As poets, who have chosen to write in English, from within the boundaries of the sub-continent, what one is often struck by, is the fact, is that there is no deep tradition of “Resistance Poetry” in Indian and sub-continental English writing. One can, of course, point out to some exceptionally brilliant work that is coming out of the Northeast and Kashmir. One can also point out to the recent writings by Dalit poets in English, but, arguably, such traditions are relatively recent. Often times within the Anglophone traditions of poetry-writing, “resistance poetry” has been cast aside on the unfounded grounds of being propagandist, easy, angry, and ultimately lacking in “nuance.” Just to make matters clearer still, while we appreciate and understand that the scope of the political is far and wide, and there is no one form of resistance either, we are more interested in poetry that is resisting pre-existing structures of the State—their dominance, fascism, the violence they perpetuate.
In this issue of Aainanagar, we would like to think through precisely those questions. How can one write complex resistance poems? What does it mean to write nuanced resistance poems during the times of global political crises and pandemics? Should “nuance” and “complexities” be even the terms that poets worry about while writing the “contemporary” during such times? And who gets to decide what is nuance and what is complex? To that end, we invite poets from the sub-continent to submit their poems, as they speak to the idea of “resistance.” We invite our contributors to interpret the term as they want; to play with the many intersections of identities and politics that our times have brought forth, to reveal moments in poems that can embody the co-existence of both “resistance” and “non-resistance.” We are also interested in reading poems that attempt to embody the idea of resistance as much as in their language and formal experimentations, as in the raw materials that they encompass.
Visual art has been comparatively more widely used as a means of expressing messages of resistance in India, online as well as in the protest sites that have often become a hub of posters, graffiti and cartoons. A number of painters, sculptures, mix media artists have responded to these dark times with both abstract and narrative forms of visual artwork.
For us, poetry and visual art are complimentary in creating a language of resistance. We wish to see how they inspire each other and what’s the process through which they can come together organically to build a whole. It is why we are looking artists to work with us to sketch this resistance with us. We are also interested in essays that examine the idea and the culture or the lack of it thereof resistance within the sub-continent.