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SAP Seminar Series, Shakti Chattopadhyay: Postman in the Autumnal Forest, by Sumana Roy

Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 4:30pm to 7:00pm

Uris Hall, G08

Using a selection of poems from a rich and extraordinary life in poetry, I would like to talk about how Shakti Chattopadhyay created a natural eco-poetics about Bengali life in the second half of the twentieth century. Using the botanical imagination as a springboard, his work, unique in the tradition of Bengali – and indeed Indian – poetry, about roots, leaves and forests, is unrelated to the environmentally conscious literature that has come to stand for activist-literature in the new millennium. Using biographical details, his literary relationships, his socially aberrant lifestyle, his love for Tagore songs, photographs of him by Raghubir Singh in middleclass drawing rooms in the Bengal of the 1980s, I shall try to talk about the mental landscape of the urban Bengali that Chattopadhyay’s poems created, a Bengali who is aware of the severed connection with the natural world, and whose hopelessness resulting from that awareness leads him to create a strange conjunction between the human and the plant world.

Sumana Roy's first book, How I Became a Tree, a work of non-fiction, was published in India in February 2017. Her first novel, Missing, was published in April 2018. Her poems and essays have appeared in GrantaGuernicaLARBDrunken Boat, the Prairie SchoonerBerfroisThe Common, and other journals. She lives in Siliguri in India.

Cosponsored by the Department of English

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program, Comparative Literature


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Valerie Foster Githinji

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Sumana Roy

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