Dr.Nayani Krishnakumari’s Poetry : An Overview by Dr. Vaidehi Sasidhar

Dr. Nayani Krishnakumari garu has been a popular and well known name in the literary as well as academic circles of Andhra Pradesh. Being the daughter of an illustrious poet, Sri. Nayani Subbarao garu and having been nurtured in a home environment that always bustled with the prominent presence of famous contemporary writers and poets like Viswanatha, Krishna Sastry, and Bapiraju  perhaps laid a solid literary foundation for young Krishnakumari during her earlier years.

Since details of Dr. Krishna Kumari’s  education, honors,  books and academic positions she held were given in Malathi garu’s article at length, I would not mention them to avoid repetition,  although I would like to add that her multifaceted talents and active involvement in various academic and literary fields certainly make an impressive mark on the readers. The scope of this article is focused on a brief overview of her poetry, namely, her free verse  anthologies.

Dr. Krishnakumari has three anthologies of free verse to her credit. It is interesting to note this prolific writer had taken her time in publishing these three books. First one was Agniputri published in 1978, followed by Emi Ceppanu Nestam in 1988 and the third one Soubhadra Bhadra Rupam“ was published in 2006, twenty five years after the second one.

Agniputri, her  first anthology of poems is dedicated to her father Sri. Nayani Subbarao garu on the eve of his eightieth birth day celebrations. Dr. Krishnakumari’s love, affection, pride and her immense adoration for her poet-father is pleasingly conspicuous in her writings.

The poems in Agniputri chronologically  range from 1960’s-1978. The poem Vihasimche vidhi”1951) , Kaveri kanneeti pata (1966) are written in geyam (lyric) style. The influence of the then popular style of Bhavakavitvam (romantic poetry) is very evident in  the soft sounding words that were chosen and the lilting rhythm. In Kruddha Prakruti, another  poem written in 1966, the poetess succeeded in bringing out the fury  of nature in front of our eyes through her descriptions and with her effortless ease with the traditional style of writing. The rightful influence of Nayani and Viswanadha is noticeable in these earlier poems in her style and language.

The poems she had written in  early 70’s to late 70’s slowly evolved into total prose poetry, her style of expression more direct, language less traditional and ideas less grandiose. It is an interesting evolution perhaps denoting the changing face of contemporary poetry writing.

In Agniputri  Dr.Krishna Kumari’s poems consist of a lot of introspection of her own emotions, feelings, ideas ,experiences and her responses towards  life. She had written few  poems like   Suptamandiram (1971) Pudami Polika“(1974) Manasu Chilaka (1974)  that suggest her out look  towards issues of spirituality  and divinity. Especially Pudami Polika has a mystic and romantic appeal that we find in Tagore’s poetry ,which was a very powerful style from 60’s to mid 70’s.

Still you are somewhere!!
Stacks of clouds are in the far away northern sky!
Freshly and freely hurrying Sweet  dewy breeze!
Did the moment That makes the jasmines bloom
Not wake you up yet?! ..

Dark thick clouds in the sky
Shrieks of water birds with
The pain of separation
And the undying love nestled in my heart!!!   (Pudami Polika)

Another poem in the same style,

It is thy exquisite form
That taught the sunlight the art of reflection!
And thy comforting touch
That gave coolness
To the embracing winds!!  (Gali Pidikili)

Another popular poem in this anthology “Visakha Na Necceli” talks affectionately about her associations, memories and loving connection  with Vizag during her university education  in a nostalgic vein.

Wedged by high rising waves
Surrounded  by gigantic mountain rocks
On this sea shore
In this city of destiny  my foot steps
Trace back years and years!!

The beauty of those shorelines
Along which I strolled
Still shining in me.
I am standing in front of you.
Still fragrant with the sandal scent of knowledge
That was applied here.   (Visakha Na Necceli)

“Emceppanu  Nestam” is Dr.Krishnakumari’s second anthology that was published in 1988. This book is dedicated to the memory of her dear friend ,writer, Dr. Sridevi .The title poem is written when her unfortunate, untimely and tragic demise saddened Dr.Krishnakumari very deeply.

The poems in this anthology are more of her responses to and observations of the society, people, surroundings around her in contrast to Agniputri where her poems are more of an introspection of her own feelings and emotions. Her poems in this anthology are noticeably confident and  bold expressions of her convictions, ideas  and understandings of the contemporary social scene. The stimulation for these poems came straight from the social, economic and political  arena of her times .I am impressed with her openness and courage of conviction that was clearly shown in many of her poems  in which she did not  hesitate to differ with the then popular “social awareness” concept and even firmly talks about sensitive and controversial issues like communalism, Marxism, Naxalism  and separate Telangana.

The antidote to Naxalism is nationalism
Did you all hear?
Let us  grow the nationalim into internationalism!
Push naxalism into the back stage
And let humanism flourish!
And then we shall see
What happens to our idealogical differences!!!

A good number of poems in this anthology show her profound, passionate and all embracing love for our country. Her patriotic fervor is unmistakable in poems like (Naa Desam Marricettu, Amma Odi, Aagipovalani  and many more where she is moved with choking emotion talking about every small detail about our country. At the same time she does not fail to express her displeasure and righteous indignation for the bureaucracy and burning problems of India.

I am the pure whiteness on the mount Kanchana Ganga
I am the sand of Gganges and the beauty of  coconut groves on her banks
I am the running river Godavari and flowing river Krishna
I am the passionate strength of feeling  that can not separate
Myself from my country even in my imagination
Each molecule in me is imprinted with my country’s form
And my whole existence is the pride of my independence !!   (Agipovalani)

In the poem “Paade Koyilalu”  she  talks about the issue of child labor and unprivileged children  with great compassion, affection and anguish.

These are the  small rusty nails in our country’s
Gigantic machine that crawl under our cars oozing oil
And condition all our engines!.
These are the little candles that
Slowly burn  their life away
Carrying coffees in our colleges and offices.  (Pade Koyilalu)

I must make a mention of a poem called Boggu Pulusu Gali (CO2).This poem is written in the context of a callous remark made about her ,calling her  Boggu Pulusu Gali in a scornful way. She wrote this poem as an answer to that remark in which she affirms herself and her peace loving nature with great dignity turning the derogatory remark skillfully into a powerful positive human quality.

I am carbon dioxide, yes, I am
The same carbon dioxide that
Extinguishes the envious fires
Emanating from human hearts
I rain furiously on the
Igniting fires of insults
Springing from the ugly corners
Of people’s minds…      (Boggu Pulusu Gali)

Overall this anthology contains poems on diverse  topics with a keen insight into the contemporary social scenario. Dr.Nayani Krishnakumari is a pure humanist at heart. It is very refreshing to see that she did not constrain her creativity to any ideological  isms or dogmatic theories. She wrote freely with an open mind when her imagination was aroused and her poetic instincts inspired. I personally believe propagandist poetry when written just for the sake of an ism or an ideal gets it’s boundaries of imagination constricted due to the poet’s self-imposed limitations.

Soubhadra Bhadra Rupam The third anthology of Dr.Krishnakumari  is published in 2006, which was dedicated to the memory of her mother Hanumayamma garu. Her warm affection ,love and respect for her mother is touchingly evident  in more than one poem in this anthology.
Mother!
Did you notice  that the sweet time
When we played mom and child
Was so ruthlessly snatched away
Slapping hard across my face
Swinging me out of your lap
And took you far far  away !

When my heart laments to see you
There is a full moon
Under the closed eye lids.

In the chirping sounds of birds
I hear your sweet voice
The early morning summer breeze
Flowing  warmly like your smile … (Amma Needa)

One of the poems I liked in this anthology is Krishna Manassu in which the beauty, tranquility and serenity of the  river Krishna is very well captured in scenic imagery.

The rising gentle breeze
Spreading itself in  ripples on the  water’s body
Like a baby’s soft smile.
On the pretext of the water birds drying  their wing
The river is expressing her own heart desire.
The crazily rustling  lemon trees on the banks¼. (Krishna Manassu).

There are few other poems with beautiful imagery and metaphors as well.

The humming bird starts singing in the garden
The jasmine bush exhales agonizing fragrance
The sky  softly sparkles like a mattress of summer clouds.  (Chakranemi Kramam)

And,

There the jasmine bush hid itself
In a flowery veil
Spreading sweet fragrance all  around

And also in the poem Anasakta she writes

It is raining!
The golden sunlight
Is weaving a shiny border
To the green splendor of the foliage!
Oh! The summer rain!

The poems in this anthology are also of diverse topics, Vedukulata is a poem with a philosophical angle , “Gaayapadina Rekka” is about the tenderness of a mothers love towards her offspring and “Ongolukonda’ is about sweet child hood nostalgia  and so on.

Overall the poems in this  anthology are more compact with an ease of expression, diverse and less lengthy.

Even though the purpose of this article is a brief review of Dr. Nayani’ Krishnakumari’s poetry, I must mention another book Kashmira Deepa Kalika  for its outstanding  metaphorical beauty of poetic expression. It is a travelogue describing the details of  her journey to and experiences in scenic Kashmir..This book is written in an amazingly effortless style, almost feels like an extempore poem or a sweet song sung in a single breath!! This book makes a highly enjoyable reading with the informative  flow of narration enriched with exquisite poetic expression and imagery. She  seamlessly integrates highly metaphorical descriptions in simple prose without interrupting  the flow of narration and more over without sounding superfluous or out of place.

She describes the beauty of a lake in Kashmir with a photographic detail,

“The lake is still with no rippling waves like a silver sheet glued to the ground with great dexterity. The myriad pieces of blue and white clouds scattered in the sky are reflected in the still waters. The lake is gorgeous like a sheet of silver studded with sapphires and pearls. The reflection of a row of hills with their pine trees upside down in the serene lake  gives an illusion of the hill being submerged in the waters.”

And
“The sovereignty of nature is beautifully suggested in those shining gigantic rocks on the mountain tops that look like  bejewelled thrones  laid for the master of the universe.” She describes her train journey  and the sights of nature ,..”The gramophone flowers  in bloom fencing the fields is a captivating sight. There is an innocent charm about the shyly smiling flowers with their  slanted soft petals reminding the delicate cheeks of a  beautiful damsel.”

And also,

“The stones on the river banks half covered with water shine like a bunch of jewels that were generously showered by the almighty. The river appears like a brown king cobra twisting, turning, hissing and biting every rock in its way with it’s sheer force…

“Far away the mountain tops are all covered with snow shining under the bright sun looking like a group of young and pretty maidens standing shoulder to shoulder and giggling in delightful abandon…..

There are many more beautiful and poetic descriptions in this book which truly make a delightful reading.

Dr.Nayani Krishna Kumari is no doubt, an eminent writer, successful academician and poet with multifaceted talents and perhaps inspired many women writers of her times to pursue literary interests in various fields. Her all round contribution to the field of literature and her humanistic approach and outlook towards life, society and literature is commendable. It is not quite often that we find an illustrious father having an illustrious daughter, but that we  find in the case of Sri. Nayani  Subba Rao garu who has been a core model of a literary celebrity for Dr.Krishnakumari.

(End)

(The article, written exclusively for thulika.net, has been published originally on thulika.net, June 2008. © Dr. Vaidehi Sasidhar.)