I took a course on Indian English Poetry (HUL240) this semester. I had to talk about my experience in the last class, so I thought I’d post here too.
I had not read a lot of poetry, although I did start with Neruda, Pessoa, and maybe a bit Angelou. But after a “linguistic crisis” of some sort (after reading Witty boy), I wasn’t sure if I get the point of poetry. It was fascinating from an aesthetic point of view, but it seemed like an over-complicated way to explain or say something if used as a methodology of conveying ideas. I mean if you need to explain poetry for its ideas then it could’ve been written more clearly. So I wasn’t sure which part it plays in the language game. Although now it may seem that it might just have been a bad interpretation of Wittgenstein from my side.
The point being: I haven’t read a lot of poetry; also haven’t read Indian-English writers. So I wasn’t familiar with the Indian symbolism and usage at all. In a way, I entered the course a bit blank and with a lot biased perceptions, obviously.
But I learnt that poetry play a role beyond self reflection and aestheticism. The moral conflicts and social constructs; personal issues, local problems and universal ideas; the post and pre-colonial politics; problems of caste that are unique to India are better socially reflected with poetry because they are conveyed better, and in a manner that creates familiarity to a range of readers. It “hits” the soul—if I may. Following something similar to Critical Theory and Frankfurt’s School of Thought: assessment and critique of society from the society in order to change structures. Also “Indianized English” as I’ve seen in the poetries, are unique in the form of imagery; something that I haven’t noticed yet in western literature.
Overall, it was a fun experience. I did miss a lot of classes though.