Sunday, January 15, 2006

Poem: Varjesh Solanki

Recently I came across the following poem, which I found pretty interesting, enjoying its "found" quality and the ironic critique of globalization. I copied it directly from Poetry International, and it's by one of India's younger poets writing in Marathi, Varjesh Solanki (1970-).

According to the brief biography on that site, he works "with an engineering firm
in Mumbai." The publishing firm Abhidhanantar Prakashan published his collection, Varjesh Ishwarlal Solankichya Kavita, in 2002, and he's received "various prestigious awards for his poetry, including the Kusumagraj Pratishthan’s Vishakha Puraskar and Vasant Sawant Puraskar."

The bio notes that his work has been translated into Hindi and Malayam and, with this piece by Sachin Ketkar, into English as well. (The site also features poems in Marathi and translation by a small selection of other poets, as well as Ketkar's discussion of recent Marathi poetry and his new anthology,
Live Update: An Anthology of Recent Marathi Poetry.)



About films: wanted boys and girls for a new TV serial,
Smart, young, having a good command over language, contact us
With your photo for the screen test. Earn! Earn! Earn! Ten thousand a month
A golden opportunity for the unemployed. Education no bar. A company
With American base wants sales boys and sales girls for door-to-door marketing
Meet with your bio-data. Vasai: the second Konkan. Green Heaven Restaurant
Just five minutes from the station. Recognised by CIDCO.
Twenty-four hours water supply.
With ultra modern amenities. Loan facility available.
Booking open. Are you depressed?
Take two pills of super deluxe before sleep
And experience the power and strength
Which you once had. Internet marriage: 45/55 Marathi caste
Fill up online forms. Regarding change of names: I, Vithya Dagdo Gaitonde
From today onwards will be called Vikas Dagdo Gaitonde as per
Maharashtra gazette no. xxxx dated xx/xx/xx.
Sanju, please come back
From wherever you are, your mummy and papa are waiting for you.
Entire Patil family.
Solve the crossword no. 514. Please don’t send it to our office address
Or try to contact
Our office regarding the same.


Prayer can change your life. Meet Baba Roshan Bangali.
You will get any job you want please contact at xxxxx. A Choice in your hands.
Security in your hands. Swadeshi apnao! Desh bachao! Lost: a brown coloured
Resin bag along with mark sheets and leaving certificates. If found please return to
The address mentioned below. You will be suitably rewarded. Get rid of alcohol addiction
Without bringing the drunkard here or informing him. Restore peace in the house.
Vada Pav, a drama about the contemporary political situation. Actors: the usual ones.
Date xx/xx/xx evening 6.30 pm Azad Maidan. Abortion in just Rs 90/- you will be
Back by evening. Virar. Akkalkot Maharaj Bhajani Mandal at 7.45. Jai Hind.


You will get fresh sugarcane juice here. As this wall belongs to the railways
Don’t spew on it, urinate, or soil it. If anyone is found doing the same
That person will be liable for punishment under the railways law.
Shortly xx coaching classes. Success guaranteed. Vada pav 3.50/- airtime 1.49/-
Filter water avoid grub. Jo chahe ho jaye Coca Cola enjoy.
Use Nirodh with maids.
Prevent AIDS. Don’t park vehicles in front of this gate.
Hawkers prohibited.
Stick no bills.
We will accept old newspapers, brass, copper,
Aluminium waste and torn notes here.
xx road was paved with tar due to the efforts of the indefatigable leader
Of our party Shri xxxx.
The appreciative citizens are requested to regard this.
Yeh davakhana is jagah pe tees saal se chaloo hai.
Wanted boys and girls for packing in a plastic company.
No conditions
Of education or experience. Meet us in working hours.
Ground floor
Alley no 6
Stove/ burner repairer Raju has gone to his village
So this shop will remain closed for a month.

© Translation: 2005, Sachin Ketkar
From: Live Update: An Anthology of Recent Marathi Poetry (Ed. Sachin Ketkar)
Publisher: Poetrywala, Mumbai, 2005
ISBN: 81-89621-00-9

Translator’s Notes:
Vasai, Virar: suburbs of Mumbai
Konkan: the south-western coastal part of Maharashtra well known for its greenery
Choice: brand name of a contaceptive pill
Swadeshi apnao! Desh bachao!: Use indigenous goods and save the nation; a slogan
Vada pav: a common fast food in Maharashtra
Akkalkot Maharaj: a famous Maharashtrian saint
Bhajani Mandal : a troupe of people who sing bhajans or devotional songs
Jai Hind: Victory to India
Jo chahe ho jaaye Coca Cola enjoy: Enjoy Coke whatever happens; slogan for Coke
Nirodh: brand name of condoms
Yeh davakhana is jagah pe tees saal se chaloo hai.: This hospital has been running for the past
20 years.


  1. Thanks for this poem, John. Having read so many "found" poems of this type, I wonder why I like this one so much. Is it the sheer volume? The sense that I both have and haven't seen those advertisements? I'll sit more with it and try to answer.

  2. It is very nice. I like the way the list is busy and cluttered. And I can visualize an engineer rummaging through papers at 8:00 am, just before settling for the day.

    I can't help but imagine the poet along with this poem. The ads are informative about another place, but so transparent that I see him through the billboard and jingles.

  3. Mendi & L, great questions and points. I'm not sure why the poem; it may be the bulk, the specificity of the references which also have a generic quality, the seeming artlessness of its clutter in a way. I'm not sure. It caught my eye more so than some of the other translated Marathi poems. I wonder what this writer's other poems are like. I almost see him, but don't.