9 Greatest Malayali Poets Of All Times

Kerala has had a fair share of poets who have made a remarkable name for themselves among literary communities. The diversity in terms of their portrayal of themselves, Kerala, and social issues have been highly influential to many readers. Here are some of the well-known poets who have emerged from the land of Kerala. Some of whom, you may be an admirer of! Read on!

Thunchaththu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan (1495-1575)

‘Ezhuthachan’ – The name is broken into Ezhuthu, which means writing and Achan, meaning father or guru. Known as the father of modern Malayalam language, Adhyatma Ramayanam and Mahabharatam are some of the most famous books written by Ezhuthachan. He was a famous Malayalam devotional poet and linguist. There’s a reason why he is an immortal legacy of Malayalam literature.

Kumaranashan (1873-1924)

Popularly called the ‘Sneha Gayakan’ (Poet of Love), Kumaranashan is one of the modern poets of Kerala and a disciple of Sree Narayana Guru. He was trained in mathematics and loved the Sanskrit language. His famous works include, ‘Sthothrakrithikal’, ‘Veena Poovu’, and ‘Manimaala’.

Vallathol Narayana Menon (1878-1958)

Celebrated as the Valmiki of Kerala, Vallathol Narayana Menon was a nationalist poet who wrote a series of poems on the aspects and incidents of the Indian freedom movement. He was honoured with the title of ‘Mahakavi’ in 1913 after the publication of Mahakavya Chitrayogam, a form of epic poems. His most famous work is Kathakali Vallathol, which revitalizes Kathakali in the most beautiful way possible. 

P Kunhiraman Nair (1905-1978)

Popularly known for his romantic poems, extensively detailing the natural beauty of Kerala and also the realities of life, P Kunhiraman Nair is also known as Mahakavi P. A recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award, his autobiography, Kaviyude Kaalpaadukal (The Footprints of a Poet), with a foreword by M. T. Vasudevan Nair, is one of the celebrated works in prose in Malayalam. One of his well-known works include Prema Pournami.

O.N.V Kurup (1931-2016)

Our very own O.N.V Kurup, lovingly called as ONV, was a poet and lyricist who gave us beautiful lyrics of our most-loved Malayalam songs like Nettiyul Poovulla and Doore Doore. In 2007, He won the Jnanpith Award, the highest literary award in India. He was also honoured with the Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan and many other prominent ones. His works and lyrics have been used in over 300 movies. 

Sugathakumari (1934-present)

An Indian poet and activist Sugathakumari is the daughter of the freedom fighter, Bodheswaran. Not only was she the former chairperson of the Kerala Sate’s Women Commission, but is also the founder secretary of the Prakrithi Samrakshana Samithi, an organisation for the protection of nature and Abhaya home, which caters to destitute or mentally-ill women. She is the face of feminist movements in Kerala. Her well-known writings include Radhayevide and Ambalamani. She has won numerous awards, including the Sahitya Academy Award. 


Kamala Surraya (Kamala Das) (1934-2009)

Famously known as the ‘Mother of Modern Poetry’, Kamala Surraya (Kamala Das) wrote under the pen name, Madhavikutty. Popular for her honest and raw treatment of female sexuality, her writing has been extremely empowering. Which is why she was marked as an ‘iconclast’. From women’s issues to childcare and politics, her poems and prose were widely read. Her autobiography Ente Katha was met with critics and deemed explicit as it explored a woman’s sexual yearning but nevertheless was loved by her audience. 

Balachandran Chullikkadu (1957 – present)

From Children’s Park, Pokkuveyil, to Pranchiyettan And The Saint and more, Balachandran Chullikkadu has given us some memorable roles in Malayalam cinema. But alongside being a versatile actor, he is also a poet, lyricist and an orator. His poems Yathramozhi, Sahasayanam and Poku Priyapetta Pakshi have gained a lot of recognition. 


Murukan Kattakada (1967 – present)

Popular for his well-liked poem, “Kannada”, Kattakada Murukan originally known as Murukan Nair is one of the most popular poets of Kerala. His poems have claimed enormous recognition among Kerala’s youngsters, mostly due to his own typical style of poetry recital. Though met with criticism, the first edition of his book was sold out in a short span of 1.5 months. He is a member of the Sahitya Akademy. 

Shivani Sarat
Content writer and creator. Author of 'Black Daises', a poetry anthology.


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