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Autumn 2007, vol 5 no 3
 

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu: 100 Poems by 100 Poets
Hindi translation by Dr. Angelee Deodhar
English translation by Clay McAuley
A Review by Robert D. Wilson

 

Dr. Angelee Deodhar of India doesn't write or publish Japanese short form poetry to make a name for herself. A spiritual woman and a medical doctor, Deodhar plays an important part in the dissemination of Japanese short form poetry in one of the world's most populated nations.

She has translated into Hindi the following books:

If Someone Asks (Masaoka Shiki's Life & Haiku)
Yuzuru Miura's Classic Haiku
Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (100 Poems by 100 Poets)

Translating any book from one language to another is a major undertaking, let alone the translation of three books. Dr. Deodhar was troubled by the lack of Japanese short form poetical texts available in the Hindi language to her country-people. The majority of India's people do not speak English, nor do they understand Japanese. India's primary language is Hindi. As interest in Japanese short form poetry gains popularity in India, the few sources of Japanese poetry available to Indians are books written in either Japanese or English. This becomes problematic in a nation where extreme poverty and wealth share the same landscape. Once exclusive to the Japanese Imperial Court, Japanese short form poetry in time became accessible to the masses and has remained so. Good literature must never be accessible only to the upper economic echelon. Dr. Deodhar not only translates Japanese short form poetry books into her native language, Hindi, but gives them to her countrymen without charge. I know of no other poet on the planet who does this. Writes Dr. Jagdish Vyom, the editor of India's Haiku Darpan, in the Foreward for Deodhar's translation of Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, "This speaks of her love for Japanese literature and her acting as a bridge between Japan and India." Deodhar's lack of ego and need for self-promotion is a breath of fresh air in global poetic circles.

Said Deodhar in my interview with her last year for Simply Haiku, "I felt it was easier to publish and send out these books to those who might be interested in haiku. I had the good fortune to find a few like minded poets writing in Hindi, one of the greatest being the late Prof. Satya Bhushan Verma, the joint recipient [with Cor Van Den Heuvel] of the prestigious Masaoka Shiki Award in 2002. We met several times and while he was very encouraging of my work he hoped that I would join him in his efforts to promote haiku in Hindi through a journal. He mentioned that although haiku had attracted many people in India, the poets did not really understand this genre. His two books -- Japani Kavitayen and Japani Haiku aur Adhunik Hindi Kavita -- barely made a ripple even amongst the poets writing haiku in Hindi. He was the pioneer of the haiku movement in Hindi and had established a Haiku Club in 1978. Members of this club received haiku, not only in Hindi but in several other Indian languages from which Prof. Verma had translated them. This was published on a simple aerogramme type inland letter, and posted to the various members. Unfortunately this had to stop after a few years due to his failing health.

"To my knowledge, so far there is no official haiku society in India. There are various people writing for some journals/magazines which publish haiku but most of these are writing in isolation, without correspondence with each other. There are others who are publishing English poetry in monthly periodicals which carry some haiku-like poems.

"I had hoped these books, distributed free of cost would, perhaps, encourage an exchange of haiku related material between poets. In this way, at least we will get to know each other."


Ogura Hyakunin Isshu: 100 Poems by 100 Poets
Hindi translation by Dr. Angelee Deodhar
English translation by Clay McAuley
Published by Dr. Angelee Deodhar (2007)