New Delhi, Mar 11, 2014: The issue of Silent Valley movement of the 1970s was raised by eminent Malayalam poet ONV Kurup who called himself as one of the “wounded soldiers” of a “battle with an unpredictable outcome”. He spoke about the Valley while delivering the 28th edition of the Samvatsar Lecture at the Festival of Letters organised by Sahitya Akademi, which began here.
He raised the issue of the social movement that was aimed at the protection of an ecologically sensitive forest in Kerala, which was later converted into a National Park. The issue had drawn widespread support of poets then. “The silent Valley is monument of poet’s collective intervention in the issue,” Kurup said.
He pointed out that most poets like Krishna Warrier, Vailoppilli, Edasserry, Ayyappa Paniker, Kadammanitta and Vinayachandran who died were effective in raising awareness about the issue.
“Surviving poets such as Sugahta Kumari, Satchidanandan and this humble speaker still remain as wounded soldiers of a battle with an unpredictable outcome,” said Kurup, considered a doyen in the realm of Malayalam literature.
In his lecture titled “On Poetry that defies definitions: Its relevance in modern times,” he talked about among other things, how defending the earth has become a global movement and how Indian poets were in the forefront.
“Today poetry has a dynamic role in the great struggle to save nature. It is indeed a miracle that you and I are still alive despite the extreme contamination of the air we breathe and the water we drink,” he said.
“Mother earth is mother to all mothers- protecting her is for man’s own survival. This is one of the lofty mission that poetry has taken up both in the East and the West,” said the poet. Pointing out that commitment alone cannot make poetry great, Kurup said intellectual honesty is the hallmark of inspired poetry else it will deteriorate as “clever writing” or as something “made to order”.
“With a subtle interior courage a poet will have to resist compulsions and persuasions from exterior forces,” he said. Kurup is a recipient of Kerala Sahitya Akademi award and the Central Sahitya Akademi award. He was recently conferred with the Padma Vibhushan.