Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Letters to Malay


Introduced by Gargi Ghosh Dastidar

(These letters are of immense importance to readers and researchers of The Hungry Generation Movement which took place in Bengali literature during the sixties. Tridib Mitra, one of the eminent members of the movement had edited and published these letters when the movement became famous throughout the world. Only 200 copies were published, as the legend goes, and it has become impossible to trace out a copy, except for in Subimal Basak’s Archive at 22/6 Verner Lane, Kolkata 700 056, and Sandip Dutta’s Hungryalist Archive at 18M Tamer Lane, Kolkata 700 009.

In view of growing interest evinced by M. Phil. and Ph.D. students of various Universities, I have decided to place it on the Web. The cover of the collection was designed by Argentinian artist Carlos Coffen, which was facilitated by Margaret Randall, the then editor of El Corno Emplumado. As we all know, Malay Roychoudhury has declared that nobody holds the copyright of his collections and works.

The Hungryalist Movement was launched in November 1961 from Patna town by Samir Roychoudhury, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Malay Roychoudhury and Debi Roy [also known as Haradhon Dhara]. They got the word ‘Hungry’ from Geoffrey Chaucer’s line “In the Sowre Hungry Tyme”. They felt at that time that the post-colonial dream of a new, ecstatic, resurgent India had turned sour, and we were hurtling towards a nightmare; the Indian ‘time’ had been engulfed in gradual putrefaction leaving a sour taste in Bengali discourse. This idea was given a premise based on what Oswald Spengler had explained in ‘The Decline of the West’. Spengler had seen history not as a linear progression, but as the flowering of a number of self-contained cultures, each with a characteristic spiritual tone, or conception of the space within which they are to act. Spengler had also argued that cultures go through a self-contained process of growing, going through their seasons, and perishing. The Hungryalist quartet thought that Bengali culture had reached its zenith during 19th Century Renaissance, and it was on its way to metamorphosis through insatiable hunger for outside inputs.

The movement took on, and about 35 poets, writers and artists joined the counter-cultural happening. The movement got world-wide publicity and the participants came in contact with writers and editors of various languages. Their letters etc. may be found archived in the personal collections of foreign poets and editors at Universities. Here are the ‘Hungryalist Letters’from:

Robert Kelly, Allen Ginsberg, Howard McCord, Margaret Randall, Carol Berge, Daisy Aldan, Lawrence Ferlingheti, Octavio Paz, Ameeq Hanfee, Gordon Lasslett, Dan Georgakas, Carl Weissner, Rajkamal Choudhury, George Dowden, and Ida Spaulding). Link: http:/

A Few Words

Dear Reader, here are 23 letters to you from 15 militant voices of the world .Read them, for they are addressed to Malay Roychoudhury, the most uncomfortable and dangerous poet of Bengal and of this equally dangerous planet.

I decided to sew a bunch when I last visited Malay, and found thousands of letters dumped in a trunk lying in a corner of his room. Most of those letters are in Bengali. I had little time and could not go through all of them. I would like to edit a Bengali bunch later as I have found them to be of the most burning breathings I have ever encountered.

In this collection you will find letters from those persons only whom I have heard of, and am Damn fascinated for. Maybe it is idiosyncratic. But take it easy: in that trunk there might be more interesting letters from these 15 voices themselves. These beautiful letters, stepped up chronologically, are going to expose to you not only the personality of the writer but the gradual development of Malay’s personality as well.


26th January, 1968 Tridib Mitra

Robert Kelly, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York

April 1964

Dear Malay,

Your letter gave me much pleasure, the touch of the exciting things that are happening, you happening them, where you are. (& of course how could your letter not excite me, even if in the wrongest way, coming as it does from a country I am forever visiting obliquely, tangentially, like the moth around the big white glass ball in my kitchen that holds an electric light; a light he can never get to, but move always, in crazy tangents, around the globe that both reveals & cancels the light itself. I mean the phantasm that India is in my spirit, in my balls wd say, Konarak, the weight of the body swayed, endangered, balanced! Made me move, forwards & backwards, for its own highest purposes. It seems to me India knows the body & makes and makes a great pretence of non-cherishing it, only to stimulate truly our investigations of it. But I understand that it must be hateful to you to be praised for India, yet how can I get that music out of my head, if I wanted to, to write to you clearly? I cant, & that’s all there is to it. We are where we are, in all ways, with all that means.

I hear you, via Margaret & obliquely via Ginsberg, & from your manifestoes & from your own good letter. A letter I am slow in answering, forgive me, the rush of busy-ness, all things asswise and sublime at once, the push of all that’s on.

I’m not a professor; I’m low ranking teacher at a small college in the Hudson Valley, a beautiful place, trees & river & skies, for me who have lived all my life in NY, the city, The City. Teaching is job, you understand, often a joyful one, that sustains me while I write. Often an anguish of short time. I’m 28, a poet. OK.

I’m sending you a copy of the first issue of MATTER, a newsletter of poetry, I edit here, & will send you copies of TROBAR, of which I am the co-editor---that is published in New York.

Do you write poetry in English at all? Please let me see some, if so.

Thank you again for your letter, & don’t let my delay in answering put you off. Keep well. Our spring has come, wet& warm, just now not a breath of wind, a great stillness.



(Gargi’s note: Margaret refers to Margaret Randall). Link:


Allen Ginsberg, 704 East, 5th Street, New York

28 September, 1964

Dear Malay,

I saw clippings from BLITZ, Sept 19, 1964 p6 and also I think Calcutta STATESMAN 17 September 1964 that you were arrested as well as Samir and two boys named Ghosh whom I don’t know, for your HUNGRY GENERATION manifestoes. Are these the same as were printed in the issue of KULCHUR#15? As soon as I read about it, I racked my brain what I could do to help, and so today wrote a whole bunch of letters to the following:-

A.S.Raman, Editor, Illustrated Weekly, Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Bombay.

Sharad Deora, Editor,Gyanodaya, 18 Brabourne Road, Calcutta.

Abu Sayeed Ayub, Editor, Quest ( sent message to him indirectly), and member of Indian Congress for Cultural Freedom.

Shyam Lall, Editor, Times of India, New Delhi.

Khushwant Singh, novelist and member of Congress for Cultural Freedom, 49 East Sujan Singh Road, New Delhi.

I also wrote to Jyoti Dutta and phoned Lita Hornick of KULCHUR. I asked them, the Indians above all, what they could do to help you, suggested they activate the congress for Cultural Freedom as this sort of thing is the proper activity of the Congress and Quest magazine, and told them that the manifestoes were printed here in CITY LIGHTS JOURNAL and KULCHUR, and were not obscene. So the whole mess was scandalous bureaucratic illiteracy. Please if you need literary help or advice do try to contact these people for support. And in addition perhaps ask for advice/help from Mrs. Pupul Jayakar, 130 Sundar Nagar, New Delhi---she was our protectress in India, we stayed with her, she’s a friend of Indira Gandhi and others. I also notified Bonnie Crown here in New York, the Asia Society, 112E 64 Street, NYC---she commissioned poetry to be translated by Sunil and others and that pack of poems plus your rhythms etc. will be printed together by CITY LIGHTS. She can send you a letter on her official stationary saying your manifestoes are known, published and respected in US and not considered obscene. I will also enquire of Mr. S.K.Roy, the Indian Consul General here in New York who I do not know what he can do at this distance.

If there is anything you want me to do let me know. Write me and let me know what the situation is and what is the cause of the trouble. In judging from BLITZ I suspected jealous ideological Marxists or something. Are you ruined at the bank?? I hope not. Regard to your family. Get the Congress for Cultural Freedom to supply you with a good lawyer who’ll take no fee. If the Indian Congress doesn’t cooperate, let me know, we’ll explain to the European office. Who are the Ghosh brothers? The manifestoes on prose and politics are pretty funny. I thought they were a little literary-flowery, but they MUST HAVE HIT SOME MENTAL NAIL ON THE HEAD. Good Luck.

Jai Ram

Allen Ginsberg

(Gargi’s note: None of the Indians excepting for Mrs Pupul Jayakar helped. Jealousy was from non-Marxist quarters. Ghosh brothers were Subhash and Saileshwar who became prosecution witnesses).

************************************************************************Allen Ginsberg, 704 East 5th Street, NYC

January 11, 1965

Dear Malay,

Enclosed copies of letters from KULCHUR, from Abu Sayeed ayub ( 3 letters in answer to mine---each letter 2 pages) and one from A.B.Shah---Congress in Bombay. You should follow their letter up. Congress office in Paris has been contacted & they will probably send some note, notice to the Indian Committee.

I answered some of your letters via Utpal---I sent copies of these letters, also, to show Sunil, Jyoti, etc.

CITY LIGHTS JOURNAL#2 is on its way to you.

That Jyoti, Sunil, Sandipan & your self are all working at slight cross-purposes is making things difficult. I suppose they are embarrassed by your ‘brashness’ (as TIME magazine might term it) or your slight edge of naievette as I would term it. However, if it is possible to reconcile with them & put up a united front it would be best for everybody’s safety. Best thing is to stop all cutty gossip, for it is only mainly gossip that Abu Sayeed is using as an excuse. Obviously they also were questioned by the Police, and so, feel a common threat with you. Don’t get angry at them---just work out a basis where you can all defend each other---and try you now---the only present basis (since there seems to be some literary disagreement) being freedom of literary expression.

They all don’t want to be grouped as Hungry exclusively apparently, and they may resent or be scared or not want you to lump them all under your Hungry banner. And this is natural. Once a MOVEMENT gets name and publicity it is also a drawback as I’ve found. Also, the name is irrelevant & a drag sometimes to one’s individuality. See the first sentence of my letter to Shakti, Feb10,1963 that was published in a Hungry type magazine in Bengali.

Best not to get angry at anyone---Jyoti, Abu Sayeed---even the police. Think carefully & coolly & get all working together if it is possible. I leave for Cuba in a week and will be back in 2 months.

Love & Happy New Year


(Gargi’s note:Shakti Chattopadhyay, Utpalkumar Basu and Sandipan Chattopadhyay were members of the Hungryalist movement. Jyoti Dutta and Sunil Gangopadhyay were Establishment writers who attacked the Hungryalists in news-weeklies and funky magazines in an unbecoming fashion).





Howard McCord, 304 Oak Street, Pullman, Washington.

22 May 1965

Dear Malay Roychoudhury:

I have enjoyed very much reading your letter and coming in contact with your thoughts. Artaud, Genet, Burroughs:yes.They are the dialecticians of chaos presiding at the dissolution of the west. They describe, with joy and exactitude, the destruction in which they are themselves involved. Burroughs, to me, is a man performing an autopsy on himself. They are all quite mad, and therefore speak the truth. We can only trust the mad anymore. The West began to die around 1750, and it has been the function of poets to recite, in series, the long funeral oration. William Blake began it. Goethe, Baudelaire, Lautremont, Rimbaud, Huysmans(unknowingly), Pound, Eliot, Crane, and all the other familiar names have continued the chant. We are their heirs, and perhaps the culmination, for our anguish and despair, the aesthetic suicide of which we are capable, may mark the end. Perhaps it will go on. Sometimes it seems as though it is the plan for it to go on.

The inadequacy of my coming, touristic encounter with India is deeply felt. I am not an Indian, I will not become one in two months of hurrying through the landscape. I will be richer only by the validity of my meetings, the openness I can maintain. Here in my own country I am alien enough, separated from the culture by an aversion to much of it, by a self-imposed identification with the Mexican part of my life (perhaps it is as if you felt yourself drawn to Tibet), by a long-standing estrangement from its more common goals. I identify most closely with the folk of the southwestern deserts---the American Indians---Apache, Navajo, Pueblo, Hopi, Zuni, Yaqui, Tarhumara, Comancha---and the ranchers. (My family has for a century run cattle ranches in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona---all poor people in a poor land). My wife is Mexican, my second language is Spanish: my children, blond & blue-eyed though they be, are technically mestizos---the mixed-blood that is the strength and heart of Mexico. And here I sit, perfumed with education, owning not an acre of ground, lost from the desert, 2000 miles from Mexico, a poet in my decadence and reality. My children are apt to be technicians, I pray they will be artists.

I have plans, most vague and tenuous, for a book of Contemporary Indian Poetry. University published. Likely no money would come of it, but some passing fame. I ask now for some of your poems for this nebulous enterprise, and your aid in contacting other Indian poets.

From the foregoing you can see some of the difficulty in raising money from letters in the USA. Raising money per se is not to hard. It is raising it in a way that feels decent that is difficult.

Such fantastics we are!

I look forward to seeing the poem that has been the cause of all your trouble. I envy you for your courage, for the more I understand about contemporary Indian society, the greater your courage and daring seem.There are no longer any words we can not use in literature, nor any scenes we can not describe. Our only constraint lies in the definition of hard-core pornography where the obvious intention lies in the excitation of base impulses without any redeeming social features. The change in the last ten years has been tremendous. I remember first reading Miller’s TROPICs in their prohibited Paris editions and actually worrying about official interference were the fact of my reading known. Now the TROPICs are available everywhere and professors use them in discussion groups (though not in class here, perhaps elsewhere). It would be stupid of me to laugh or denigrate Indian society in which movies, for example, may not show kissing or the like, and in which mention of the sexual organs is prohibited. I do not like censors or censorship, but I do not expect Indian censorship to cease with my dislike. You have a hard, long battle before you, for a society of great and unyielding complexity must be moved before you are free. If free you must be. And I suppose you must. But may I say, from the point of view of one who can say in print fuck, shit, cunt, prick, whatever, describe scenes of fellatio, cunnelingus, hetero (Praise God) sexual intercourse or homosexual intercourse, and all (Please pardon my spelling, for I have been drinking very much). My bloody prose style suffers!

That saying these things is not very important. I have one poem in which the cunts of women are sweet and moist as peaches, and one other in which ‘the fuck of voices’ appears as an image. Henry has more, and we ought to be able to say these words, because the mind is like the penis, coming out of the spinal column, sewn to the belly, hard as sugarcane, it talks.

But I will say that there is more. That the societal context is more, that the identity of speaker and spoken to is more. (As I could not honestly, without compunction, use Fuck in conversation with my parents). For they do not so much respond to it as they are defended by it, and do not hear. (So for me Kandel’s POEMS FOR PERVERTS misses, collapses; fatigues itself). What must we use to drive the mule? WE SHALL SAY ANY WORD.


This is an oblique way of saying that I do not trust EVERGREEN REVIEW. There is the stink of money about that magazine. Money that comes from the hard-on, the erection (it is the intellectual’s PLAYBOY, complete with airbrushed nudes. Something coy, cute, cloying---and dead). Hard words for a magazine that has published great writers like Eastlake………

Send me a translation of your poem: for obviously, I have worked myself into a blew-eyed stupor about the problem.

I see you as trying to survive an artist in a society 70 years detained. India is strangely Victorian in its public morals. (How did this come about? Considering Khajuraho, etc.?) Were the English that potent? Or is it Muslim? Hindu? Who digs the mithuna couples now save us degenerate foreigners? All right. The pattern: woman’s position in marriage/household: the corporate family (security at the cost of independence?), the precarious economy (do not rock boats, ever), the tension with the West. The civil service.

Now I must go to bed.

Next day:

The questions still seem to be here.And tomorrow I must lecture three hours on Epictetus, the Enchiridon, and stoic philosophy. Later in the week a special lecture on Blake’s THE MAARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL (which I contend is the first modern poem, the very beginning of all of us). It is so fine. I am translating it into Spanish for the Goosetree Press, which will publish it next year, with fragments from Blake’s drawings. So, I best get busy and to work.

Best wishes. And I hope that we can meet. Write again soon, please.

Howard McCord

(Gargi’s note: Prof McCord had come down to India and had met Malay, Subimal Basak, Debi Roy and Tridib Mitra. To meet Malay’s trial expenses during 1965-66 he arranged publication and sale of Malay’s poem ‘Stark Electric Jesus’ in three ditto editions with verifax cover showing the Sorcerer of the Trois Freres).


Margaret Randall, Mexico City

June 17, 1965

Dear Malay,

Please, please excuse so much time without writing, and now that I finally am able to sit down to write, this jumpy typewriter is driving me out of my mind. The man promised to come this week to fix it but this is Mexico (land of ‘manana’) etc!. How are things going for you---the trial; your case, the things taken from you and your friends, etc.??? All over the world, through EL CORNO, people write asking about you and wish you well, it has caused an international scandal among people in the arts, at least. I hope for good news, please write!!!

And the book with Carlos Coffeen’s drawing on the cover---did it come out???

Under separate cover and by regular surface mail I have sent you two copies of our 13 in which I printed your letters. Hope they arrive one of these days and in good shape. Naturally: when the issue was printed I sent you a copy, but it must have gone astray. I don’t know why Samir Ray received his and you didn’t.

Here we are in deep problems with the magazine. No money, for one thing, and tremendous work. Just when EL CORNO seems to have become a world wide interest spiritually and literally, it faces a quick death financially. The change of government here in Mexico in December has thrown us into utter gloom. All our base patronage was cut out from under us, and we were faced with stopping publication altogether, and so we had turn to a thousand improvised plans to get us through. At the moment we are having a giant art show (more than 50 painters and other artists have donated works to sell for the benefit of the magazine). The show opened at a local gallery a week and a half ago. So far we have sold 18 works, keeping the linotype purring at least through the first part of 15. 15 is now at press and we hope to get through all of it, fingers crossed. I’ll try to use your poem first part of next year, but it isn’t at all sure. We have so much work at hand and so little space and money. In reality, space and money are the same thing!

Otherwise we are fine. Working like hell! Translating; writing, praying, trying to keep the mag going. Learning daily from our children (now there are three), the youngest is a year old today!

Be well. Write. Good luck with the court case!


Margaret Randall

(Gargi’s note: A drawing of Carlos Coffeen was used for Malay’s first Bengali poetry collection ‘Shoytaner Mukh’(1963). Samir Ray was editor of Bengali literary quarterly ‘Mahenjodaro’.) Link:


Allen Ginsberg, c/o City lights, 261 Columbus, SF, Calif

July 11, 1965

I have been wandering around from Moscow to Havana to Warsaw to Prague & thus didn’t get your letter of Jan 29th, much of which is obsolete by now?

I have gotten so many conflicting letters & gossip from every body, I actually have no idea who’s doing what to who in India. Is your trial over or not, & what’s what? I’ve done all I can from here.

I went to Cuba, as judge of a poetry contest ( and later got kicked out for talking too much). It was a Latin American contest, the judges (as myself) all had to be able to read Spanish. Also they’d published poetry of mine & I had friends there and I had spent years in South America. So I got invited. I’ve been back a week & leave again for San Francisco in 2 days. Then settle down to solitary poesy again. Write me news. I haven’t much time to correspond, tho, except in big emergency.

As ever


(Gargi’s note: Malay’s trial continued till 1967. It is obvious that wrong signals were being sent to Ginsberg from vested interests).


Carol Berge

15 January 1966

Dear Malay,

Now I have the third letter from you. Now I have news for you. First of all, I have sent you books, or rather magazines, and in a separate package my own copy of ‘Lady Chatterly’---but if you don’t get my book that’s okay, since we can get them here. The magazines are for the most part just literary types, and they are a ‘test’ to see if you will indeed receive things I send you. They have no risky stuff in them. If they arrive, let me know at once.

News: our Ed Sanders has just been arrested for pornography and is out on $500 bail. We’ve all been waiting for this move for years. This will probably not hurt him, since he is by now a national figure, and many of this country’s finest literary figures are published in his magazine, over the five years it’s been going. But it should be an interesting trial---if it gets to that stage. He is just ready to publish another issue, in which I believe your poem would be included. I’ll tell you more later.

It is so beautiful of you to speak of love to me. Let me put my hand on your cheek and tell you something about me and about my child. Although many men have been in love with me in my small time, it is not a good idea.

I am the kind of woman who has the innate temperament of all writers. It is not so easy for me to remain calm and easy, as the women of your country. We Americans are troubled and difficult. My ideal is to become gentle and fine and quiet, but I am not like that. I love to be active and alive and making things happen. Of course this applies to things literary, such as the group of poets

Who need guidance and action here in New York. Now we have arranged for a new and more comfortable place for the group to read poetry (we used to be at a place called Le metro but the owners were such racists and I felt as did many others that we could and should move out). There is more news. About twenty of us made a recording which will be issued on Folkways Records soon. It is called Jazz Poets’, a category which does not always apply but was used to attract buyers. You shall have a copy if I have any way to get it to you for sure.

I am so very glad to hear that you’re free and safe. I had worried about you. There is a good pride in your being the first to go through this ordeal. Of course, if your friend does the essay on your writings, send it along to me at once; I will go over it and give it in to AMERICAN DIALOG or another good mag, and hope they print it.

You don’t say how old you are but I will tell you I am now in my thirties and my son is 9. He and I are both dark of hair and eyes. I am a small woman and very intense, somewhat pretty, and the boy is very beautiful, with shining eyes and tremendously strong ways. It is getting very difficult to raise him alone. What he needs is to go out into the woods the way we did this summer, and run wild a bit. But it isn’t so easy for me to make this happen. Yes, I love the countryside as much as he does. But I don’t feel safe without a man. So we go very very timidly. But this is a good city to live in. I wish you were here, so that we could share some of it with you. We too believe in love, any and all love, which is all that is worth living for. I love the writing too, as it gives us our friends. Here we have friends and in many cities of this world. Japan, London, Helsinki, Cologne, Mexico, you know. I wish we could come there to visit you. But I too don’t see how it is possible. I have saved some money but it will have to go toward our next long summer---the boy is out of school over three months---I must find a place outside the city for us.

But Malay---somehow I am with you---we all feel alone most of the time---‘the sanctity of the scull’---it is not easy to be a writer and a human---I think of philosophical ideas much of the time these days---how it is to live on earth in this time---how each man is the center of his world---how we move toward and away from each other---I would give you the warmth of your wishes if I could---with this New Year. O yes there is a great difference between being alone and being lonely, which you know. I have so much respect for the struggle of many of my friends, whose work is strong and true. I just wrote a book review on the book LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN, by friend Hubert Selby Jr., which is a major book because it tells in true language about a group of so-called depraved and perverted types---and in the review I defended them and him, because those people have had no choice about how to spend their lives. They (and we) have become what they are, because of the circumstances of their birth and their experience. Of course, Selby has run into a lot of unfavorable comments on his book. And you have heard o0f the trial and subsequent suppression of magazine EROS, whose contents are obvious from the title. Well, Selby had to go through a court trial for one section of his book, called ‘Tralala’ as published in the magazine PROVINCETOWN REVIEW. I think they seized and suppressed all copies of that issue. But eventually, all such cases win out. You know, they have to. Because we writers are dealing with the medieval morality of the masses---who, after all, can use the kind of FREEDOM and LOVING , which we are able to teach them. To me, this is a prime reason for being a writer: to use this gift for a good purpose. It strikes me this is as strong a cause to work for as the Peace Foundation. How do you feel about it? Though I feel I already know your answer; of course. I would like you to send me one of these things: most important, a picture of you. Or, and, a small woodcut or print of any kind which speaks to me about ‘your’ India, and which I can put on my wall and know you are there. Tell me in your next letter about the room in which you live, or the house. Where are your parents? Who are your friends and how do they live? Let me share your in any way you can. I am absolutely your loving friend. The skin on my back says so to you. My boy Peter is your boy and your friend as well. You would find us always loving and sharing. In future I will try to be more faithful about answering your mail. I will send you some more books if you get the magazines I sent. And I will send you a photo and also a print or such, for those moments when the world seems too dry and too difficult or alone. You have our love, Malay---

I kiss you.

Carol Berge

(Gargi’s note: A photograph of Carol Berge was traced out from Malay’s papers in 2003 and published in Disha Sahitya magazine). Link: and


Daisy Aldan, 325 East 57 Street, New York

February 1, 1966

My dear Malay Roychoudhury

A friend of yours, Howard McCord, has sent me your address. I am distressed to hear about your plight, and hope that the situation will be ameliorated as soon as possible, even though, I do not at present, agree with the kind of poetry you and your friend are writing. I think YOU ARE EXTREMELY TALENTED. I am a poet myself and Editor, and a great associate of the Avant Garde. I consider myself in the forefront of the true Avant Garde. I published a magazine called FOLDER which presented poets whose work could not be published elsewhere because of its contemporaneity. But I think what you are doing now is first of all, passé, and second of all, a debasement of the spirit and language. I also think it is all wrong for India, and that there is room for excellence and contemporaneity without debasement. However, this is just my opinion, and I am sure you have good reasons for yours. You certainly should not be persecuted for your poems.

The major reason for this letter is to let you know that I am editing a book for Thomas Crowell called POEMS OF INDIA and I would be happy to consider some of your poems, and those of your friends. I wish to include poems of every region of India. Since the book is directed to young people, I can not publish any of the poems of the nature of the one Howard McCord published (a copy of which I have). If you wish to choose poems that do not deal with sex in this way, then I shall be more than happy to consider including them. I am eager to publish much contemporary work. Also any suggestions you may have about poems of the past which should definitely be included would be deeply appreciated. If any of your friend wishes to send me poems, then they should include a brief biography and permission for me to use.

I will send you under separate cover, my own poems: THE DESTRUCTION OF CATHEDRALS, SEVEN:SEVEN, and A NEW FOLDER:AMERICANS:POEMS AND DRAWING, an anthology. Since it takes months for mail to get to India, I hope your answer will arrive before you receive them. All submitted poems, by the way, must be in English or translations.

I spent four months in India last year---mostly in Bombay and gave a lot of readings of my work. I met many poets whose work I admire, among them, Padgaonkar, Karandikar, Ezekiel, Bapat, Katrak.

I love India, and happy to be involved in this project. My best wishes to you, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Daisy Aldan

(Gargi’s note: Ms Aldan is referring to ‘Stark Electric Jesus’ published by Tribal Press with an Afterword written by Prof McCord. Nissim Ezekiel is the pioneer of Indian Poetry in English, and the rest are Marathi language poets.).

Link: and



Daisy Aldan, 325 East 57 Street, New York 10022, NY

February 25, 1966

Dear Malay Roychoudhury,

Thank you so much for answering my letter so promptly. I shall certainly do all I can to see that your booklet is publicized. I have a copy of it myself. It has some great beauties in it, but contains what I was referring to in my last letter. Perhaps I am wrong, and perhaps I am conditioned by the fact that we here in the West are so bored by now with sexual references, and no longer shocked by them. We feel that the purpose of this shock is now over, and it is the mission of the poet to give humanity hope and not to bore him with these petty sexual references, for example to the pubic hairs of one’s love. There was certainly a time for this when Apollinaire introduced this type of a technique in 1917 and our ‘Beats’, inspired by Miller, drained such words as s -t and f-k to the limit.

I feel, as you, that the poet must be “free”, yes, but “freedom” that we mean is a consciousness. It does not abnegate inner morality based on intuition. (I am not speaking about outer moral laws). Then when one becomes truly FREE, one is also released from pettiness---of concept. This is so hard to write in a letter. Also I feel that modern man (as Krishna himself indicated), cannot be absolutely free of the earth and of men. If he becomes TOTALLY free , as you indicate, even of himself, he no longer has the need to write poetry either. This totality will only come to be in a future that is far distant---and if we poets, develop true consciousness. True consciousness also assumes a certain responsibility. Am I contradicting myself? Ask yourself deeply and truly. Malay (please forgive the first name, but I hope it is all right), what was your intention in writing about masturbation and pubic hairs? Was it because you were truly deeply expressing a Free Divine---earthly concept? Or was it to shock? Be honest with yourself. Was it to destroy Indian rigidities? Or was it a false Luciferic temptation, disgusting itself in Light?

I do not demean your nobility, and am willing to be convinced. Once again, I am not speaking from the point of view of prudishness, heaven knows. I was one of the leaders of the American “avant garde”. But we have moved past the destructive ness into a direction of wholeness and spirit.

“Spirit”, yes, but in a contemporary idiom. I am sending you my books. They will arrive in about four months, no doubt. Please send me your poems SOON, as time is limited as far as the publisher is concerned. The poets will receive a compensation or book for works used..

My deepest wishes for your vindication in that disgraceful trial. What can I do for you? I am ashamed of India for this.

With reverence,

Daisy Aldan

(Gargi’s note: Malay has only one publication in English: ‘Selected Poems’, published by Writers Workshop, Kolkata. The booklet being referred to by Ms Aldan may be some sort of extempore anthology churned out during the movement).Link:,%20Daisy


Lawrence Ferlinghetti

26 March, 1966

Dear Malay: I have read the legal decision on your case, and thank you very much for sending it. I find it laughable. I want to publish it together with your poem STARK ELECTRIC JESUS in the next ‘City Lights Journal’ which will be out this coming summer, and I enclose a small payment immediately, since I know you must need it desperately. I am sending a Copy of this letter to Howard McCord. Perhaps he knows the answers to the following questions and will send them to me right away, since time is of essence, and it may take some time to get a reply from you. I think it is a wonderful poem, and I will certainly credit McCord for having first published it. Bravo.

Allen is in NY and his new address is: 408 East 10 Street, (Apt 4C), New York, NY.

I need to know the answers to the following questions: (1). Was the poem first written in Bengali and was it the Bengali or the English version which was seized and prosecuted? (2). Is this your own translation, or whose is it? (3) Do you wish me to use the typewritten copy of the poem which you sent me last year, or the version printed by McCord? (I find some differences.)

Let me hear as soon as you can. Holding the press.

And Good Luck. I hope you are still able to survive! With love.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

(Gargi’s note: The poem was first written in Bengali and translated by Malay himself. The poem was published in City Lights Journal with an introduction on the movement written by Prof McCord, and the same matter was republished in the Hungryalist commemorative issue of ‘Salted Feathers’ edited by Dick Bakken. “Salted Feathers” featured most of the participants of the movement.). Links:



Robert Kelly

5 June 1966 (birthday of Garcia Lorca)

Dear Malay,

How hungry we all are---and that is that Associative Energy brings prick to its house, food to our bellies, friends to our table, my hand to this paper to wish you “News and well”. I write by the light of two green candles, the smaller one moulded from the melt-wax of the larger---its wick burns faster---the wax is softer; only the hard endures, keeps enough of its divine form to let itself petrify in form, become amorphic fossil of itself ---alive in sorts if not in conditions. (Last month I finished a very long poem, weeks, in 150 Sections---it represents a non-linear structure which is nevertheless deeply committed to receiving what happens around me, to me: what emerges. Work had been started just a year before, right on the heels of that dancer Round Dances was: her body. Now there is a much shorter long poem, “Map of Annandale”). Obscenity we must finally begin to praise and pornography as such, as genre, legitimate form: too long we have hedged about with art vs pornography. Be well and strong, in the image of the body- --I look to see your poems in English.---Courage, love.


(Gargi’s note: The poem ‘Stark Electric Jesus’ has been reprinted and interpreted umpteenth times, and most of all influenced evangelical thinking. The idea of Jesus being Electric as well as Stark had been picked up from this poem since its translation in Western languages. Incidentally, the original Bengali poem used the word ‘Carpenter’).


Octavio Paz, New Delhi

The 16th of July, 1966

Dear Mr. Choudhury:

Last time I was in Calcutta, I met some of your friends who talked to me about you.

I hope I shall find an opportunity to meet you when I visit your city or whenever you get a chance to come to Delhi

Meanwhile please accept my best regard.

Cordially yours,

Octavio Paz

(Gargi’s note: Octavio Paz came to know of the movement through the media, especially TIME magazine, and came down to Kolkata (the then Calcutta), to meet the participants who had created so much turmoil in Indian literary world. A press baron directed him to another group. Paz later met Malay when he visited Patna).


Ameeq Hanfee, 104 Gandhi Park Colony, Indore

26 July 1966

My dear Malay,

I am extremely grateful to you for your permission to translate your poem ‘Zakhm’

into Urdu. I assure that Urdu version of your poem will do full justice to it and may even sound better than the Hindi one. The Hindi translator has done his job very well, no doubt, but at places either he or the press has not been vey careful in the use of ka! ki! ke!

etc., as well as certain Urdu words. On the whole the Hindi version seems to be a fairly faithful reproduction of the mood, spirit and expression of the original

I had written to Basak to send me literature of and on the Hungryalist writings and movement, and he had promised to enlighten me, but I did not get anything except his own article, the Calcutta Presidency Court judgement and the Hindi version of ‘Zakhm’. Whatever I know about your movement is through what I read in BLITZ, TIME, DHARMAYUG, MARAL, GYANODAYA, ANIMA, and LAHAR. I wish to go still deeper before venturing to write about the Hungryalists in Urdu. I am a poet and find your poetry---Hungryalist poetry---full of inspiration, freshness, fire and oxygen.

I am looking forward to the day when we will meet and not only compare notes but also exchange heart and mind.

I was all the more interested in ‘Zakhm’ because I found that you and I share a lot of common ground. There are so many lines in ‘Zakhm’ which express the same or similar experiences I have expressed in my long poems ‘Sindbad’, ‘Sharzad’ and ‘Shabgasht’. I must give you the credit of being more modern---rather up to date in your imagery, diction and poetic statements than I could be. Still your wound is not very different from mine.

Let us all succeed in exploding the atom for real peace and freedom---the atom of our individual experience. After all the subterranean source is the same from which we all have our blood-lines connected.

With admiration, regards and love

Ameeq Hanfee

(Gargi’s note: In fame and impact Malay’s long poem JAKHAM (Zakhm in Urdu and Hindi) had surpassed Stark Electric Jesus by 1966, and was being translated in other Indian languages. The Hindi version was translated by Kanchan Kumar under the guidance of famous poet Nagarjuna. English and German versions were printed by Carl Weissner in ‘Klactoveedsedsteen’. Margaret Randall had arranged its translation in Spanish, when she was in Mexico).


Gordon Lasslett, 67 Acton Street, Hurlstone Park, NSW, Australia

August 20th, 1966

Dear Mr. Choudhury---

Having recently read your ‘In Defense of Obscenity’ I wish to say that I agree almost completely with you. Consider this one a fan letter!

Magazines & books (of poetry) from India are not unknown here but they are all so very very stuffy. Could you recommend some decent titles, perhaps your own, and tell me where I could obtain them.

The maternal side of my family has associations with India in that they were officers in the very British ‘Indian Army’. Perhaps my great grandfather kicked your great grandfather!

How do Indians feel about migration to Australia.This is one of my ideals and I speak in favour of it whenever possible---but Australia is too ‘white’. This country is so bloody empty and in need of cultivation (pastoral as well as artwise) that one goes in to fits of manic depression to see such waste. All because a few sit on their unwritten ‘white Australia’.

What with that, in view of Americanization and the growth of authoritarian nationalism, Asian migration is the only hope of keeping our freedom.

Kiss the Additional Chief Presidency Magistrate

for me


Gordon Lasslett

(Gargi’s note: Hungryalist bulletins and manifestoes had reached Australia via Europe. Austalian magazines could not be traced).



Dan Georgakas, Box 418, Stuyvesant Station, New York, New York 10009

August 23, 1966

Dear Malay,

Sorry to be so long about writing but you can see I have been moving around. Your ‘In Defense of Obscenity’ is a beauty. Allan Van Newkirk is going to print it in GUERILLA. Allan and I are not connected with Artists Workshop except for in the most casual way. Smyrnn Press is separate and so too is the new GURILLA.

Karl Heinz Weissner tells me he has contacted you (at my urging), and he is tuned on by Stark Electric Jesus. I hope you will dig my own Manifesto For The Grey Generation.

Allen and I have founded a group called The League of Revolutionary Poets: Torp. We combine politics with poetry-in-happening---action events. Example: On August 6th we attended a peace parade and hung Johnson in effigy and flew the NLF flag. August 7th we attended the Festival of People at Artists Workshop, and held a mock trial (they had no warning) of love-dove poems, which angered many in the audience. August 9th: Anti-war poems: reading at downtown rally. August 13th: letter to paper congratulating Detroiters on letting their Greek Theatre die since any nation supporting a Vietnam atrocity could not support Gk Theatre too. New activities: war crime tribunal in Detroit, melon poetry reading in Pittsburgh, trial of love in Chicago. We seek creative vandalism. Today I read a foul story in Village Voice. Wiped my ass with it and sent it in to the paper. I am getting a squirt gun and will fill it with paint. Shoot when ready, the Grey Generation. I want to go to the opening night of the Opera when all the shitheads are there, and hurl anti-war poems from the galleries when the war-criminals enter. DADA lives. SURREALISM returns. Lasslett in Australia, Weissner in Germany. Nutall in Britain. Partisan of the world unite. Towers, open fire.

Doubleday & Co will anthologize a poem for me. Story in homosexual magazine. Poem in communist magazine. Makes me a capitalist homosexual communist dog or a chameleon. Clifton de Berry is our man. io! ee! This is the world, begins with a BaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnngggggggGGGGGGGGG…..’’’’’

Wichita Vortex Sutra-----wonderful. Ginsberg reads in Washington Square on Sunday to test new law about pornography and such.

Allen says he has sent Miller’s Sexus.

Prices sky high in New York. Faces ugly. Squalor everywhere. But a vitality. The Blacks are beautiful. Anger. Revolution. You must stay in India and smash them. This is the age of sabotage and subversion. Smash the word. Destroy the logic. Warp the system until it snaps. Love, oxygen, semen, tullipbuds, serendipity syringes----breakthrough in the grey room---dan georgakas


(Gargi’s note: Over the years Mr. Georgakas became a reputed scholar of Anarchism.)



Carl Weissner

24 September 1966

Dear loving brother guru

This finds me in the process of recovery from illness & series of bringdowns & now again working diligently on issue 4 of the mag….before the sickness had led my metabolic blues astray. I had got me a job & they had to pay me for the whole period of illness which is the only pleasant thing abt a job,…I have been able to cut costs for printing the mag down to something like 150 bucks, but still…

Tell me: did you get yr copy of the manifesto? (I mailed two copies to Subimal Basak) and did you get my last letter? what abt the proceedings of appeal? already over? And what the outcome? favourable for you I hope!....yes will write to Donatella…..she has just sent English translation of her Ginsberg essay which appeared in ‘Studi Americani’ in Italy last year…also good letters from Carol and Dan….

YES! BY ALL MEANS SEND THE TYPE SCRIPT OF LIFE , ARREST, TRIAL, GINSBERG, CALCUTTA!!!!! Listen:!! Gerard Malanga just sent a large and fantastic collection of poems, 4 of them dedicated to Allen! Also magnificent photos of Allen and himself! He will probably also write for KLACT abt his friendship with Allen! And Diana Di Prima sent a collection of cute short poems, all from 1957….all this will be included in KLACT 5 (spring 67)…I have also written to Allen & asked him to conyribute original work, hoping he be willing to do so…COULD YOU WRITE HIM AND TELL HIM A FEW GOOD WORDS ABOUT ME AND KLACTO PLAN AND URGE HIM TO SEND STUFF??!!!! He is at 408 East 10th Street, Apt. 4C, New York, NY 10009

I have not yet found time to contact the people you told me, but will do so any day now….I will concentrate on Subimal’s and your work, tho… in No 5….but may be I will also contact Howard McCord (please give me his address!)….if it shd turn out that I have space left for more Bengali/Indian in No 5…..


Also Larry Eigner sent me more poem: today, which will be in KLACT 5…yeah, things are really swinging now!....I am also thinking of publishing George Dowden’s new great visionary poem RENEW JERUSALEM in a limited edition, sometime later this year, if I have the money….(!)…..

The English original of yr article of course will be in KLACT, and I will translate it into German, too, and look around for possible publication in German mag…ok? O YEAH! Looking forward to translated passages from ‘JAKHAM’ plus one page in original BENGALI! GREAT! Please note: Bengali page, if possible, should be written on white sheet of paper in black ink, and should be sent whole, that is, not folded----so that it can be used for repro….

Do you know MAHENJODARO (ed. Samir Roy, 55/4 Natabar Pal Road, Howrah)? What it is like?---and POETRY TODAY (ed. Nissim Ezekiel, The Retreat, Bellasis Road, Bombay 8)? Qk. So much for this time.

All best to you



(Gargi’s note: Mr. Dowden had met Subimal Basak and Pradip Choudhuri at Kolkata; he later visited Patna to meet Malay. He clothed himself in saffron robes and changed his name to Kaviraj George Dowden. Kaviraj denoting king of poets as well as herbal doctor).



Carl Weissner

5 December 1966

Dear malay

The great sky is open----northern Italy washed away in vast mud & storm chaos & deluge----desperate letters from Donatella Manganotti----priceless artwork destroyed forever---and just a few minutes ago I hear in the news that they are in for yet another meterologic showdown---Bihar province like a vast dried-up cunt I gather---hunger & revolts everywhere---German government collapsed, neo-Nazi movement scoring for the gaps: Christian & Social Democrats joining forces to make a last desperate attempt at saving the old ship St. Nanana already half drowned---Hanoi set ablaze by efficient hordes of technicians of death masterminded by sick pentagon eunuchs & a corny Texan cowboy putting out fake charismatic vibrations that materialize in tons of explosives & charred remnants of Asian bodies enabling Wall Street to hang on for another fiscal year---you see how they are caught in loops and spins of lethal genetic roulette---a uniform grey generation scurrying among nuclear debris of heavily infected areas of cancerous mind like rats in terminal stage of dream withdrawl eating erogenous holes in huge chaotic setup of punch-cards that represent lives marked for Total Disposal---one more turnstile before the whole shithouse blows up---Nova Criminals wishing up dwarfed marks everywhere on this sick planet---SECONDS TO GO---you can already hear that heaving human blues heading for its irrevocable Dead Whistle Stop---so? Burning heavens, mister---nova armies conspiring across the wounded galaxies---icarus, nova-directed asteroid, due to blot out a terrestrial spot of bother the size of new york or tokio or London, on june 15, 1967---or September 13, 1968---what’s the difference---with the impact of one thousand hydrogen bombs---you see how things have grown to hitherto unimaginable bad proportions---a disarmament conference would have to include representatives of Nova, Interzone & Minraud, and there’s little chance that one could ever bomb this intergalactic gook rot to parley---and god knows how many of their agents are already operating among us disguised as word & image technicians seconds to go---we’ve got to attune our paranoiac feelers to that vast danger around us, spot them wherever they show a blind spot & stop them dead in their tracks---

In order to achieve this we have to provide ourselves with an insight into their methods & operating schedules, and the work of Bill Burroughs & a few other semantic cosmonauts shows precisely who they are & how they operate---in supersonic patterns of sense-wave control---or long, medium, short & ultra short waves of the world---in cozy bed sitters, court-rooms, arenas, parliaments, newspapers, or gone streets---in subcutaneous offices of annexed brains around the paralyzed globe---right where you are sitting now there in Bad News Department walking in on you cool & casual with a perfunctory ‘hello there’---and metamorphosing you into an obedient Hate Virus host in a matter of seconds---if you are not fully aware---each second & if you do not know who they are & how to fight them---now---in forthcoming issue of KLACTOVEEDSEDSTEEN you will find more details & outlines of steps to be taken towards an immediate universal survival training in a peiceby Mr. Burroughs & Mr. Weissner; called LAGUERRE PARTOUT (war everywhere), precisely showing some of the hideous techniques by which the nova criminals try to mono-police & control & manipulate so-called ‘reality’ in order to subvert & takeover mind & consciousness of every single of us---


(Gargi’s note: During this period Mr. Weissner was quite impressed with the prose style of William Burroughs. He was, for some time, accompanying interviewer of Burroughs).



Howard McCord

10 January, 1967

Dear Malay,

A joy to receive your last three letters, for I see in them your good spirits and your kindness in telling me of the various Indian drugs. I do hope things turn for the better with you from now on, and that your appeal is successful. I have sent today the copy of CITY LIGHTS JOURNAL you requested. I sent it direct to you by airmail. Yesterday I sent you a copy of my new book. Just today I received a copy of Gary Snyder’s reaction to the book, and it was wonderful. I admire him greatly as a poet, and he found my own poetry worthy and exciting, so I too am in good spirits.

Yes, I would like some things from India: either ganja, bhang, or charas. I like the hemp/hashish derivatives of cannabis sativa (here in America the plant is generally weaker than in India, and the leaves and flowers are only smoked). But I do not care for any of the opiates. They are physiologically addictive, and depressants, additioanally, cannabis is a psychedelic. In working over your letters, I have found INDIAN MATERIA MEDICA, by A.K.Nadkarni---and it is a great store of information about Indian medicinal plants. It has an especially good section on cannabis(marijuana).

I have just been through many of the proofs of the new SALTED FEATHERS. It has a fine production, and should be out in a month. Dick may well already have sent one of the flyers, but I enclose one also. He has also written to Ferlinghetti for permission to publish once more STARK ELECTRIC JESUS, with more money coming to you, and I hope Ferlinghetti grants his request.

My anthology goes along---I think by Feb I shall have the manuscript finished. Most of your things---like SEJ---will be included and as soon as I have a good list of contents, I’ll send it along to you.

I really liked the paragraph about your mother & your youth. It would make a good poem.

Ether is probably a good bash & drunk, but I wonder if it does what LSD does. In the old days Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas---as anesthetic) also provided researchers with interesting experiences---William James for one. If, by the way, you should get into bad LSD trip, THORAZIME, a tranquilizer, is supposed to be a good antidote.

A thick letter could probably also contain enough ganja, etc., for a cigarette or two and not be too noticeable, yes?

Much love to you, and I hope the poem in



(Gargi’s note: Prof McCord collaborated with Indian poet Arvindkrishna Mehrotra and edited a collection of Hungryalist writings. Their workpapers are archived in Northwestern University Library, 1935 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois. SALTED FEATHERS#8/9(1967), apart from INTREPID(1968) edited by Allen de Loach, contain photographs of most of the participants of the movement)


Rajkamal Choudhury, Mahisi PO., (Saharsa).

2 February, 1967

Dear Malay

How are you?

Life in villageis very healthy to me. So I am here, silent, also, and happy. But to let me be in contact with all of you, all of us, be sending me magazines…..and…..

Raj Kamal.

(Gargi’s note: Rajkamal Choudhury is a legendary Hindi poet, who, during his Kolkata-days had come in contact with the Hungryalists, and carried the spirit to Hindi literature. He died young due to over-indulgence and experiments with psychedelics).



Carol Berge

March 7, 1967

Dear Malay,

Now I have your photo. McCord sent me a copy, or was it Dick Bakken! .Anyway, one of the friends here. You seem a fine handsome man---and I am glad to see

Samir’s daughter as well. Your face sits opposite me, it is over my kitchen table, on the wall, so that each day when I break bread, I can share with you.

Sometimes I don’t like being a part of a big city, but I never feel alone. This is trouble, in a way: there are always too many things to see and do: too many people and friends. The hardest thing is to be alone and do the work, too much temptation to go out and be busy. I tend therefore to be a recluse in my own way, though quite active to other eyes, in writing activities. I stay home almost all day everyday, to write or read or answer letters etc. I go out three or four nights a week, reading poetry or listening, going to dance programs, or to hear music etc.,---there are many activities within just a four-block radius of where I live.

Yes, of course, I received your resume, didn’t I acknowledge it yet? I gave copies to McCord, to David Antin, to Joel Oppenheimer (I think), and to Bob Creely up at Buffalo (State Univ). I have no idea what might happen but all I can do is to try for you, with those friends who are academically affiliated…..I wish you so much good luck!

Sure, I would like to have a double-volume of poems out, your poems and mine. I shall make the suggestion to Nelson Ball, Apt 4, 22 Young St., Kitchenar, Ontario, Canada, who publishes VOLUME 63, at University of Waterloo, Canada. Nelson recently let me edit a section of New York poets for his magazine. He is also editing a series of small poetry books. Let me get him to write to you; in the meantime, you could write to him if you wish, offering him 15-18 pages of poetry for him to select from. What do you think? I had the idea of giving him two or three ‘long’ poems, each about three pages long. You might do the same. This is one of the proposition that he would be interested in the idea of double volume. I think it would be very interesting indeed & it is possible it would give us a nice public interest, and a tiny bit of money maybe. How are you doing for money these days? Are you working still? Tell me.

What you say about always having felt that in your life there is always something pending, something big about to happen----no, my story is that I did not go anywhere or do anything at all of any importance till I was 30 years of age---so that at 30 I still looked around 22, and my mind and emotions were that of an adolescent. I’ve done all of my growing up in the last eight years. This keeps me naïve and still 10 years behind my peers in my work and my ideas. But I sure did live a fast and hectic 8 years, trying to catch up. All the work of mine that you’ve seen comes from this period. All of everything. I think it is a question of working against fate to get the world accept you on your own terms. You could call it ‘the Establishment’ too if you wanted to. Of course here we don’t have

The desperate poverty and the simple physical argument you have in India---although I was poor as a child. But each artist constructs its irritant against which the struggle seems stronger. All of us seem ill---suited to fit into the society in most ways. I think it has always been thus, as we shall always have wars. Part of the human condition. And the artist representing the human condition has to extend to cover all of human experience somehow---the rich, the satisfied, the ugly, the lovely---all of it---you know all of it no matter where you live or how you live. And so do I, somehow….

A friend, Wendell Metzger, a strange fine man who is a playwright, is going to be in India soon. I gave him your address so that he could contact you if he was able. He is not a part of our ‘hip’ scene as with Allen G. & our other friends, somewhat older too, but a good friend. See him if you can.

Today I think that life mean only resisting; there seem no easy steps or solutions. I wish for too much and then I wish for the peace of no-wishing. This has been a good year until now but begins to get difficult and moody again. But my health is good and there are a few people who understand, and a few others who love me, and always the writing, so one continues. I havent any idea what sustains any of us, do you? I call it ‘The Infernal Spirit’ in my own mind sometime.That doomed flame. You will be a popular success in this country before you are accepted in your own! And how often this has been the case. US writers succeeding in England before US, and our musicians certainly find more success and response in European Opera halls, concert halls and Jazz cellers than in the slow sedentary stiff minds of their own countrymen. Stubborn!

Write to me again soon, now I feel we’ve had some kind of long talk about the condition of being creative----at least a beginning----

With love as always, yr friend


(Gargi’s note: Ms. Berge’s proposal did not succeed as Malay was suddenly suffering from writer’s block and did not write poems till 1985).


Ameeq Hanfee, 140 Gandhi Park Colony, Indore 1

April 12, 1967

My dear Malay,

I am sorry that my correspondence stood still for the last two months or so. I found myself quite barren to create and produce anything. NO communication was possible. A very turbulent emotional and neurotic storm was raging within me. My intellect failed to play the Noah’s Ark. Somehow I am emerging out of this and feel better and fertile. It was quite an experience I never had before. Though incomplete, I find it has filled a gap. When I look back, I feel that only a storm could wash my inner self that had accumulated a lot of dirt and the wet dusters of reason could not clear it off.

I feel it was a process of catharsis. It was like a surgical operation of the heart of my soul and the suffering and pain was because no anaesthesia was given. Now, when the wounds are healing up, I have different vision. It is a pleasure that fills me. The words break, the images crack and the expressions burst when I try them to contain this new experience---perhaps because still it is too hot. I very much doubt if LSD and other drugs can bring forth the images and ecstatic patterns that this semi-mystic experience is projecting before the inward eye. Language is a very weak vehicle to convey this

Well I am anxiously awating the finale of your trial. It is not you but all of us on trial. It is freedom, in you, on trial.

I am glad to hear that the Hungryalists have warmed up again and are assailing the literary scene with more vigour and virulence.

‘Zakhm’ is waiting to appear in print. The mag in which two of my articles and ‘Zakhm’ have been accepted for publication has been delayed and I have not been told when it will be published.

Your suggestion that I must bring out a cyclostyled collection of my translated poems strikes me immensely. I am inclined to take to it.


Ameeq Hanfee

(Gargi’s note: That was the only poem of Malay translated in Urdu).


George Dowden, London.

22 April 1967

Dear Malay,

Good to hear from you; glad you have some kind of job now. I’ve gotten together with Utpal Basu here, good bloke, but doesn’t seem to be doing any writing here; just teaching. He introduced me to the shehnai (recording: The Magical Shehnai of Bismillah Khan), which is a lovely instrument. I dig the morning raga on that recording, but not the evening one particularly. I also wrote to Dick Bakken about collecting SALTED FEATHERS, just yesterday. I am about to write to the National Library of India about Ginsberg, as you suggested. Meanwhile, if you have spare copies of any Indian mags he was in, please send, like UTTARSURI of Dec 1963, MOHENJODARO of 1963 etc. AS I said, I’ll pay---or send you things in exchange. You mentioned wanting books on Cubism, Surrealism and Dadaism---there is a good series here, which includes all of these, a book on each; the publisher is Thomas Hudson; the Cubism book is by Edward f. Fry, the Surrealism by Patric Waldberg, the Dadaism by Hans Richter. Do you have these available there? If not, I’ll get them for you and send. Let me know.

Did RENEW JERUSALEM arrive all right? Let me hear you about it. Seeing lawyers now, wanting to safely bring out an edition here.

America is getting worse and worse; lies and destruction, threat to the whole world. Fortunately the youth are not listening to their bullshit except to jeer at it, and as long as that goes on, can not be stopped, there is hope. If the totalitarian impetus in America gets its own way, and all the power, then all hope is gone. South America would become the next Vietnam, and so on. But think they will be stopped---though not until more blood flows.

Let me know how you are doing. Write soon.


George Dowden



Ida Spaulding

July 29 1967

Dear Malay,

We’ve been back for a few days touring around the Peloponnesos. No news yet about where Linn will be sent----Amman seems doubtful. So in a few more days we may go to Crete. It is interesting traveling about and the children are staying well which is very fortunate. I’ll enclose some pictures: this one is at Rian at the campground there where we rented a tent----Daniel is standing, Sarah is crouched in front, it is my back and then Jane in her bikini. In the other picture you can see Castalian Spring at Delphi where purification rites were performed before visiting the Oracle.

There is a nice shop in Athens (Monastraki) where a man who is a poet makes sandals. If you will send me a tracing of your foot on paper I will send you a pair.

It is hot here. We are staying now in a low-cost hotel in Piraeus (Athen’s seaport) where we are near the boats---also near everything. We are right next to the public food market. It is a fascinating area---noisy, very busy. Also we got lovely fresh fruit.

Best wishes and love

Ida Spaulding