My chat with Ranjit Hoskote in today's Mint. Will post the whole thing later, but here's a taste:
Dom Moraes was the youngest poet and the only Indian to have won the Hawthornden Prize in 1958 for his first collection of poetry, A Beginning, but few today will have read the poems from that book. Anthologies, when they include Moraes’ work at all, tend to skim over his earlier work. A Penguin Modern Classics edition brings together, for the first time, selections from all of Moraes’ work. From the plaintive “I am in love, and long to be unhappy” of 'Sailing to England' to the merciless self-awareness of the last sonnets, this book gives us the essential Dom.
I asked poet and critic Ranjit Hoskote, who edited this volume, about his journey through Dom Moraes’ work. Edited excerpts from the conversation:
[further edited for this post]
Ranjit Hoskote: Dom, with Keki Daruwalla, Adil Jussawalla and Agha Shahid Ali, are the poets I have felt closest to in the tradition of anglophone Indian poetry. I have been endlessly fascinated by Dom’s poems ever since I first encountered them. Also, I share with him a fascination with classical mythology, with history, and also have shared his intense sense of being a nomad. I identify strongly with several of his key, formative experiences—my own career has not been unlike his, in terms of the editorial work, much international travel and research. And, like him, for political reasons of my own, I am critical of the nation state as a constricting entity. Speaking of which, one of my stated objectives in framing this selection is to demonstrate very clearly the political Moraes, and the intimate connection between his poetry and his prose as he traversed the ground of the political in both practices.