Everyone tumbles through these pages: parent and prostitute, lover and charlatan, Jew and Turk, madman and saint, fornicator and abstainer, the geisha and the devdasi as well as the Mumbai starlet. Here’s God’s plenty. Devoured by a voracious appetite, spewed out as poems by a compulsive energy.
Hoshang belongs to everyone. He belongs to no one. He is himself. Which, for a poet, is an achievement of the most profound and unspeakable kind
This is modernism with its pants down, uncle Ezra lending arse at Wayside Inn, Kala Ghoda, Bombay; this is Bombay pretending to be Paris, paan-stained and all. This is convent English giving Mumbai Marathi a well-deserved kick in the pants; this is the Parsi Queen desperately mimicking Sultan Padamsee if not Jean Genet.
My Sunset Marriage represents the life of Hoshang Merchant told through the best poetry he has written over forty years, selected and introduced by the poet Kazim Ali.
Hoshang Merchant (b. 1947) has authored twenty-nine books of poetry, literary commentary, translations, memoirs, and anthologies including Yaraana: Gay Writing from India (1999) and most recently Secret Writings of Hoshang Merchant (2016). In the mid-1980s, Hoshang made Hyderabad home and taught generations of students at the English Department of University of Hyderabad till he retired in 2012.
Kazim Ali’s many books include poetry, essay, fiction and translation. His most recent book of poetry is All One’s Blue: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins India). He is a professor of creative writing and comparative literature at Oberlin College, Ohio.
In the media
On the birth centenary of M.S. Subbulakshmi, Hoshang Merchant reconstructs the first poem he wrote in 1973.
‘Hoshang belongs to everyone. He belongs to no one. He is himself. Which, for a poet, is an achievement of the most profound and unspeakable kind’—Kazim Ali