Home/ Mint-lounge / Features/  Tagore’s haiku autographs

Rabindranath Tagore has had a decided influence on poet and curator Nilanjan Banerjee’s life. For one, he was born and raised in Santiniketan, attended Tagore’s Santiniketan School, and later went on to study at the Visva-Bharati University that the poet-laureate had founded in 1921. Then later, during a stint at Ravindra Bhavana, his alma mater’s Institute of Tagore Studies and Research, Banerjee stumbled upon a treasure—a dusty old collection of short, haiku-inspired poems by Tagore that hadn’t been published anywhere earlier.

This year marks 100 years since Tagore’s first visit to Japan. In a letter dated 18 February 1915 to Kimura Nikki, a Japanese student at Calcutta University who’d also studied Bengali under Tagore, the poet-laureate wrote of his interest in Japanese literature: “I want to know Japan in the outward manifestation of its modern life and in the spirit of its traditional past. I also want to follow up on the traces of ancient India in your civilization and have some idea of your literature if possible." His 1916 visit was only the first of his five visits to the country, which staggered at different intervals until May 1929.

“I found very strong Japanese influences in KG…and [so] thought that KG’s brush drawings would be most appropriate as illustrations [for this book]," he says.

Vangmayi Parakala
Vangmayi Parakala is a multimedia journalist who focuses on literary culture, while keeping an eye on how the internet and mobile phones influence literature, photography, and communities. She also edits the Books and Relationships sections at Mint Lounge. Currently based in New Delhi, she is an alumna of the Department of English at the University of Delhi from where she earned her M.A, and of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, from where she earned her M.S. degree.
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Updated: 19 Jul 2016, 06:24 PM IST
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