Shri Chennaveera Kanavi, one of the most widely read and critically acclaimed modern Kannada poets, passed away in Dharwad on 16th February 2022, leaving behind seven decades of poetic work. His first collection of poems “Kavyakshi” came out in 1949 when he was an undergraduate and his last Samagra Kavya (Complete Poetry, 5th enlarged edition) in 2018. In between he published all together 30 collections of poetry and 14 volumes of critical prose. Kanavi was hailed as Nadoja (teacher of entire Nadu), an honour conferred upon him by Kannada University, Hampi in memory of the great Kannada poet Pampa, (10th Century) who was also thus known.

Kanavi was one of the major poets and writers in the Kannada language and received the Sahitya Akademi Award for his work Jeeva Dhwani (Poetry) in 1981 and dozens of other prestigious awards from literary peers. Shri Kanavi was born on June 28, 1928 in Hombala, a village in the Gadag region of north Karnataka. He completed his BA in Karnatak College Dharwad (1950) and MA at Karnatak University, Dharwad (1952) and joined his young alma mater Karnatak University (1952-86) in charge of its Prasaaraanga (academic publications and outreach to surrounding small towns and villages).

He was married to  Shantadevi Kanavi (1933-2020) a well-known writer who excelled in short stories.

His poems were immensely popular among scholars and ordinary people alike. He was truly a much loved People’s Poet. Despite several fashions and literary waves in these seven decades he did not get swayed by any of them; Romanticism, Modernism, Bandaya- Dalit Rebels etc.. He charted his own path rooted in Indian ethos while deeply influencing all of them.  Throughout his over 7 decades of literary work he responded to his environment as a sensitive wordsmith par excellence, dealing with varied themes: nature, love, friendship, children, people, places, democracy to mention a few. He has been hailed as Sonnet King as he wrote over 300 sonnets (a particularly difficult poetic form of 14 lines that requires great poetic craftsmanship) on varied topics. An anthology of English translations of some of his poems “Inviting Life” (2003), was published by Kendra Sahitya Akademi.

His worldview was that of a humanist. He was a keen observer of life, and turned everything beautiful around him into poetry, at the same time he could also express his deep despair while reflecting on the injustice, oppression, corruption and hypocrisy in the newly independent Nation. He was not a political activist, but his poetry responded to the political events of his time including the communal virus, the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi and all movements in defence of primacy of Kannada in Karnataka. His lines such as “Now that Karnataka is born, let Kannada be its breath…” marshalled the movement.

He was a well-wisher of Lok Raj Sangathan. He was the lead speaker in its founding conference, themed “Building the Future” in 1996 in Pune. We deeply regret his demise. In Shri Kanavi we have lost a great Indian who loved his country, its languages and culture and stood for the empowerment of people. We convey our heartfelt condolences to his family members and millions of his admirers.

By admin