A poet, who, with his imaginative skills, created poetic expressions that often dealt with the very
land he belonged to; its events, people and situations that he experienced. Prof. O. N. V. Kurup was born on May 27, 1931 at Chavara, in Kollam District, where he also spent his school days. Mr. Kurup did his college education at the S. N. College, Kollam and University College, Thiruvananthapuram for his graduation in Economics and masters programme in Malayalam respectively. Even though Mr. Kurup lost his father at the age of eight, he was fortunate to learn the basics of Malayalam and Sanskrit from him.
His first major effort in poetry began during his school days, which also saw his first published poem Munnottu (Forward) in 1946, penned in the backdrop of his patriotic feelings. As a child, Mr. Kurup used to read the epic Adhyatma Ramayanam, every evening, during the month of Karkkitakam. The poetic aspects of the epic, its style and presentation further strengthened Mr. Kurup?s ability to express and experiment with his chosen subjects, later in his career as a poet.
Reckoned as one of the best in the poetic world inside and outside Kerala, Mr. Kurup in his professional stint as a teacher, started off with the Maharaja?s College in Kochi, as lecturer in 1957. Later this poet genius, as a teacher, inspired the campuses of University College, Thiruvananthapuram; Arts and Science College, Kozhikode and Government Brennun College, Thalasseri. Mr. Kurup also served as the Head of the Department at the Government Women's College in Thiruvananthapuram. Before his retirement from teaching service in 1986, he was visiting Professor of Calicut University for one year.
Prof. O. N. V. Kurup and his perception of poetry as an art and an expression with a purpose, invariably dealt with the actions, thought process, drawbacks, limits, state of affairs and all that could be experienced through the five senses and Mother Earth. To Mr. Kurup, a poem ultimately becomes a passionate wish for a common cause, or a means to unite hearts with showers of love and compassion. Still, on a different plane, according to Mr. Kurup, poems can be an outpour of feelings, weighed down by loss, despair and helplessness. All these, are common phenomenon, which plays its part in the drama that unfolds as life, everywhere.
Romanticism and poetry share a bond that is as old as poetry and poets. And for Mr. Kurup, the inclination to nurture and maintain romantic elements in many of his poems seems to be like his second nature. His first poetry collection was Porutunna Soundaryam in 1949. Mr. Kurup has also come up with a book titled - Dahikunna Panapatram (The Thirsty Chalice), featuring a collection of his poems from 1946 to 1956. Some of his poetic works in Malayalam that have touched the heart and soul of thousands and became subjects of veritable entertainment and source of inspiration include, Marubhumi, Nilakkannukal, Mayilppili, Oru Tulli Velicham, Agni Salabhangal, Aksharam, Karutta pakshiyude pattu, Uppu, Bhumikku Oru Charamagitam, Sarngakappakshikal, Mrgaya, Tonniaksharangal, Aparahnam and Ujjayini. He has also written a collection of poems for children, called Valapottukal.
Mr. Kurup?s contribution in the literary domain of Kerala is widely appreciated for his excellence in poetry. But to his credit, he has a handful of works in prose. And this includes titles like Kavitayile Samantara Rekhakal, Kavitayile Pratisandhikal, Ezhuthachan - Oru Padanam, Patheyam, Kalpanikam, Pushkin - Swatantrya Bodhatinte Durantagatha.
Making a difference to traditional pursuits of a poet, Mr. O. N. V. Kurup and his lyrical wonders soon began casting a strong impression in the Malayalam films and dramas. He is a music enthusiast, and this personal trait too worked towards the successful creation of a string of memorable Malayalam film songs, most of them, melodies with a distinctive touch of Mr. Kurup. He still relishes writing evergreen lyrics for film songs.
As a poet, who has made a mark of his own in the literary world of Kerala as well as outside Kerala, Mr. Kurup?s stature as a poet of eminence and also as an accomplished academician, made him associate with many national and international programmes. Some of these were his visit to USSR as member of an Indian Writers Delegation to participate in the 150th birth anniversary of Tolstoy, Represented India in the Struga Poetry Festival, Yugoslavia (1987), Presented poems on Beethoven and Mozart in the Department of German, Bonn University, Indian delegate to the CISAC World Conference held in Berlin (1998) and Fellow of the Kerala Sahitya Academy in 1999. Among the responsibilities that came his way so far, he was member of the Executive Board of the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi from 1982 to 1986, and currently serves as the Chairman of Kerala Kalamandalam.
Accolades and recognitions has been part of his life ever since Mr. Kurup struck an everlasting chord of love with poetry. Agni Salabhangal the poetic work by Mr. Kurup was awarded the Kerala Sahitya Academy Award in 1971. He was also awarded with the Kendra Sahitya Academy Award in 1975 for his poem Aksharam. A noted poetic work of Mr. Kurup titled Uppu won the Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1981 and also the Vayalar Rama Varma Award in 1982.
He has also won the Kerala State film awards twelve times, for the best lyricist. But the pinnacle of recognitions bestowed on Mr. Kurup till date, remains the coveted national award Padmashri, which he received in1998.
The septuagenarian poet is without doubt the few among his contemporaries, who continues his poetic pursuits with an undying fervor. And in the process, Mr. O. N. V. Kurup remains as one of the highly respected and accomplished poets of modern Kerala.
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