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Sunday, November 01, 2020

Malayalam poet Akkitham passes away; know about his works

His most notable work is Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam (Epic of the 20th Century) which won him the Sanjayan Award in 1952, and is revered as a true testament of modernist poetry in Malayalam

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 15, 2020 1:12:03 pm
Malayalam poet Akkitham dead, Akkitham passes away, Jnanpith Award winner dead, Akkitham death news, kerala poet dead, Indian express

Famed Malayalam poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri or Akkitham, as he was popularly known, has passed away at the age of 94, leaving behind an expansive body of work. During his lifetime, the poet received numerous awards, including Padma Shri, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Poetry, and the Jnanpith Award last year. Many hailed him for being a crusader of modernism in Malayalam poetry.

Akkitham was extremely prolific, dabbling in poems, children literature, critical essays as well as literary criticism. Humane in his approach, he wrote with a rare depth, infusing philosophy with erudition. He wrote extensively about pre-independent India as well as focussed on the present day, touching upon enduring themes like love and violence, the ills of the society and ways to overcome them. His style was marked with a traditional style of formal meter, standing out in a generation which composes poems mostly in free verse. Last year, he became the sixth Malayalam writer to receive the coveted Jnanpith award.

In Melshanthi of yesteryears, Akkitham wrote about the upper caste Namboodiris with rare empathy, looking through their apparent cruelty and fading sheen to capture their destitute and pathos. One can also recognise a forlorn sense of nostalgia in his works, the urgent need to be somewhere else borne out of perhaps a sense of disenchantment. This is evidenced in his poem, The Song Of An Escapist where he looks forward to an ideal land, “Take me my true love/Take me to one of those unfamiliar shores/There the fragrance of an exotic flower/Shall waft in the breeze” (translated by K Ayyapaa Paniker). His absolute submission to universal love can be found in most of his works as well as a conspicuous absence of scepticism.

His most notable work is Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam (Epic of the 20th Century) which won him the Sanjayan Award in 1952, and is revered as a true testament of modernist poetry in Malayalam. His insistence to wear khadi and his philosophical bent of mind often cut him out as a Gandhian figure of sorts.

In a report in Thiruvananthapuram First, his close aide Jeevan Kottavattam was quoted as saying, “Akkitham has lived and still lives as a true Gandhian, wearing khadi and not being ashamed of it. He is from the vanishing Indian tribe which recollects the pathos of the freedom movement of the nation. Gandhian, yes. But he is also entrenched in the culture of this country. Thus even at this ripe old age of ninety, he involves himself with the organisation of Yajnas.”

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