Chanchal Kumar & Abhijit Khandkar
Ouroboros wants beauty. We want a place which smells like earth after the first damp rain ~ petrichor ~ We stand for liberty, equality, fraternity. We believe, echoing our Babasaheb Ambedkar, that cultivation of the mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence. If we can do it via poetry, nobody’s any worse for it. We are not looking for ornamentation, we shy away from sentimentalism. Pretension is neither our goal nor motto. We don’t want poems that ingratiates us, neither are we looking for anything which proves ourselves superior. But yes, looking away is our only negation. We are certainly not waging war on the Ugly.
When we say we want beauty we only mean we choose to look at the periwinkles and eat litchi tomatoes— we halt to take a whiff of the Lantana bouquet that grow unheeded and unnoticed, by the sides of National Highways, amid soot and smoke. Precisely because we are as resilient as it is. We want to feast on the harvest that still grows on the land we till with our bare hands. We want to hold moths and plant hoppers on the palm of our hand. Nothing more. And nothing less. We drink Desi and we puff beedis. Get it? Sonder is the only philosophy we stand by.
We are here to break new ground our own way. Among those we admire are (in no particular order) : Namdeo Dhasal, Lal Singh Dil, Yogesh Maitreya, Gwendolyn “We Real Cool” Brooks, Langston Hughes, Anna Akhmatova, Chandramohan S, Shripad Sinnakaar, Gautam Vegda, Neerav Patel, Sumeet Samos, Eunice de Souza, Michael Creighton, Akhil Katyal, Chen Chen, Kaveh Akbar, Joy Harjo, Michael Ondaatje, Samuel. Beckett, James Joyce, Allen Ginsberg, Baudelaire, Pablo Neruda, Billy Collins, Jorge Luis Borges, Charles Bukowski, James Baldwin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Charles Simic, Ko Un, Frank O Hara, Robert Hass, Richard Siken, Arun Kolatkar, Mamang Dai, Abhay Xaxa, Ilya Kaminsky, Meena Kandasamy, Philip Larkin, Leonard Cohen, Paavo Haavikko, Edgar Allan Poe, John Donne, Shakespeare, Amiri Baraka, Gertrude Stein, Prahlad Chandra Das, Wislawa Szymborska, James Tate, Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Xu Lizhi, Yehuda Amichai, Mahmoud Darwish, Jericho Brown, Carl Phillips, Emily Dickinson, Neetisha Xalxo, Warsan Shire, Matsuo Basho, Ghalib, Ocean Vuong, Jack Gilbert, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, and still others. You DON’T have to write like them to be featured here. We don’t want no truck with derivative or formulaic poetry. In fact, we advise you to chew and digest them (it will certainly help!) & then write your poem.
Ouroboros is a platform by and for Dalits, as well as for well-wishers from around the globe. Savarnas explicitly are not invited (exceptions aside), although they are welcome to stand and watch as we light the literary /poetry scene on fire. We don’t necessarily hate savarnas. It’s just that we think it’s time they took a break from ruling the country and rest awhile. Maybe learn something too, if they are of the inquisitive kind. And if they have money to waste, contact the founders to see if they’re interested. No pressure at all, though. And we don’t guarantee we will take your ill-gotten wealth. We are self-sufficient (unlike the baniya MK Gandhi lol). So thankyouverymuch. If savarnas think we are unfair/mean and/or snarky, they can go complain to anyone they want. We wish them all the best.
Finally & lest we forget: If you have questions about why we chose to call this poetry journal Ouroboros, you are invited to Google (a lil knowledge never hurt anybody). Draw your own conclusions and critique us. Please. We say this only because the interpretations are numerous. Just to quell curiosity, it involves a dragon swallowing its tail.
Finally, finally, we know we aren’t perfect. We are all in the process of becoming aren’t we?
+Expect more of us cuz we’re legion, quite literally.
That’s all (tell your Dalit poet frens about us),
Good day & adieu!
PS. Every submission will receive a brief feedback. The theme for the first issue is “Obituary”.
Chanchal Kumar is from Jharkhand and currently lives in Delhi, India. His poems have previously appeared and awarded in The Sunflower Collective, Hamilton Stone Review, Welter Journal, Name and None, Young Poets Network, UK including others. Recently, his poems were translated to Bengali by Harakiri Journal. He is pursuing M.Phil at University of Delhi.
Dr. Abhijit Shahaji Khandkar is a Pathologist and writer. He observes the microcosm world under the lens of his microscope and macrocosm of society with his writing. He is an Ambedkarite poet by assertion. He believes all art is political and prefers poetry with the taste of earth in its mouth.
Image: artwork by Kuffir.