Gay writing in India – a first collection of queer poems by Shaleen Rakesh

At a time when queer rights are being debated vociferously in the media, Shaleen is set to release his first collection of queer poetry ‘The Lion and the Antler’ in January 2014.

Shaleen lives with the memory of creation and destruction, as forces he has acutely experienced, and of having been spared. In his early adolescence, he fought homophobia at a personal level and soon after completing his education, jumped into gay rights activism. The past will not hold still in his poems, which cannot help assuming it must return. His work is coloured too, by the hope and confidence of having fought and survived. His confidence is expressed, not through self-aggrandizement, but through a rueful sense of a well-earned reprieve, neither undesired not completely welcomed either.

In his introduction to the book, Mumbai-based gay activist Ashok Row Kavi says, “As the poems in The Lion and the Antler confirm, Shaleen acknowledges no hierarchy. His direction has always been towards immanence. A blade of grass, a pebble on the roadside, a flower, a tree, a bird, the sea, the lover the intermediary to it all- are equally important to his quest for the origin of origins. Equating the art of poetic creation with the mystic experience of fusion with whole is far from unique to Shaleen. He however, increasingly lives it in his search for what lies behind any form of reality. The Lion and the Antler marks the birth of a new era of queer poetry in India.”

Shaleen has certainly been affected by the restraint against overt emotionalism, in the wake of violence to the human spirit that no verbal violence could ever match. It is clear to him that the unspeakable must be spoken just as the unbearable has to be borne. In doing this, he has mastered an astringent and ironic style. In the face of a disastrous human predicament, Shaleen’s poetry conveys an ultimately humanistic and even romantic affirmation.

About the Author:
Shaleen Rakesh is a poet based in New Delhi, India. The Lion and the Antler will be released in January 2014 and this is his first collection of poems.

Source – eTurbo News