With the death of Sankara Kurup, Idassery, and Kunjiraman Nair, what was known initially as a strange generation of "ultramoderns" came to take Malayalam poetry in a new direction.
The post mordernism of poets
As varied as their backgrounds and contributions, some of the Late-Romantics continued the Vallathol school of poetry, conservative and lyrical in style, yet progressive in terms of the poetic vision, they were region-specific and not easily translatable. Some of their work seemed like products of a region that was too distant from the larger world.
It was the postmodern poets and fiction writers who would connect Malayalam literature to a world larger than Kerala. With the death of Sankara Kurup, Idassery, and Kunjiraman Nair, what was known initially as a strange generation of "ultramoderns" came to take Malayalam poetry in a new direction.
They were actually the postmoderns, and their landmark publication was Ayyappa Paniker's long poem Kuruskhetra (1961). With its resonances of The Waste Land and The Bhagavat Gita, this long poem gathers together varied strands of Indian postmodernity: the East and the West merge in this era of late-capitalism; poverty lingers; revolution has failed; no certainties are left to offer us solace, not even the old tribal rhythms because our modernity has disturbed them. Paniker's poem voices the sense of guilt and terror an individual has to bear with living in a boundariless historical moment in which, according to Paniker, the World Bank becomes the custodian of truth.
In spite of the wide difference in terms of their age, the post-modernist poets like M. Govindan, Cherian K. Cherian (Palazhi Madhanam), N. N. Kakkad, Madhavan Ayyppath, Chemmanam Chacko (Alilla Kaserakal), Vishnu Narayanan Namboothiri, Sugatha Kumari (Ambalamanikal), Kavalam Narayana Panikkar, Kadammanitta Ramakrishnan (Kavithakal), Satchidanandan (Malayalam, Kavi Buddhan,) Attoor Ravi Varma, K. G. Sankara Pillai, Vinayachandran (Veetilekkulla Vazhi), Yusuf Ali Kecheri, A. Ayyappan, N.K. Desam, Paloor, O. V. Usha, Balachandran Chullikkad (Amavasi, Gazhal), Savithri Rajeevan, Vijayalakshmi, T.P. Rajeevan, Puzhankara Satchidanandan, Jayaprakash Angamali, and three dozen other poets have created a sustained poetic culture in Kerala, and they have indeed redressed the problems of glibness that made Kuruskhetra less authentic. Some of these poets have also brought poetry into the public culture through street performances and campus readings, ushering in a new golden age of poetry.
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Last Updated: December 11, 1998