Kurup, new young poets bring Malayalam poetry to centre-stage

October 2nd, 2010 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook By Madhusree Chatterjee
Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 2 (IANS) Poetry is making a comeback to the mainstream Malayali literature with more youngsters writing, reading and appreciating poetry.

The conferring of the Jnanpith award, one of the highest literary honours, upon veteran Kerala-based poet O.N.V Kurup has come as a shot in the arm for the genre across the state - with new poets emerging from their literary cloisters, writers said.

“At a time when poetry was thought to be dying, the Kovalam Literary Festival has honoured the genre by inviting a poet to chair the inaugural session,” Kurup said, addressing the inaugural ceremony of the festival here Saturday.

He urged organisers of literary festivals in the state - especially the Kovalam Literary Festival - to “focus on the poet who sings of the paradise and the pandemonium”. Poetry should come out of the “hot house” to make its power of healing felt, he added.

Kurup quoted poet Emily Dickenson to illustrate the power of poetry saying: “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.”

The poet then recited one of his self-composed and translated poem “Crystals of Salt”.

Young Dubai-based Malayali poet Saheera Thangal, who was honoured with the Emerging Writer’s award at the opening ceremony by Kerala Education and Culture Minister M.A. Baby, is ready with her second collection of poems “Ashrama Kannayaka (The Hermitage Girl)” about “emotional and feminine power”.

Her first collection of poetry, “Nyanenna Ottavara (Me a Single Line)” has received an overwhelming response.

“It included poems on intense feelings of love, pleasure, sex, social elements and femininity. They have been compared to Kamala Das’ English poetry by critics and reviewers,” Thangal, an advertising executive and mother of two, told IANS.

She is inspired by bilingual Malayalam poet and translator Sachidanandan and poetess Kamala Suraiya.

Thangal, who began to write poetry at 13, said “the resurgence in the love for Malayalam poetry can be put to the honour bestowed on Kurup by the central government”.

“It shows that we still have faith in poetry. O.N.V. Kurup has been experimenting with poetry even at his age (83). A poet must have a poetic mind unlike a story teller,” she said.

Thangal said a legion of contemporary poets with modern sensibilities like Rafiq Ahmad, also a lyricist, Arya Gopi, P.K. Gopi, V.M. Girija, E.J. Joseph and Sebastian were “writing powerful poetry”.

“But the volume of translation of Malayalam poetry to English was paltry compared to the amount of poetry being written. It applies to every Malayalam literary genre,” she said.

According to writer Paul Zacharia, the issues that have driven the movement of Malayalam poetry “are human interiors (state of beings), relationships, ideological conflicts and the changes in the Left politics”.

“The crash of Left ideology has affected veteran writers who had invested all that they believed in it. They have become orphans,” Zacharia told IANS.

Even Kurup, who had once been an old-time Left wing poet and lyricist, switched to themes like ecology. “Kurup is loved because he writes about love and finer emotional nuances,” Zacharia said.

Poetess, translator and editor Sumeetha M. said: “The poetry movement in Kerala was always there”. “The realities that poets address gives Malayalam poetry a distinct identity,” she said.

The 45-year-old poet loves to read poetry by G. Shankara Kurup, who won the first Jnanpith award in 1965.

The Internet has become an important catalyst in carrying Malayalam poetry to the world. “Bloggers’ groups and Facebook communes produce quality poetry by young Malayalee poets both in India and abroad,” Smitha M, who is pursuing her doctoral degree in film studies in Kerala University, told IANS.

Vernacular news dailies also devote space to poetry, she said.

The movement of modern poetry in Kerala coincides with the growth of Leftism, though classical poetry can be traced back to the combination of Sanskrit and Tamil literature (Manipravalam) that flourished in the state during the medieval age.

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