue were once was once a cul–de-sac for many unpublished poets, to now have their work published in the Hudson View.

The Hudson View, a journal that caters for Poets and gives them the space to have their works go up in neon lights.

Many of the Lipsomanicas as John Ballam the convenor of LiPS so fondly refers to us are eternally grateful to Dr. Amitabh Mitra for publishing our works of poetry and prose.

Dr Amitabh Mitra is a multi talented human being and in November last year we saw the launch of Inyathi a Journal of Art that the Good Doctor created and is the Editor of this first arts journal in South Africa. The Journal focuses on our rich South African Artistic heritage and is involved in academic research of SA Art and the Artist. It also promotes and brings the Artist and their Art under the publishing banner of Inyathi.

Cannot resist the temptation of reproducing Dr. Amitabh Mitra’s Poems that he so eloquently performed for us.

Poem 1

the pigeons flew off today
with a piece of sky
the rains washed down the
mosque tomb
untoward gaze
hastily patched
red and orange brocade
salwars with a hint of firdaus
at night we caught the stars
through holes
kisses and eyes
that dared to stray

Poem 2

your long unruly hair
had grown on me
and on a
sunny afternoon
like this
stretched to a breeze
i had known its sheen
gentle on your neck
whispers knitted
once a silk tapestry
that stayed
between our lips
eyes that caught a day

Poem 3

I had gone to see you again
a desolate road had once tied the heart
the wind and dust hid the palace
a lone watchman told me you have left
doors and windowpanes shrunk back
as trees forced its way
there would be an invasion
as you had always told me
where have you gone
where have I gone
only a breath stood
the clouds tomorrow will accompany
and summers of endearing
would finally rest
nights and strangertimes
would take us back

The theme of Amitabh’s lecture was ‘Immigrant Poetry and How does an English Poem start and does it really end’

Lots of drinking. lots of art, lots of poetry and lots of everything

poeta nascitur, non fit (the poet is born, not made)


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A Hudson View, December 2008


A Hudson View, December 2008 issue is out. The poetry of prominent Durban poets, Brett Beiles, Gona Pragasen Naicker and Ravi Naicker finds a prominent place in this international print poetry journal. A Hudson View is dedicated to publishing contemporary Southern African poetry. The journal is archived at the New York Public Library, Rockfeller Library, University of Wisconsin Madison Library and the National English Literary Museum, Grahamstown.

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Mumbai, I Bequeath My Death


Aaj ki raat bahut garam hawa chalti hai
Aaj ki raat na neend aayegi
Kaifi Aazmi
Tonight a very hot wind is blowing
Tonight I won’t be able to sleep
Kaifi Aazmi

I bequeath my death to Mumbai, its many streets, its many lanes
And a sun that never rose on that day
There were no shadows from Bollywood hoardings
Neither from the ghettos of Kurla and Worli
Nor from the mortal divide of a stranger innocence

I bequeath my death to the beggar who died outside Leopold Café
They shot him and his past; his coins fell from his present
They shot my past too at the narrow street next to it
Where I had once kissed a girl in a fevered evening
And dared again in a night of untoward violence

I bequeath my death to the fireflies at queen’s necklace
That never arrived that day
And to the single Kalashnikov bullet
That stared shamelessly at me
From a footprint in the dark

I bequeath my death to many a death
Many a hurt
And the sky that bled
In a single shroud, a single season,
A single word

I bequeath my death to Mumbai poets
Kaifi Aazmi, Arun Kolatkar and many others
And those who died in their end thoughts
They died again and again
With me on that day

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Tonight, An Anthology of World Love Poetry


It has always been my greatest desire to know the different ways love is expressed in words, around the world. Poetry has found its way in words as early as the history of mankind. I would be partial if I may say that the most beautiful love poetry came from Urdu and Arabic literature dating back to sixteenth century but love poetry has been there far before that in the hieroglyphics of Egyptian pyramids and Mayan temples.

Extract from a 3,000 year-old Egyptian papyrus:

She is one girl, there is no one like her.
She is more beautiful than any other.
Look, she is like a star goddess arising
at the beginning of a happy new year;

I wouldn’t even hesitate to say that love poetry remains the only poetry I recognise, a poetry that has limitless horizons, unlimited landscapes, the flavour of humid earthy togetherness, the rain drop on a first kiss, summer of cobweb memories and winter of unflinching promises clouded with time.

I have always been in love, a voice, a word, lifting of an eyelash, a lilting voice across a street, poetry comes tumbling forth. Love poetry happens on an everyday colour, a swish of pink cutting a long standing evening in two, lips that close on to each other defying the darkness of a night. More than a million couple utter ‘I love you’ every day, its poetry takes immediate roots, leaves sprout and a sapling challenge the gods of the sky.

Yet love poetry is the poetry of the unfulfilled, a poem untraditional, iconoclastic and incomplete that bear the brunt of merciless seasons and superfluous hopes. Love tortured to an extent that it just turned gold, priceless to those lucky few who attained it. You and I spoke and uttered strange words in the hush of a long closed silence, touched its meaning in a breath that had bound us for that day.

I came across Pritish Nandy’s ‘Strangertime’ An Anthology of Love Poetry, edited by him in 1974 and which had the most representative voices of Indo–English literature during that time. Maqbool Fida Hussain an artist of international repute and one that every Indian is proud of had his share of love poetry in that book. I believe that the desire to edit an international collection went back from that year after reading that anthology.

I am happy to witness that poetry of today is not captured by the few but by myriad of unknown poets to whom this movement belongs. I didn’t have to work hard to bring this book together as poets from all over the world whom I knew and others who came to know of my desire, contributed generously in bringing out this collection.
Love Poetry came from all corners of the globe to be included in this unique anthology.

These are not mere poems in this anthology but words that have life in it. I as a medical doctor encounter death in my busy everyday trauma practice but instead these are immortals, the throbbing heart that would beat inexorably even after time has long passed by.

Victoria Valentine is a well known poet, lives in New York has a vast following and is a dreamer like me. I have known her for long and have been comrades in many a venture in publishing poetry. We share the common concept of publishing the unknown poet even at our own cost. This anthology is a mark of her remarkable contribution in bringing contemporary American Poetry as the published word. I thank her for helping me once again to fulfil a longstanding wish of publishing this volume of love poetry.

Glory Sasikala Franklin lives in Chennai, India, a poet at heart and action, I sometimes wonder whether she bursts into poetry on some days to a group of nonchalant colleagues working with her in her office. I do that often in my hospital much to the amazement of patients and fellow doctors. She is instrumental in introducing me to poets in India and abroad who have now become my great friends. I thank her for giving me all support for this anthology.

To my South African fellow poets who have accepted me as their brother, I can only bow down in reverence. The colours, I assure you are far brighter and more beautiful than what even Nelson Mandela imagined in his concept of a rainbow nation. South African love poetry has broken race, class and creed forging ahead in its unique expression that defies explanation.

Philip Bell is a British poet and an environmental engineer. He is a renowned children’s poet. I have always been in awe at his vast knowledge on every aspect of world literature and poetry and poems for children that he can compose within seconds of giving a topic. None of my poetry performance in various parts of the world is complete without reciting one of his poems. I thank him for proof reading the entire anthology.

Today as I write, I come to know that popular Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish has passed away at the age of 67. Never have I seen before such millions of people mourning the death of a poet. Darwish was cherished among the Arab world for his poetry and literature, and in 1988 wrote the Palestinian declaration of Independence. His funeral, it is claimed was attended by the poorest of poor, a vast sea of humanity, far more than that attended on the demise of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. “Today we say goodbye to a star whom we loved to the point of adoration, you will remain with us. We tell you we will meet again and we will not say goodbye” said the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. I and my fellow poets salute Mahmoud Darwish with this love poem from his collection, “No more and No less”

…As for me
I liked to be loved as I am
not as a color photo
in the paper, or as an idea
composed in a poem amid the stags…
I hear Laila’s faraway scream
from the bedroom: Do not leave me
a prisoner of rhyme in the tribal nights
do not leave me to them as news…

The title of this book, ‘Tonight’ is inspired by a poem of Pritish Nandy from his celebrated book ‘Riding the Midnight River’

…tonight when the sun cries
i shall unopen this gypsy love
and ride the midnight river to your eyes
where an autumnal lust will declare
your absence in my skies
tonight …

Tonight, An Anthology of World Love Poetry’ may get lost one day like so many books and anthologies that are published, read and left in the far corner of a book shelf, libraries, flea markets and second hand book shops, to gather dust. Its poets may have succumbed to ravages of time but definitely not their words. It would continue to bring immense happiness, joy and even sadness to those few who chance upon it. I would have completed my journey by then.

Amitabh Mitra
August 2008

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The day after – Adam Donaldson Powell, Oslo, 2008.

adam-donaldson-powell.JPGThe day after (dagen derpå):

All are incredibly impressed at the work and passion of Eli,
Brynjar, Nasra (from Du store verden!) and from Thorborg
(Kulturbro publishing company), and that we have managed to
achieve such a large, varied and important program with so
few resources.

The importance – and the synergy effects – of the festival are
(without a doubt) significant. Many networks have been introduced
to one another, and the possibilities for future cooperation are

Otherwise, I now sit (the day after), and remember many,
many special moments from the festival … at this particular moment
I am thinking of Amitabh Mitra’s speech in honour of our esteemed
Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, followed by one minute
of silence and the spontaneous utterance in Arabic:
‘Assalamo-Aleikum,’ which means ‘Peace be unto you.’

There were participants and audience members from four continents, and
that spoke countless languages, we honoured the older artists and
encouraged the young ones, we presented the world to Norway and
Norway to the world, there was much personal and artistic “healing”,
and we successfully promoted the importance of global network building
amongst the small and special niches in art and culture.

All participants have taken home with them many impressions, and have
both made new friends and colleagues … and many finally met longtime
colleagues and fellow artists face-to-face – for the very first time.
But we have also acknowledged that the world is always in a continuous
state of evolution and change, and we have clearly communicated that
we must shout loudly and be evermore creative and “new-thinking” in
step with society’s and technology’s developments – if we are still to
have a voice.

Those who participated at the festival, and those who
were in attendance at the various festival events, will surely come
to spread the messages and work from this festival all over the world —
in fact, much more effectively and further-reaching than we ever could
have hoped to do as individuals, or one institution … or even one country
at a time. That is the way it is with promotion of art and culture.

It often feels as though we tire ourselves – just as Sisyphus, and then
suddenly we experience both larger and smaller breakthroughs and
moments of recognition. He/she who has the ability to get things done
and the spirit of constantly moving ahead is ever there – regardless,
and will never become blind to the many pearls that shimmer and
shine and sparkle – even in the small meetingplaces and exchanges …
and that eventually find their way to greatness in the hearts, souls
and thoughts of the larger common human consciousness.

- Adam Donaldson Powell, Oslo, 2008.-

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“Congratulations,Your book is published”


My Heartiest Congratulations to all contributors:

Tonight, An Anthology of World Love Poetry is published

The book will be launched at the World Poetry Festival in Oslo in 18 September

Here is a photo of the book:

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Editorial of Inyathi


The new issue of Inyathi is in your hands now. It was difficult to bring this issue together primarily because of lack of quality articles from artists of Eastern Cape and beyond. I still fail to believe that artists can’t be writers or students of Fine Arts from various universities in the Eastern Cape are not encouraged to write. Inyathi as a journal will continue to survive under such adverse conditions. South Africa is going through a socio-political turmoil, challenging artists and writers to bring forth a creativity which is different from that which happened during the euphoria of apartheid liberation. I feel truly fortunate to bring out a journal on arts during such a period.

A few days back I was invited to attend a Seminar on Publishing organised by the Department of Journalism, Walter Sisulu University, East London and funded by the German Government. I rubbed shoulders with various small time publishers like me whose only desire is to satisfy a passion to bring out the printed word in an aesthetic form. My good friend Volkmar Dobaat was the Chairperson of this Seminar. He is a keen photographer and had an article on Ansell Adams in the last issue. I was struck by his statement for more communication via the print media as communication is itself marketing. Keeping in with his viewpoint, the last issue of Inyathi was sold to numerous artists and art lovers even though I didn’t have any distribution system in place. Many reprints were made and complimentary copies were sent to universities abroad. Inyathi still remains the only print journal on Arts in Eastern Cape.

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Inyathi Arts Journal Launch


TIME: 6:30 p.m.

Poets Printery Publishing in association with the Ann Bryant Art Gallery, East London invites you to the launch of Inyathi, a Journal on Arts, on the 27 August 2008 at 6.30 pm. The Hon. MEC for Art, Culture and Sports, Mrs N. Abraham Ntantiso will be the chief guest speaker for the launch of the journal.

Renowned photographer Anthony Maturin from New Zealand will be presenting a slide show of photographs of East London. The journal can be bought on that evening for R 55. Wine will be served.

RSVP Dr. Amitabh Mitra, Editor

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Love Poetry Rendezvous and Poetry Art Exhibition, 29 April 2008, Durban


April was a great month and the 29 was the greatest day. I was looking forward to meeting the greatest of Durban Poets who had assembled at the Point Yacht Club to welcome me. Brett Beiles the former Chairperson of The Live Poets Society had extended an invitation to visit Durban and give a talk on Poetic matters. Brett is a great friend, to an extent that I call him up at all ungodly hours just to discuss trivial things. Brett’s poetry resounds of contemporary South Africa. His works have been published in ‘A Hudson View’. (more…)

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Introducing Stanley Onjezani Kenani

Stanley KenaniI have the greatest pleasure in introducing Stanley Onjezani Kenani. Stanley is a well known poet from Malawi. I have published his works in the print poetry journal, ‘A Hudson View’. His poem ‘Lilongwe at midnight’ is being published in the coming issue of Hudson.


Born in 1976, Stanley lives in Malawi and has read his poems at the Arts Alive Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, Harare International Festival of the Arts in Zimbabwe, Struga Poetry Evenings in Macedonia and Poetry Africa in Durban, South Africa.

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