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Prof. K. G. Sankara Pillai

Prof. K. G. Sankara Pillai

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Professor K. G. Sankara Pillai is one of India’s best known contemporary poets.  Born in 1948.   He lives in Thrissur, Kerala. He was educated in Kerala.  His writings in Malayalam has been translated into many Indian languages, as well as Chinese, French, German, English and Sinhala. He has won several prestigious awards for his work: he was a recipient of the State and Central Sahitya Akademi Awards in 1998 and 2002. He was awarded the Mahakavi P. Kunhiraman Nair award in 2008 and in 2009 he won Oodakuzhal award and the Habeeb Valappad award. He has been a teacher of literature, starting as a lecturer in 1971 and retiring in 2002 from the post of Principle of Government Maharajas College, Ernakulam. He is also an accomplished translator, publishing in Malayalam translations of poetry from Africa, Bengal, South IndianState of Karnataka and from Sri Lanka. He has also been the editor of several important literary journals. He considered himself as an activist and his writings reflect commitment to humanism and radical protest against injustices. He considers justice as a central component of beauty K. G. Sankara Pillai joined the collegiate educational service of his home state as a lecturer in Malayalam in 1971. He has been editor of important literary journals: Prasakthi (a journal of radical political views, the third issue of which was confiscated by the police in 1974) and Samakaleena Kavita (1991-1996) devoted to poetry. He has also edited Penvazhikal, an important anthology of women’s poetry and feminist criticism in Malayalam. Closely associated with the human rights and civil rights movements in Kerala, Sankara Pillai has been the Chairperson of ‘Jananeethi’, a peoples’ initiative for human rights. Since 1991 he has been editor of its monthly journal, and has edited several books on legal aid and social service. A leading commentator on culture, particularly art and cinema, he writes a daily column for the leading Malayalam newspaper, Malayala Manorama. The poems selected for this edition are from the poet’s award-winning collection, K. G. Sankara Pillayude Kavithakal 1969-1996. At the very first reading, one is struck by the breadth of this poet’s preoccupations. His work is stylistically nimble and sophisticated but never precious; it evokes a historical and contemporary landscape of culture and politics, with a virtuoso air, never making it seem like that all-too-familiar self-conscious exercise of pulling currants out of a cake. In a keenly analytical essay that accompanies this edition, translator E V Ramakrishnan contextualizes Sankara Pillai’s poetry as having emerged from the post-1960s context of Malayalam poetry. Alert to the imperatives of craft and conscience, the poet’s work steers carefully between the extremes of a form-reifying modernism and political bellicosity. As E. V. Ramakrishnan writes, “For him radicalism is not a matter of sloganeering but a self-critical attitude that requires a continuous re-evaluation of one’s relation with oneself as the self’s relation with the world. His ability to assimilate an interior realm of self-doubts within a larger discourse of social criticism makes him an exceptional poet.” In a poem entitled ‘Goorkha’, the poet writes stirringly, ironically, of the contemporary poet’s role – not as visionary, bard, shaman, healer, but as the gravedigger of dreams: Oh dream, where shall I bury your remains? your sweetness: on which sad note of the stick striking the lamp post? your beauty: in which fable? your freedom: in which post-modern poem? In whose forgetfulness? Endangered dreams and ideals notwithstanding, K. G. Sankara Pillai’s contribution to Malayalam poetry is unlikely to be consigned to ‘forgetfulness’ in a hurry.


Articles About/By The Teacher/Other Resources on the Teacher:

01. K. G. Sankara Pillai, Samakaleena Kavita

02. K. G. Sankara Pillai, Kochiyile Vrikshangal

03. K. G. Sankara Pillai, K. G. Shankara Pillayude Kavithakal 1969

04. K. G. Sankara Pillai, K G S Kavithakal 1997-2006

05. K. G. Sankara Pillai, Penvazhikal

06. Sankara Pillai, Ghoorkha

07. The return of the native : an appreciation of Basil Fernando’s poems  Read here

08. Report on Dr. E. C. Antony Memorial Lecture on ‘Feminism and poetry’ delivered by K. G. Sankara Pillai in Thrissur(Courtesy The Hindu)  Read here

09. A Poem by K. G. Sankarapillai, Jahane Rumi   Read here

10. Notice of Award to Prof. Sankara Pillai  Read here