Sunday, August 26, 2012

South Asian Ensemble

In a time when the Internet has changed how we do things, when people are in love with a love of the latest digital gadgetry—tablets, i-pads, kindles, spindles, whatever—when “everyone is a publisher” on the web, it is delightful to see the rise of a print journal. Not any print journal, but a literary print journal, South Asian Ensemble: A Canadian Quarterly of Arts, Literature and Culture.

South Asian Ensemble, already into its fourth volume—a double issue Spring/Summer 2012, is very fine and eclectic journal. I am reading both this issue and the previous double issue (Autumn 2011/Winter 2012). The mix of pieces from writers with a South Asian connection from the sub-continent, Canada, the USA and writers of Indian origin by way of the Caribbean and South America is fascinating: the cutting edge poetry of Viswanauth Prasad Tiwari in a fine translation from the Hindi, to an essay on the Roma in two novels, to a brilliant essay in the current issue on poetics by Ajmer Rode, “Poetry and the Sacred.”

The Vedic poets, or the rishis as they were called, did not work out their poems laboriously, that is how the belief goes. They actually ‘saw’ complete poems or had darshana of them and simply transcribed them. That is why they were regarded as seers…their minds were not prisoners of long literary traditions (as the poet Haribhajan Singh notes). Every time they sat down to write, their minds were ready to experience afresh, their spirits free to cherish the new.
South Asian Ensemble is edited by Gurdev Chauhan in Toronto and co-edited by Rajesh Sharma in Patiala (India). The journal website: Both Chauhan (a writer and poet) and Sharma (Professor of English at Punjab University) are to be highly commended for putting together and editing this fine journal. 

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