Source : The Hindu
Bala Sudhakar Mouli’s poetry is an outlet to the changes in his immediate surroundings
Bala Sudhakar Mouli’s poetry blossomed in the classroom. From his modest writing as a student to reciting his poems to students in a government school (where he is a teacher), the Vizianagaram-born writer’s life has come full circle. The works of this year’s Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar winner (for his book Aaku Kadalani Chota, Sikkolu Book Trust) are a sensitive outlet to his observation of society. His poetry comes with a unique style that underlines his love for the soil, nature and empathy for fellow beings.
“I grew up reading Sri Sri’s Mahaprasthanam, Gurajada’s Kanyasulkam, Ravuri Bharadwaja’s Veluturu Chinukuluand other works of Siva Reddy and C Narayana Reddy. While Sri Sri’s poetry was progressive and racy, I liked Ravuri’s ability to pick characters from our immediate surroundings and blend it with his poetry. Siva Reddy’s works were simpler, came with a great repeat value. I’m in fact in the middle of breaking away from his influences; to some extent, I’ve done that with Aaku Kadalani Chota,” the author points out.
Mouli began writing since his pre-teens, grew up in a household where reading was encouraged. His father drew several illustrations and caricatures at home. That lay a foundation to his writing, “I felt that they had something to tell me.” The changing political climate, democratic structure and dwindling financial stature of the common man in the last decade has brought out a different dimension to his poetry. “Social change is an aspect that still drives my poetry, it’s also due to the abundance of politically-charged literature produced in Uttarandhra that have changed the way I’ve looked at life. I might write poems more, but I feel stories too do a great job in bringing the essence of our existence to the fore.”
The scenes, memories and landscapes of his village play a key role in his poems. “Those childhood memories haunt me, they connected me to nature. The creative streaks of those who grow up in smaller towns are higher than those of the metropolis. Villages lay a basis to our existence. Metros don’t offer great opportunity for a personalised experience of life, partly due to the digitalisation era as well. Yet, cultural destruction has been a commonplace in the villages over the last few years, films have taken over our traditional art forms. A poet had once said, “Cell phone anedi intlo chorabadina bhootham”.
He cherishes the time in the school, that helps him stay young and also carve his literary dimensions. “One realises nuances better as they read out poems to children, the right choice of words also makes us a better poet, enriches our works and also inspires students to write poems. The tenderness in my poetry is also because I work amid children and even think like them. I’m someone who focusses on the presentation as much as the content.” The poet has smartly woven a few English references to his poems in Aaku Kadalani.., the inserts go with the flow.
How has life changed after the award? “My students, teachers are owning me up. I don’t see this as a crown. I see this as a win for my soil, to those voices who’ve stood up for the country in the times of crisis.”
Talking on the consistent attacks on creative freedom across a few states, he says, “One can mute a single voice, but the question will find another form and the change is inevitable, if not immediate. There’s no use of poetry if it isn’t relevant. A poet lives as long as his words become the voice of many for a better society.” Going ahead, he plans to read writers and poets of different languages, and represent the concerns of his region through innovative forms of poetry. He insists poems need to understandable first, “We live in times when songs are believed to be the simpler and more accessible form of poetry, it’s important to talk about problems in a tone that everyone can comprehend, that’s what Sri Sri’s Maro Prasthanam did. Siva Reddy and Aasha Raju too have been instrumental in making poetry more accessible.”
He feels schools ought to have more events that promote Telugu literature, the managements could bring out magazines to encourage budding writers. “We need to nurture leaders who work for the people and not for themselves, then our society and language would live for many more years to come. Gurajada, Kalipatnam Rama Rao, Bhushanam, Appala Naidu are among the few who have represented our soil in Telugu literature, I hope to extend their legacy with my poetry.”