email: vydheesw@gmail.com

Monday, March 26, 2012

Master Of Many Arts _ On Poet Vaidheeswaran

on poet vaidheeswaran

THE HINDU Online edition of India's National Newspaper

Monday, June 18, 2001

Master of many arts

WONDERING WHAT to do with your restless ward after school hours? Here is a creative option. Kids Central, at No. 7, Arunachalam Road, Kotturpuram, phone 4475167 and 4473551, offers an interesting array of activities for children in the evenings. For children in the age-group of five to 10, Kids Central offers theatre, story telling, toy making and a number of games on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For those aged 8 to 12, there is a Saturday special from 3.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.

A MODERN poet in Tamil. That is how one can describe S. Vaidheeswaran. He is considered a pioneer of modern Tamil poetry, a movement that began in the 1960s and was nurtured by small literary magazines.

Vaidheeswaran has many facets to his personality... apart from being a poet, he is also a painter, stage actor, museologist and a keen enthusiast of classical music and dance concerts of Chennai. Not just that, he used to work (retired now) as a flight manager for Indian Airlines!

"That job fed my stomach", says Vaidheeswaran, when this writer met him at his Kodambakkam residence. "The 30 years that I worked for the airline gave me aviation experience and security, but the demands of the job left me with very little time for creative pursuits."

Yet, Vaidheeswaran has to his credit, an impressive collection of modern Tamil poems, quite a few paintings and even lyrics that have been featured in All India Radio's morning programmes.

The poet grew up in a very creative atmosphere. His uncle was the famed theatre person S. V. Saharsranamam, who left home early to eke a living out of theatre. The little nephew would join him during holidays on Waltax Road, and got an opportunity to witness the ups and downs of theatre life. People such as V. K. Ramaswamy, T. K. Ramachandran and K. P. Kamakshi inspired the little boy and soon he was penning songs for festivals like Pongal. In fact, his kummi and kolattam songs were very popular among his close friends.

It was but natural that Vaidheeswaran took to acting. His role as Arjuna in his uncle's "Therotti", and a few others are noteworthy. But, the boy would slip out often and go to the American Library to read the poems of Robert Frost and T. S. Elliot. Soon, he began to feel the momentariness of theatre, where one had to repeat the same words over and over again, with not much originality.

It was around this time that artist Kalasagaram Rajagopalan advised him to look for a more permanent form of expression. "That advice left a deep impact on me. After my B.Sc., I wanted to study something connected with the arts", recalls Vaidheeswaran.
He went to Baroda to study museology and presented a paper on re- organising the National Art Gallery in Madras. The paper strongly criticised the GovernmentMuseum's working and his appointment to the Museum was blocked. That was when someone told him about the Indian Airlines job, where he got a placement.

In 1960, Vaidheeswaran wrote a poem which was published in Ezhuttu magazine. Soon other magazines like Nadai, Gnanandam and Kaniyaali published his poems. These poems, along with works of other poets, paved the way for a new movement of modern Tamil poetry. "Whatever was written between 1959 and 1963 in this genre is of great value today," says Vaidheeswaran, whose first collection was published in 1970.

Vaidheeswaran's meeting with K.C.S. Panikkar, who was leading the modern art movement which was gaining momentum around the same time, led to his joining the art club. In 1993, his Nagara Suvargal was published, along with other short stories. His poems, incidentally, have been translated into other languages and are included in the ICCR anthologies.

He had already written several songs for the Kaalai Malar programme on AIR when Brhhadhvani's K. S. Subramaniam approached him to write simple lyrics for Carnatic music exercises of Sarali Varisai, to introduce music and the language of Tamil to children. "I consider that a major achievement," says the poet.

Vaidheeswaran has been hailed as a significant imagist. "On the surface", says writer Ashokamitran in his foreword to Vaidheeswaran's book, "The Fragrance of Rain", "his language seems a formal literary language but as one goes from line to line, the reader will realise that the poet is unfolding a new world in a totally new pattern of words. Metaphor never has been utilised so fluently, abundantly and so tellingly as in his creations."

"Imageries do not have similarities," is how Vaidheeswaran puts it.

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