Both traditional and modern poetry are governed by certain ethics

Mu. Metha played a key role in popularising the modern form of poetry (`pudukavithai') in the 1970s . The fact that many Ph. D scholars had taken efforts to submit research papers on Mr. Metha and his works speaks volumes about his contribution to `pudukavithai' and revolutionising the same.

"Mu. Metha, Pudukavithaiyin Thaatha" (Mu. Metha is the grand old man of the modern poetry) was the fond slogan by which he was popularly known a few decades ago.

He has authored 32 books, including a couple of novels, a few short story collections and five essay collections.

His novel `Sozha Nila' had won the first prize at the `Ananda Vikatan' golden jubilee celebrations novel contest. He also composed 400 songs for movies.

Mr. Metha, who retired recently after serving as Tamil professor for 35 years at Presidency College, Chennai, in a chat, with Syed Muthahar Saqaf says that `pudukavithai' will continue to have an eternal influence on literature.

"The traditional form of poetry had created boredom with a central theme oft repeated for centuries, forcing the poets to opt for modern poetry, with direct, simple and easily understandable form. Efforts were initiated as early as 1940s but it was a tough task. The prosaic form of poetry composed by Bharathi, the translation of the works by Walt Vitman and other foreign modern poems into Tamil formed the base for the new trend," Mr. Metha says.

He recalls with gratitude the efforts taken by writers such as Si. Su. Chellappa, Gnanakoothan and journals such as `Yezhuthu' and `Kasadathapara' which fought to introduce new form of poetry. "The ultimate success for due recognition by the masses was, however, achieved due to the coordinated effort by the Kovai `Vaanambadi' poets."

Both traditional and modern poetry may differ in form.

While the former is strictly governed by grammatical rules, meter and phonetic forms, the latter is free from such restrictions.

"But both are governed by certain ethics. Poets such as Puviarasu, `Sirpi' Balasubramanian, `Kavikko' Abdul Rahman and Meera, who realised this responsibility, could outshine in either branches."

Some vested interests were hell bent on demoralising the power and supremacy of modern poetry. Their ultimate goal was to cause a setback to the popularity gained by modern poetry and go back to the olden days. Poetry emerges along with any new language. "From which university did the scholars learn the art of composing folk songs and `taalaattu paadalgal'?"

Modern poetry, Mr. Metha says, gave life to the lifeless. It came as a saviour to the poets who had in the past relied on patronage by kings or philanthropists. "The modern poetry created a revolution, taking the masses towards the focus of the poet's objectives. It created a sense of confidence and brought about liberty by opening the doors of poetry to all sections of society."

"But caution has to be exercised to form a check and balance to retain the sanctity of the poetic licence."

Mr. Metha, who has won many awards, including `Kalaimamani', `Bharathidasan' and `Kalaivithagar' and `Kannadasan' awards, is busy with literary works even after retirement. "I am concentrating in evolving literary works in new forms," he says.

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