"Digging..." is a popular award winning Indian poem by the internationally acclaimed Indian English poet Gopi Krishnan Kottoor. The poem won Second Prize in the Seventh All India Poetry Competition conducted by The Poetry Society (India) in 1997. The renowned British poet Vicki Feaver was the Chairman of the award committee. This was the second major literary award for Kottoor, who went on to win four more major poetry awards at All India Poetry Competition.
Excerpts from the poem
- The soil I now pick
- contains fragments of the dead.
- They once saddened and happied themselves here
- turning to the sun and moon, quite puzzled
- then taking things as they came,
- for granted. This is hard brown laterite
- that I turn,
- to plant a few bright periwinkles
- stolen from the mound of one long obscure,
- dead. They should grow well here.
- So I turn out
- the millipedes curling up
- ashamed of the sudden expose
- into the dark ringstones of sapphire and topaz.
- Pinned to sudden light they have all coiled up
- in abject surrender. These things we bury back
- with pushed up soil, crushing strange roots
- going everywhere like soft nerve fibers,
- sending messages of thirst to strange
- destinations. Each scoop of mud
- brings more life to light
- lost like death underground
- doing odd jobs, ordained like saints, salient
- in dark recess drawing salary in kind.
- Mud-work is a kind of worship.
- A silent thanksgiving for a home, called earth.
Comments and criticism
The poem has received positive reviews since its first publication in 1997 in the book Emerging Voices. The poem has been frequently quoted in scholarly analysis of contemporary Indian English Poetry. The poem has become very popular in Indian English literature and has been widely anthologised.
- "Award Winning Poems - AIPC 1997".
- Poetry India - Emerging Voices by H K Kaul, Virgo Publications, 1997
- "Fourteen Contemporary Indian Poets – Rana Nayar in The Tribune".
- "Best Poems Encyclopaedia".
- Contemporary Indian Poets by Jeet Thayil, Fulcrum, Bloodaxe Books, 1996