Mangalesh Dabral was born in the village of Kafalpani in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The foothills of the Himalayas formed the backdrop of his youth. In many of his poems you can still feel the fresh Himalayan breeze and see the observing consciousness of the boy who has come from the village to the big city. Although now a praised and acknowledged poet, Mangalesh’s tone is still unassuming. Although critical as well: Is the world good enough for our children? Is human contact becoming reduced to impersonal communications via cell phones?
Mangalesh’s poems are like fingertips that feel out the world and translate what they come across. Pain sometimes does this: ‘Before going to sleep I collect the morning papers / [...] I turn over the pictures / A bridge is collapsing lamentation is rising / A face begging for its lifeline / A man sitting on a chair roaring in laughter’.
Mangalesh Dabral is not only a poet, but has also been a journalist and editor for several decades. He has also translated such writers as Bertolt Brecht, Pablo Neruda and Herman Hesse from English into Hindi.
He has published five collections of his own poetry: Pahar par lalten (Lanterns on the Mountain), Ghar ka rasta (The Way Home), Ham jo dekhte haim (What We See), Aawaz bhi ek jagah hai (The Voice is Also a Place), Mujhe Dikha Ek Manushya (I saw a Human Being). Further, he has published two prose collections: travel accounts in Ek bar Iowa (Once, in Iowa) and cultural essays in Lekkhak ki roti (Writer’s Bread). Dabral has been awarded many Indian prizes for his work, which has been translated into all the important Indian languages and is thus available throughout India.
Mangalesh Dabral is also well-known abroad: he has given readings in such countries as the USA, Russia, Bulgaria, Nepal, Mauritius and Japan, and many of his poems in translation have found their way into various foreign anthologies.
[Mangalesh Dabral took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2008.
This text was written on that occasion.]