Arun Kolatkar (1932-2004) was a poet from Maharashtra who wrote in both Marathi and English. His poems reveal a keen eye for observation and deciphering things. Seven years post his death; his poems in either language continue to inspire poets and readers alike. Kolatkar first burst into the limelight with his collection Jejuri (1977). The 31-poem collection starts with poems on the bus journey that has a whiff of some metaphysical experience. Chronologically, with biting humour, satire, indifference and a distant compassion, Kolatkar describes a journey to the temple of Jejuri, an hour’s drive from Pune. He talks of the legend of Khandoba, the god of the temple, of greedy priests, and temple dogs, beggars and ruins.

Midway through this Commonwealth Writer’s Prize-winning collection, the poem ‘The Butterfly’ brings out the skill and eye of the poet. The concluding lines that describe a little yellow butterfly go: Just a pinch of yellow, it opens before it closes / and it closes before it o / where is it? Meanwhile, Kolatkar, a student at the J.J School of Arts was pursuing his career as a graphic artist at an advertising company.

The poet was very reclusive (Including: No telephone) and it was after a long period of time that Kolatkar’s next collection in English came out. Meanwhile his Marathi collection Arun Kolatkarcha Kavita (Poems of Arun Kolatkar) came out in 1977. The two collections - Chirimiri and Bhijki Vahi came out much later in 2004, the latter won the Sahitya Academy Award the same year. Another collection Droan came out in the same year.

Kolatkar was very reluctant to publish his English verse; it was only when he was diagnosed with cancer that Kalaghoda Poems (2004) and Sarpasatra (2004) were released. Both books are notable for their wit, observation and the poet’s unconventional, humorous use of language. The poet used to observe the life of South Mumbai from his café table at Kalaghoda, and that is where most of the poems originate. Be it the street dog that is shaped like the state map, or the beggar, the crow that is undecided to pick up a twig for its nest, the collection is a sheer delight. Similarly, Sarpasatra is a biting take on the Mahabharata, and mirrors the present day scenario of riots, injustice and communal disharmony.
We can safely conclude that Arun Kolatkar’s verse would be continued to be read, for he was of some spoilt-child, rebellious school of poetry. He wrote some real groovy stuff, for sure.

Author's Bio: 

Anju Batra is a writer based in India. She like to write on Social and cultural subject. She has writer lots of Articles on the subject of Arun Kolatkar, Book Reviews and Washim.