Jallianwala Bagh Poetic Tributes

Gopal Lahiri
This collection of poems by 43 poets from India and Pakistan, is about the salute, the tribute, for those martyrs, the dead who still live within us.


Jallianwala Bagh Poetic Tributes
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Selected & Edited by Gopal Lahiri

ISBN: 9788194518716
Published: September 2020
Pages: 90
Binding: Hardbound
Published by: Virasat Art Publications

Jallianwala Bagh massacre marks the darkest moment in the history of India. On April 13, 1919, the Baisakhi day, hundreds of unarmed and peaceful protesters, including women and children, were killed in the brutal and indiscriminate firing led by General Reginald Dyer and the British Indian Army at Jallianwala Bagh, located in Amritsar, Punjab. This collection of poems is about the salute, the tribute, for those martyrs, the dead who still live within us. Their bloodstains as if still scream and their helplessness still haunt.

For this collection, forty-three poets from India and four poets from Pakistan have contributed and all the poets’ voices are unequivocal in condemning the ghastly incident in their own strikingly inward, some makes unseen regions visible, some places ways and pay their reverence to the martyrs. Some poems are momentary dramas into context, Some poems are meditative, humane and moving.

Among others, Ayaz Rasool Nazki questions the price of martyrdom that are not easily answered. Sharmila Ray recasts the dark times and laments the short memories of the people. Anjana Basu talks about the dyer’s art as a study in scarlet. Muhammad Shanazar lays bare the rubble of human bodies in the massacre, Muhammad Azram exposes the brutal action of the intruders.

On the other hand, Sanjukta Dasgupta makes darkness visible in the Jallianwala Bagh garden, Satbir Chadha offers deep gaze at the tormented souls. Vinita Agrawal seeks answers of the bullet showers, Sunil Sharma recalls the memory that is painfully alive. Rochelle Potkar’s poem reflects the apocalyptic imagery. Above all, Sanjeev Sethi in his prelude absorbs the text of the tragedy and brutality with a great economy of words.

All the poems written in a diverse style combine an astonishing stylistic rationality with a critical gaze that decries cruelty, without reforming or capsizing it, and meditates on its constantly moving forms, on its disturbing surface elements, on its hidden tensions. Like in music, the sudden diminuendos are brilliantly effective at times in these poems.


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About the Author

Gopal Lahiri is a bilingual poet, critic, editor, writer, and translator with 29 books published, (10 books in Bengali and 19 books in English) including six solo/jointly edited books and two joint books. His poetry and prose are published across more than 100 anthologies as well as in eminent journals of India and abroad. His poems have been translated in 18 languages and published in 14 countries.

He is the recipient of the Ist Jayanta Mahapatra National Award for Literature, which was conferred on him on 3rd February 2024 at Toshali Literature Festival, Bhubaneshwar. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prize for poetry in 2021, He has received Setu Excellence award, Pittsburgh, US in poetry. His latest collection of poems, ‘Alleys are Filled with Future Alphabets.’ has received Pan Asian Ukiyoto awards. He has participated as speakers in various literary festivals including World Congress of Poets, Bhubaneshwar, India, Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, Times Literary Fest, Kolkata, Bagh Devi Litfest, Bhubaneshwar, Chandrabhaga Poetry Festival, Konark, Pondicherry Poetry Festival, New Town Book Fair and Kolkata Book Fair.