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learning: Haiku in Indian Languages - Tamizh

Updated: Sep 12, 2021

HAIKU IN TAMIZH editor and translator: A. Thiagarajan

The great Subramanya Bharathi brought haiku to the attention of the Tamizh public through

an article he wrote in Swadesamitran in its 16th October 1916 issue. K. S. Venkatramani in his book Paper Boats (1925) wrote:

the corners cut

paper boat

I float again

This is perhaps the first-ever haiku written by a Tamizh, though Venkatramani himself

does not claim so. Sujatha in 1966 and C. Mani in in 1968 translated and published some

Japanese haiku for the Tamizh literary magazines Kanaiyaazhi and Nadai. The period 1970– 74 saw Abdul Rahman and Amudha Bharathi bring haiku sensibility further forward along the

Tamizh horizon. The period from 1984– 1993 saw about 22 books in Tamizh on haiku. The period since 1994 is significant for Tamizh haiku as more than 14 books were published during this time. This was followed by approximately of 6 to 15 books each year up to 2002.

Answering the question “what is haiku?” in India Today, Sujatha (easily the most popular

among Indian writers) says,

—three lines

—two pictures

—one wonder

In 1998, a haiku collection of Amudha Bharathi was given an award for the best Tamil

poetry collection by the Government of Tamil Nadu.

udainthu pona broken mirror pieces

kannaadi in which one

ethil naan do I find myself?

—Mu Murugesh

pagalil sooriyan the sun at daytime

iravil nilaa and the moon at night

thanga orey kinaru one well bears both

—Pon Kumar

neeril nanaintha kuruvi the wet sparrow

siragu ularthum dries its wings

manalengum mazaiththuli all over the sand specks of rain

—Kannikkovil Raja

ottiyullathu sticking still

kai kazuviya pinnum even after washing my hands

amma kai manam mother’s hand fragrance

—Ira Ravi

padiththu mudikkavillai not yet finished paada noolai - vilakku studying the text book karuththu vittathu the lamp turns black —Erode Tamizhanban In the olden days, oil lamps were used. When the oil or kerosene gets over, the wick begins to burn, blackening the glass which covers the lamp.

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