Brammarajan: A Pioneer in the Field of Neo-Thamizh Poetry.

Rajaram Brammarajan For more than 30 years now, since the 80s I have been associated with the field of Neo-Thamizh Poetry and I can say with conviction that Poet Brammarajan is a pioneer in this realm, in more than one way. Form-wise and content-wise he has experimented a lot in this area. Anyone who objectively writes the history of the History of Neo-Thamizh Poetry cannot but mention Poet Brammarajan as a name to reckon with in this realm. Though I cannot claim to have understood the full texts and sub-texts of all his poems and the myriad lanes and by-lanes of the inner world through which the Poet’s mind and imagination choose to undertake a lone, wholesome  voyage, the Style and Content of his poems have given me lot of new openings and poignant moments. Latha Ramakrishnan.

Peguy: “There is even a Poetry which draws its brilliance from the absence of God, which aims at no salvation, which relies on nothing but itself, a human effort, rewarded on this Earth, to fill the void of Space” Albert Camus’s Entry in his Note-Book IV.

“I took everything as seriously as if I were Immortal” – The Will / Jean Paul Sartre.

These two ‘quotable quotes’ that we find in Arindha Nirandharam [The Known Eternity], the first poem-collection of Brammarajan, a pioneer in Neo-Thamizh Poetry appeared in 1980, convey, in a sense, the very essence of his Poesy. A retired English Professor, born in 1953[bio-data given in box] he has six poem-collections and also several books on Poetry and its various aspects, to his credit, apart from a sizeable number of translated works. Right from his first collection of poems he has been writing poems in rich, experimental styles, consciously and steadfastly adhering to post-modern forms of contemporary poetry.

Writing mostly ‘open-ended’ poems he has a firm grip over the language concerned and has an unwavering conviction of What, How and Why Poetry should be. A multi-faceted personality he is, his varied interests ranging from Literature to gardening, from Music to Atoms, Travel, Painting, Books, nature Science and Technology, Mythology and a lot more and all these find a significant place in his poems, forming the inter-textual components of his poetry and give it a splendid neo-poetic form and content. Further, one can hear the voice of a rebel too, not in the direct, political sense, but in a more subtle and psychological sense, defying the Order of the Day, so to say, whereby the mediocre becomes the monarch.

The poem captioned ‘Enakku Edhiraai En Nilaikkannaadiyil Unakku Oru Chitram [ Facing Me in My Mirror  A Portrait For You] reveals this inherent trait of his Poesy.

Facing Me in My Mirror  A Portrait For You


Say thou will
That there was a soul
Think you would
As a God who carved
Posterity in splinters
Your heart would visualize
Whether there was a ‘hyper-human’
Who didn’t break open the
Shackles of Freedom
Meant to be spent.
Henceforth as wave after wave
Your shore-men would
Raise slogans
Killing the silence that has
Arrived and stayed for a
Few days.
The garden and the shore, the wayfare
And the waves all would forth.
Keeping vigil without batting the eyelid
Catching the minutes in the net
The history of stealing flesh out of flesh
Has never been alive.
With the words moving away the
Garden might’ve come into sight.
The holed ‘jinna’ flowers would give orders
In the stars of the wire-fence.
Green coloured grass-hoppers would be
Not just lines flow out of my fingers;
Sometimes cutting tools and razor-edged
Fifteen days since planting
The seedlings eyes are yet to open.
The heart gone out of station
Would worry in the weekend.
The mark of nail would lovingly fall
On the neck of Dalia tubers.
Inside the tuber also there would remain
Alive a tiny animal eating flesh.
Think You
Not me. But inhaling deeply
And going in a half
Wiping off the grey smoke I
With flesh and smoke
Each day a corpse – burning my way.
The tenth skull nerve
that wander non-stop would swirl and tongues that’ve
split-opened thinking of acid rivers.
The fire on the dead would build
nests in the hung branch
with a quiver
Breaking the desire that multiplies
colour mounds as membranes
Unearthing the mind-sculpture that
remained after the decay of
tissues, as Mohanjodaro
While going in search of new pillars
You would re-iterate
That so a Man  did exist.

The original poem in Thamizh  from Poet Brammarajan’s first Collection of poems Arindha Nirandharam
மூலக்கவிதை – தமிழில் – பிரம்மராஜனின் முதல் கவிதைத் தொகுதி [1980]யான  அறிந்த நிரந்தரத்திலிருந்து

எனக்கு எதிராய்
என் நிலைக்கண்ணாடியில்
உனக்கு ஒரு சித்திரம்
அப்படி ஒரு மனிதன் இருந்தானென்று.
சிதறல்களில் செழிப்பைச் செதுக்கிய
கடவுள் ஒருவன் என்று.
காட்சிகொள்ளும் உன் மனது
செலவுக்கென்று சுதந்திரத்தின் கட்டுகளை
முறிக்காத அதீத மனிதன் இருந்தானாவென்று.
இனி உன் கரை மாந்தர் கோஷமிடுவர்
கொஞ்ச நாளாய் வாழ்ந்து வந்த
மௌனத்தைக் கொன்று.
தோட்டமும் கரையும் பாதையும் அலையும்
நிமிஷங்களை வலையில் பிடித்து
சதையில் சதை திருடும் சரித்திரம் உயிர்த்ததில்லை
சொற்கள் விலகித் தெரிந்திருக்கலாம் தோட்டம்.
துளையிடப்பட்ட ஜீனியா மலர்கள்
கம்பி வேலியின் நக்‌ஷத்திரங்களில்
பச்சை நிற வெட்டுக்கிளிகள்
கோடுகள் மட்டும் வழிவதில்லை என் விரல்களில்
சில சமயம் துரப்பணக்கருவிகளும்
கூர்நுனிப் புற்களும்.

நட்டுப் பதினைந்து நாட்கள்
நாற்று கண் விழிக்கவில்லை.
கவலை கொள்ளும் ஊர் சென்ற மனது.
வாரத்தின் இறுதியில்
அன்புடன் டேலியாக் கிழங்குகளின்
கழுத்தில் விழும் நகக்குறி.
கிழங்கிற்குள்ளும் ஒரு மிருகம்
சதை தின்று வாழும்
என நினைக்கிறாய்.
ஆனால் அழுத்தமாய் மூச்சிழுத்து
அரைவட்டம் போய்வந்து
சாம்பல் பனி விலக்கித் தெரியவிட்டேன்
சதையும் புகையுமாய்
தினம் ஒரு பிணம் எரியும்
என் வழியை.
ஓய்வற்றுத் திரியும்
பத்தாம் கபால நரம்பு
அமில ஆறுகளை நினைத்துப் பிளந்த நாக்குகளைச்
நுரையீரல் மரக்கிளையில்
கூடுவளர்க்கும் சுதை நெருப்பு.
வர்ணத்திட்டுகளை செதிலாய் வளர்த்தும்
விருப்பத்தைச் சிலிர்த்து உடைத்துவிட்டுத்
திசுக்கள் அழிந்து மிஞ்சிய மூளைச் சிற்பத்தை
மொகஞ்சாதரோ எனக் கண்டெடுத்து
புதிய தூண்கள் தேடிச் செல்கையில்
நீ மீண்டும் சொல்வாய்
ஒரு மனிதன்

As is perceivable in the works of any significant writer, be it Prose or Poetry, poems of Brammarajan too have several significant and recurrent strains or themes and on the basis of these, his Poetry can be broadly classified into three chief heads. They are 1] Poems that deal with man-woman relationship and its myriad hues. 2] Poems that challenge or criticize the prevailing autocratic notions about what poetry or life is or what they should convey and how. And, 3] Poems that deal with man’s ultimate loneliness, unnamable sadness and ever-remaining and growing dissatisfaction and the sense of incompleteness. And, in conveying these aspects of life the Poet makes use of all that he has learnt, felt, seen, read and experienced. Also, his knowledge of books, music, painting, computers, science, ecology, environmental awareness and a lot more go into the poem to give it the ‘Brammarajan Touch’, so to say! Further, in his poems instinct and intellect, matters of the br ain and the heart all co-exist so harmoniously complementing one another and thereby lending depth and spelendour to the poems. The poem titled ‘Prayaaanathilirundhu Oru Kaditham [ A Letter From Travel ] is a fine example of the aforesaid synchronization of the brain and the heart.

“Contrast the countenance of
With that of the chaotic strokes of
Van Gaug’s self-portrait
Between the Two I Be.

These lines from the said poem, by bringing Buddha and Van Gaug together, not only convey the jam-packed life of Today but also juxtapose the Ancience and the Modern, Peace and Turbulence, Religion  or Philosophy and Art etc. and, the lines that follow can be roughly translated thus:

I will come bringing
Some more days
Poem’s stupid lines blue
Brimming amnesia
Fate-ways of the streets
Gwalior Music that came
Zigzagging in the wheat-fields
Used tickets
Sleeplessness that overflow in the
Worn-out footwear, eye-impressions
Of Kajuraho’s stone-sculptures
that Gandhi wanted to be smashed

The Original Poem in Thamizh captioned from Poet Brammarajan’s Third Collection of poems Gnyabagach -Chirppam
மூலக்கவிதை தமிழில் பிரம்மராஜனின் ஞாபகச்சிற்பம் என்ற தலைப்பிலான மூன்றாவது கவிதைத் தொகுதியிலிருந்து

பிரயாணத்திலிருந்து ஒரு கடிதம்
கோடிட்ட இடத்தில் எனக்கான குணச் சொல்லை
நீ நிரப்பிக்கொள். ரயில் மாற வேண்டும்.
தங்களை அனுப்பக் காத்திருப்போருடன் நான்.
மனிதப் புழுக்கமும்  புழுதியும் பிரதேசமும்
மொழியும் பிரயோகமும் புரியாதது புதிது.
காலொடிந்த பெஞ்சில் என் கால் தாங்கி எழுதுகிறேன்.
உன் பதினாலாம் பிறந்த தினம் மறந்துபோய்
சூர்யக் கதிர்கள் பிளக்கும் நெடுமரக்காடுகளை
அனுப்ப மறந்தேன்.
பால் வெலேரியை நினைத்துக்கொண் டிருந்தேன்
அவனது பதினெட்டு வருட எழுத்துமௌனத்தை.
பேதார் கணவாயில் பிரதியின் பிரதியிலிருந்து
பிரதியான புத்தரின் சிலையை வாங்கினேன் பளிங்கில்.
6 ½ “ உயரம். விலை ரூ.132.
சத்னா ரயில் நிலையத்தில் தூசி தட்டி பெட்டி திறந்து
பணம் தந்தேன்.
என் ப்ரௌன் நிறச் சட்டையில்
[உன் பாஷையில் மெரூன் கலர்]
வெண்பளிங்கு மாவுத் தூசி.
கல் முற்றவில்லை. கல் பழுக்கும் காலத்தில்
நர்மதையில் நகரும் மனித வியர்வைப் படகுகள்
அணுத்துடுப்பிலோ அதற்கெடுத்தென்னவோ
அதிலோ எதிலோ
நீ செல்வாய்-
ஆற்றின் அடிவயிற்று முனகல்
உனக்குக் கேட்காமல் போகும்.
மட்கும் மண் கனவுகள் கரைந்துவிடும்.
மரத்தில் கிடைத்த புத்த முகத்தை
வான்கோவின் சுய போர்ட்ரெய்ட்டின்
பதற்றக் கோடுகளுடன் ஒப்பிடு
இரண்டிற்குமிடையில் நான்.
கொண்டு வருகிறேன்
இன்னும் சில நாட்கள்
கவிதையின் முட்டாள் வரிகள்
நீலப் பூச்செண்டு
நிறையும் மறதி
தெருக்களின் விதிவழிகள்
கோதுமை வயல்களில் வளைந்து வந்த
குவாலியர் சங்கீதம்
காலாவதியான ரயில் டிக்கெட்டுகள்
கண்ணில் வழியும் உறக்கமின்மை
தேய்ந்து போன காலணிகள்
காந்தி தகர்க்கச் சொன்ன
கஜூரஹோவின் கல்சிற்பங்களின் கண் பதிவுகள்

The starting line of this section, i.e., “I will come bringing’ reads thus in Thamizh – Varugiraen kondu’. And, the term ‘kondu’ in Thamizh, apart from its common meaning ‘to bring’, ‘bringing’ etc., also mean holding, comprehending, receiving, acquiring, conceiving and several more. By reverting the common arrangement of the two words from ‘Kondu Varugiraen’ to ‘Varugiraen Kondu’ the Poet effectively conveys something that is more than ‘mere bringing’. This is another integral aspect of Brammarajan’s School of Poetry. We can cite ample instances for this usage of language from all the seven poem-collections of his. So also, by employing a word in its not so common application the Poet enriches a poem and succeeds in conveying effectively that which he wished to say.

Inter-textuality is another essential ingredient of Brammarajan’s Poetry. Even an occasional acquaintance of the poet could easily perceive that the poet need not strain himself to employ ‘inter-textuality’ in his poems, for, being a voracious reader and also having diverse interests-be it myths and tales about Lord Shiva, Nebakov, beethovan, Charlie B rown, Kafka, Goddess Kali, Borge, Jim Garbett and a lot more it remains ever-ready at the back of his mind, and, consciously and unconsciously they pervade his realm of Poetry. And, he never gives a mere list of names in the name of ‘inter-textuality’, but, Nebakov, Baudalaire, goddess Avudai and Ravanaa and also abundant allusions from the realm of Music, Painting etc., are so intricately interwoven as the body and soul of the poem. A poem in his third collection Nyabach -Chirppam [Memory Sculpture] is titled Cartoon Life And Kafka . Roughly translated it reads thus:

Cartoon  Life And Kafka

Charlie Brown a slip of boy
Two tiny front hair curls apart
Shaven-headed almost
Beethovan mostly Mozart
Often Muzoorki
To enjoy Rahmanininov
Taste Shubert
So He would ask for Music
It seems. With every day a thought
And an apprehension
Every moment
I keep watching him.
Entrapped in the hands of the kite-eating Tree
With the branch grasping firm the
Kite and He pulling at its
This side thread
And thi thi this way with
His leg enmeshed in the yarn he
Hung upside down from the tree.
Charlie’s dog would write story ‘ you are
My gulping air and gobbling bun,
So it would pen tales in Love-Typewriter
That too looking topsy-turvy
Yes yes indeed our master only
Goes he.
In order to keep your thing
in your cabin how
Long you would stay like this?
To little sister’s query
He screams
the answer.
Enough I am to know what
It is yes or no
Says she just that.
Charlie swung as ever
Some morns I failed to see
Today with the print-ink’s scent
He is describing the experience
To his chummy
Good he doesn’t know to spin
The tale of a
Man selling clothes rising up
One day and saw himself
A bumble-bee.

*The Original Poem in Thamizh captioned from Poet Brammarajan’s Third Collection of poems Gnyabagach -Chirppam. பிரம்மராஜனின் ஞாபகச்சிற்பம் என்ற தலைப்பிலான மூன்றாவது கவிதைத் தொகுதியில் இடம்பெறும்  கார்ட்டூன் வாழ்வும் காஃப்காவும் என்ற தலைப்பிலான மூலக்கவிதையிலிருந்து சில வரிகள் இங்கே தரப்பட்டுள்ளன.

நாள் ஒரு நினைவும்
பொழுதொரு கவலையுமாய் கவனித்துவருகிறேன் அவனை
பட்டம் தின்னும் மரத்திடம் சிக்கிக்கொண்டான்.
பட்டத்தை மரம் கவ்வ இவன் இப்பக்கத்து நூலை இழுக்க
இ இ இப்படி காலில் நூல் சுருக்கி தலைகீழாய் தொங்கினான் மரத்திலிருந்து

I keep watching him.
Entrapped in the hands of the kite-eating Tree
With the branch grasping firm the
Kite and He pulling at its
This side thread
And thi thi this way with
His leg enmeshed in the yarn he
Hung upside down from the tree.

Brammarajan’s Poetry is essentially a ‘Poetry of Interiority’. He is predominantly a poet of the interior or internal world and he explores the enormous space of this ‘nutshell’ universe in such a manner that gives it a grandeur-par-excellence’. As much as it is difficult to speak of the outer world in a manner hitherto untried. Poet Brammarajan does exactly that. In his poem titled ‘Maram Sonnadhu’ [ Tree’s Version] he represents the intensity of pain with a new dimension. Roughly translated the poem reads thus:

Tree’s Version

The commencement of pain too
Is but a common one
So a  thorny word tears
They who claim that its
Volume is but
Like fixing inside the
Frame the painting that
Is not
Are poor being unaware
Of pain.
Yet the age of pain
Is that which is the
Before of
Time Immemorial.
Karnan’s disposition in
Offering his own wakeful body’s
Before Parasuram’s bodily sleep
To bee’s and giant worm’s
Sharp pierce.
For he who said that
Never can one make merry
The bark of a tree
Never can change it to change
As like changing snake’s skin
The tree that has grown with
The dates and names carved
On it by love-gullibles
Declares weighing heavy that
More than the pain of felling
And tearing apart
Bearing with the rapidity of scar’s growth
Flakial damage
Is murder’s unending long line.

*The Original Poem in Thamizh  captioned மரம் சொன்னது [Tree’s Version] from Poet Brammarajan’s Third Collection of poems Gnyabagach -Chirppam. பிரம்மராஜனின் ஞாபகச்சிற்பம் என்ற தலைப்பிலான மூன்றாவது கவிதைத் தொகுதியில் இடம்பெறும்  மரம் சொன்னது [Tree’s Version] என்ற தலைப்பிலான மூலக்கவிதை:

மரம் சொன்னது

வலியின் துவக்க முகமும்
ஒரு சாதாரணம்தான்
என ஒரு முட்சொல் கிழிக்கிறது.
இல்லாத ஓவியத்தைச் சட்டகத்ஹ்டினுள்
பொருத்திப் பார்ப்பதுபோல்தான்
அதன் அளவு என்பார்
வலியறியா வறியோர்.
எனினும் வலியின் வயது
தொன்மையின் முன்மை
பரசுராமனின் உடல் உறக்கத்திற்கு
முன் தன் விழிப்புடல் தடையை
வண்டுத் துளைப்புக்குத் தந்த
கர்ணத் தன்மை.
மரப்பட்டையை மகிழ்ச்சிப்படுத்தவே
பாம்பின் சட்டையை மாற்றுதல் போல்
மாறுதலுக்கு மாற்றுதல் முடியாது
காதல் முட்டாள்கள் செதுக்கிச்
தேதிகள் பெயர்களுடன் பெரிதாகும்
மரம் கனத்துச் சொல்கிறது
வெட்டிக் கிழித்தலின் வலியை விட
வடுவின் வளர் வேகம்
பொருக்கு சேதம்
கொலையின் முடிவற்ற நீள்கோடாகும்.

The tree that has grown with
The dates and names carved
On it by love-gullibles
Declares weighing heavy that
More than the pain of felling
And tearing apart
Bearing with the rapidity of scar’s growth
Flakial damage
Is murder’s unending long line.

A poem becomes significant when it perceives, as stated earlier, and presents an incident or feeling from a different, not so common angle, thereby lending it more depth and complexity. In the poem given above, the poet, instead of subscribing to the general notion that psychological pain is something that slowly loses its intensity with the passage of time, compares it with the deep scratches on the tree trunk, thereby revealing their long-lasting nature. The last few lines so poignantly reveal scars as more painful than fresh wounds in that as days pass the scars ‘do grow rapidly’. The apt reference to the mythological Karnan in this context is indeed noteworthy.

And, true to his claim that language is an integral part of Poetry, Poet Brammarajan innovates a great deal in the usage of language, coiling new terms, giving a new connotation to much used, most common word, bringing two or more words in  such a way that they change the entire concept of reading and understanding Poetry. His thired collect ion ‘Gnyabagach -Chirppam’ [Memory Sculpture] has a long poem which attempts at interpreting dream in the very exclusive language of Dream, which is highly disoriented and unexplainable. The small poem given below[from the same collection of poems] precisely puts forward how the poet values and treats the components of language and what he expects of his won self as well as from his fellow poets in their application of the, i.e., the components of language in their poetic endeavours.


Say ‘Flower’
In the garden field and
All those that stood
In the jar
Would disappear.
Create somehow
The bloom some kind
The wind admonished
At once freezes
Inhale for you and me
The very life
The ‘bats’ that fall
In the sounds falling
Pull of the earth.
Perform your music
Say Food
Let all turn rotten
He would prepare
That which is His.

(இதன் மூலக்கவிதை – உச்சாடனம் என்று தலைப்பிடப்பட்டது.)

Poems require the reader’s participation also in their comprehension, and, as the readers’ experiences in life and their reactions and responses to them vary from person to person and also as the usage of language undergoes various changes with the passage of Time, there cannot be a definite and permanent , one and only interpretation for a poem, holds the poet.  He believes that any sound poem does have, apart from the ‘writerly text’  a ‘readerly text’ too – which in fact is not just one  but several. Hence, a reader who wants to get close to the so-called real meaning of a poem can at best be one who would like to go through another’s personal diary. Instead, reading poems should elevate, enrich and enlighten the human mind in more than one way. Nevermind if one cannot reach at its final meaning, for, there isn’t one and there cannot be. But, if the poem causes in its reader some unfathomable stirs and ripples which reveal to him/her in a flash some hidden treasures, provide the reader moments of intense trauma and anguish and also relief and catharsis, then the poem holds good, says he.

And, true to his contention, his poems, though not comprehensible in their totality, unless the reader has the same wavelength and knowledge of language and the ability to decipher the unusual similes, images and expressions used in them, they still have the quality and readiness to communicate something, some part of them that have great depth. And, Brammarajan’s poems never fail to instil in the reader a melting and moving feeling, without in the least resorting to melodrama, a feeling of acute pain or sorrow or loneliness, despair, disappointment and such other poignant feelings. And, it is to the credit of the poet that these poems never degenerate into mere weak and sob stories or statements or ‘story-telling’ sessions, steeped in self-pity or self-aggrandizement.

Being ‘subjectively objective’ at the same time ‘Objectively subjective’  can be called the hall-mark of Brammarajan’s poesy. The poem given below is one of the many that bear testimony to this observation.

The Consent of The Sea

Dos and don’ts
It doesn’t have
Profane taboo low noble
Ignoble etc., and the
sacrilege of the foot-wear
Even if the lines drawn
are overthrown
the wild fire of castigation
would not rise in ire.
The firmness of the feet
matters most.
Why leg, who wears
It never discriminates.
It would wash the feet
Whatever be the caste colour and
Burnt match-stick
The eeriness of the cargo ship
all are but floats.
As the accurate focal bounce
of the balance hand
blossoms can be borne
It can be kept opened
on all directions
it can be locked
for the miser who remembers not
the key
the doors of the sea
don’t allow entry
as like as like moss-coloured castle
falling into the sea
from the no-man’s land above
Oh, please stop  Rene Magritte…
He who knows not penning prose
He who falters in the language
of his choice
This one feels ill at ease
in the alien tongue….
Still, allow
all these lowly ones, minions
and ‘Shiva’ who owns the ‘southern region’
to set foot
spreading the carpet of foam on
the shore

*The Original Poem in Thamizh  captioned கடலின் அனுமதி [Kadalin Anumadhi] from Poet Brammarajan’s fifth Collection of poems Mahaa Vaakkiyam பிரம்மராஜனின் ஞாபகச்சிற்பம் என்ற தலைப்பிலான மூன்றாவது கவிதைத் தொகுதியில் இடம்பெறும் கடலின் அனுமதி [The Consent of The Sea ] என்ற தலைப்பிலான மூலக்கவிதை.

கடலின் அனுமதி

அனுஷ்டானம் அதற்கில்லை
எச்சில் கீழ்மேல் உன்னதம் விலக்கு
உருப்படி செ ருப்பின் தீட்டு
வகுத்த கோடு மீறப்படினும்
பற்றி எழாது தண்டனைத் தீ
காலடிகளின் அழுத்தமே பிரதானம்
ஏன்கால் யார் அணிகிறார்
பாதங்கள் கழுவும் சாதியுமற்று சமயம் துறந்து
தோணியும் எரிந்த தீக்குச்சியும்
துரப்பணக் கப்பலின் அமானுஷ்யமும்
தராசு முள்ளின் மையத் துல்லியமாய்
பூக்கொண்டும் போகலாம்
திக்கெட்டிலும் திறந்தே வைக்கலாம்
திறவுகோல் மறந்த உலோபிக்குத் திறன்பிக்கவில்லை
கடலின் கதவு
உருண்டைப் பாசிமீது  படிந்த கோட்டை
அந்தரத்திலிருந்து கடலில் விழுந்த வண்ணமாய்
நிறுத்துங்கள் ரெனே மகரித்
உரைநடை எழுதத் தெரியாதவனும்
பெயர்ந்த மொழி சரளிக்காதவனும்
விதேசி பாஷையில் லகு கிடையாது இவனுக்கு
தென்னாடு உடைய சிவனும்
கால்வைக்க அனுமதியும்
கரையில் நுரை விரித்து

Quoting the Russian poet Joseph Broadsky, Brammarajan says that a poem should first and foremost qualify itself as a poem. Only then it has the right to function as a tool for something else. The basic requirement is that it should first evolve into a poem in the real sense of the term.

Poet Brammarajan calls himself apolitical and his poetry is essentially a poetry of the interiority , but, as much as  man is a social animal his poems too can be apt reflections of the world we live in. In his second collection, Vali Unarum Manidhargal’ there are a number of poems dealing explicitly with the chaos of city life and also of the Modern Man. But, true to his contention they do qualify themselves as poems with their intensity and ambiguities in tact. In a wider sense, almost all his poems reveal the hopelessness, haste, alienation, pricks of conscience, acute consciousness, painful awareness of Time and the strictures it imposes on Man, the impacts of Science and Nature, Art and Literature and a lot more that mark the present man’s ongoing conflicts, within and without. His poem captioned ‘Michap Pathuk Kattalaigal, meaning ‘The Remaining Ten Commandments’, highlights the anxieties and aspirations of the Modern Man.

The Remaining Ten Commandments

In the twilight of the aging
My life begins anew
as a brand new Art Treasury.
Yet, the though that I no more
belong to the spring of youth
keeps coming back to me.
In the bitterness that ferments
and swells in
my distillery beaker
the pesticides for the
insects of the world
would be produced
The thorns that have pierced the fingers
and torn apart
turn strings that  vibrate in
Meaning is forever springing up
for Him and Them
In the fractured and plastered
in the mole of the cheek
in the scum of the faecus
in the thread-knot turning tighter
in a few expendable coins
Wishing a genuine Companion and falling in  love
having realized
that eye is but wound  alright
the axilla of the bird that has forgotten flying
would agonize in me
In all those living
in the list of those that
deserve not Life
ere the Earth would
emit a gasp
I should utter a few words
Lashing the whip in the firmament
Ten more commandments.

மிச்சம் பத்துக் கட்டளைகள்

தளரும் நூற்றாண்டிறுதியில் அறுபத்து வருடம் அழிபடும்
பிராயத்தில் இளமையின் ஊற்றினைச்
சேர்ந்திலேன் கண்டு
என் வடிகலன் நிறைந்து கொதிக்கும் கசப்பில்
பூமிப் பூச்சிகளின் ரசாயனக் கொல்லிகள் விளையும்
தைத்து அறுபட்ட வடுமுட்கள் விரல்கள்
அதிரும் தந்திகள்
அர்த்தம் உற்பத்தியாகும் அவருக்கும் இவருக்கும்
வேனில்  கயிற்றில்
காரை விடுதியில்
கன்னத்து மச்சத்தில்
நற்றுணை ஆகட்டுமெனக் காதல் உதயம் செய்து
கண்ணைப் புண்ணெறு உணர்ந்தவுடன்
பறத்தல் மறந்த பறவையின் அக்குள்
வலிக்கும் எனக்குள்
வாழ்ந்திருப்பவை அனைத்திலும் வாழும் தகுதி
அதிகமில்லாதவை பட்டியலில்
பூமி செருமிக்கொள்ளக் குரலெடுக்கு முன்
வேண்டும் சொற்கள் சில
விண்ணின் சாட்டை சொடுக்கி
மிச்சம் பத்துக் கட்டளைகள்.

In one of his rare interviews Poet Brammarajan, in reply to a query, calls the Sea ‘an escape route’ and that the poet as well as the man in him turn to the sea for peace and solace. True to his statement, right from his first collection we see the sea symbolizing the myriad moods and shades of life. In his poem-collection Mahaa Vaakkiyam there are seventeen to eighteen sea-poems’ which had earlier appeared as a thin volume under the title ‘Kadal Patriya Kavidhaigal’. The term ‘pattriya’ in Thamizh means ‘about’[the sea] as well as ‘held by’[the sea], and can even mean ‘poems caught afire by the Sea’. Further, there are also some more poems in his subsequent collections and all of these ponder over and glorify Sea, literally as well as figuratively, i.e., the vast ocean called life, being at once personal and social, having wholesome descriptions about the Sea and the environmental hazards therein and musings over inter-personal relationships and man’s unrealized[unrealizable?] yearnings.

So also, the poems under the title ‘Chithroopini’ meaning the ‘Mindscape Woman’ bring forth the parched heart’s vision of an ideal and ultimate woman who never withers nor wavers and also whose love too never withers nor wavers. When compared and contrasted , of these two series whereas in the first series the Sea too stands out equally along with the focal points of the poems, i.e., the love between a man and a woman in its ideal form and its soothing effects on Man, in the series Chithroopini it is the physical and mental features of Chithroopini, i.e., the Mindscape Woman that are so poignantly fantacized from reality or realized from fantasy or both, where reality and fantasy overlap each other, that demand more attention, so to say. And, in their wholesome sense the Sea and the Chithroopini are one and the same, and the poems together present a powerful plea for soothing, spontaneous and everlasting relationship which implies man’s eternal longing for transcending and surpassing Time.

These two series of poems have won wide acclaim among the discerning readers of Poetry in Thamizh. In the words of Soothradhaari, who is also a significant poet in his  own capacity, ‘those poems give expressions in words to the ecstatic and delirious moments of copulation and the way they enable one to cross the barriers of Time and the physical self. Glorifying the human body the poems undertake a journey through that into the spheres of metaphysics’, says he in his review of Mahaa Vaakiyam. The very poem under the same title is a striking example of this poetic caliber of poet Brammarajan. The poem apparently deals with man’s unquenchable thirst for sexual gratification which forever eludes him, but, on a deeper level all the images and similes and the like put to use for describing man’s everlasting search for a wholesome love, physical as well as psychological precisely stand for the unnameable dissatisfaction that keeps troubling any wakeful and sensitive mind. The poem is rich and complex ob both levels which is worth mentioning. There are sensitive fellow poets who observe the fact that poet Brammarajan’s images are not only ultra-modern but also extremely imaginative and that even the seemingly casual observations of the poet never fail to make an impact on us as can be seen in such descriptions as ‘the radio that sings even with the intestines wide-opened[kudal thirandhum paadum vaanoli], and ‘the layers of grass-sculpture that the wind has carved on the torso of the mountain[ malai udalathil kaatru chedukkiya putchirppa adukku] etc. Poet Kalapriya, another significant name in Neo-Thamizh Poetry observes that the poetic moment is something where each and every image and phrase come from the past and at this specific moment the journey that the poet’s mind undertakes is mostly into the past and the rest into the future. And, converting this moment as existing in the present would take the Modern Poetry ahead. Brammarajan has achieved this, says he. We can cite the poem given below as a befitting example to this contention.

The Mindscape Woman  11

Are you the one who gave out orders
to kill the pain-filled sorrow-struck

Aren’t you the one who sprouted the
last fruit and with the hip giving way
brought down the canopy.

Otherwise in the flowery seat of one
of your incorporeal reproductions
making me entrapped in the
whirlpool of intoxication

or else, are you the you are who
directed me to glorify the
You are someone who was that
Allowing not to see the stars
Asking me to worship your ever-growing

As for me I become that
very that that which I contain
in form and content
and so turned
an alligator holding on to your

You were it was who brought
your cool rain on the
raging fire of the incense-mast

When the opportune season came when
You alone are the You
could be obtained
You turned ‘Are You’

Therein as I looked at your
lap as a beggar-child
with the luscious lips reddening
tightening the bodice
You chose to dance.

Are you the one who turned the
light-rays of my dreams
barren and raised them to
Your idol-face

Are you the are you who have
changed my deceptive sleeps
that seemed as no sleep into deep
sleep and offered peace

or else, that which
had frozen as the ever falling formless form
in the dark floor of my ocean
along with the minute vermin that
the Sun has never set eyes upon
was whether your phantom vagina or the
Mammoth or Reality’s tomb

Aren’t you the one who had nurtured
the pierced thorn along with the
flesh as the serum and
anointing pain-fed memory.

Isn’t that which I called with
My voice quivering your voice
You who is you alone
have so absorbingly coalesced.

In the two ‘prasthaaraas’ of a
‘Hindola’ Raagaa as a Woman
in a Man

All incomprehensible standing
bewildered with eyes
popping out and
praying for a way out am I
your You I am
ever your ‘are you’. Amen.

The Original Poem in Thamizh   from Poet Brammarajan’s Fifth poem-collection Mahaa Vakkiyam.

மூலக்கவிதை–தமிழில்-பிரம்மராஜனின் மஹா வாக்கியம் நிரந்தரம் என்ற தலைப்பிட்ட ஐந்தாவது கவிதைத் தொகுதி[2000]யிலிருந்து

சித்ரூபிணி _ 2

நீ தானா வலி முற்றிய துயர் மிகுந்த விலங்குகளை
கொல்லக் கட்டளை கொடுத்தது
நீதானே கடைசிக்கனி விட்டதும் கறையான்கள் அரித்து
இடுப்பு இற்றுவிழ குடை சரியவிட்டதும்
ஐன்றியுன் அரூபப் பிரதிகளில் ஒன்றின் மலர் மிசையில்
என்னை மயக்கத்தின் சுழலில் வீழ்த்தியது
அல்லது நீயோதான் பகாபகத்தினை மகிமைப் படுத்த
விண்மீன்களையும் நோக்கவிடாது உன் வளர்முலையை
வணங்கச் சொன்னது நீயோ யாரோ
நானோ எதைப் பிடித்தாலும் அதுவாகும் வடிவ வஸ்துவாகி
உன் பாதத்தினைப் பற்றும் முதலைப் பிறவியானவன்
நீயே தான் உன் குளிர் மழையை எனது தூப ஸ்தம்பத்தின்
கடுந்தழல் மீது அவிய வைத்தது
நீயே தான் நீ என்று முதன்முதலில் உணரும் பருவகாலம்
வந்த போது நீ நீயோ வாகினாய்
அங்கில் நான் ஏதற்ற குழந்தையாய் உன் மடி நோக்க
தாம்பூல அதரங்கள் சிவக்க கச்சைகளை இறுக்கி நடனமிடத் தேர்ந்தாய்
நீயோ என் கனவுகளின் ஒளிக்கிரணங்களை மலடாக்கி உன்
சிற்பமுகத்தினை நோக்கி நிமிர்த்தியது
நீயோதானா உறங்காது போலிருந்த போலி உறக்கங்களை
நித்திரையாய் மாற்றி நிர்மலம் தந்தது
அன்றி என் சமுத்திர இருட்கரையில் ஒரு வருடமும் சூரியன்
பார்க்காத கிருமிநுண்ணிகளுடன் வீழ்படிவமாய்ச் சமைந்தது
உன் நிழல் யோனியா நிஜத்தின் கல்லறை யாளியா
நீ தானே தைத்த முள்ளினை சதையுடன் நிணமாக வளர்த்து
வலி தடவி நினைவு புகட்டியது
என் குரல் நடுங்கக் கூப்பிட்டது உன் குரலேயல்லவா
நீயாகும் நீதான் ஒரு ஹிந்தோள ராகத்தின்
பிரஸ்தாரங்களில் ஆணில் பெண்ணாய் லயமொகித்தது
யாதுமே விளங்காது விழிபிதுங்க வழிவேண்டி நிற்கும் உன்
நீயோ நான்
என்றுமே உன் நீயோதான்.

A voracious reader poet Brammarajan has been constantly in touch with the various new literary trends and the distinguished writers around the world and introduce them to the Thamizh readers who care to know, by translating qualitatively unique Asian and Western poets. H has translated such world renowned poets as T.S.Eliot, Ezra Pound, Osif Mandelstam, Bertolt Brecht and several others. He had authored and financed Meetchi[Redemption] a Thamizh quarterly that created the much needed atmosphere for modern ideas to flourish in the field of Thamizh Literature. This quarterly is considered to have made significant contribution to Modern Literature in Thamizh. Budding and promising writers were given space in Meetchi many of whom later evolved into significant short-story writers, poets, critics and translators. Further, poet Brammarajan took upon himself the task of bringing out the complete collection of his co-poet Athmaanaam’s poetry after his sudden demise in 1983, single-handedly. Hailing from an agrarian family he has intense love for Music, Computers, Painting and he has designed the front-covers of many of his co-writers under the label ‘Graphicus Esoterics’ and ‘Magico Marvel’. His book titled ‘Padhinaindhu Airoppiya Naveenavaadhigal [Fifteen Modern European Writers] can be aptly called a veritable guide introducing world class European writers to the Thamizh readers. His collection of essays captioned ‘Vaarthaiyin Rasavaadham’ [The Alchemy or Word] give out the poet’s impressions about the Realm of Poesy with all its shades and nuances.

Being more of a recluse Poet Brammarajan never bothers about accolades, awards and brickbats. He pens for the pure passion of it. “When the poem makes me write, I write”, says he simply. Having written a great deal about Poetry in various small magazines which are read in al seriousness by discerning readers, he has just this to say regarding Poetry, its Aesthetics and Significance.

“Each and every poem has a life of its own. There is no need for the poet to come running to defend and safeguard it. A good poem has its safety-valve ingrained in it. A good poem would challenge Time and it would defy and defeat autocracy. And, a good poem cannot be discarded by any kind of concocted history -– for that matter, any history is penned by the powers-that-be  — as is done in the case of a part of a rocket with its fuel exhausted”.


Rajaram Brammarajan : Contributing Editor, Tamil Literature

Rajaram Brammarajan Rajaram Brammarajan is a poet, translator, critic and editor. He started writing poetry in the late 70s and brought out his first collection of poemsArindha Nirandharam (Known Eternity) in 1980. His last collection of poems was called Zen Mayil (Zen Peacock)[2008]. So far he has published 7 volumes of poems. His Selected Poems (2004)contains selections from all his collections excepting one. His keen involvement in the process of poetry and poetics led to the writing of essays ranging from Modern Tamil poetry toAnti-poetry of post-war Europe. All his essays on poetry are collected in the book titled Vaarthaiyin Rasavatham(Alchemy of the Word)[2008]. He edited the notable anthology calledContemporary World Poetry (2008)spanning all countries excluding America and England. His full-length introduction to Ezra Pound was published in 1985. In 1987 he presented to the Tamil readers a selection of Bertolt Brecht with a highly structured introduction.

His translations include Jorge Luis Borges’s Stories (2000) and Calvino Kathikal (Stories of Italo Calvino). His translation of Gabriel Garcial Marquez’sOne Hundred Years of Solitude is forthcoming. He has also translated from Tamil into English many younger poets. For Sahitya Akademi’s Indian Literature he translated a selection of Siddhar poems. (“Second Tradition: SIDDHAR POEMS”, Indian Literature, Jan-Feb 2000).

He occasionally writes columns on Indian music. He edited a quarterly magazineMEETCHI (Retrieval) since 1983. By the time when the magazine was defunct in 1992 he had published 35 issues that have made a strong impact on the sensibilities of modern Tamil literary world. He started another little magazine under the name Naangam Paathai(Fourth Way) in 2008. This little magazine has extended its roots to other arts like music and painting. Its 3rd issue is forthcoming.

He has conducted a couple of workshops for upcoming poets in different parts of Tamil Nadu. He has also been instrumental in the planting and preservation of 13,000 trees in the Government Arts College campus.

He was born into a peasant family and was educated in government colleges and completed his post-graduation in English from the Annamalai University (1975) with distinction and University First. Later he completed his M.Phil in Bharathiar University specializing in the novels of Samuel Beckett. In M.Phil too he secured the first rank. He is based in Dharmapuri, a sleepy small town in Tamil Nadu. He is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of English in Government Arts College, Dharmapuri. He can be reached at his

* courtesy: Muse India