a brief  biography and profile 
as a poet

Poet, Playwright and Social Activist
Born: In Kuttippuram in Kerala on 23rd December, 1906
Died: On 16th October, 1974

Awards Bestowed on Edasseri Govindan Nair: 

Government of Madras Award for the play 
Government of Madras Award for the collection of poems 
Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for the collection of poems 
"ORU PIDI NELLIKKA"     - 1969
Sahitya Akademi Award (New Delhi) for the collection of poems 
''KAVILE PATTU"     - 1970
Kumaran Asan Prize (posthumously given) for the collection of poems 
    "ANTHITHIRI" - 1979

Positions Held By Edasseri Govindan Nair:

   President of Kendra Kala Samithi
   Founder of Krishna Panikker Memorial Reading Room
   Member of the board of directors of Sahitya Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangham  
       (Writers' Co-operative Publishing House)
   Member of the general council of Kerala Sahitya Akademi
   Member of the Sangeetha Nataka Akademi
   Member of the Samastha Kerala Sahitya Parishad
   President of Kerala Sahitya Samithy

Apart from the above he was the organizer of various writers’ movements and literary symposia and was an inspiration to the new generation of writers in Kerala.
See also page: Recital of Edasseri poems on this site.

Malayalam Poet And Playwright

Born in Kuttippuram, a quiet village 15 kilometers off Ponani, a coastal town of Kerala in South India, Edasseri Govindan Nair, is considered foremost in the array of poets, who led Malayalam Poetry to the fascinating vistas of modernism and social awareness. His work epitomizes the culture of Kerala resplendent in both archaic myths and modern life. His poems visit "the good, the bad and the ugly" of the development paradigm of modern Kerala. The poems resonate with patriotism and a profound appreciation of Indian freedom struggle, but are critical of the style of political parties post-independence. His plays portray the ideals of equality and social amity cherished by the revolutionary youth of his time. The contribution made by Edasseri to the Kerala's amateur stage both as a playwright and as a missionary of people's appreciation of drama has been seminal to the development of a modern stage sensibility.

The bard of the heroic motherhood

In his poem Poothappattu (Song About the Pootham - "Pootham" is a folklore idol) he has woven a myth to creatively interpret the folklore dancer who makes appearance on every courtyard after the harvest season dancing to the accompaniments of drum and cymbal. In "Poothappattu" as also in the later poem "Kavile Pattu", Edasseri has illustrated the power of motherhood that turns a ferocious blood-thirsty deity into one of love and peace. He has also written a number of poems on Lord Krishna in a perspective that is totally different from the collective mind.

A poet of new humanism

Edasseri dealt with an awe-inspiring variety of subjects in his poems, plays and essays. His subjects range from the mythical to the social psyche on the one hand and from socio-political to environmental concerns on the other. Thus the oracle in "Kavileppattu" (The Song of the Divine Grove) bleeds his forehead with a sickle shaped sword during the temple festivals. The ritual - the self infliction of pain - is spiritually similar to the Christian sense of sacrifice, carrying the cross for others' sins so as to appeal to their conscience. In his poem written during the pre-land reform days, the downtrodden farmer pays a heavy price for his inability to keep the commitment to his landlord because of crop failure. The landlord attaches his crop pushing him to misery and hunger. The poem concludes with the farmer's realization that political empowerment is the sine qua non for his liberation. At a time when pro-labour laws were non-existent he sung empathizing with the poor women labourers who languished in the coir factories, about the workers who were driven to poverty and death consequent to lock-outs in factories. His poems, along with those of other progressive writers, heralded the legal reforms in the Kerala labour scene and indeed resonated the social upheavals taking place at that time. Clearly Edasseri became the fountainhead of new humanism in Kerala.

A farsighted environmentalist Edasseri is the first poet in Kerala to air concern about the damage to eco system, in two of his poems "Kuttippuram Bridge"(1954) and "The Mango Tree Felled" (1963), when ecology was still not a subject of human concern at least in this part of the world. New poets have evoked such keen interest as Edasseri in the new-era writers, so much so about twenty five poets have written poems eulogizing him. A collection of their poems on Edasseri has been published by Mathrubhumi Books, Kozhikode. The title of the collection is Edasseri Ninavil Varumbol.

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  • sketches on Poothappat
    by Artist Namboodiri