Friday, May 7, 2021

Devipriya : A multifaceted poet of modern times

Prof. Kutikuppala Surya Rao, MD, Ph.D, D.Sc (Hons)

It was way back in 1990, on one fine Sunday afternoon that I received a call from Organizing Committee of Visakha Writers Association to be the guest of honour for a book review function that was held on the terrace of Vishalaandhra Book house at Turner’s Choultry, Visakhapatnam. Then I asked what was the book and who was the author?? The book name was “Neeti Putta” (The Watery Pit) and the writer was Devipriya. It was at that time I had the opportunity of sharing the literary platform with Devipriya. Since then we have been continuing our friendship, discussions on various literary activities such as his popular running commentary, political satires and his Gareebu Geetaalu (Poorman’s songs). When he served as member of Kendriya Sahitya Academy also we used to debate on modern poetry and future of poetry in Andhra Pradesh etc. When he was editor of Hyderabad Mirror, he published an interview narrating interestingly the various facets of my career. During that time, in Hyderabad, I have again shared the platform at Jai Balaji Cinema release function with Jnanapeeth Awardee Narayan Reddy, Devipriya and film director Allani Sridhar.

Wore multiple hats

Great poet John Keats once said “Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all ye known on earth, and all ye need to know – An Ode to Grecian Urn”. Here, John Keats was essentially exploring the close interlinkages between art, truth and beauty and how human beings attain beauty through art and through beauty come close to truth. Similarly, writer Devipriya explored the depths of the theme of his poetry. He immerses himself completely analysing the various dimensions and nuances, thereby extracting the nectar of the melodies looked into by him and presenting the panoramic picture to his readers. He is not only a renowned poet, but wore multiple hats at the same time by being a lyricist, dialogue writer and journalist. His writings were not limited to vernacular medium but extended to English language as well.

Naming his residence in Alwal as “Amma Chettu” (Mother Tree), after the title of some of his poems, reflects his bonding with childhood, his mother and mother nature. His running commentary in various leading newspapers on daily happenings in society is a unique experiment in modern literature.

Soft spoken, humble, highly cultured

He is a soft spoken, humble, highly cultured human being who gave utmost value to true friendship. Humanitarian…. he has a keen eye to detail in identifying the lapses of politicians and tried narrating them in common man’s language. Some of his poetic verses are revolutionary like the noted Poet Sri Sri, and other works are idealistic. The poetry of Devipriya helped in the fight for the rights of poor people. Some of his poetic verses also bring memory of “Vemana Padhyalu” in terms of the content of social reform agenda taken up. He wrote a poem on 12 October 2020 namely “Chivariki Chikkindi Jinka” wherein he narrated his experiences of frailing health and the feeling of nearing the end. This showed his truthfulness in poetry, sincerity in his writings, realistic approach just as the versatile Srinatha Kavi Sarvabhouma who was true to his core, narrated his last journey of life lamenting for eating jowar rice with sesame powder balls and being dragged into the streets with rock and wood log on his back.

Also Read: Poet-Journalist Devipriya no more

Many awards to his credit

The literary works of Devipriya acclaimed widely by several organizations and brought him laurels such as the “Free verse Front Award”, Cinare Kavitha Puraskar and prestigious Kendra Sahitya Academy Puraskar for his “Gaali Rangu”. He is instrumental in publishing Sri Sri autobiography namely “Anantam”.

As William Wordsworth once said “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity”. True to this saying when we read his poetry in “Gaali Rangu”, we find his spontaneous free verses filled with heart touching narration and emotions.

Impartial journalism

He is known for his impartial journalism and tried his entire life to uphold the values of journalists. Christopher Morley once famously quoted “Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity”.Devipriya’s literary and journalistic journey appears to be part of the same ideology which has brought uniqueness to everything what he did throughout his career.

Memorable meeting

Last year, myself, Shri. Devipriya, Ramachandra Murthy, Hon’ble Governer Rosaiah, Folk singer Vangapandu, Film star Narayana Murthy, Former Minister DadiVeerabhadra Rao, Visakhapatnam MP, M.V.Satyanarsayana, VMRDA Chairman, Dronamraju Srinivas, ‘Leader’ Ramanamurthy had memorable time during the 20th anniversary of Leader newspaper at Kalabharathi, Visakhapatnam. That was our last meeting. His poetry reflects his generosity and love towards friends, colleagues and fellow human beings.

Great Hindi poet, Agney said:

” Ek kshn ankshnan mein pravahmaan

Vyapth sampoornatha

Is se kadapi badan ahitha mahabudhi!

Kshnake akhandparavar ka

Aaj hum aachaman karte hai!”

It means that whoever takes up the subject and issues of common man and able to present the feelings at micro level are the characteristics of modern poetry which Devipriya experimented in toto and presented in a lucid, aesthetic and most accomplishing language.

To sum up, Devipriya has been an allrounder till his last breath, bringing to the forefront his vision of a better civilisation by touching upon various evils in society through his poetic and literary writings. At a time when journalistic values have become shaky, Devipriya stood solidly like a rock by upholding the true spirit of journalism. He has inspired himself and inspired a new generation of poets. It would be appropriate that the government recognises his efforts in whichever way possible.

Prof. Kutikuppala Surya Rao, MD, Ph.D, D.Sc (Hons)
Prof. Kutikuppala Surya Rao, MD, Ph.D, D.Sc (Hons)

(The writer is a Padmasri awardee and chairman and fellow of several national and international organisations. He has been actively involved in fighting aids and is known for his pro-poor dispensation.)

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