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Mangalesh Dabral
(b. 1948) has been a literary editor for most of his working life, handling tonnes of words on everyday basis. It is remarkable that he hasn't got bored with them and continues to write a language that has been nurtured with singular devotion and control.

He shows remarkable sophistication and restraint in the way he calibrates his words and invokes a wide range of emotions and perceptions by mixing the lived experience with the imagined one; beyond it lies a whole world of reading and writing and and intense involvement with the way culture breathes in everyday life. His is among the most reflective and cultured voices in contemporary south Asian poetry.

Born and brought up in Kafal Pani, a village in Tehri Garhwal district in the Himalayan hill region of Uttar Pradesh, he has spent all his adult life in the cities of north Indian plains: Delhi, Dehra Dun, Allahabad, Lucknow and Bhopal. He has always carried most resolutely the mountain air with him. A certain 'urbane villager' persona that he often donnes for himself in his poetry has always been with him. It is a part of his survival kit as well as a way to relate to the past and the tradition.

He is among those writers of his generation who had rebelled against the revivalist and sectarian framework in which Hindi literary tradition is often packaged by the establishment institutions and academia. In this he represents the secular as well as syncretic cultural and literary ethos, which has a much richer and longer history in the Indian subcontinent than the rather exclusionist cultural agenda of modern Hindi literature formed during the later half of 19th and the earlier part of 20th century as represented in the Bhartendu-Mishra-Dwivedi-Shukla-Sharma tradition.

Tempered in the sociopolital turmoil of late 1960's and early 1970's, Mangalesh represents a sensibility that links him to the classicism of the older Indian literatures as well as the left radical modernism. Although he has always been highly regarded as a poet by the literary establishment but he has the instincts that have told him to keep his distance from it.

Poems of Mangalesh Dabral

For a brief bio of the poet, click here.

Mangalesh Dabral

In this issue, we focus on the poetry of Mangalesh Dabral, one of the finest contemporary poets writing in India today. Many of these English translations of the his original Hindi poems were mostly done during a workshop organised in the winter of 1989.
Later these translations were worked upon and revised with the help of his American translators when Mangalesh was a Fellow of the International Writing Program in Iowa.

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