U.R. Ananthamurthy is more familiar to literary enthusiasts of Karnataka and beyond as a writer of short stories, novels and a large collection of writings on culture and society. His poetry, though not a match to his prose writings in volume, have their own place in the literary landscape of Kannada.
The collected poems of the Jnanpith winner will now be available in a single book. His poetic output over the last six decades, which also includes his translations of several European poets, is being released in Bangalore on Tuesday.
The 592-page collection published by Abhinava, Ananthamurthy Avara Samasta Kavya , includes his original poems as well as his translations of the poems of Bertolt Brecht, W.B. Yeats, Lao Tzu, Rainer Maria Rilke, Edwin Muir and others. The introductions to all his poetry collections and a note by K.V. Tirumalesh on Prof. Ananthamurthy as a poet is also part of the book.
In his introduction to the collection, Prof. Ananthamurthy says he sees no defined dividing line between prose and poetry, just as there are none between one's intellectual and emotional selves. His aspiration, in fact, has always been to make his prose works “carry the aroma of poetry” and vice versa.
There have been times, though, when he has felt that he could say through the cryptic symbolism of poetry what he could not through all the rich detailing that characterises prose writings. He has found poetry to be the most powerful form of expression at many points in his life, be it when he was a student in Mysore in the Fifties or as Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam in the Eighties.
As poet H.S. Venkateshamurthy observes in the back cover blurb for the book, poetry has been Prof. Ananthamurthy's constant “companion of the inner self”. He likens this focus on poetry to that of the captain of a huge ship being guided by a tiny star on the horizon.
Ananthamurthy Avara Samasta Kavya will be released at Gandhi Sahitya Sangha on Tuesday at Malleswaram at 6 p.m. by poet Chennaveera Kanavi.
The event will also see the release of U.R. Ananthamurthy and the Discourse of Modernity by Ganesh U.H.