“Poetry is a conversation”: a session with K Satchidanandan
National Academy Awardee K. Satchidanandan spoke on his journey as a poet and as a translator through his talk, ‘From surrealist poetries to the sacred art of translation’ at one of the first events of the Manipal International Literature and Arts Platform (m.i.l.a.p.) on September 15th.
The author of The Missing Ribs and one of the pioneers of modern poetry in Malayalam addressed the audience on how his writing has been greatly influenced by the Holy Bible and the Communist Manifesto, and on how translation is the rebirth of a text.
When speaking about poets he said, “A poet does not need any religion other than poetry itself, nothing can scare a poet except perhaps an empty white paper. The poet has to await the incarnation of his/her essence in total solitude behind masks and closed doors.”
Elaborating on the concept of understanding poetry he talked about the role philosophy plays. “One fascinating thing about Indian poetry, in general, is that a clear distinction between poetry and philosophy hasn’t been made. This distinguishes Indian culture from that of the western culture. Our poetries have mostly been in the form of philosophies.”
There has often been a question of losing the essence of the work through translation. Addressing these concerns, Satchidanandan said, “Translation has acquainted us with some of the finest poets like Pablo Neruda. Yes, while there is a loss in translation, there is gain too. There are spaces of resistance and understanding these resistances is crucial here. In India there is a kinship between languages which leads to faithful translation. Which may not be that distinctive when Indian languages are translated to western.”
When asked about the event, Abhimanyu Acharaya, a 2nd-year literature student, School of Life Sciences, said that “It was great hearing K. Satchidanandan, a bilingual poet’s insightful talk about his journey and the sacred art of translation. It was knowledgeable, exploring the worlds of poetry and translation through his point of view.”
Edited by Shreya Job
Featured image by Rrishika Kakoty