Meaningful Verse
Bodh Prakash
ANTHEMS OF RESISTANCE: A CELEBRATION OF PROGRESSIVE URDU POETRY by Raza Mir IndiaInk, an imprint of Roli, New Delhi, 2006, 248 pp., price not stated
May 2006, volume 30, No 5

The title of the book itself indicates the motivation behind it, viz. a celebration of Progressive Urdu poetry. The authors, Ali Hasan Mir and Raza Mir set out to “reclaim the legacy of the progressive poets in an age when their words, insights, and politics continue to be relevant”. They discuss the work of poets like Josh, Kaifi Azmi and Ali Sardar Jaffri who had written about exploitation, oppression, resistance and revolution in general and in particular about the struggle first against colonialism and imperialism and then against the Indian nation state, which they deemed to be hand in glove with the imperialists. The socialist utopia that was imagined in their typically flamboyant flourishes clearly had a transnational character, owing allegiance to “classless” and “revolutionary” China and the Soviet Union. At the time of its inception the Progressive Writers Association consciously widened the scope of its manifesto in order to ensure the inclusion of writers who were not necessarily communists but were broadly socialist, anti-colonial and progressive in their outlook.

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