Malayalam Poetry : Kureeppuzha Sreekumar’s Poems



Malayalam Poetry in Translation Series – 29

Translated by Aditya Shankar

More than any other genre in Malayalam literature, poetry has articulated the profound contradictions of the Malayalee psyche, its moral trepidations and its desire for liberation from the oppressive ideologies of discrimination like those of  class, caste and gender. Poetry has insistently refused to be a mere entertainer or a leisure-pastime, involving itself seriously in social struggles and sharing the agonies and aspirations of individuals of all social layers and persuasions. This is also the reason for its unique vibrancy and popularity that we seldom find in most other languages of India. 

(Extract from the article ‘Malayalam Poetry Today’ by K.Satchidanandan)


Black Afternoon

When I gobble embers from
the stove where words burn,
what blooms, friend?
An accidental hibiscus.

We shared blessings and sin
in a long lost December.
Became the force of a hurricane,
panted to sleep in an embrace.
Staying awake at night,
ideators set off on a journey.
We recited ordeals blended in tears.
Seagulls flew away with the past.
Desires became a burden.
Through summer streets we wander,
knock on bolted doors.
A sun quenched by the war
glows in me
as I walk alongside a rejected dream,
its face bruised
by a fall in the courtyard.
Weeping, you plant
the burning question in me.
Where do we seat
the child gifted by Chingam?

A plank of thorns to seat the kid,
nightmares to feed and adorn him,
scorching heat of heart for him to rest,
accompanied by lullabies
set to the tune of poverty.
He will grow alongside truth,
will shape his weapons from wounds,
will weaken his father with queries,
will hunt alongside friends.
What answer
for the scorching heat of those days,
for the mothers of those times!
When I gobble embers from
the stove where words burn,
what remains to remember, friend?
Afternoons, black as crows.

(Translation of Karutha Nattuchcha, Page 209, Kureeppuzhayude Kavithakal, DC Books)


Good Morning

The bar is just about to open.
The intellectual, teacher, magician
introvert, orator, beggar have just arrived.
Silk smiles from the wall.
The bar is not yet in full swing.

The library never opens.
Victor Hugo, Neruda, Kawabata
Muktibodh, Khandekkar, Changampuzha
warm favorites are still waiting.
Spring resonates from the books.
The library doesn’t pulse at all.

As sights consume poison thus,
the morning hums
Thinanthom Thinanthinom.

(Translation of Suprabhatham, Page 209, Kureeppuzhayude Kavithakal, DC Books)



Till the dead electricity resurrects,
we are the ones trapped in an iron cage.

The fan grinds to a halt.

We might drown to death in sweat.
What if this lift isn’t operational ever gain?
The termite of fear ascends from the foot.

Suddenly, you stomp and crush my foot.
Shivering, I stay close to you.

We pretended to be strangers
while entering the iron cage.
But caught in the trap of death,
we recognize each other as humans.

(Translation of Lift, Page 167, Kureeppuzhayude Kavithakal, DC Books)


About the Author

Born in 1955 at Kureepuzha, Kollam, Sreekumar has represented India and Malayalam poetry in many venues, including the Afro-Asian poetry conference for young writers. He has read his poems in many universities across India. He has won many awards, including the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award.

About the Translator

Aditya Shankar is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated poet, flash fiction author, and translator. He edited Tiny Judges Shall Arrive (AHRC, Hong Kong), a selection of  KG Sankara Pillai’s poems translated into English. His translations have appeared in the SAARC anthology of poetry, Muse & Murmur, Modern Poetry in Translation, Ethics in Action and elsewhere. His poems have been translated into Malayalam and Arabic and published from 20 or more nations. His poetry collections include After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014), and XXL (Dhauli Books, 2018). His short films have participated in International Film Festivals.  He lives in Bangalore, India . (