Angular Desire: Selected Poems and Prose by Srinivas Rayaprol PBS Spring Special Commendation 2020
Published 26th March 2020.
A handful of writers defines the canon of postcolonial anglophone poetry in India. Srinivas Rayaprol has generally been omitted from the list. But his recently-published correspondence with William Carlos Williams and with the publisher James Laughlin reveals an accomplished, complex and enigmatic figure torn between opposing forces. His Brahmin Indian background, his profession as a civil engineer in a newly-independent country, were at odds with his Western education, literary vocation, and demonic impulses. Such contradictions are expressed in his intense poetry, here restored to print, providing insights into Anglo-Indian and American writing, and a unique contribution to international literary modernism.
He was influenced by Williams; he resisted (though at Stanford) the formal discipline of Yvor Winters. Touched by Stevens, he also read the European modernists and learned from them. His poetry marks a clear break with the established Indian lineage of British literary influences. Acknowledging the awkwardness of the language, Vidyan Ravinthiran, as a writer, cherishes in the poems 'a voice that isn't wholly and perpetually self-secure'.