CHENNAI: Poet Na Kamarasan (75), who passed away on Wednesday, was hailed as king of metaphor and he was a rare Tamil poet who received international acclaim with Unesco's best poem award in 1972. His masterpiece 'Karuppu malargal' (Black blossoms) was translated into many languages and was part of the curriculum for Oxford University students. The 75-year-old poet, who died of multiple organ failure, is survived by his wife Logamani, a son and daughter.
One of the poets, who was part of the Vanambadi literary movement, considered as a trendsetter in modern Tamil poetry, Kamarasan turned the focus towards new subjects and neglected sections of society. With the innovative techniques, he brought a new style, a Renaissance in the field. His first collection 'Suryagandhi' (Sunflower) followed the traditional verse, but he switched to free verse in his following collections-Karuppu malargal (Black blossoms), Saharavai thaandaadha ottagangal (Camels, which did not cross Sahara) and Taj Mahalum rotti thundum (Taj Mahal and bread piece).
Kamarasan's Kagidha pookkal (Paper flowers) is the first known depiction of transgender life and he dealt with the problems of spinsters in 'Mudhirkanniyar'. His verses on rickshaw puller, Keezhavenmani victims and vagabonds are departures from the traditional approach and he himself describes himself as 'one who paints colours even to summer flowers and a traveller who has broken from all bondages'.
His compositions depicting prostitutes with a sympathetic outlook and the lines "We sell nudity to buy clothes' is often quoted. The much hailed 'Karuppu malargal' is a metaphoric poem about the plight of blacks. His 'Oomai Sathangai' (Silent anklets) speaks of a folk artist whose artistic abilities had no takers after the advent of glamorous cinema.
Most of his poems are set in the background of his native Cumbum valley surrounded by hills and streams. The moonlit streams with sparkling fishes, the drizzles of south-west monsoon and even the red soil of the region find portrayal in his lines. The death of the village postman, a lunatic woman in the village and even the curd seller (Enga ooru thayirkari) gets vivid depiction.
Aware of his poetic abilities, matinee idol MGR introduced him as a film lyricist. When poets of his time were using moon, clouds and breeze as messengers of love, Kamarasan's film song 'Kanavugaley aayiram kanavugalaey' used dreams, closely associated with love, as a messenger of love.
He wrote songs with the literary quality for cinema, but later regretted his decision to pen film songs. "I was making garlands of flowers, but went to cut grass", he lamented later.
He was also associated with politics in his college days and was jailed in the anti-Hindi agitation.
But, he never reaped the benefits of his sacrifice and chose poetry as a career.
CM, Stalin condole poet’s death
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palanisami condoled the death of poet Na. Kamarasan, while Leader of Opposition M.K. Stalin paid homage to the poet of the Vanambadi movement.
Describing the poet as a pioneer of free verse movement, Palanisami recalled the poet’s ‘Karuppu malargal’ and ‘Apple kanavu’ and said Kamarasan had been honoured with Kalaimamani and Bharathidasan awards. He said it was AIADMK founder MGR, who introduced him to Tamil cinema.
Stalin recalled Kamarasan’s participation in the 1965 anti-Hindi stir and how he was kept chained in prison. He said Kamarasan had a special place in DMK president M. Karunanidhi’s mind due to the poet’s love for Tamil.
TNCC leader S. Thirunavukkarasar said the former poet laureate had penned 600 songs for films and won the hearts of people through his free verse poetry....