Celebrated poet Keki Nasserwanji Daruwalla to be honoured with the Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award 2017

Mumbai: One of India’s best-known poets and short story writers, Keki Nasserwanji Daruwalla, will be honoured as the Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate for 2017.

The Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award, which carries a citation, plaque and a cash prize, will be presented to Mr Daruwalla on the inaugural day of the festival, November 16, 2017, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Nariman Point, Mumbai.

Mr Daruwalla said, “Delighted. The fact that this kind of award exists shows that people still care for poetry. All poets incidentally are not mad as people think, though the madder the poet, the better the poetry. Regrettably I hail from the non-mad variety.”

Born in Lahore in January 1937, Mr Daruwalla joined the Indian Police Service after graduating in English Literature from Punjab University in 1958. He published his first book of poems Under Orion in 1970, followed by another Apparition in April in 1971, going on to win the Uttar Pradesh State Award in 1972.

The author of 18 books, including collections of poetry, short stories and a novel, he was given the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1984 for his poetry collection, The Keeper of the Dead. In 1987, he was conferred with the Commonwealth Poetry Award (Asia) and the Padma Shri in 2014. Ancestral Affairs, his latest novel, was published in 2015.

As a poet, Mr Daruwalla is known for his bitter, satirical tone of poetic presentation, punctuated by poignant visual imagery. His works are laced with anger and contempt, are directed against the dull, passive Indian lifestyle and romantic illusions. What makes his writing gripping is his insight into, and eloquence about, social structures.

Below are the first few lines of his poem Migrations, which also reflect the theme of this year’s festival India at 70. The raw emotions, the turbulence, the pain are all captured beautifully.

Migrations are always difficult:
ask any drought,
any plague;
ask the year 1947.
Ask the chronicles themselves:
if there had been no migrations
would there have been enough
history to munch on?

Going back in time is also tough.
Ask anyone back-trekking to Sargodha
or Jhelum or Mianwali and they’ll tell you.
New faces among old brick;
politeness, sentiment,
dripping from the lips of strangers.

This is still your house, Sir.

Anil Dharker, founder and director, Literature Live!, said, “The depth and eloquence with which Keki Daruwalla writes has enamoured readers over generations, and his cultural footprint on our literature is undeniable. We are humbled to host such an eminent writer at the festival and are looking forward to hearing him speak.”

Harish Bhat, brand custodian, Tata Sons, said, “The Tata group has always believed in the promotion of arts and culture, in its multitude of forms. We are pleased to honour distinguished poet Keki Daruwalla at the Tata Literature Live! Mumbai Litfest this year for the significant contributions he has made in the field of poetry. We hope awards such as this serve as an encouragement for young poets to follow their passion for poetry, which is amongst the most beautiful and powerful forms of human expression.”

Past recipients of the Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award include prolific poets, including Gulzaar Saab in 2016, Vikram Seth in 2015 and Joy Goswami in 2014. 

Ten awards will be presented to celebrate and recognise outstanding works – the Tata Nexon Literature Live! First Book Awards in the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories; and the Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year Awards in the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories; the Tata Capital Literature Live! Business Book Award; Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award; Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award, Tata Literature Live! Publisher of the Year Award and the Big Little Book Awards for Author and Illustrator in the Literature-for-children category. 

One of India’s best international literary festivals, and Mumbai’s biggest, Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest is back to mark the city’s cultural calendar from November 16 to 19, 2017. Over four days, the festival will take place at two venues – NCPA, Nariman Point (November 16 to 19, 2017) and Prithvi Theatre, Juhu (November 18 and 19, 2017) – bringing together an eclectic mix of authors from around the world.

For more details about Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest 2017, please visit the festival website, the Facebook page and the Twitter page.

Entry to the festival will be free and on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Tata group is the title sponsor of Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest. Tata Nexon, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Tata Capital are the co-sponsors, and Landmark is the knowledge partner. The festival is conceived by Anil Dharker, founder and festival director of Literature Live!, which organises the festival with the support of the Tata group.

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