Friday, April 24, 2009

'Little known writer'

At least that's what the Guardian calls poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra.

With a week to go before nominations for Oxford's new professor of poetry close, the competition has heated up after a new candidate threw his name into the ring alongside Derek Walcott and Ruth Padel.

The most high-profile position in British poetry behind the laureateship, the 300-year-old post has been held by the likes of WH Auden, Paul Muldoon, Matthew Arnold and Seamus Heaney. With graduates getting ready to vote for their choice on 16 May, so far Nobel laureate Walcott appears to be edging ahead, with nominations from 121 Oxford graduates to Padel's 96.

But a surprise new entry from Indian poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra could upset the campaigns of the two current candidates. Mehrotra, a poet and literary critic who is currently professor of English at the University of Allahabad, has held visiting writer posts at universities around the world. The journal Fulcrum said his poems were "coded messages from the unconscious, but [that] there is an exceedingly conscious hand that crafts them".

The author of four collections to date, he is supported by writers including Tariq Ali, Amit Chaudhuri and Toby Litt, and was described by one of his nominators, Oxford English lecturer Peter D McDonald, as "one of the finest poets working in any language", and "a poet-critic of an exceptionally high order".


Aditi said...

Ha! I saw that. I wonder what his chances are against Padel and teh supremely famous Walcott. It looks like zero, but then they like underdogs don't they?

Cheshire Cat said...

"Little known writer"

That's a tautology, right?

Smoke Screen said...

Well, even in India he's not one of the much anthologized poets, no?

BTW, Mehrotra taught for a short while at UH, too.

Space Bar said...

aditi: oph nearly nil, i'd imagine.

cat: that depends.

smoke screen: did he? that must've been ages ago, no?

and when you mean anthologies, do you mean the kind that high school kids study reluctantly? if you do, then i agree - someone like gieve patel is probably more anthologised. if you're talking about regular anthologies of ipe, then i think akm has been in every anthology barring only the women's only ones. i could be wrong, of course. someone correct me if i am.

Smoke Screen said...


Yeah, I was in primary school when he was teaching here!

"Anthologized" means much more for me than what you've referred to. In across-the-ages collections of IPE, yes, he would figure. But I'm referring also to critical studies of "selected, important poets", something that's done by people in univ depts across the country. (Mehrotra himself has brought out one such.) We could of course go into the questions of the criteria for such selections. That's a different matter.

Ms Baroque said...

Thanks for that! I've come in a week late, but there will be a post going up on Baroque later... delightful.