Alaigal-A short story by Sundara Ramasamy



Waves[Short story]-Sundara Ramasamy


My acquaintance expected that I would be arrested that night. The attraction he had towards me – it is only my surmise — might be stretching the imagination thus, I thought. What is the necessity for a non-violent insect that wanders along the sea shore be arrested? ” It is not like that”, he said again. Three days have passed after this incident (four if late night is included).

All right. On the other hand, it appeared to me that the dark days when anything could happen were originating. Like its first attack, torturing, painful days passed. Mental tortures apart, restless wandering, hunger and body crouching sleep: these I couldn’t withstand. My soles were swollen. The swelling subsided in the morning and turned like bundle in the evening. The mental visions that appeared all of sudden either without my intuition or without my assent were also staggering me. Two or three images changed, and then in the same way… some times, the outlines of kolams stamped out and disfigured, only the dots and the remnant imperfections teemed in my mind. Visions of wild animals arriving in herds in the night vandalizing the crops of the peasants who raised them spending days and nights, and leaving the scene calmly during dawn appears intermittently. There was this tenuous sensation in me that anything could happen any time. But I was not aware of the simple fact that the evolving disarray might solidify on me.

I had decided that after midnight I should start walking and before the sun grew hotter, reach the next village. “That is exactly the wrong move” said my acquaintance emphatically. “There is no proof or evidence that you had said about your journey to any one”, said he. “It would sound as if you escaped from the arrest”, he continued. His logic didn’t strike deep in my mind. However there was one pointer in his words that could not be ignored. The world of the officers were strange. Their world was filled with proofs, traces, and witnesses. Some times while the compulsions of measuring the psyche’s aberrations through logic makes defeat resemble relief and consolation. Even penalization would appear a kind of peace. I gave up my journey. I felt that the very news that I might be arrested had restricted my wanderings.

I would have laughed if some one had told me two days ago that a situation like this would precipitate. I had arrived here after relinquishing everything. I had wandered in unknown places bewailing to death to accept me. I couldn’t just put up with my teeming thoughts I did not know how to avoid their hovering and pickering me. Only sleep was giving me an interval-rest-liberation. However, I could not realize that rest sans any needling had escaped me in my sleep. This dawned on me only after it had passed off. In point of fact, I had great desire to breathe in the relaxation at least for a few moments. However I prayed and practised austerities, it may not materialize for me at all. So thoughts ran. The sadhu I met by chance in the sanctum of Malabar temple’s explained to me stretching both his hands towards the sky: ” The veshti can be dipped in saffron dye in a moment. To dip the mind? Parameswara!” When I had believed that I shall be immersing my mind in saffron this incident occurred like a surprise ambush.

As usual, by evening, I was sitting on the mound of sand. That part of sea lay a bit away from the town. Previously it was peaceful without the crowd’s chatter. Lately this spot had become famous as a vantage point for viewing the sunset and had started attracting crowds. Now here too was a messy crowd. Unusually the sky was free of clouds. You can rely on it. At the last minute a shred of a cloud would arise and hide the sun as if obeying a spell. At times the hiding cloud’s action will be innocent and cute like the action of little children hiding their dear play things. The sun shone through the obstruction also looked magnificent. The sun didn’t set in the same manner twice: I
formed this as a sentence in my mind and felt pleased.

The sun set. The next instant the crowd fizzled and started thinning. The scattering crowd acted as if it was a sin to view at the sky without the sun and as though the crowd had pressing duty that couldn’t be postponed for an instant. On the mound that faced the sea, the movement of the crowd looked very funny. People appeared to have been packed tightly together on a colossal stage and tied by a string and the governing string was being pulled.

The survival for the amount of the light that lingers after the sun set is brief. Moment after moment the darkness would penetrate and blacken. Then the sea would look a little sad: the sea would be subjected to an inexpressible grief. Sharing mentally in that sorrow was my liking

As if from the sea’s depth giant clubs beat the blobs, the waves will struggle to free themselves. Upper surface shakes and vibrates. The waves that cling to the wind reach towards the shore. The cavalry of the serpent warriors approach us jumping. From the sides and from places we didn’t expect, and at unspecified moments, the other vessels of weapons joining the long line making it more magnificient will reach the front. When we ruminate how the idiotic moist sand will retaliate, the army reduced to shambles on the shore will withdraw. Nothing is more beautiful than this, their rise and their momentary life. I had calculated and failed how the rising waves in a particular height with such commotion will touch and make the shore moist at this particular spot. Failing again and again like this had given me pleasure.

Then I heard a snapping voice from the above the sand mound. Only if somebody had strained his lower abdomen and shouted he emit such a sound amid din of waves. The words did not register properly in my ears. The newly married couple who had been standing on the wet sand and drenching their feet in the surf like me, hurriedly turned and climbed up. Again the voice was heard. The woman untangling her hand from her husband’s waved at me, saying “you”. I turned back. On the sand mound four or five khaki-clad police men shouted ” Climb up the shore! Climb up the shore!” They waved their hands with an inordinate jerk and signalled to me. When I saw the , I felt like laughing within me. They looked like clowns peeping from a dance stage or from the school kids’ drama, where the kids themselves mimicked like soldiers, or the life-given police mud dolls giving a slip and standing there with just an hour of prescribed life. Thoughts like that swarmed in me. “Why do you laugh? Climb up the shore” shouted one constable. While I am on the shore how am I to reach the shore? I stood there blinking excessively in a wilful manner. Suddenly my mind was immersed in sadness. Thirty or thirty-five years ago my mother had brought me here for the first time. The fear and sudden seizures of bewilderment and the way I cried struck my memory. I also recollected incidents after that, to this day, on several occasions when sea had toppled me off the policeman, drenching me all over and how I had chucked the sticky sand grains from my hand and thighs. From that day to this, the sea with whom I had formed an intimate relationship and not even the moment allowing myself the simple pleasure of offering my soles to it…. On my barren back I felt the tip of a stick and turned back. I saw a khaki-clad policeman with a lathi in his hand. Why did you nudge me ? Before I could ask. “Are you hard of hearing?” Asked the policeman.

“No”, I replied.

This forthright answer made his blood boil in his head. It showed in his face. The other policemen also closed in on me. Standing there without being afraid became very embarrassing to all of them, and they stared at me with anger. The imagining that i in a couple of minutes they would turn in to mud dolls spread traces of smile on my face.

The police man who stood before me raised his head, folded both his hands like a megaphone and shouted towards the sand dune: “He refuses to come up”. The officers started descending the


sandy slope towards me. In their hurried floundering they had been inscribing their boot prints. I could not remember how many there were. Just the imagistic feeling of more than four persons. Their chief, a slight fat man had an unsteady gait. His cap looked different. Waving his hands and his baton extravagantly he had been moving his body strenuously. Slumping in the chair, restless when the fan stopped, crossing and striking off with a red pen on documents, shouting on the phone he had been managing his office and presently he had ventured out for special reason. So I thought. A few yards away he shouted at me: “What?…. What?…. What?….” For every “What?” The policemen became stiff while staring at me. After getting my answer what the officer would pronounce would be carried out by then in an instant. This was obvious from their stiffness.

“Nothing” I said.

“Then why is it that you refuse to come to shore?”

“I just had a desire to stand for a while”.

“Push him” yelled the officer. The policemen immediately zoomed in on me, lifted me like a bundle up the shore and dropped me on the earth with a thud.

I stood up patting the sand from my hands, right cheek, and ears and started walking towards the sand dune. I casually strode without any sense of shame. Then looking at the sky, and in feigned wonderment, turned to the policemen I said: “What a beautiful moon?” One officer rushed at me and punched me on my back. “Kill him”, yelled another officer in English.

Beyond the sand mound where the coast line joined the tar road, the place looked quite contrary to what it was a little while ago. The place looked like the drama’s new act, the backdrop, setup, characters had changed in a tumultuous manner. Policemen with lathis could be seen in many places. Cars, jeeps, and the higher officer’s vans with silk screens were parked around the place. Approximately one jeep arrived in an interval of two minutes whipping up the dust. Before the vehicles could stop officers jumped from the back door and as soon as their feet touched the land, started saluting stiffly. They all looked like mechanical toys controlled by someone else. An officer in his forties, very tall, accepted the salutations of the policemen with pomp. This place was where the tar road joined the portico of an ancient hotel. The chief officer was seen with other functionaries. In some kind of order, policemen captured their positions. I couldn’t guess the trait of their mental arithmetic. Only because their mental maps mutually complemented each other that they didn’t collide with the others and the orderliness was possible. All of them seemed to be getting ready for the arrival of a high level officer. All their eyes were pointed towards the sand mound with an air of expectation. The silence that ensued and their stiffness combined to a stagnant moment where even a tiny movement or a small noise would be out of tune. The crunching of sands under the boots also had stopped. After this it would be impossible for any one either to clear his throat or adjust his feet unsteadily placed. Those who had such needs should have completed them before a couple of minutes. Or they should put up with the unease for a while.

Now a group of persons moved forward from the sand mound. First the heads surfaced and then their full features could be seen. A few of them, with a synchronization that didn’t confine to a form, as though they had cast off their bodily weight on the air, shoved up without the least effort. It was easy to tell that the man in the middle could be the high level officer. Like a film hero he looked very attractive. He wore spectacles that gave the impression of a learned person. He had very dense hair. His garments were very fine, and of a pure white kind. The feeling that he got promoted straight to the higher cadre showed in his face. The policemen who had been waiting for this small gathering to approach, stiffened further, clicked their boots and saluted. It looked as though their strung nerves could snap off any moment. Even when the sounds of salutation subsided it seemed to rever
berate. Because of this and the sounds of the boots I felt I heard thousands of birds flapping their wings suddenly above the sky. In reality, there were neither trees nor birds.

Then the officer who drove me out from my point at the sea, went closer to the high level officer and mumbled something, pointing his fingers towards me. When the high level officer waved a signal to come towards him I went near him.

“The person who just left is the top ranking officer. A genius”, said the high level officer.

“Pleased”, I said. I felt ashamed for pronouncing a nonsensical word.

From his innuendo I realized that the officers below him due to their lack of tact, had worsened the relationship between me and them and if approached in conductive manner I could unite the knots. “A week ago the sea had swallowed a woman. When the Chief had come something untoward should not happen. That is why”.

I remained silent. “You are sorry for your action. Aren’t you? I don’t like fussing things” I didn’t reply. “It is not shameful to ask forgiveness from us. It is the magnanimous act of bowing your head before the law”.

I stood like a stone pillar.

“You are not a simple person as I guessed.” His voice and expression on his face changed.

A policeman moving forward two or three feet, stiffened up and saluted then clicked his boots and became still more stiff. His face showed that he had frozen, and it would be impossible to the stirring of life in him.

The officer raised his face in a questioning gesture. “Yesterday evening he spoke to me disobediently. When I reprimanded him for having swum to the ROCK OF DEATH , he ridiculed me”. Is it true?” “Yes. Laughable words, if you have sense of humour”. “Do you mean to say that we don’t have sense of humour?” “I am unable to generalize. However, you— I mean — your people in your department are afraid of laughing. Don’t you have the freedom to laugh? Do you still believe that laughter and discipline cannot coexist?”

“Why did you go to the Rock of Death?”

” I was bathing in the Rock of Death. On the other side the Rock of Death resembles a valley. A friend had told me. There the wavelets and swirls…. the beauty of the foam breaking and dribbling from the rocks, the prismatic splendour they create in the crevices of the rocks are ineffable. A marvel. Some inexplicable sadness engulfs the mind and a clear sky would unfold in the heart, making us feel what we worry about are all the meanest of things. Mind feels extremely light. You will feel like bending down to kiss the little plants growing from the rock’s crevices”.

“Were you aware that it was a prohibited place?”

“No I wasn’t.”

“After you were stopped?”

“I thought it was some vain restriction. Does the law prevent one from swimming in the sea?”

The high level officer continued to stare into my face and that moment was weighing heavy on everybody’s heart.
“Get off from here!” Yelled the high level officer in English. I moved away from the spot.
Events started happening from that very early morning in such a manner as to confirm the suspicion of my acquaintance. Once a while someone came to me to enquire about the happenings. They asked, “Why for?” and “What for?” I couldn’t answer them in the way they could comprehend. Everything seemed to be like black magic. I had a suspicion whether they were all my hallucinations.

The afternoon heat was subsiding. Lying on the mandap of the Rock of Death I was observing the sea. The sea seemed asleep or awake lazily dangling its legs. As though so far hiding beyond the steps, a policeman sprang up and tapped his lathi on the steps.

He informed that the high level officer wanted to meet me. Floating in the air, like a prophet, his dress fluttering in the wind, his form moved with brightness filled my mind. I felt happy that I was going to meet him again. I asked myself the reasons for my reaction. It was sure that things were brewing up to ruin my peace of mind.
When his eyes were drawn towards me his face lit up like a triggered lamp. The radiant whiteness from his teeth seemed to spread all over his face. The butler who was standing at the rear entrance saw the officer, disappeared and came back with a cup of tea which he placed it before me.

The officer glanced at me and said: “Take your tea”. ” Why have you stopped talking?. It was extremely absorbing”. The officer continued his dialogue with a sanyasin seated in front of him.

Getting the full-hearted appreciation from the officer the sanyasin had forgotten where he paused. His head was closely shaven. He should have had his tonsure a day before. He was youngish. He had shining chubby cheeks that made him look like a doll. He was very fair and handsome. The way his left pupa moved for the word gave him the dulness and inability to grasp what was being said to him.

“You were narrating how the swamiji had reached this spot..”, the officer gave the cue.

“Yes. Yes” Nodding his head forcefully, the sanyasin started again enthusiastically. “I don’t remember the year. What would have been his age at that time? May be 25 or 26. Young age. All over India, just on foot. Stretching himself wherever it was possible… Eating whatever came into his hands.. Begging alms… Wandering. From one town to another. Sheer wandering…?

“What a moving thing?” Exclaimed the officer. “How many days he stayed there, where and with whom and how—nothing is clear. Three days of meditation on the rock/ No. Two days. Nothing to eat or drink. How did he reach the rock? One group says he used the boat. The other argued that he swam the sea.”

“No, No. He swam and reached the rock.. He did really swim..” Said the officer thumping his fist on the table and in a louder tone: “I have read it. I remember it perfectly well”, thundered the officer.

Hearing about the officer’s reading the sanyasin became very surprised and exclaimed: “oh! Have you read Have you read?”. The swamiji should have swum the sea said the sanyasin. He continued: “What a courage! What adventure!”.

The weighing silence made the atmosphere of the room heavy. The officer cleared his throat and turned his face towards my side.

“You look like an educated person. Why all the confrontation with the officers?”

” I didn’t confront” I replied.

Pointing his fingers towards me, the officer told the sanyasin: “This man swum to the Rock of Death

When our men intervened he had retorted with his words”.

” He went to the Rock of Death swimming?” the sanyasin mouthed it like a pronouncement and laughed. The officer also laughed. Suddenly, in an unexpected moment the sanyasin’s face turned like the officer’s—irritable and red.

“That is wrong. Not at all the right thing”, the sanyasin spoke in English. He seemed to be adding unnecessary strength in his voice. Slightly lowering his voice and with an admonishing tone: ” You should have cooperated in m maintaining the law and order. That was expected of you”.

“I don’t have faith!”

“In what?”

“In your law and.. in your order….”

“All right. Then tell me what is your faith? Everybody can act as he or she wishes…”

“Please don’t ask me anything. I am a bundle of confusion… Nothing is clear and lucid to me. The two of you, on different levels seem to know what os wrong what is right. You are too clear cut. Your clarity is very obscene. How can you talk without the slight oscillation, with clarity and without feeling abashed?”

“You seem to be talking too much”, said the officer. You seem to be talking with an ego that you are the all-knowing person”.

“No, I am not egotistic. I am just a hole. Emptiness. I have nothing to contain in me. Through me everything is pouring out. allow me to wander. Do not bother me. Please… Please…..Please”. I had started shouting at the top of my voice.

“His mind is sick’, said sanyasin. “He should be sent for psychiatric check up”.

“No, No, I shouted again. “Wandering is the only activity that gives me pleasure. Don’t make that impossible for me”.

” I am arresting you”, pronounced the officer. His thumb pressed the bell on the table. Translated from original Tamil (“Alaigal from the anthology titled KAAGANKAL(Sep.2000) by Rajaram Brammaran


ஆர்க்கிபால்ட் மேக்லீஷ்-கவிதைக் கலை(Archibald Macleish-Ars Poetica)


Archibald Macleish

ஆர்க்கிபால்ட் மேக்லீஷ் (அமெரிக்கா)

கவிதைக் கலை-Ars Poetica

ஒரு கவிதை இருக்க வேண்டும்

உணர முடிவதாய்

உருண்டு திரண்ட பழம் போல மௌனமாய்


புராதனப் பதக்கங்கள் கட்டைவிரலுக்குத் தட்டுப்படுவது போல்

பாசி வளர்ந்து படிந்த

கைப்பகுதிகளால் தேய்ந்த ஜன்னல் விளிம்புகளைப்

போல மௌனமாய்

ஒரு கவிதை வார்த்தையற்றிருக்க வேண்டும்

பறவைகளின் பறத்தல் போல

நிலா உயர்வதைப் போல்

காலத்தினுள் கவிதை இயக்கமில்லாதிருக்க வேண்டும்

இரவு பின்னலிட்ட மரங்களை குறுங்கிளை அடுத்த குறுங்கிளையாக நிலா

விடுவிப்பது போல

பனிக்காலத்து இலைகளின் பின்புறமிருந்து நிலா

ஞாபகம் ஞாபகமாக மனதை விடுவிப்பது போல

ஒரு கவிதை காலத்தினுள் சலனமில்லாதிருக்க வேண்டும்

நிலா உயர்வது போல்

ஒரு கவிதை சமானமாய் இருக்க வேண்டும்

நிஜத்திற்கு இணையாய் அல்ல

எல்லாத் துயரத்திற்கும்

ஒரு வெற்று வாசலைப் போல

மேப்பிள் மர இலையைப் போல


தலைசாயும் புற்கள் மற்றும் கடலுக்கு மேலாக இரணடு வெளிச்சங்களைப் போல

ஒரு கவிதை அர்த்தம் தரக்கூடாது

இருக்க வேண்டும் கவிதையாக.

Five decades of Tamil Poetry


C.Subramanya Bharati (1822-1921) was the trailblazer of modern poetry in Tamil. Like Rabindranath Tagore, Subramanya Bharati was strongly influenced by Walt Whitman. More than in any other Indian language the burden of tradition in Tamil is onerous. The transition from prosody to free verse was not smooth. For the Tamils have been writing everything from ‘songs of love and war,’ grammatical treatises and medical manuals in verse. Subramanya Bharati reflected the ethos of the pre-independence era in Tamil. But his innovative spirit made him search for newer forms in poetry. Subramanya Bharati’s efforts did not amount an all-out revolution since he continued to write in prosody and never forgot to set them to classical carnatic music. It is hard to imagine a personality like Bharati today. Only he could blend the worship of Shakti with the vision of the Russian Revolution. Thankfully he set the women’s liberation going, though today a few may nit-pick his thoughts about women’s lib. With Whitman’s free verse Bharati blended the powerful cadences of Vedic hymns. Aside from these his other sources of inspiration were Shelly and the Japanese haiku poets. With Bharati seeds of Tamil free verse were sown, though he apologetically referred to them as “prose poems.”

His cosmopolitan outlook stands in stark contrast to the parochial stance of his disciple Bharati Dasan, who didn’t continue Bharati’s efforts in liberating poetry from verse. In the hands of Bharati Dasan creation shrank to the constricting mould of habit. If Bharati was a ‘national consciousness’ Bharati Dasan was a ‘regional identity.’ Bharati Dasan’s disciples and imitators hampered the growth of modern Tamil poetry for quite some years.They forgot to realize that tradition is constantly being modified by both past and future as has been pointed out by T.S.Eliot. I.A.Richard’s observations reinforce this point further:

“(Poetry) must correspond to needs, impulses, attitudes, which do not arise in the same fashion for poets in the past . . . .Our attitudes to man, to nature, and to the universe change with every generation and have changed with unusual violence in recent years. We cannot leave these changes out of account in judging modern poetry. When attitudes are changing . . . poetry cannot remain stationary.”1

In a milieu that was hostile to the development of free verse the contributions of little magazines have been of supreme importance. Without any hesitation one can say that the growth of modern Tamil poetry goes hand in hand with the growth of little magazines. C.S.Chellappa (1912-1998)’s journal Ehzuthu strongly influenced the modern literature of Tamil. Along with Pichamurthi other poets like .S.Venugopalan, Nakulan, Pasuvaiah (Sundara Ramasamy), S.Vaitheeswaran, C.Mani and Dharmu Sivaramu made considerable contributions to new poetry. Chellappa brought out the first modern poetry anthology called ‘Pudhkkuralgal’ (The New Voices) as a publication from Ezhuthu.
Bharati pioneered the cause of modern Tamil poetry. But Pichamurthy (1900-1976) is considered the father of new poetry. Between 1934 and 1976 all that Pichamurthy wrote helped to pave the way for new poetry. Though controversies and polemics against ‘new poetry’ [puthu kavithai] were on the rise he steered clear of them.
Poets who followed Pichamurthi were called as Ezhuthu poets. This banner is very significant since these poets got their identity via the little magazine in which they published. The inspiration for Pichamurthi was Bharati. Though Pichamurthi cannot be called a disciple he is the legitimate successor to Bharati. Among the poets of Ezhuthu Nakulan’s poetry shows the momentary hesitation between thought and language. He is an existentialist who wrote cryptic and minimalist poems.
After Ezhuthu ceased its publication the cause of new poetry was taken up by the little magazine Nadai. C.Mani who happened to be its editor, Gnanakoothan, S.Vaidheeswaran continued to write in Nadai. When Nadai became defunct it was followed by KaChaTaThaPaRa , a little magazine which devoted itself to poetry and the arts.
The poets of Ezhuthu and KaChaTaThaPaRa had a self-enclosed poetic vision verging on solipsism. This ‘vedantic vision’ was not shared by the poets who were just emerging. A reaction to this kind of poetry came in the form of another little magazine called Vanambadi from the Marxist front. The magazine was for poetry but the contributors were academics and pundits. They were politically left and their mentor was Bharati Dasan. Poets of Vanambadi were committed to the leftist ideology but obviously lacked the commitment to poetry. Vanambadi became a movement encouraging a proliferation of little magazines of poetry. No one can deny that Vanambadi democratized poetry in Tamil which was hitherto in the hands of the elite. The Vanambadi group is equally responsible for making poetry dilute and plebeian. Their poetry was burdened with sanskritized diction and if Bharati Dasan had been alive he would definitely have arraigned them for such indulgence. Because Dasan nursed a populist nostalgia for a purer Tamil. The majority of poets under Vanambadi banner (very prominent are Erode Thamizhanban and Sirpi Balasubramanian – both Tamil academics) persisted in using the traditional prosody right till the end of the 80s. They could not face the challenges of modernity and ‘verse libre’ still eluded them. More comfortable with traditional forms their content was hopelessly antiquated. One exception was Abdul Rahman who tried his hand in various modes including surrealism.

Though pundits and academics cried hoarse against new poetry the majority in the end silently switched loyalties. From the 90s onwards the usage has changed from ‘new poetry’ to ‘modern poetry’. It cannot be interchanged with ‘modernist’ since there are a few who continue to write realist and naturalist narrations.

Pundits and enemies of new poetry had to stop their campaign since poets like C.Mani, Gnanakoothan, Dharmu Sivaramu were well-versed in traditional prosody. C.Mani, a professor of English, wrote a manual on the grammar of writing traditional Tamil verse. Today, viewed from a modernist perspective, if there is a tinge of quaintness in C.Mani’s poems that is due to his adherence to rhythm. Any discerning reader of Gnanakoothan’s poems will not miss the metre. Though Gnanakoothan retained the cadence and metre his modern outlook is dominant. He is known for his social satire and parody of Dravidian movements, Gnanakoothan can be credited with the pioneering poems he wrote in the surrealist mode. A short, stinging satirical poem goes like this:

For me too,
Tamil is the very
I wont breathe it down
Another’s neck.*

(Translated by M.S.Ramaswami)

Dharmu Sivaramu (1939-1997) also known as Pramil (he kept changing his pseudonym almost every week) began writing in prosody. Sivaramu is remembered for his masterly use of imagery and he still remains the best imagist poet. Two of his oft quoted poems in support of imagism are ‘Meteor’ and ‘Dawn.’ Tamil poetry adapted itself to cerebral content with Sivaramu’s poem entitled E=Mc2. His poems are dense and reveal a violent yoking of heterogeneous ideas. Dharmu Sivaramu is a 70s’ poet and his truculence exhausted his poetic genius.

The contribution of Zha is significant as Ezhuthu. It’s editor Atmanam though a committed leftist never wrote hollow rhetorical verses like that of Vanambadi. If Ezhuthu created considerable talents in poetry in the 60s Zha almost achieved it to an equal degree in the 80s. Today Atmanam is a cult figure both for the Marxist poets and for those younger writers who are not ideologically committed. His mental illness and his untimely death by suicide have canonized him. Atmanam was a multi-faceted personality who was involved in poetry, poetic theory, Marxism, painting and music. He was a discerning and compassionate reader of both committed andavant-garde poetry.

The 80s saw the emergence of poets like Kalapriya, Vikramadityan and Devadevan, Pooma Eswaramoorthy and Devathachan. Kalapriya’s is a rural voice but his portrayals were shockingly fresh. His imagery was surreal, sadistic and to a large degree violent. He never hesitated in using colloquial language in his poems. Though addicted to depicting rural folk in their elements he made abortive attempts to escape from this habit by writing plain poetry.

If Tamil prose is already prosaic what should a poet do to raise it to the level of poetry? In the 80s writing plain poetry remained the conscious goal of many poets including Vikramadityan. The imagery was fresh and Kalapriya’s poetry was cherished for its characters like village lunatics, rural nomads unemployed youth. But poetry for Vikramdityan was plain not in the sense of ‘anti-poetry’ but just plain. The least consequential of everyday life and passing thoughts on personal experience formed the main stay of Vikramdityan’s poetry. He appended reflective or generalizing comment giving contrived ends to poems. Devadevan is perhaps the most prolific among the poets in Tamil. He wrote nature poems of the animistic kind.

Devathachan’s poetry is modernist in many aspects. Sudden and unexpected imagery and a surrealistic vision fused to a traditional perspective of life make his poetry very complex. Like Kalapriya he dots his poems with colloquial language but the use is measured. His output is sparse but qualitatively high when compared to his prolific contemporaries like Devadevan and Vikramadityan. Though he started writing in the late 70s he cannot be termed as a ‘period poet’ since his outlook emerges as new as any new comer to poetry in the new millennium. Devathachan’s poetry occasionally verges on the metaphysical but uses a homely diction. Though clubbed with Devathachan, Anand’s poetry takes the reader to a different realm of experience more aligned to the ‘time’s arrow’ and a personal world linking a cosmic vision.

Pazhamalai began his poetic career in the late 80s since it took time for him to wean himself away from prosody. He is an avowed leftist but is responsible in writing one collection of remarkable prose poetry (Janangalin Kathai). He is an orthodox and unflagging realist reveling in the creation of ‘human portraits’ through prose poems. His lean prose could not sustain him for the rest of his poetic career.

90s can be called the decade of women’s poetry. Krishangini and Vathsala, though comparatively old, published their books in the 90s. The feminist banner waving group which maintains a rigid and separatist line entered the scene only in the 90s: Malathy Maitry, Salma, Sugirtha Rani, Kutty Revathi. Vathsala is a feminist poet in her content and expression and not in attitude. But a section of the younger women are keen on labels and compartmentalization. While others like Kanimozhi, Uma Maheswari, A.Vennila Thamizhachchi, Madhumitha do not associate with the feminist group.

The younger generation of male writers is not as acerbic as their female counter-parts. Some of them write good poetry though one cannot find a parodist or an imagist or a committed Marxist among them. This is very obvious when 90s’ poems are compared to those published in 70s and 80s.
Promising among them are poets like Amalan Stanley, Amirtha Raj, Yuma Vasuki, Sukumaran, Ra.Srinivasan. Sharp images and incisive lines make poems of Yuma Vasuki a pleasure to read. Though Sukumaran’s early poetry was characteristically imagistic he now writes plain poetry. Makaranthan and Sathyan can be rightly called 80s’ poets. But Sathyan has completely stopped writing poetry. This has happened to a few male poets who have stopped abruptly after their first collections. Joseph D.Samy and Malai Samy are other examples. Poets like Kuvalai Kannan publish their first book and wait a long while to publish their second.
Comparative new comers like Sri Nesan, Kandarathithan, Kari Kalan, Rani Thilak, Devendhira Poopathi and Pazhanivel have published promising first collections.

The poem is a passage or a vehicle or a means to relate the private world to the public. The attempt to relate the individual consciousness to a social and political context is missing in the 90s poetry. Among the contemporary male poets there are those with something to say and a lot of others who simply enjoy making poems. Poets like Ramesh-Prem, Sankara Ramasubramanian, Laxmi Manivannan, Yavanika Sriram belong the latter group. Dreams, memories, anecdotes, grotesquery are the themes that these poets revel in. Nihilism, blackness and perversity dominate their narration. They follow a negative aesthetic and the poems read like worked-up diary prose.

Before concluding I would like to record my observation that the tradition that still continues in Tamil is the one started by Ezhuthu poets.

1. I.A.Richards: “A Background to Contemporary Poetry.” Twentieth Century Poetry. Ed. Graham Martin and P.N.Furbank, The Open University Press,1975,

*. Modern Tamil Poetry, Tr.M.S.Ramaswami, Writer’s Workshop, Calcutta, 1988.

Samakala Ulaga Kavithai-Contemporary World Poetry in Tamil Translation

சமகால உலகக் கவிதை

இந்தப் புத்தகத்தில் இடம்பெறும் கவிஞர்களின் பட்டியலை மட்டுமே இங்கே தர முடிகிறது. புத்தகம் 2007 புத்தக சந்தையில் வெளிவந்தது. ஏதோ காரணத்தால் அது வேண்டிய வாசகர்களைச் சென்றடைய வில்லை. இது போன்ற புத்தகங்களுக்கு மதிப்புரை எழுத ஆட்களும் குறைவு. தயக்கமும் அதிகம். 400 பக்கங்களும் கெட்டி அட்டையும் நல்ல தாள்களும் கொண்ட உருவாக்கம். வெளியீட்டாளரின் இணைய இணைப்பு கீழே தரப்பட்டுள்ளது.

(1)பெர்டோல்ட் ப்ரக்ட்(ஜெர்மனி) (2)குந்தர் கூனர்ட்(கிழக்கு ஜெர்மனி) (3)பால் ஸெலான்(ரொமானியா) (4)டாமஸ் ட்ரான்ஸ்ரோமர்(ஸ்வீடன்) (5)செஸ்வா மிவோஷ் (6)ஸ்பிக்நியூ ஹெர்பர்ட்(போலந்து) (7)ததயூஸ் ரோஸ்விட்ஸ்ச்(போலந்து) (8)விஸ்லாவா ஸிம்போர்ஸ்கா(போலந்து)(9)அன்னா ஸ்வர்ஸைனிஸ்கா(போலந்து) (10)இங்போர்க் பாக்மன்(ஆஸ்திரியா)(11)வாஸ்கோ போப்பா(செர்பியா)(12)மிராஸ்லாவ் (13)ஹோலுப்(செக்கஸ்லோவாகியா) (14)யான் காப்லின்ஸ்கி(எஸ்டோனியா)(15)மாரின் ஸோரெஸ்க்யூ(ரொமானியா)(16)நினா கேஸியன்(ரொமானியா) (17)பிரைமோ லெவி(இதாலி) (18)பியர் பாவ்லோ பாஸோலினி(இதாலி) (19)ஃபெர்னான்டா பெசோவா(போர்ச்சுகல்) (20)ஃபிலிப் ஜக்கோட்டே(ஃபிரான்ஸ்) (21)ஹைன்ரிக் நார்பிராண்ட்(டென்மார்க்) (22)ஓசிப் மெண்டல்ஷ்டாம(ரஷ்யா) (23)மரீனா ஸ்வெட்டயேவா(ரஷ்யா)(24)ஆக்னநெஸ் நெமிஸ் நேகி(ஹங்கேரி) (25)பெரன்ஸ் யூஹாஸ்(ஹங்கேரி) (26)பாப்லோ நெருடா(சிலி)(27)ஆக்டேவியோ பாஸ்(மெக்ஸிகோ) (28)ராபர்ட்டோ யூவாரோஸ்(அர்ஜன்டீனா) (29)நான்சி மோர்யோன்(கியூபா) 30)டி மெலோ நேட்டோ(பிரேஸில்) (31)எஹூதா அமிக்ஹாய்(இஸ்ரேல்) (32)தாஹ்லியா ராவிகோவிச்(இஸ்ரேல்) (33)டேன் பேகிஸ்(இஸ்ரேல்) (34)மொஹமத் தர்வீஷ்(பாலஸ்தீனம்) (35)அடோனிஸ்(லெபனான்) (36)நஸீம் ஹிக்மெத்(துருக்கி) (37)கோஃபி அவூனோர்(கானா) (38)பெர்டோல்ட் ப்ரக்ட்(ஜெர்மனி) (39)பிரேட்டன ் பிரேட்டன்பாஹ்(தென்னாப்பிரிக்கா) (40)டென்னிஸ் ப்ருட்டஸ்(தென்னாப்பிரிக்கா) (41)டெரக் வால்காட்(கரீபியா) (42)யாங் லி யூஹாங்(சீனா)(43)சப்பார்டி ஜோக்கோ தமோனோ(இந்தோனீசியா)(44)ஸோ சோங் ஜு(கொரியா) (45)சோங் ஹ்யோன் ஜோங்(கொரியா) (46)ஏ.கே.ராமானுஜன் (இந்தியா) (47)ஜெயந்த மகாபாத்ரா(இந்தியா)(48)மைக்கேல் ஓன்யாட்டே(கனடா)