Lankesh – A daring Kannada writer


P. Lankesh (1935 – 2000) is a major Kannada writer. He was a novelist, poet, film maker, journalist, part-time politician, publisher and much else. He was perhaps the most daring writer. He was rarely politically or poetically correct. During the peak of modernist poetry in Kannada he would write rhyming couplets. He took on the mighty politicians, never hesitating to abuse them in print.
He has written one of the best novels in Kannada: Mussanjeya Katha Prasanga (Twilight Tales). This has received scant fame. He translated Baudelaire, Yeats, Marvel and Donne. He has written one of the best plays on the Bhakti movement in Karnataka – Sankranti. His translation of Antegone is yet to be bettered. Here I present two of his poems in translation.

Tree, Chair

Seeing the wind-blasted tree

the carpenter sawed and made a chair of it,

for the poets, the police, the judges,

for the lazy, the familymen.


Then the chair broke, decayed,

became one with soil,

and after thousands of years

it helped a new tree to come up.


In the mean time,

it is my humble conjecture,

that those who used the chair

only increased the woes of the world

with their wit and deeds.




Tigers that kill to eat

Explode in anger

But they never cheat

With smiling faces


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