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Rabindranth Tagore’s profound meditations on life, nature, grace and brokenness in the Gitanjali won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Alternately a poet and a philosopher, his words remain a part of our intellectual and artistic landscape long after his death 80 years ago.
This episode of BIC Talks features a conversation located in Priya Sarukkai Chabria’s contemplative and courageous collection, Sing of Life – Revisioning Tagore’s Gitanjali which chisels his prose poems into intense new poems. In the midst of a pandemic we are invited, through this book, to re-engage with Tagore’s prescient ideas on translation and his views on nature, death and suffering. The author, along with translator and writer Arshia Sattar, explore the ways in which this work of Tagore remains relevant to the 21st century even as he points backwards to the long and diverse tradition of spiritual poetry in the South Asian subcontinent.
Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Priya Sarukkai Chabria is an award-winning poet, translator and writer of nine books of poetry, speculative fiction, literary non-fiction, translation and, as editor, two poetry anthologies.
Her books include Andal: The Autobiography of a Goddess (translation), Calling over Water (poems), Clone (speculative fiction) and Bombay/Mumbai: Immersions (non-fiction).
Priya has studied the Sanskrit rasa theory of aesthetics and Tamil Sangam (2–4 BCE) poetics. She is Founding Editor of Poetry at Sangam: http://poetry.sangamhouse.org/. She has received the Muse Translation Award, Kitab Experimental Fiction Award, Best Reads by Feminist Press and was recognised for her Outstanding Contribution to Literature by the Government of India. Her poems have been translated into French, German, Hindi, Punjabi and Tamil. She is currently translating the Tamil mystic songs of Karaikal Ammaiyar and Manikkavacakar and writing a ‘memoir’, The Book of Photographs. www.priyawriting.com
Arshia Sattar obtained her PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 1990. Her abridged translations of the epic Sanskrit texts, Kathasaritsagara and Valmiki’s Ramayana have both been published by Penguin Books. She has also written books for children and her literary reviews appear regularly in various Indian and international publications.