CONFESSIONAL MODE IN POETRY OF KAMALA DAS
Confessional mode of writing has its virtual origin in the mid50s in America. It is hybrid mode of poetry which means objective, analytical or even clinical observation of incidents from one’s own life. Confessional poems are intensely personal and highly subjective. There is no ‘persona’ in the poems. ‘I’ in the poems is the poet and nobody else. The themes are nakedly embarrassing and focus too exclusively upon the pain, anguish and ugliness of life at the expense of its pleasure and beauty. Confessional poets did not follow any tradition nor respected any conventions. They wanted to be unique and not a part of the conventional social set up. This conflict with society leads them to introspection. In the course, comes a breaking point when they could not compromise with themselves. They lose themselves helplessly in the battle and start searching for the lost self. This conflict has given birth to a number of beautiful poems. The sensitive poem cannot take failure for granted. At this juncture, life becomes unbearable and the call of death becomes irresistible. They are more than convinced that death can offer them more solace than life. Born on March 31, 1934 Kamala Das was major Indian English poet and at the same time a leading Malayalam author from Kerala, India. At the age of 15 she got married to bank officer Madhava Das, who encouraged her writing interests, and she started writing and publishing both in English and Malayalam. She was born in a conservative Hindu Nair family having royal ancestry but she embraced Islam in 1999 at age of 65 and assumed the name Kamala Surayya. On 31 May 2009, aged75, she died at a hospital in Pune, but has earned considerable respect in recent years. The ‘confessional’ poet does not accept restrictions on subject matter, though they are usually personal. He may write as freely about his hernia as about his sweet heart. Anything within his private experience may form his theme. He takes the help of an open language for an uninhibited expression of his emotions, and by ‘open language’ is meant free verse or blank verse, as opposed to rhymed verse. It does not suggest, however, that the ‘confessional’ poets are wild in their emotional outbursts. Personal failure as well as mental illness is his favourite theme. Keeping in mind the above specifications about ‘confessional’ poetry and poets, it would be not wrong to characterize Kamala Das as a ‘confessional’ poet in the true sense of the term. She is the most prominent confessional Indian English poet of our time. In the confessional poets, the subjective element has become the chief characteristic of their poetry, and Kamala Das is no exception. Her poetry has a strong note of subjectivism. B. K Das says that “Like Sylvia Plath, Kamala Das’s interests in the various places is very much personal and subjective. Most of her poems in the collections Summer in Calcutta, The Descendants and The Old Playhouse and other poems are confessional in tone and subjective state” (Comparative Literature 109). She writes in the mode and pattern of several ‘new’ American poets like Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, W.D Snodgrass, John Berryman and Theodore Roethke. She has chosen poetry as her genre to express her intense feeling, as it gives her a lot of scope. She started writing her life story to distract her mind and to recover herself from illness. Confessional poets attempts to reconstruct their fragmented selves through therapeutic confession; by peeling off layers of pretence they try to regain lost values. Das’s urge to peel the layers of herself to reveal the terrors, pain, miseries, frustrations and vexations is obvious here. She realises that an understanding of the true self is possible only by doing away with the pretensions and superficialities that human beings are usually surrounded by. Whatever she has disclosed about herself does not carry any sense of...
Cited: Das, B.K. Comparative Literature: Essays in Honour of M Q Khan. New Delhi: Atlantic, 2000. Print.
Das, Kamala. My Story. New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2009. Print.
Das, Kamala. Convicts
Das, Kamala. An Introduction
Das, Kamala. The Freaks
Das, Kamala. Glass
Das, Kamala. My Grandmother’s House
Das, Kamala. Suicide
Dwivedi, A.N. Kamala Das and Her Poetry. New Delhi: Atlantic, 2006. Print.
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