“A Recommendation to the Committee” by Karthik Purushothaman

Karthik Purushothaman


after the announcement of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature

Last week, a voice won
because it was heard.
Can you have claimed any
other victory to be yours?

Didn’t the voice, mellow
rattle your walls without
need to bellow? Unplugged
plugged in, from Desolation

to Duquesne, don’t you still
hear the voice blowing,
as constant as a bullfrog’s croak
in the world’s rainiest place?

For real, now the eastern state
of Meghalaya, India, is no more
eastern than Woodstock was
white. So while you complain

from your golf carts, I pray
one day that the Prize also be
handed to the black man who
played the guitar with his teeth

because that to me is poetry.

Poets Respond
October 23, 2016

[download audio]


Karthik Purushothaman: “This is my straightest response to the Nobel Committee’s decision to award Bob Dylan the prize, though Dylan himself has yet to respond. As a writer from the Indian subcontinent, I’m ecstatic. Even though Dylan is white, and the last Indian to have earned the prize won it a hundred years ago, the Committee’s decision still speaks for me and my fellow young poets from India, who would cite the likes of Dylan, Leonard Cohen, or Joan Baez as the reason they took up writing poetry. For as long as the prize continues to be awarded, there is no doubt it will remain Eurocentric. Therefore, every decision the committee makes outside the list of ‘usual suspects,’ I consider a victory for the many forms in which literature exists and continues to thrive, in the present day.” (website)

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