Dilip Chitre

17 Sep 1838
10 Dec 2009
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Dilip Purushottam Chitre (17 September 1938 – 10 December 2009) was one of the foremost Native American writers and critics to emerge in the post Independence India. Apart from being a very important bilingual writer, writing in Marathi and English, he was also a painter and filmmaker.

He was born in Baroda on 17 September 1938 into a Marathi speaking CKP community. His father Purushottam Chitre used to publish a periodical named Abhiruchi which was highly treasured for its high, uncompromising quality. Dilip Chitre’s family moved to Mumbai in 1951 and he published his first collection of poems in 1960. He was one of the earliest and the most important influences behind the famous “little magazine movement” of the sixties in Marathi. He started Shabda with Arun Kolatkar and Ramesh Samarth. In 1975, he was awarded a visiting fellowship by the International Writing Programme of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa in the United States. He has also worked as a director of the Indian Poetry Library, archive, and translation centre at Bharat Bhavan, a multi arts foundation. He also convened a world poetry festival in New Delhi followed by an international symposium of poets in Bhopal.

His Ekun Kavita or Collected Poems were published in the nineteen nineties in three volumes. As Is,Where Is selected English poems (1964–2007) and “Shesha” English translation of selected Marathi poems both published by Poetrywala are among his last books published in 2007. He has also edited An Anthology of Marathi Poetry (1945–1965). He is also an accomplished translator and has prolifically translated prose and poetry. His most famous translation is of the celebrated 17th century Marathi bhakti poet Tukaram (published as Says Tuka). He has also translated Anubhavamrut by the twelfth century bhakti poet Dnyaneshwar.

He started his professional film career in 1969 and has since made one feature film, about a dozen documentary films, several short films in the cinema format, and about twenty video documentary features. He wrote the scripts of most of his films as well as directed or co-directed them. He also scored the music for some of them.

He worked as an honorary editor of the quarterly New Quest, a journal of participative inquiry, Mumbai.

Among Chitre’s honours and awards are several Maharashtra State Awards, the Prix Special du Jury for his film Godam at the Festival des Trois Continents at Nantes in France in 1984, the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s Emeritua Fellowship, the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program Fellowship, the Indira Gandhi Fellowship, the Villa Waldberta Fellowship for residence given by the city of Munich, Bavaria, Germany and so forth. He was D.A.A.D. ( German Academic Exchange) Fellow and Writer-in-Residence at the Universities of Heidelberg and Bamberg in Germany in 1991–92. He was Director of Vagarth, Bharat Bhavan Bhopal and the convenor-director of Valmiki World Poetry Festival ( New Delhi,1985) and International Symposium of Poets ( Bhopal, 1985), a Keynote Speaker at the World Poetry Congress in Maebashi, Japan (1996) and at the Ninth International Conference on Maharashtra at Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA in 2001 and Member of the International Jury at the recent Literature festival Berlin, 2001;

He was member of a three-writer delegation ( along with Nirmal Verma and U. R. Ananthamurthy) to the Soviet Union (Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia), Hungary, the Federal Republic of Germany and France in the spring and summer of 1980 and to the Frankfurter Buchmesse in Frankfurt, Germany in 1986; he has given readings, lectures, talks, participated in seminars and symposia, and conducted workshops in creative writing and literary translation in Iowa City, Chicago, Tempe, Paris, London, Weimar, Saint Petersburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Konstanz, Heidelberg, Bamberg, Tübingen, Northfield, Saint-Paul/Minneapolis, New Delhi, Bhopal, Mumbai, Kochi, Vadodara, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Pune, Maebashi, and Dhule among other places;

He travelled widely in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America as well as in the interiors of India; been on the visiting faculty of many universities and institutions, a consultant to projects. He was the Honorary President of the Sonthhheimer Cultural Association, of which he was also a Founder-Trustee.

After a long bout with cancer, Dilip Chitre died at his residence in Pune on 10 December 2009.

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