Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Poems by Jayashree Kamble

Jun 25, 2021 | Front And Center, Poetry | 0 comments

1956

Blue wave o’er wave of mourners flowed to the sea,
flooding the streets of Bombay with their tears.
Once born, twice scorned, we grieved,
and eddied round the island of our fears.
Left rudderless amidst a nation free,
we floated on a raft of recent vows.
We sought no ancient gods or so-called priests,
and swore to build ourselves a brand new now.

We keep that promise in our daily breaths,
though sweeping tides may force us far to roam.
These waters rise each winter on this shore,
a rising deep Blue Nile aims for the dome;
our father dead we come again to praise,
the river knows this bhumi is its home.

__

Jhalkari

Legend says we hacked our breasts
when flesh like ours was taxed.
There is a tale: we dared to look
and so our nose was axed.
The smearing of these colors gay
but celebrate our pyre.
There’s one of us who went to ground
soon after breaching fire.
And one of us the ramparts held,
The warrior queen? She fled!
And do you know the countless more
who battled, even dead?
We fight for life, we fight for rights,
We fight to save the earth.
We dance our pain, we plant our grief,
We sing the truth to birth.
Our women fade from history’s gaze,
Leeched by sanatan lies.
But we are warriors of our fate
In justice will we rise.

__

Test-Taking

Learn. Unite. Fight.

You’re not like other Mahars, the Uber driver says
It’s a compliment, you see.

Come in under the shade of the sangha
Come in under the shade of the dhamma
Come in under the shade of the Buddha

If you SCs take our opportunities,
we’ll just go abroad.
She is earnest.
Oh, the oppression of reservations

Emancipator of the downtrodden, father writes.
I repeat it in school speeches
over and over.
The tattoo slips under my skin
Into my blood and off my tongue.

Where is your caste certificate?
the clerk asks.
No category seat without it.
I’m here for a general one:
See my marksheet?
Pfft. Why did you write Buddhist then?

Pune, Master’s Viva Voce with a Visitor–
He beams at all my expositions:
Larkin, Hughes, and Eliot.
What score did you get in B.A.?
the answer dims his glow: why so less?
You tell me, I smile—respectfully.
(The answer’s always same. The name. The name.)

Samma ditthi
Samma sankappa
Samma vaca
Samma kammanta
Samma ajiva
Samma vayama
Samma sati
Samma samadhi

__

Artwork by Dr. Sunil Abhiman Awachar

Dr. Jayashree Kamble specializes in romance narratives in film, fiction, and television. Her first book,  Making Meaning in Popular Romance Fiction: An Epistemologywas published in 2014. She is a professor of English at the City University of New York’s LaGuardia Community College.

Dr. Sunil Abhiman Awachar is well known as a poet and painter, also an assistant professor with the Department of Marathi in the University of Mumbai. Meanwhile, he is a full-time activist in the Dalit human rights movement. He has published four anthologies of poetry, all in Marathi, that include Global Vartamanachya Kavita (2008), Mi Mahasattechya Darashi Katora Gheun Ubha Rahanaar Nahi,  Bravo! Fox Minds of Capitalist and Poems of the Occupied Everything.

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