Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 27 June 2011

  • Who’s playing

      for Renata Fontenla

    who’s playing
    the symphony of quivering shadows

    the water drips drop by drop
    leaves imprints on stones

    the sun rises
    and small pieces of darkness are
    spread on the white wall of your house
                                    shadows

                                                of the olive tree
                                    of the lamp post
                                                                and
                                                                of the bird perching on it

    the white wall
    soaks the shadows
                                     drop by drop
                                     leaf by leaf

     

    from the crevices of the wall
                         little plants
                         little shadows sprout

    to reach the roots of the tree
    the lamp post
    the bird
    the sun has come to your house

    the door is open
    but
    the house is empty

    the sun stands on your threshold in silence

    by Amarjit Chandan

    'Who's playing', copyright © Amarjit Chandan, 2010, is taken from Sonata for Four Hands by Amarjit Chandan, a bilingual edition edited & introduced by Stephen Watts, with a foreword by John Berger, and translated by the author with Stephen Watts, Julia Casterton, Shashi Joshi, Amin Mughal, Ajmer Rode and John Welch.

    You can also read this poem in the original Punjabi: visit this page on our website. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to see the document.)

    Notes courtesy of Arc:

    Amarjit Chandan was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1946, and lives and works in London. He has published seven collections of poetry and four books of essays in Punjabi and his poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines world-wide. He has edited and translated into Punjabi about thirty anthologies of Indian and world poetry and fiction by, among others, Brecht, Neruda, Ritsos, Hikmet, Cardenal, Martin Carter and John Berger. He was one of ten British poets selected by the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, on National Poetry Day in 2001, and he participated in the International Aldeburgh Poetry Festival the same year. He has given many readings throughout the world including at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest and, in the USA, at the University of California Santa Barbara and Columbia University. Sonata for Four Hands is the first collection by Amarjit Chandan to be published in the UK.

    He has received numerous literary awards for his work, including the Life-time Achievement Award by the Language Department of the Punjab Government, India in 2004; the Life-time Achievement Award by the Panjabis in Britain All-Party Parliamentary Group, London in 2006; and the Life-time Achievement Award by the Anad Foundation New Delhi in November 2009. A short poem by Amarjit Chandan in both Punjabi and English is engraved in granite by the artist Alec Peever and installed in a square in Slough High Street.

    Amin Mughal (co-translator) was born in the Punjab in 1935 and has lived in England as a political exile since 1984. He is a critic of Urdu and Punjabi literature. He taught English at Islamia College and Shah Hussain College in Lahore. As a leader of the National Awami Party, he was imprisoned a number of times. He worked for the weekly magazine Viewpoint in Lahore and was editor of Awaz, an Urdu daily published in London.

    Since it was founded in 1969, Arc has adhered to its fundamental principles – to introduce the best of new talent to a UK readership, including voices from overseas that would otherwise remain unheard in this country, and to remain at the cutting edge of contemporary poetry. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians.

    Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.