chaturangik/SQUARES is a delightfully inventive work of multilectical poetry: Bengali warping into English, English hopscotching into Bengali. An elegant realization of cross-cultural dialog at the level of the tongue, chaturangik/SQUARES resists linguistic stasis in the name of poetic possibility.
Pat Clifford and Aryanil Mukherjee
A bilingual book length collaborative poem
Illustration by Mithu Sen
Published by Cinnamon Teal
45p/Paperback/6.25" x 6.25"
ISBN - 978-81-907296-6-6
Distributed by Kaurab Online
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chaturangik/SQUARES is a book length collaborative poem by Pat Clifford and Aryanil Mukherjee. The book is inspired by Satyajit Ray's seminal film Shatranj Ki Khiladi (The Chess Players). The work deals with the mechanics of chess and politics in both a thematic and formal way. At times the language is opaque and confrontational. In other places there is a resigned melancholy. In the first three sections the text is alternated. In the last section lines are woven together. Often what started as longer poems were chopped or condensed. In the end, each installment was placed into the boxes of a chess grid.
The poem's use of languages is more complex than it would appear. Translation was part of the collaborative process itself, not something done after the fact. In a typical section, Clifford would start out writing in English to which Mukherjee would respond in Bengali, who would then translate Clifford's English lines into Bengali and his own Bengali into English. Critical focus would be placed immediately on the modifications and then prompt the next section. An agreement was reached that Mukherjee would have final discretion over the Bengali text and Clifford would have the same for the English sections.In the end, a linguistically reflected text was produced— a poem that can be read in multiple ways.