Bonus Material: Remembering Poet Kamala Das

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

PUNE: Revered Indian poet Kamala Das died this past Sunday, age 75. Known for her work in both Malayalam (the language of her native Kerala) and English, she was a ground-breaking writer, a feminist who did not shy away from the erotic or confronting patriarchy.

She started writing as a teenager, using the nom de plume Madhavikutty. Her first poetry collections  appeared in her 30s, but it wasn’t until the publication of her autobiography “My Story” in 1976 that she achieved widespread acclaim. In all, Das published some two dozen books and has been widely translated. A late convert to Islam, she later changed her name to Kamala Das Surayya.

Among her best known poems is “An Introduction,” which begins:

I don’t know politics but I know the names
Of those in power, and can repeat them like
Days of week, or names of months, beginning with Nehru.
I am Indian, very brown, born in Malabar,
I speak three languages, write in
Two, dream in one.

AN INTRODUCTION: Is online here.

THE HINDU: Has an account of her funeral.

THE TIMES OF INDIA: Posted an obituary.

SATHYA SARAN: Wrote an appreciation.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka is the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. A former foreign correspondent, he has covered the book business exclusively since 2000, serving as daily news editor for Publishers Weekly and columnist for Bloomberg News.