New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) Elements of protest, resistance, pride and assertion of identity can be discerned from Dalit writings in English, said Sahitya Akademi Secretary K. Sreenivasa Rao at a “Dalit Indian English Poets’ Meet” here.
The event on Tuesday saw readings from Aruna Gogulamanda, Aparna Lanjewar Bose, Cynthia Stephen, Yogesh Maitreya Wanjari and Chandramohan S.
“Venomous smiles, vicious rulers”, “In this deep, dark maze”, ” Washerwoman”, “Caste is a local train”, and other poems touched upon experiences of being Dalit.
In response to an audience question, the poets rebutted the argument that Dalit poets’ poems are studded with stunning images and metaphors, and turn out to be mostly rhetoric.
The Dalit experience, expressed through words, expressions, images and metaphors peculiar to their lives, formed the rhetoric, if at all, and that was the soul of their poetry, the Akademi said in a statement.
In addition to speaking on the role of Sahitya Akademi in furthering Dalit writings, Rao cited a rural literary outreach programme — Gramalok — which “seeks to tap the talented voices from the villages of the nation, providing them with opportunities of national-level exposure”.
Sahitya Akademi is a literary institution geared to promote literature in Indian languages.