With a background in Bengali literature, Sandipan Chakraborty is a poet/writer interested in understanding how the emergence of a new urban middle class is constitutive of a new language of poetry. While there is much writing on Bengali poetry in the convention of literary studies, Sandipan’s aim is to work towards a more cultural ~ approach, locating poetry and its evolution within the context of changes in the everyday practices and beliefs (habitus) of the middle class in Bengal. More importantly, his project seeks to address the contemporary moment and its impact on literary production.
Sandipan observes that the habitus of the urban middle class started to change drastically from the early 19905 as a result of globalisation. Notonly were new objects with new representational economies like independent radio and television, the Internet, mobile phones and an altered vocabulary of advertisements being inserted into daily urban life, the city of Kolkata, where most of the poets were based, was undergoing radical transformation. New professions and work contexts surfaced alongside an-altered ' sound culture. The context of literary production also changed drastically, as many little / magazines, which had functioned as non-profit and non-mainstream labours of love, began to develop a sustainable revenue model and made profits as well. Sandipan’s familiarity with the context of production of little magazines is underscored by his research on a Sarai-funded project tracing the cultural and economic history of the little magazine, Krittibas (1953-2003). Of particular interest to Sandipan was the impact of the . magazine on the construction of urban Bengali selfllood in post-independence Bengal, and he went on to document and analyse various facets of its publication and circulation.
For this project, Sandipan will use his previous research findings and expand its scope to engage wvith what he describes as the decentralisation of the publishing context of Bengali literature. For instance,‘.the magazine, Desh, published by the Anandabazar ’ Group, used to be the most important platform for Bengali poets for many decades. The i magazine’s revised thrust on current affairs rather than literature coincided with a sudden efflorescence of little magazines published from metropolitan and non-metropolitan ' centres. From the mid 19905, private television channels began to telecast regular programmes focusing on Bengali poetry. The Internet has become a platform for many online magazines that have consistently published Bengali poetry since the late 1990s. All these factors have resulted in a democratisation of the space for literary production.
The factors contributing to the emergence of a new urban middle class have also had a significant impact on the notion of poetic language. Particularly the language of advertisements, Sandipan feels, has had a seminal influence on the use of words, syntax, metre, rhythm and form in Bengali poetry. He notes, for instance, the growing fondness for smart, memorable sentences, often reproducing phrases from advertisements, the insertion of English words, or the use of a catchy jingle from an advertisement as the title for a collection of poems. Moreover, increased access, even in the mofussil, to Bollywood cinema and Hindi soaps has led to the use of many Hindi words in Bengali poetry. The use of Hindi, English and Bengali slang in poetry is also a recent development.
Sandipan will, therefore, map the large-scale sociological, political, cultural and economic changes onto the domain of Bengali poetry to understand how the very notion of a poetic language has undergone a radical change. Though his focus is primarily on the 19905, Sandipan will weave back to the urban poetry of the period between the 19505 and the 19805 in an attempt to track the nature of the changes that gradually took place in the 1990. Methodologically varied, Sandipan’s project will comprise library and archival work sourcing and putting together an inventory all books, of poetry published in the chosen period documentation and interpretation of the content of television programmes on poetry' Cl(ise readings of books of poems and reviews; and interviews with poets, publishers, little ma azine activists, critics and readers. The research is expected to result in a series, of essa sgin Bengali. Sandipan’s project, it is hoped, will make a significant intervention in they(1on’lain of critical Bengali writing on Bengali poetry by introducing new tools of analysis and new ways of reading cultural production.
This description is part of the institutional records created by IFA at the onset of the grant. The project may have changed in due course as reflected in the deliverables from the Grantee.
Grant No : 2006-0-022
Grantee Name : Sandipan Chakraborty
Programme : Arts Research & Documentation
Grant Status : Completed
Start Date : 31-03-2007
End Date : 31-03-2009
Duration : Two years
Grant Amount : 3,60,000
Geographical Area of Work :
Disciplinary Field of Work : Literature
Language : Bengali (Bangla)