K. Siva Reddy is a major voice in contemporary Telugu poetry. He has published eleven collections of poems: his first was published in 1973 and his most recent book in 2003. He has won several honours, including the Sahitya Akademi award in 1990 for his sixth book, Mohana! Oh Mohana!, which has been described as “an outstanding contribution to Indian literature in Telugu”, in which “the impassioned flow of poetry . . . is never subservient to the zeal for change”. He taught English for several years at the Vivek Vardhini College in Hyderabad, and retired recently as its principal.
In their book of English translations of Siva Reddy’s poems, Mohana! Oh Mohana!, they describe the recurrent themes in his poetry as “rural agricultural life and nature in all its variety, childhood, women, immense faith in man and life, oppression, exploitation and revolution, the collective strength and power of the word”. They point out that Siva Reddy “filled the void when there was no forceful second generation of revolutionary poetry in Telugu. He has even been credited, they write, “with releasing revolutionary poetry from its stereotypic and monotonous poetizing.”
In an engaging interview with his translators (conducted specially for this issue of PIW India), Siva Reddy himself describes himself as a Marxist poet whose approach to language has journeyed from an oratorical style to a quieter, more supple idiom where “the demarcation of the personal and the public gets erased”. “A poem now may begin on a very personal note, but it ends with a collective consciousness,” he says.
The trademarks of Siva Reddy’s style, say his translators, is “a poetic diction [that is] a combination of the commonplace and the ‘literary’ variety, a chain of poetic images and the inevitable force of repetition”. The result is the “heightened, intensified, emotional speech “ that the poet regards as the province of true poetry.
The five poems included in this edition are from a range of books: Ajeyam (1994), Varsham, Varsham (1999), Antarjanam (2002) and Vrittalekhini (2003). They reveal a poetics of imagistic density and expansiveness that moves freely between domestic detail and metaphysical reflection. ‘Concerning a Room’ explores, for instance, the subtle atmospheric undertones of a certain moment: specifically, four-thirty in the afternoon, “an indecisive state in an in-between hour / an inexplicable dangerous state / when all storms turn inward”.
‘A Love Song between Two Generations’ offers a complex and associative weave of images and thoughts on the subject of the distance between parent and child, gradually unfolding into a rumination on the nature of intimacy. It takes a long and intense journey of reflection to arrive at the aphoristic finality of the last lines:
Love is only to journey
between people through people into people
Aame Evaraite Matram, Palapitta Prachuranalu, Hyderabad 2009
Posaganivannee, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 2008
Atanu-Charitra, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 2005
Vrittalekhini, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 2003
Antarjanam, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 2002
Kavisamayam, Sahiti Mitrulu, Vijayawada, 2000
Jaitrayatra, Sivareddy Mithrulu, Hyderabad 1999
Varsham, Varsham, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 1999 Naa Kalala Nadi Anchuna, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 1997
Ajeyam, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 1994
Sivareddy Kavita, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 1991
Mohana! Oh Mohana!, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 1988
Bharamiti, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 1983
Netra Dhanussu, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 1978
Aasupatrigeetam, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 1976
Charya, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 1975
Raktam Suryudu, Jhari Poetry Circle, Hyderabad, 1973
Translations of K. Siva Reddy's poetry
Mohana! Oh Mohana! and Other Poems, (translated into English by M. Sridhar and Alladi Uma), Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2005; reprint 2007, ISBN 81-260-2161-4
Antarjanam (translated into Kannada by Venkatapu Satyam), Kannada Prakashana, Bangalore, 2009
Mithi Ka Pukar, (translated into Hindi by Narasa Reddy), Milind Prakashan, Hyderabad, 2006
Varnamala - Kavitayan and Kritya: Websites featuring poems by K. Siva Reddy