Kamala Das – The Mother Of Modern Indian English Poetry

Kamala Das was one of the most prominent feminist voices in the postcolonial era. She wrote in her mother tongue Malayalam as well as in English. To her Malayalam readers she was Madhavi Kutty and to her English patrons she was Kamala Das. On account of her extensive contribution to the poetry in our country, she earned the label ‘The Mother of Modern Indian English Poetry’. She has also been likened to literary greats like Sylvia Plath because of the confessional style of her writing. On the occasion of her birth anniversary, we look into the remarkable life of this literary icon.


Kamala Das was born on 31st March 1934. A part of her childhood was spent in her ancestral home in Malabar, Kerala and the other part in Calcutta where her father was posted for work. Kamala Das belonged to a family considered the literary royalty of Kerala. Her mother Balamani Amma was a famous poet and her grand uncle Nalapat Narayana Menon a respected writer. Das’ childhood as described in her autobiography was very culturally enriched. Her fascination with writing began at a young age while watching her elders immersed in their work. When she was as young as six, she started a manuscript magazine where she would write ‘sad poems about dolls who had lost their heads and had to remain headless for eternity’ while her brother would illustrate the verses. As she grew older she put together a children’s theatre with her brother, where they performed plays ranging from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables to Kalidas’ Sakuntalam. The stage was set in the patio of their ancestral home and was open for all the villagers to come see. Read more

Source: Feminism in India

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