Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Indian Institute of Technology Ropar


HSS Seminar


Dr. Rajyashree khushu-Lahiri memorial lecture on

‘’Poetry and Poet in the 21st Century’’



Mr. Keki N. Daruwalla


September 22, 2015 at 2.00 PM


 Venue :  Lecture Hall - 3, IIT Ropar



Poetry, like other arts and even philosophy, moves of necessity with the times. The Renaissance, triggered by voyaging and the discovery of new worlds, as also the sudden availability of Greek classics, ushered in Elizabethan drama in England and the great art in Italy. The heady age of Enlightenment, led by Rousseau coincided with the American and French Revolutions. The 20th century with its World Wars and Gas chambers brought about chaos, which was mirrored in early 20th century poetry. So the ground realities of the 21st century will dictate the kind of poetry we will get. 

With the telegraph, automobile, aircraft, speed and terseness became a part of the poetic narrative, as also disjunction, the leap from thought to thought. Imagery started dominating poetry—shall we say coinciding with the rise of cinema?  One is not so sure. 

The pessimism and bleakness of 20th century poetry is giving way to a less dogma-ridden poetry, poetry that is looking out at the world with new eyes as also optimism. Since the Flower Power days, there has been a change in the way we look at tribes and those on the fringes of society. This sentiment has percolated to our days, heralding a change in the way we look upon the Afro American  or the Dalit  in our country. It is hoped that the murderous nationalisms of the previous years don’t follow us. 

Both poetry and the poetry reading public are to blame for the marginalization of the poet. There has not been sufficient engagement with reality in verse. Poetry in the West is confined to University teachers. Poets are writing to each other rather than engaging with the public and with events on the ground. 

But despite events in the Middle East the world is under threat of a major war. More poets in the west are focussing on landscape and nature and familial relations. Ecology is having a big say in poetry. Birds and animals are subjects of poems increasingly. The outlook is positive.

Brief Bio-sketch of the speaker 

Keki N. Daruwalla is a major Indian poet and short story writer in English language. Many of us may remember him from the short story “Love across the Salt Desert” that was prescribed by NCERT for Std. XII, English. Daruwalla has written over 12 books. He published his first novel “For Pepper and Christ” in 2009. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, in 1984 for his poetry collection, “The Keeper of the Dead” and the prestigious Commonwealth Poetry Award for Asia in 1987. He was conferred with Padma Shri in 2014. 

Daruwalla is also a former Indian Police Service officer, who retired as Additional Director in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).


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