Russian poet's work getting Malayalam translation - The New Indian Express

Russian poet's work getting Malayalam translation

Published: 18th September 2013 12:06 PM

Last Updated: 19th September 2013 10:26 AM

As part of its attempt to introduce contemporary Russian poets to Kerala, the Russian Cultural Centre here is bringing out a translated collection of poems by Bella Akhmadulina, a 20th century Russian poet largely known for the non-political nature of her works. A selection of 26 poems  translated into Malayalam by K Jayakumar, Vice-Chancellor of Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, is slated to be released in November.

 “We are trying to bring out and popularise the works of at least three Russian authors or poets every year,” said Ratheesh C Nair, Russia’s honorary consul in Thiruvananthapuram. “In the past years, we’ve had poets D Vinayachandran and Rosemary translate the works of contemporary Russian poets like Sergei Esenin, Andrei Voznesensky, Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Anna Akhmatova.”

 This year, it’s the turn of Bella Akhmadulina, one of the few prominent female figures in Russian literature, and who other giants like Joseph Brodsky had called “the best living poet in Russian language.” Her poems are strictly apolitical and deal with everyday life, and the art of poetry itself.

 Nair, feeling that “Akhmadulina’s wavelength matched that of Jayakumar”, handed him a collection of her selected works in English to be translated into Malayalam. “Well I don’t know about that,” the former Chief Secretary, a poet and lyricist in his own right, said when this was mentioned to him. “But I enjoyed doing the work because I could relate to her sensitivity.”

 Akhmadulina, he said, was an unpretentious poet who meant what she wrote, and she wrote without any embellishments. “What really struck me was the non-political nature of her poems though she lived among contemporaries whose poems were extremely political,” said Jayakumar, who has just completed the translation after working on it for about a month. “Though she was not highly politicised, she was anti-totalitarian, having opposed the persecution of fellow writers like Boris Pasternak.”

She wrote, Jayakumar said, with a poetic intensity about love and human relations and their transformation.

“She’s lived through it all - Stalin’s totalitarian regime and modern Russia - and knows how poets are treated in both eras,” said Jayakumar. (Akhmadulina died at the age of 73 in 2010.)

 Around 2,000 copies will be printed in the first edition to be distributed free of cost among colleges, language students and members of the Russian centre in the city, according to Nair.

 The project is being funded by Russkiy Mir Foundation, a government-funded organisation in Moscow aimed at promoting the Russian language around the world.

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