Setu Special: April 2017

April-- - not the cruelest month as it was for the exalted T.S. Eliot-- -is hot and windy in the coastal Mumbai. The scents of mangoes and litchis in the air redeem the general discomfiture caused by the high humidity-- -and the eternal song of the nightingale that can still be heard in the leafy neighbourhood of Kalyan, now turning into a swathe of concrete-n- glass, in the booming Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Lucky! Her charming voice adds a special taazgi and tang for the occasional listener, attentive, alert, clued into such natural sounds amid the urban jungle and its harsh cacophony, enough to leave the citizens here deaf due to high decibels. Such small things bring immense delight and psychosomatic relief to the one seeking higher realities via the liberal arts, in minority, in the global bazaar.

Like the month of April, this month’s Setu brings a judicious mix of both salty and sugary notes, then woven together in a symphony for the connoisseurs of fine things. This time, noted signatures from Iraq, Albania, Hungary, Ireland, UK, USA, Canada, Mauritius, South Africa to India lend a rich texture and cosmopolitan feel to the entire experience of reading and writing in one venue; multi-directions contained within a single literary compass, pointing towards a common destination of such an adventurous audience-- -The Republic of the Muses. It also proves that writers across the world have openly embraced the two-nation platform meant for showcasing the best of contemporary writings and doing it consistently month wise through this bi-lingual journal.

We are humbled!

Now, of the content:

Duane Vorhees, a welcoming editor-poet-researcher settled in Thailand, spent few days in parts of India. After clearing the dust and heat-- -the classic tropes of colonialism about a vast land with its own history of more than 5,000 years; plurality and democratic practices-- -the gifted chronicler of our times comes up with a piece hovering between real and surreal; a travelogue condensed and coded in the cultural framework of the country that continues to fascinate visitors. You will enjoy the fast-paced, wide-eyed, breathless account of the former professor and a prolific blogger-writer. A different type of verbal rendering/blending, only Duane can deliver swiftly to his fans.

The featured author, Scott Thomas Outlar, is the new sensation now-- -on the basis of his sheer output, linguistic dexterity, varied styles, vision and prodigious talent. He is everywhere, confirming his popularity in the cyberspace as well as print. Happy to have him as a special guest.

Poet-performer Jawaid Danish is another celeb who has earned global following by his impeccable acting skills and narrative power through the old form of story-telling from the East: Dastangoi. Padmaja Iyenger-- -fellow editor and poet of caliber-- -shares her impressions of attending such an uplifting live event and returns impressed to record it in her style. The genre of Dastangoi bridges the gap between the occidental and oriental traditions by a deft revival by this great Canadian artist.

The Hungarian Poetry in translation by the able Karoly Pallai and a novel excerpt by the high-profile Graham Lancaster, among others, are the other standout features of this monthly fiesta.

Sunil Sharma
Steffen Horstmann is a rising star who has willingly crossed over to ghazal and done so with élan and ease. The young American has made the eastern form his own in his native English and fully demonstrated that for real creativity, borderless roaming, intellectual synthesis and globalism as a credo can work better than the political class dealing with such concepts and realities as convenient labels, often used as mere shibboleths for a gullible public in its relentless march for power and wealth. Poets like Steffen are reassuring voices of sanity and hope in a dismal drama, working as poetic bridges of understanding between clashing cultures-- - dominant and subaltern; mainstream and marginal; the West and the East; the modern and postmodern.

Setu also performs such a unifying task for its wide readers coming from a variety of backgrounds with a binding bond of the fine arts.

Enjoy, dear patron!

Sunil Sharma,
Kalyan, India
Editor, Setu (English)