Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Balamani Amma

Nalappat Balamani Amma (19 July 1909 – 29 September 2004) was an Indian poetess who wrote in Malayalam. She was a prolific writer and was known as the Poetess of Motherhood. Amma (Mother), Muthassi (Grandmother), and Mazhuvinte Katha (The story of the Axe) were some of her well known works. She was a recipient of many awards and honors, including Padma Bhushan, Saraswati Samman, Sahitya Akademi Award, and Ezhuthachan Award. She was the mother of the renowned writer Kamala Das.

Balamani Amma was born on 19 July 1909 to Chittanjoor Kunhunni Raja and Nalappat Kochukuttiamma at Nalappat, her ancestral home in Punnayurkulam of Thrissur district in Kerala. Though she received no formal education, the tutelage under her maternal uncle and the poet Nalappat Narayana Menon and his collection of books helped her become a poetess. She was influenced by Nalappat Narayana Menon and poet Vallathol Narayana Menon.
Balamani Amma got married at the age of 19 to V. M. Nair who later became the Managing Director and Managing Editor of Mathrubhumi, a widely-circulated Malayalam newspaper. She had left for Kolkata after her marriage to live with her husband who was employed as a senior officer in the Walford Transport Company that sold Bentley and Rolls Royce automobiles. V. M. Nair died in 1977. Balamani Amma was the mother of the renowned writer Kamala Das who has translated one of her mother's poems, The Pen, which describes the loneliness of a mother. Mohandas, Shyam Sunder, and Sulochana Nalappat are her other children. Balamani Amma died on 29 September 2004 after having suffered from Alzheimer's disease for nearly five years.

Balamani Amma had published more than 20 anthologies of poems, several prose, and translations. She began writing poems at a young age and her first poem Kooppukai was published in 1930. Her first recognition came when she received the Sahithya Nipuna Puraskaram, an award from Parikshith Thampuran, former ruler of Kingdom of Cochin. Nivedyam is the collection of poems of Balamani Amma from 1959 to 1986. Lokantharangalil was an elegy on the death of the poet Nalappattu Narayana Menon.
Her poetry on the love for children and grandchildren earned her the titles of Amma (Mother) and Muthassi (Grandmother) of Malayalam poetry. While delivering the Balamaniyamma remembrance speech at the Kerala Sahitya Akademi, Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri, described her as the "prophet of human glory" and said that her poetry had been an inspiration to him. She has received many literary honours and awards, including the Kerala Sahithya Akademi Award for Muthassi (1963), Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award for Muthassi (1965), Asan Prize (1989), Vallathol Award (1993), Lalithambika Antharjanam Award (1993), Saraswati Samman for Nivedyam (1995), Ezhuthachan Award (1995), and N. V. Krishna Warrier Award (1997).
She was also a recipient of India's third highest civilian honour Padma Bhushan in 1987.
Collection of poems
Kooppukai (1930)
Amma (1934)
Kudumbini (1936)
Dharmamargathil (1938)
Sthree Hridayam (1939)
Prabhankuram (1942)
Bhavanayil (1942)
Oonjalinmel (1946)
Kalikkotta (1949)
Velichathil (1951)
Avar Paadunnu (1952)
Pranamam (1954)
Lokantharangalil (1955)
Sopanam (1958)
Muthassi (1962)
Mazhuvinte Katha (1966)
Ambalathil (1967)
Nagarathil (1968)
Veyilaarumbol (1971)
Amruthamgamaya (1978)
Sandhya (1982)
Nivedyam (1987)
Mathruhridayam (1988)

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