Tuesday, June 1, 2010

INSIGHT -poems of two visually challenged poets

( Introducing 2 visually handicapped Tamil Poets)

Poems rendered in English
Latha Ramakrishnan

All too strong an iron-wall
That cannot be shaken at all.
You are on the other side
Here, we are
As the bridge that connects –
Our autumnal dreams”

_ Poet. G.Kannan

Is it proper on my part to underline the fact that the four poets, whose select few verses I have translated into English and have published as a thin volume captioned Insight, are visually handicapped..? This query persists…

And, I keep telling myself that such highlighting has to be done for enabling one get an insight into all the additional efforts the visually handicapped have to garner to shape themselves into poets and so acknowledged by the society.

Down the ages we have had several eminent creative-writers who were visually handicapped. As all the sighted persons cannot be avid readers and quality writers, so also, it is but natural for some visually handicapped persons to be discerning readers and distinguished writers. But, the fact remains that lack of aids and accessories, support and assisstance and also awareness on the part of the societyin which they live, prove a veritable block to them, more often than not.

Also, more often than not the sighted, both readers and writers, tend to evaluate the writings of the visually handicapped from a pedastal. This is not proper, nor required, to say the least.

I have given here, in my English Translation, five poems each of two of the visually handicapped poets, Mr.G.Kannan and MU.Ramesh, from the said volume, to enable the readers have a glimpse of, if not an insight into their creativity, literary sensitivity, power of imagination and reactions to various social issues and also to the treatment that they receive at the hands of the society. I personally feel Poet G.Kannan and Poet Mu.Ramesh who keep updating themselves with the current trends of the various branches of Tamil Literature have the salient characteristics of neo-Tamil Poetry in their verses. As I believe that each poem has a ‘writerly text’ and a ‘readerly text’ and there is no one absolute method of translating a text ( all the same, the translator has to be sincere to the text in question, meaning, he or she should not try to convert it into a platoform for their whims and fancies) I can only say in all humility that my translations can at best reflect the ‘readerly texts’ which the poems have offered me. I thank the poets G.Kannan. MU.Ramesh, thayarammal and Ve.Sukumaran.
With thanks and regards
Latha ramakrishnan

1) L G.Kannan

Oesaigalin Niramaalai ( The Spectrum of Sounds) is the first poem-collection of Mr.G.Kannan who has a Doctorate to his credit. Despite losing his eye-sight very early in life, he, with the help of his parents, acquired an M.A in Tamil and went on to become the first ever visually handicapped person in the whole of Dharmapuri District in Tamil Nadu, to get a Doctorate in Tamil. His P.hd Dissertation was on the theme,The theme of Generation Gap in Contemporary Tamil Novels (Thamizh Novelgalil Thalaimurai Idaiveli). It was published by one of the reputed publishing houses of Tamil Nadu called Kaavya. In the foreword of this book itself Mr.Kannan has highlighted the various problems and hurdles that he had to face in collecting materials for his dissertation. Interested in the contemporary literary trends of Tamil, especially Poetry, whenever he gets a chance Mr.Kannan makes it a point to attend literary seminars and gatherings. He, with the help of his friends read the vrious contemporary poem-collections of Tamil on a regular basis and hence his Poesy reflects and adopts these trends. And, Mr.G.Kannan’s poems too deal with the conflicts, chaos, moments of ecstasy and happiness, solitiude, alienation, anguish, composure of the inner world and the problems that confront them in their day-to-day existence, both as ordinary human beings and as visually handicapped. This year my fellow-writer and the editor of Navina Virutcham, a literary quarterly which is there for two decades, has brought forth the second poem-collection titled ‘Mazhaik-Kudai Naatkal( Rain_Umbrella Days) of Mr.G.Kannan which is receiving good response. Poet G.Kannan’s address: Dr.G.Kannan, Senior Lecturer, Department of Tamil, Government Arts College,
Tamil Nadu
Pincode – 636705

1) The Cup of Friendship

a glass cup this is,
with the juice of ancience brimming…
be careful.
if the stone of discord
touches it slightly _
it would break.
if the hand of comraderie
loosens its grip a little
it would go splinters

2) imprints
Our predecessors had
penned Classics and became
Our ancestors were
said to have exposed the emptiness
of that arrogant fellow
who treated us with abject indifference.
Our ‘spiritual guru’ fought for our
access to Education and Knowledge
for more than sixty years
in a non-violent manner,
turning victorious and world famous.
Despite having all the three doors shut
our beloved old lady
learnt the length and bradth of the world
with her fingers
proving the wonder of all wonders.
Today our brethren
leaving their imprints atop Mount Himalayas
undertake journey
through the Antartic Land.
Though we sit on par with our fellow-men
we are still portrayed as
street-singers with begging-bowls.
We are still displayed as exhibits
in the show-rooms of the Society.
While this is going on
where to go seeking and retrieve
our own, real imprints and identity?

3) The Fragrance of Father

As like the ‘coat-of-mail’ and ‘ear-rings’
of the mythological Karna
it must’ve been born along with
my father.
Which cannot be washed away
even by the waters of Ganges
where we had our sacred dip.
And, my father has never polluted it
with artificial scents and perfumes.
Before the sound of father’s footsteps enter the ears
as like the elephant-bells
it would get into the nostrils
and stay on.
That which warms my heart-
the fragrance of my father is something
unique, noble,
having especial significance,
revealing the real meaning of labour
in any Thesaurus whatsoever.
With full of the smell of Earth,
immersed in soil, is the scent of my father.

4) the spectrum of sounds
Sounds are so full of illumination,
so they are pregnant with meaning.
Sounds are so full of characteristics,
so they lend flavour to Life
Sounds have their own fragrance,
so they are stylish and refined
Sounds have shades of colour
For Laughter that scatters – Green
For murmurs of love that makes one
quiver in ecstsy – Blue
For beauty that tires one out – dense Yellow
For the blabberings of a child – flowery White
For the sweet song of koel – Indigo
For raging roar – blood Red
For the sacred sound of bells – magical Violet
Sounds have shades of colours
for the thunder ,
chirping of birds,
call of animals
There are visions anew
of Tongue incomprehensible.
The Spectrum of Silent Rainbow _
The Sounds.

5) queries that devovour answers
To Meera with Love _
Curse your Kannan…
Let me drop dead
at your feet.
You loathe as a jarring sound
the Music of my flute
that softly floats in the air.
Shut your ears tightly.
You try to extinguish the Music
by burning the Flute.
Can you?

2) Poet Mu.Ramesh
The Height of Night That Cannot Be Comprehended In Words) (Vaarthaikkull Sikkaadha Iravin Uyaram) is the first poem-collection of Poet.Mu.Ramesh, though while in college he had brought forth a thin volume comprising 20 poems.

A post-graduate student in Tamil who has completed his M.Phil also, Mr.Ramesh is all set to pursue his P.hd in Delhi. Published in the year 2005, the very title given above and also the poems therein reveal the poet’s firm grasp on the language of Tamil and also the distinct characteristics of neo-Tamil Poetry, being open-ended, metaphorical, ambiguous, having layers of meaning and interpretation that demand the active participation of the reader.

As is the general trend of almost all poets, Mr.Ramesh too writes poems that deal with his inner, personal life and also the life he leads as part of the Society and the interactions and confrontations between his inner and outer selves which ofcourse are inter-related. Against all odds, Mr.Mu.Ramesh makes it a point to acuaint himself with the changing trends of the various branches of Tamil Literature, especially poems.

Sad that more often than not these poem-collections are not given their due by the seeing community. In Chennai BookFair 2008, held in the month of January , heeding to my request Mr.Ravichandran of Pudhupunal Publications brought forth the second poem-collection of Mr.Ramesh titled ;Mazhaiyil Nanaiyum/Karaiyum Iravin Vaasanai( The fragrance of the Night that is getting drenched/dissolved in the Rain).the address of Mr.Mu.Ramesh is given below:

c/o Mr.S.s.Kannan
35/18, West C.I.T Nagar
Chennai – 600 035
Phone : 9942197838


In my bedroom
the blanket spread and the pillow
in that glow
a shape that seemed
absolutely hueless
attempting to grasp it
I switched off the light
with all getting displaced
the shrunken sheet
and the pillow lying in
one corner
the all-pervading lightness
now, crumbling down
where I stand
I search for the
Light alone


the earth would sway
a little
looking above
raising the hand
and touching the drums
the iron doors moulded
a long time ago
would refuse to move
deeming soil to be their
very boundary
lying immersed
the roots
longing for nutrition from the five
primal forces


the simple lesson
taught by Yama-
the god of Death _
is atonce understood

E =MC2


hail Lord Shiva
my pranams to your
as my folded hands
the white cane might
have come into contact
could’ve been that noise
where is the grave-digger?
Where is the grave-digger?
The eerie voice
I probed
my hand could feel the heat
indeed afrozen skeleton
what could’ve been
my response?
I would go tomorrow.


In my night
you are the light
the night that allows
day never rests
light is just a
night alone is
the End unending.

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