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Letter: Amarjit Chandan on Daniel Weissbort's Indian ink


I came to know Daniel Weissbort closely when Modern Poetry in Translation's Mother Tongues issue came out in 2001. We attended the launch in London and Cambridge – he as introducer, myself as reader. I found him well informed about the Indian poetry scene, as he came to know many poets personally when he visited India and at the University of Iowa, where he directed the MFA programme in literary translation.

I had to be patient for more than 20 years until the publication of my collection of "Englished" (Danny's coinage) poems as the Punjab was not a trouble spot on the globe. John Berger once recommended me to a mainstream publisher without telling me. His advice was not heeded. Eventually a good word put for me by Danny was instrumental in the publication of Sonata for Four Hands (Arc, 2010). I'll be forever grateful to him for that gesture.

Once, at a dinner hosted by a common friend, Danny sat next to me chatting with a lady. Valentina Polukhina, his wife, known for her great sense of humour, was sitting opposite and feeling ignored. She told him loudly: "Danny, I'm still a virgin." Danny gave her a smile and continued talking to the lady.

When I think of Danny, I always see the enigmatic smile in his eyes, looking in the distance behind his thick glasses.

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