Arun Kolatkar bigraphy, stories - Translators

Arun Kolatkar : biography

01 November 1932 - 25 September 2004

Arun Balkrishna Kolatkar (Marathi: अरुण बालकृष्ण कोलटकर) (1 November 1932 – 25 September 2004) was a poet from Maharashtra, India. Writing in both Marathi and English, his poems found humor in many everyday matters. His poetry had an influence on modern Marathi poets. His first book of English poetry, Jejuri, is a collection 31 poems pertaining to a visit of his to a religious place with the same name Jejuri in Maharashtra; the book won Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1977. His Marathi verse collection Bhijki Vahi won a Sahitya Akademi Award in 2005. His Collected Poems in English, edited by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, was published in Britain by Bloodaxe Books in 2010.

Trained as an artist from the J. J. School of Art, he was also a noted graphics designer, with many awards for his work.


Kolatkar was born in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, where his father Tatya Kolatkar was an officer in the Education department. He lived in a traditional patriarchal Hindu extended family, along with his uncle's family. He has described their nine-room house as "a house of cards. Five in a row on the ground, topped by three on the first, and one on the second floor.". Kolatkar introduction The floors had to be "plastered with cowdung every week".

He attended Rajaram High School in Kolhapur, where Marathi was the medium of instruction. After graduation in 1949, much against his father's wishes, he joined the s b college of arts gulbarga of art, where his childhood friend Baburao Sadwelkar was enrolled. His college years saw a "mysterious phase of drifting and formal as well as spiritual education", From the introduction by Amit Chaudhuri and he graduated in 1957.

In 1953, he married Darshan Chhabda (sister of well-known painter Bal Chhabda).

The marriage was opposed by both families, partly because Kolatkar was yet to sell any of his paintings.  

His early years in Mumbai were poor but eventful, especially his life as an upcoming artist, in the Rampart Row neighborhood, where the Artists' Aid Fund Centre was located. Around this time, he also translated Tukaram into English.

maybe this excerpt doesn't belong. --> This period of struggle and transition has been captured in his Marathi poem ‘The Turnaround’:

Bombay made me a beggar.
Kalyan gave me a lump of jaggery to suck.
In a small village that had a waterfall
but no name
my blanket found a buyer
and I feasted on plain ordinary water.
I arrived in Nasik with
peepul leaves between my teeth.
There I sold my Tukaram
to buy some bread and mince. (translation by Kolatkar)

After many years of struggle, he started work as an art director and graphic designer in several advertising agencies like Lintas. By mid-60s he was established as a graphic artist, and joined Mass Communication and Marketing, an eclectic group of creatives headed by the legendary advertiser Kersy Katrak. It was Katrak, himself a poet, who pushed Kolatkar into bringing out Jejuri.

 Kolatkar was, in advertising jargon, a ‘visualizer’; and soon became one of Mumbai’s most successful art directors.  He won the prestigious CAG award for advertising six times, and was admitted to the CAG Hall of Fame.Indian Poets Writing In Marathi, 

By 1966, his marriage with Darshan was in trouble, and Kolatkar developed a drinking problem. This went down after the marriage was dissolved by mutual agreement and he married his second wife, Soonu.

English poetry

Kolatkar was hesitant about bringing out his English verse, but his very first book, Jejuri, had a wide impact among fellow poets and littérateurs like Nissim Ezekiel and Salman Rushdie. Brought out from a small press, it was reprinted twice in quick succession, and Pritish Nandy was quick to anthologize him in the cult collection, Strangertime. For some years, some of his poems were also included in school texts.An old woman, from Jejuri, in a poetry technique course (

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine