Setu Special: Modern Uzbek Writing

Sunil Sharma
Welcome again!

March comes with its own flavor. You can smell fragrance in the air---announcing the arrival of mild spring, especially in India. In Mumbai, it heralds the transition to the hot, humid and windy summer that carries its own charm for the poetic of the species. The March issue of Setu is dipped in the variegated colours and scents of nature---the primary source of serious writing across time and space. It also has an added exotic flavor imported from Uzbekistan. Curated by young poet-translator-journalist Asror Allayarov, the Modern Uzbek Writing is sheer aesthetic delight. The prose and poetry selections reflect the changing realities of that country in a most telling way. You can hear the soul of the nation breathing. Aspirations, nationalism and realism blend well in these excellent translations by Asror. We thank him for his commitment and efforts to popularize his nation’s modern literature through English to a global audience.

Senior editor Rob Harle continues to contribute richly to the ongoing evolution of Setu by his signature pieces. This time, it is a singular visual essay---photo feature--- on the interaction of Zen and the medium of sculpture. Through photographs of his long journey as a world-class sculptor-poet-philosopher, the venerable Australian unfolds his own inner self through these sculpted objects that are simultaneously, both superb art and a way of living life, coalescing in a single moment of creation that inspires a sense of profound harmony and affinity with nature. The solitude of the Nimbin Valley where he resided for years with his artist spouse---now the famous Harles have moved from the bush to Lismore---helped a lot in realizing the liberal-humanist vision of a Westerner who had eagerly embraced Zen for its contemplative, non-logo- centric and calming features. Zen, for Rob, is a sure- shot path to spiritualism rooted in nature. It is his chosen mode of critiquing excessive consumption and destruction of natural resources for unchecked greed for more profits, as witnessed in developed economies. Zen spells balance for the thinker artist.

Michael R. Burch is the author of the month. Michael---Mike for friends and fans---is a fantastic poet from Nashville, Tennessee. He edits The HyperTexts, an online journal promoting the best of culture through writings from across the world. With background in computer science, this American poet, so far published more than 2, 500 times, is an activist and accessible public figure out to defend the humanism, now in much danger in every country.

Such saner voices like Michael are urgently needed to counter the Alt-right and all the Politics of Untruth.

Veteran author Atreya Sarma has been equally supportive. This time he translates a great story by the noted Telugu author Mantha Bhanumathi. Translations, like bilingual or polyglot authors, connect as a Setu, divergent cultures. Atreya is doing that through his writings of various types.

Poet-scientist Gopal Lahiri delves into his immediate world and comes up with words that define us with our contexts: An author revealed!

Rest of the literary space is also brilliant and multi-hued, like the third month of the year.

Talking of March and not talking of March Hare will look a bit incongrous.

Here, a dialogue has stayed on for decades; a simple conversation that says a lot on the process of writing, truth, intention and execution; in brief, on the very nature of human communication:

'Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?' said the March Hare.

'Exactly so,' said Alice.

'Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on.

'I do,' Alice hastily replied; 'at least — at least I mean what I say — that's the same thing, you know.'

Lot of cool stuff!

So, go ahead, please and ENJOY!
Sunil Sharma
Setu, English