Two Poems by Kutti Revathi translated by Lakshmi Holmström

01 April 2015

ABOUT THE POEM The Tamil poet Kutti Revathi is widely recognised as the maker of a vital new idiom, both within the poetics and politics of the Tamil literary tradition and in that borderless space we now think of as “world poetry.”

As these two poems demonstrate, Revathi can take up that oldest of poetic subjects, the sea, and generate from its agitation a completely original and convincing linguistic, metaphorical and ideational schema. Her image, in ‘First Mother,’ of raging waves as a sign of the sea’s search for justice is unforgettable, as is the much more muted, but no less dextrous, metamorphosis of the sea into a fish. The poem’s movement, at first world-spanning but then content to work itself into something very small and humble, is paralleled in ‘The Waves Swoop Ashore’ by the final image of the boatman, a human subject who creates the world twice over with his labour and with his eyes.

First Mother