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From the Editors

Words of Resistance

S. Vijayaraghavan, ‘Collective Waves’, archival pigment on paper, 2013


Poetry speaks a language unique to an individual yet aflame with a universal soul.


From Songs of Kabir


धीरैं धीरैं खाइबौ अनत न जाइबौ ।

रांम रांम रांम रमि रहिबौ ।।टेक।।


पहली खाई आई माई । पीछै खै (खाई?) हूं सगौ जंवाई ।

खाया देवर खाया जेठ । सब खाया सुसार का पेट ।।

खाया सब पटण का लोग । कहै कबीर तब पाया जोग ।


god my darling

do me a favour and kill my mother-in-law

Janabai (13thcentury)

— trans. Arun Kolatkar


Chewing slowly,

Only after I’d eaten

My grandmother,



Two brothers-in-law

And father-in-law

(His big family included)

In that order,

And had for dessert

The town’s inhabitants,


Did I find, says Kabir,

The beloved that I’ve become

One with.

Translated by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra


Poetry speaks in many tongues. And we are rich – in India – with our diverse languages of poetry. 




Poetry has always moved people to action. Whether it sings of pain and suffering, or calls for solidarity, or incites brave resistance, poetry is committed to change. Poetry is political.

This is why Guftugu ends 2019 with a special issue of poetry.

Merlin Moli, ‘Walking Dead in Dark Times’

Firing at the Heart of Truth

-Huchangi Prasad


You cowards —

firing at us who wield pens.

You murderers —

celebrating the cold-hearted killing of innocents.


Let the sparrows

build nests

at your gunpoints.


Your guns may have wounded us.

But we are not just bodies,

Mute bodies.


We are children of the earth,

our mother gives us life with every letter,

strength with every word.


Look, this is not blood we shed

but ink, fresh and indelible,

writing the history of truth.


Every drop of blood now reborn

into a thousand truths.


Listen — I know, you Great Devotees!

I know the sword that chopped Shambuka’s head.

I know who demanded Eklavya’s thumb.

I know the truth: I know that sword.

I know you who became a gun

to kill me.


Listen — lies are not termites

eating away at truth.

Guns cannot destroy it either.

But these pens, these countless pens,

How they grow, tall, strong,

like a gigantic tree of many truths.

Translated by Ali Ahsan and Aniruddha Nagaraj


Githa Hariharan

K. Satchidanandan

December 2019