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Asan award for Madhavan Ayyappathu

Special Correspondent

He transformed Malayalam poetry from romanticism to realism, says Minister

— Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

Honour: Kerala Culture Minister M. A. Baby presenting Asan Smaraka Kavitha Puraskaram 2007 to Malayalam poet Madhavan Ayyappatthu under the auspices of the Asan Memorial Association in Chennai on Wednesday.

CHENNAI: Asan Smaraka Kavitha Puraskaram-2007 was on Wednesday presented to Madhavan Ayyappathu, the Thrissur-based poet who was in the vanguard of modernism in Malayalam poetry.

Kerala Culture Minister M.A. Baby formally presented the award, one of the most prestigious Malayalam literary prizes and the only one dedicated to poetry, to Mr. Ayyappathu.

Mr. Baby hailed Mr. Ayyappathu as a poet who transformed Malayalam poetry from romanticism to realism. He embraced modernism without compromising on the traditional values of the old school and went on to influence the thought and writings of subsequent poets.

While giving Malayalam verse a new language and experience, the sense of urban alienation imparted a universal ring to Mr. Ayyappathu’s works, he said.

According to the Minister, it was hard not to see the poetic justice in the Asan prize going to a man who had conceived ‘Dharmapadam’ (translations in verse) as well as a comparative study of Mahakavi Kumaran Asan and Gautama Buddha.

Paying tributes to Kumaran Asan in whose memory the award has been instituted by the Asan Memorial Association, Mr. Baby said time was the ultimate judge of the greatness of a poet. That Asan’s ‘Veenapoovu’ was being widely debated even in its centenary year was unequivocal proof of the poet’s greatness.

The new generation of connoisseurs was delving deeper into the poetry of Kumaran Asan.

Mr. Baby said it was remarkable that Asan’s social activism against casteist schisms and the quality of his poetry gained force from each other.

Cultural legacy

Malayalam novelist C. Radhakrishnan spoke about his sense of awe at the way in which the Asan Memorial Association had carried on a cultural legacy for over 40 years. Unfortunately, cultural life in Kerala was experiencing the phenomenon of stagnation at home and prosperity outside, whether it was Chennai, the UAE, UK or the US. “It is like the seeds (of culture) bearing roots and branches elsewhere.”

Responding to felicitations, Mr. Ayyappathu called for poetry appreciation classes at the school-level. School education in Kerala was heavily tilted towards science subjects and away from humanities. “Today, a child who picks up a book that is out of syllabus immediately attracts parental rebuke,” he said.

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