POETRY BY SHRI A.K. RAMANUJAN
A.K. RAMANUJAN was born in Mysore in 1929 and educated at the local Maharaja's College. He began his career as a lecturer in English in Quilon and later worked in Belgaum and Baroda before migrating to Chicago in 1962. He was a Fulbright scholar at Indiana University and later moved on to Chicago University where he is now Professor of Dravidian Studies in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations.
Ramanujan's first collection of poems The Striders appeared in 1966. In 1969 he won the gold medal of the Tamil Writers* Association for his translation of the classical Tamil anthology Kurunihohai into English under the title The Interior Landscape. Relations appeared in 1971. His next book, Speaking of Siva* translations from medieval Kannada literature* was given the National Book Award in 1974. Ramanujan's other important publications are The Literature of India; An Introduction (1975) and Selected Poems (1976).
Ramanujan's poetry is an amalgam of Indian and American experiences. Its origin is *recollected personal emotion*. He draws upon our cultural traditions and the ethos of the orthodox Hindu family life. The major theme in his poetry is a pensive obsession with the familial and racial reminiscences. Even ordinary incidents and experiences seem to provide him with new insights enabling his memory to travel back nostalgically into the happenings of two or three generations.
His favourite disciplines linguistics and anthropology gave him the 'outer forms linguistic, metrical, logical and other such ways of shaping experience*. Ramanujan has drawn effectively on the folklore tradition and each poem presents a kaleidoscopic view of the colour patterns of existence. Passion and reason characterise his poetry suggesting a desperate need for evolving an integrated personality in a chaotic world-of several alienations.
Ramanujan's poetry is essentially Indian in material and sensibility. He explains the paradox in a note to Twentieth Century Indian Poets: "English and my disciplines (linguistics, anthropology) give me my 'outer forms— linguistic, metrical, logical and other such ways of shaping experience, and my first thirty years in India, my frequent visits and field trips, my personal and professional preoccupation with Kannada, Tamil, the classics and folklores give me my substance, my 'Inner' forms, images and symbols. They are continuous with each other, and I no longer can tell what comes from where."
A.K. Ramanujan occupies a prominent place as a poet in the cosmos of Indo-Anglian poetry. He has earned the name and fame all over the world after the publication of his two volumes of poetry — “The Striders” (1966) and “Relations” (1971). After the promulgation of “The Striders” he won a ‘Poetry Book Society Recommendation’ and established his position as “one of the most talented of the ‘new’ poets.”1 William Walsh rightly evaluated him as “the most gifted poet.”
“Kurunthohai.” He has also translated into English poetry in Tamil and Kannada in The Interior Landscape (1967) and Speaking of Siva (1972)respectively. Each and every piece of his literary output in Kannada and Tamil proclaimed a new epoch in vernacular literature. Ramanujan’s poetry reflects a touch of humanity, Indian ethos and pertinence of life. Ramanujan is an example of a polished, sophisticated and profound multiculturalism. His English poetry incorporates and assimilates linguistic, literary and cultural features of Kannada and Tamil into the linguistic, literary and cultural form of English literature. Like the house in "Small Scale Reflections on a Great House" he absorbs the Western model to express a supposedly Indian way of being. He blended the India and European models into new forms. He has the ability to tolerate,...