Mathura alias Margus Lattik has won the first prize of the annual contest of contemporary devotional writing in India.

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust has awarded his poem Madness with the first prize at the Annual Bhakti Writers Competition. The award-winning poem:



Don’t stop, poor man. The beggar army 
of Jagannathpuri’s lepers will beset you even if 
you don’t have anything to give them; they want alms
and you don’t want them to touch you, 
but they will. Know then 
that this town is your home. Mahaprabhu 
felt separation from Krishna here,
running franticly in these tangled streets,
his moon-coloured madness rustled on the grey pavement. You don’t even know 
what it means to be separated from feeling separated,
you’re an exile, justified only by a visa and these walks
in the dunes where mornings fill with nets
and fish are sold before they have died.

Evening makes a market, fires burn on the beach 
like fires on incineration grounds –
skin goes first, then quickly fat, 
muscles last longer, until it’s only the bones 
and a man’s deeper core that is left. No-one lives here 
forever, you reckon, and thus there is perhaps no fault, no importance 
to this dust and dirt. 
Mourners strew flower petals on the deceased,
and these will burn up even faster than the person
they are decorating for a short time.

In the morning, fish are sold again
before they have died. Only
Radhashraya Baba is not here today,
at seven-fifteen he offers a butter lamp at the Indradyumna tank.
“Water to the Sun, water that is holy.” 
I will stay for today and tomorrow
with only one thought throbbing in my head:

Don’t stop, rich man. If you’ve got something to give,
share it out until the whole world
has the looks of your gift
and no-one remembers you any longer.

(Translation by Mathura with Ilmar Lehtpere and Sadie Murphy)

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