ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dalit Aesthetics and the ‘Imagist Poet’

Urdu writer Jayant Parmar converges on the idea of caste as a sensorial regime, attracting not only readers’ eyes and ears, but also their olfactory senses to understand the plight of the Dalit communities.

While the progressive writers in Urdu literature did deal with the issue of caste and social injustice in their writing, there has been, nonetheless, a paucity of Dalit voices in Urdu literature. But this gap has been filled by the emergence of Jayant Parmar, the Dalit poet and thinker who was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for his book, Pencil aur Doosri Nazmein (Pencil and Other Poems, 2006) in 2008. Being the first Dalit voice of Urdu literature, Parmar has successfully decried the dominant caste bias against Dalit writers, who are often considered bereft of artistry and sophistication. Their use of language is deemed raw and primitive. Dalit writings steeped in resistance have a natural flair of being offensive to the sophisticated elites who are impervious to the caste question.

Being a painter as well, Parmar brings different hues to his poetry, informed by the modernist appeal of the Imagist movement of Amy Powell, Ezra Pound, and Hilda Doolittle. This movement has its roots in Pound’s celebrated anthology Des Imagistes (1914). Imagist poets abandoned conventional versification and “blurry, messy and sentimentalistic poetry” and defied conventional limitations on the subjects of poetry. These poets used free verse to create a vivid, precise and terse impression of the poet’s “visual object or scene.” Following the modernist tradition of prose-poetry, Parmar uses his paper as a canvas and his pen as a painting brush. His diction is not a common feature in Urdu poetry, it is his distinct style that defies the conventional poetry of rhyme and deliberately avoids verbosity and an ostentatious display of words. His poetry gives the impression of him being in a deep brooding over the different questions around human existence.

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Updated On : 2nd May, 2023
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