Dileep Jhaveri

Dileep Jhaveri


Born in 1943, Dileep Jhaveri is one of the most dynamic and articulate poets writing in India today.  Like the Czech poet Miroslav Holub, his poetry mixes the objectivity of a scientist with an indefatigable lyricism.  For Jhaveri, poetry is a theatre of ideas and emotions, and theoretical propositions.  Dileep Jhaveri is a practicing general physician based in Mumbai and a well-known Gujarati poet and playwright.  He has published one collection of poetry in Gujarati entitled Pandukavyo ane Itar (1989) and a play Vyaasochchhvas (2003), which has subsequently been translated into English as A Breath of Vyas by Ms. Kamal Sanyal. Recently, he has published three books of poetry in the United States, Once This Mist Clears (2014), Fire Writes in Several Scripts (2015), Magic and Miracles, (2016) all by The Feral Press. In addition, a selection of Dileep’s personal essays entitled House of Three Widows (2017) was also published by The Feral Press.  His latest translation is titled Breath Becoming a Word:  Contemporary Gujarati Poetry in English Translation published by Sahitya Akademi Delhi.  In addition, many of his poems have been anthologized, and his poetry has been translated into English, Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil, Korean, Chinese, Irish, Indonesian, Romanian, and Japanese.  He has received  the Critic Award (1989), Jayant Pathak Award for Poetry (1989), and the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad Award (1990).  Inside India, he has been invited to read his works by the Central and State Sahitya Akademis, Universities, and literary groups.  He also has been invited to read widely abroad, including at the Asian Poets’ Conference in Korea in 1986, Taiwan in 1995, and such other countries as Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the United States. Dileep Jhaveri serves on the editorial boards of Museindia.com and the Kobita Review.



Once I write Woods on paper
Every leaf, tree, beast, worm
Mud, soil, hill, stream, river, pond
Will remain where they are
Till I dip the pen again in ink
And write another word
This means that if they are not on paper
They are not anywhere
And if they are they are forever in my command

Afterwards if I write Fire they will burn away
And if I write Floods they will drown
After writing Caterpillar so long as I do not write Pupa
A Butterfly cannot fly
After a Leaf if Flapping is not written
Wind cannot be felt
As long as I do not put Raven and Hawk on th top of
Teak and Cedar the Sky will remain unseen
The Caveman busywith painting the walls
Will not cross over the fence of fire
Chewing the flesh of forest beast simmering in its fat
He would keep slurping juice of fermented fruits
Around him squirrels will prance merrily
Earthworms would tickle his soles
Lice will creep in his messy hair
And the pong from armpits of his kept females
Will keep beckoning him

Till I write Helicopter
And put Binoculars in your hands
the Woods written by me on paper will remain Woods only.


Magic And Miracles

You must believe in miracles
Angels, fairies, talking birds, mermaids, witches, goblins, dwarfs, demons, vampires,
elixir of eternity, ghosts, cloak of invisibility,
bull-bodied monsters, snake haired sorceresses,
elephant headed deities, human-trunked horses,
goat footed satyrs, thousand armed heroes,
shamans, alchemists, blind fortune tellers, crystal gazers,
counting of tea leaves, exploring entrails, divining bird flights,
cabbala, Tarot-cards, zodiac signs, amulets, sacred threads,
offerings of incense, candles, cornstalks, hair locks,
levitation, soaring carpets, time-machines, flying saucers,
Batman, Spiderman, Superman,
reincarnation, mercy, love
and many more things
to survive
as a poet
Otherwise the deaf god of reason, judgement and sundials
will strike you dumb

The first word
was not poetry
Poetry existed before that
liberating and relating all
with each other
Ah, the music of the celestial globes!
And the silences of anticipation!
The cosmic symphony needed no hearkening
That is how Poetry exists within and before a poet
Its rhetoric has to sound majestic
even from the plebeian lips
It is a fleeting glint of mirth on the visage of a stoic saint
It is a poised prattle of a child
like a flower claiming to be spring
It is a slant of parting glance and lingering stillness
assuring love
yes, the fairytales!
When the life is dark woods, deep gorges, deviant ogres
mere courage is not enough
A talisman of dragon’s tooth, a ring of invisibility,
protection of one-eyed Cyclopes
a curl of golden hair on which a Sybil has exhaled
is needed

Surrounded by wars, calamities, hatred, betrayals, avarice and indifference
in the decrepit dwelling
of the poet who is dreaming of blending
destiny, history, momentary eternity, recurring surprises of the ordinary
with his only possession
a word
Poetry is a lamp,
a magic lantern

Poetry is not a miracle
but an act of faith
to link here and now with the madly impossible
For that
one has to believe in talking birds and witches on brooms
So that the deaf god of
clockworks and calendars and causality and cosmos
will be dumbstruck
before the magic of poetry.



Born omniscient from the womb of waters
Fire is a polyglot with seven tongues of light
Cackles like dry grass
Stammers like gnarled twigs
Moans like fallen leaves
Roars like forests
Squeaks like collapsing rusted gates
Hisses like molten metal in furnaces
Thunders like lightening
Chants unremittingly like summer heat
Whistles like moonlight
Whispers like stars
and hums like earthen lamp

Fire writes in several scripts
embers, flames, smoke, ashes, coal, tar, gasoline, dynamite, napalm, nuclear fission
or pre-alphabetic lava
Having worked in famous printing presses of
Lanka, Sodom-Gomorrah, Troy, Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople
London, Amsterdam, Warwick, Moscow, Chicago, Halifax, Hiroshima
Fire has achieved perfection of technique and styles
The earlier verbose prose in the beginning
when the universe was forming
lost its monochromatic incoherence
with the stars and constellations and galaxies falling in order

Fire turned lyrical after almost unending narratives of woods turning into wastelands
And folksongs of roasting meats and grains became popular in every hearth
Apart from epic episodes of wars
occasional madness erupted at the stakes or gas-chambers
to entertain perverted audiences
The shrill cacophony of acid-rock pop screeching rat-a-tat-tat
was reserved for feverish fundamentalists or delirious dictators

But now a subtle symphony is serenely composed
by Fire
solemnly returning to its origin
where the womb of waters has frozen into glaciers
Intergalactic Fire, now solitary
fumbles through the strange architecture
like a blind bard deciphering its Braille script

The snow is melting
The sea waters are rising
The clouds are becoming scanty
The subversive silence is far but fast approaching
Fire knows
even the language of submerged silence.


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