was reading this interesting discussion (thanks, space bar).
the clip i'd posted a couple of days ago- i'd been searching for it for about a year, i think. on etv urdu, especially on sunday evenings, you'd be shown mushairas held in places as remote as jagtial and jagdalpur. all the poets at the events would be covered, all the work they recite, sing, from their first sher to the last nazm, would be covered. who'd watch a program consisting entirely of poetry? people like me, in lakhs, through television. and people who actually are/were at the places were the mushairas are/were held. never less than a hundred, and often running to a few thousands. people, men and women, rich and poor, sitting, in the open most times, for hours, late into the night.
when i was younger, i'd often walk long distances on not-so-walkable city streets to a library or an auditorium where a kavi sammelanam was being held or a book of poetry was being released. at these sammelans, as at those mushairas telecast on etv, one might get to hear only a line or two of impressive verse. most of the poetry could be on well-trodden themes, not very smartly expressed, cliche-ridden. which means you go there expecting nothing more those one or two good lines. and nursing the hope that there'd be more than one or two.
indian poets writing in english are writing for a potential community that consists of english speaking peoples across the world, including india. even if you excluded the rest of the world, the number of people in india who have at least a basic understanding of the language would number more than the entire population of, say, australia (21 million) or new zealand (4 million). or australia and new zealand. so, why isn't there an audience, as some of the poets at the discussion feel, for indian english poetry- in india, especially? i do agree that the audience isn't there, but i don't see anyone exploring the question: why? because there is a tradition or culture, as i pointed out earlier, of appreciating poetry in india. the problem isn't, as someone at the discussion says: less the lack of an audience for Indian poetry but the lack of an audience for poetry in India.