Vailoppilly Sreedhara Menon - The Poet of Masses
Vailoppilly Sreedhara Menon, briefly known as Vailoppilly, was a great Malayalam Poet. He was born in Kaloor in Ernakulam district on 11 May 1911. He was a school teacher in Kerala Government Service.
His first writing was a collection of poems called Kannikoythu, published in 1947, which he wrote under the pen name Sree. It was noticed for its innovative style, so different from the Romantic tradition that prevailed in those days. He was an active worker of Samastha Kerala Sahithya Parishad, a forum of Malayali writers. He visited the Soviet Union in 1970, and was the first President of Purogamana Kala Sahithya Sangham, a club of leftist writers and artists.
He had played a pivotal role in liberating Malayalam poetry from the clutches of Romantic tradition to Modern era. He had represented Malayalam poetry in the National poets' meetings held in Delhi (1951, and 1969) and Bangalore (1965). His poems were characterized by a profound understanding of human psychological undercurrents, elucidated vividly through his powerful lyrical narrative style.
His most popular poem is "Mampazham". Mambazham, meaning the mango fruit, is the reminiscences of a young mother of her little boy who is no more. He used to play under the mango tree in the courtyard with his friends. A little mischievous, he used to beat down mango blooms with his little stick, infuriating his mother. The sound of a mango fruit, the maiden offering of the tree, falling from the tree evokes in her the memories of her departed son, and this forms the backdrop for the poem. If he were alive, he would rush to pick it up, like the boys of his age. The bustle of children playing in the neighborhood also adds to her grief. There is also an element of prophecy woven into the theme. The poet observes that, tiny tots, despite their inability to speak the language of grown ups, are endowed with a mysterious faculty of prophecy.
This work is not only popular in the literary circle, but even among masses. His powerful narrative style and use of commonly used words have made this poem a hit with the public.
Among his more mature works are "Sahyante Makan", "Kudiyozhikkal" and "Oonjalinmel". His strength was the control he exercised over his language and seldom tolerated sentimentality or melodrama.
Awards and Prizes
• Madras Government Award
• M. P. Paul prize
• Kerala Sahithya Academy Award (1965) for Kaipavallari
• Kendra Sahithya Academy Award (1972) for Vida
• Vayalar Award (1981) for Makarakoythu
• Sovietland Nehru Award (1964)
• Odakkuzhal Award
• Vithum Kaikkottum
• Charithrathile Charudrisyam
• Anthi Chayunnu
• Risyasringanum Alexandarum (Play)
• Kavyalokasmaranakal (Autobiography)
He died on December 22, 1985. His body cremated on the banks of the river Nila as per his wishes.
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