andesri, unlettered poet

i had this strong desire to learn, but where was the opportunity? all my friends went to school and would tend to the cattle only on saturdays, sundays. i would admire the pictures in their books and pester them to tell me devdatta's story. it was about how siddhartha turned into the buddha. they'd promise to tell the story if i looked after their herds. they'd never finish a story in one day- each tale would drag on for 4-5 days. this was a ruse to ensure that i looked after their animals all those days. but, does it matter? i learnt to read from them, but i haven't learnt to write until now. *
he never went to school but was awarded a doctorate a couple of weeks ago. he worked as a shepherd, a farm hand, a construction labourer, and at other odd jobs since the age of six.. never enjoyed a freshly cooked meal until he was well into his teens. his mother ran away when he was seven, a sister three years later, and his father could never bring home enough to eat. poverty, disease, hunger, unrelenting shadows, followed him all through his childhood and youth.

if you can read telugu, please learn about andesri, in his own words. because this unlettered poet of the indian village might teach us a lot about india. like kaloji, gaddar, he is yet another literary miracle shaped by the harsh but magnificient soul of telangana. how does a land ravaged by so much deprivation, violence and misfortune produce such generous lovers of humanity? life has been so unkind to him- yet he sings like my mother.

[* my translation of a part of this page. via kaumudi. one day, perhaps, i'll try and translate the whole page.]


Space Bar said...

kuffir, i wish you'd do a more lengthy post about virasam and the reasons why they're now - at least in some circles - on the fringes. how did a bunch of people who were so central lose their momentum?

Space Bar said...

also, where can one find poems in translation?

gaddeswarup said...

My two cents. Velcheru Narayana Rao's "Hibiscus on the lake" ( It was also published under a different title'twentieth century telugu poetery'?) has some translations. He and collaborators translated many older poems. There are some here: http://www.thulika.net/Commonfiles/authdex.html
For those in Hyderabad, I think that many writers in
are in Hyderabad. One Alladi Uma from the Central University also is in to translation:

Space Bar said...

swarup garu, alladi uma mainly translates prose, though sridhar - the other translator she works with - translates poetry. will check out the sahitya vedika blog. thanks!

kuffir said...

space bar,

yes, as prof.swarup says, velcheru narayana rao's two books of translation- one on classical poetry, and another on 21st century poetry ('hibiscus..etc) are two well-known efforts. i've heard of another book on modern poetry by kavitha kallury, i think. apart from the other sources, you might find translations of a poem or two of the 'progressive' poets here: http://www.mahakavisrisri.com/home/english.html
(sri sri) and here:
(vara vara rao). here's one vara vara rao poem that i'd translating a year ago (a poet friend says, 'she loved it'..so i think it's ok):http://kufr.blogspot.com/2006/09/problem-with-authority.html

and like me, there are several others who've tried their hands at it.. one of the more talented is lalita 'arudra' mukherjee..( http://lalitalarking.blogspot.com/). i don't think she has tried the virasam poets. i've found random translations of chera and others elsewhere. will let you know when i locate the links on my various notepad files.

kuffir said...

here are the links again- vara vara rao's poetry (translation):


my post:


kuffir said...

oh well, my post's title is:

a problem with authority

Space Bar said...

kuffir, thanks for the links and the link to your old post. you've read nazim hikmet's prison poems haven't you? your first translation reminded me of one of them...

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