Sudeep Sen – Language

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My tongue was born promiscuous
speaking in many languages,
 
   my heart speaking another, my head
yet another — in seamless translation.
 
   Auricles, ventricles perennially pump
circulating body’s blood corpuscles —
 
   like letters, phrases and syntax do,
cross-fertilizing, breathing new life,
 
   enriching texture. Their music,
cadence, register, enhancing spatially —
 
   polygamy of grammar, quiet osmosis.
Can a typewriter be multilingual?
 
   For us no country or boundary exist —
my translator, my most important ally.
 
   My forked tongue, my passport —
like an ever-expanding Leaves of Grass.
 
   Speech isn’t caged in imagination.
Language isn’t caged in speech.


Poem selected by Emilia Mirazchiyska, series’ editor

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Sudeep Sen
Sudeep Sen’s [www.sudeepsen.org] prize-winning books include: Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (HarperCollins), Rain, Aria (A. K. Ramanujan Translation Award), Fractals: New & Selected Poems | Translations 1980-2015 (London Magazine Editions), EroText (Vintage: Penguin Random House), and Kaifi Azmi: Poems | Nazms (Bloomsbury). He has edited influential anthologies, including: The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (editor), World English Poetry, and Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians (Sahitya Akademi). Anthropocene: Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation;, Blue Nude: Ekphrasis & New Poems (Jorge Zalamea International Poetry Prize) and The Whispering Anklets are forthcoming. Sen’s works have been translated into over 25 languages. His words have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Herald, Poetry Review, Literary Review, Harvard Review, Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, Outlook, India Today, and broadcast on BBC, PBS, CNN IBN, NDTV, AIR & Doordarshan. Sen’s newer work appears in New Writing 15 (Granta), Language for a New Century (Norton), Leela: An Erotic Play of Verse and Art (Collins), Indian Love Poems (Knopf/Random House/Everyman), Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe), Initiate: Oxford New Writing (Blackwell), and Name me a Word (Yale). He is the editorial director of AARK ARTS, editor of Atlas, and currently the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Museo Camera. Sen is the first Asian honoured to deliver the Derek Walcott Lecture and read at the Nobel Laureate Festival. The Government of India awarded him the senior fellowship for “outstanding persons in the field of culture/literature.”