The threat of imperialist western values has endangered the indigenous ways of life in the North east of India. Poets writing in English from the North East of India have often raised this issue in their poetry and challenged the domination of these imported values. Desmond Kharmawphlang, one of the more articulate voices in the context of imperialist culture, both within and outside of the country, investigates the folklore and myths of the tribal Khasi culture in the North East and offers the values glorified in these indigenous tales as a significant alternative to such imperialist cultural practices. The lament of the loss of the poet’s cultural root in his poetry is therefore an important poetic leitmotif. This research paper is an attempt at an interpretation of this aspect his poetry.
The folklorist and the poet meet in Desmond Kharmawphlang’s poetry. The appearance of myth and tribal folklore is a recurrent feature in Kharmawphlang’s poems. Yet the myth and the folklore featuring in his poems do not function as a route for Romantic escapism. In “Tyrchiang”, for instance, the poet sees his people making an effort to re-interpret and re-live their mythic past as a way out of the hue of the baffling cultural confusion. This sense of cultural rootlessness encompasses the poet too and an effort is made to repossess “the mythical past flourishing in timeless villages as high culture” (Ngangom & Nongkynrih, 2009) in the poem.
The Art of “Khiew