A collection of poems by revolutionary activist-poet Varavara Rao, will be translated into English and published in 2021, Penguin Random House announced on Saturday.
Titled Varavara Rao: India’s Revolutionary Poet, the book is being edited by N Venugopal and Meena Kandasamy and will be published under Penguin’s Vintage imprint.
Varavara Rao is one of India’s revolutionary poets, and this book will be a commemoration of his immense talent and passion for poetry. His body of work is recognized as one of the strongest documents and critiques of Indian history since independence, and this will book will give a peek into his political beliefs.
79-year-old Rao has authored 13 collections of poetry and 16 books of prose, including seven books of literary criticism, in Telugu. A collection of his letters from prison, ‘Captive Imagination,’ was also published by Penguin.
Rao is currently incarcerated in the Bhima Koregaon case and has been in jail since the end of 2018 for alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune in 2017.
This will be a first “authentic, representative collection” of his poems coming out in a single volume.
“This is like fulfilment of a long-cherished dream, as making Varavara Rao’s work accessible to English readers has been my dream for decade. As a person who has closely watched the making of his poems, as one of the first readers in manuscript form, I believe his poetry is an expression of his complete personality that blended social history, alternative people’s politics, people’s right to self-determination and unceasing urge for freedom,” said N Venugopal, as reported in the press release.
“I remember looking at his name as a teenager in the newspapers of the day—a fierce and uncompromising poet. In my imagination, he was an icon, the very image of a rebel poet,” said Meena Kandasamy.