Crows: A Poem by S Joseph

Wheatfield with Crows by Vicent van Gogh. Oil on Canvas. 1890
Wheat field with Crows by Vnicent van Gogh. Oil on Canvas. 1890

At the daybreak

Beneath the flowering sizzling tree

Two crows are gathering twigs

Testing the strength they collect

It one by one and take it on to the tree

Where it is fixed


This is the time for

The crows to mate and nest

Summer as intense as lust

And misty till the night fades

Beckon the hinterlands, bogs and bushes

Tiny creatures and little snails


How many crow-nests are here in this village!

Like a scratchy- sketchy pencil drawing

Counted some eight or ten

Do the calls of the Koel skirt those nests?

Do the snakes creep up the trees to swallow the eggs?

Some sprinkles on the naps of midnight

When all showers merge it becomes a big rain

When all summers fuse it becomes a crucible

Where the two meet the yam, elephant-yam and ginger

Sprout into tender buds

Igret a digi sketch by ajay sekher. 2011.
Egret, flamenco or crows a digi sketch by ajay sekher. 2011.


It is a weird time

A down to earth life has become obsolete

The earth has lost its human folks

Desolate and lonely

Burned out by love or lust

I follow the crows

I watched them drinking water and bathing

Remembered the skies from where they came back to the roost

Picked up the tiny black stones the crow-pots from the sandy riverbed

Gathered the crow-feathers together

Wandered in search of their roosts

Listened to a little kid singing:

“O my crow, O my crow, do you have a chick?”

I am returning

I have a hideout in the bamboo reeds

Everything is sheltered there

Some chill and a swing made of wild creepers

A bed of leaves spread out

The owl and the Koel and the serpent crested

Are there in

Mostly I would be amidst them

And occasionally comes out in human attire.


S Joseph and Ajay Sekher with his new English anthology My Sister's Bible (New Delhi: Author Press, 2016).
S Joseph and Ajay Sekher with Joseph’s new English anthology My Sister’s Bible (New Delhi: Author Press, 2016).


  (Translated by Ajay Sekher from Malayalam)

S Joseph is a leading poet in Malayalam. He teaches Malayalam at Maharaja’s College Ernakulam. He has published many anthologies of poetry and is a prominent figure in dalit writing in Kerala. He may be reached at +919846687101;

Teaching for Transformation: Professor M Dasan and English Studies in Kerala

Teaching as an act of compassion and change:      Prof M Dasan addressing M A English Students at S S University Tirur centre.

“There is no neutral or natural place in teaching”


“There are times when personal experience keeps us from reaching the mountain top and so we let it go because the weight of it is too heavy. And sometimes the mountain top is difficult to reach with all our resources, factual and confessional, so we are just there, collectively grasping, feeling the limitations of knowledge, longing together, yearning for a way to reach that highest point. Even this yearning is a way to know.”

– bell hooks, “Teaching to Transgress”


Mannarakal Dasan is a familiar name all over the world now with his recent Oxford Anthology of Malayalam Dalit Writing.  He is one of the senior-most professors of English in Kerala today and one of the leading exponents of Dalit studies in Indian higher academia.  He came to the English department at the Tirur regional centre of S S University of Sanskrit to deliver a key-speech on African American literature on 26 September 2012.  The one hour lecture was followed by two hours of intense interactive critical engagement with the first semester M A English students.

Addressing diverse and regional audiences: Prof M Dasan interacting with the I MA English students at S S University Tirur. 26 Sept 2012

He is currently Professor and Head of the Department of  Studies in English at Kannur University.  He has successfully led English studies in Kerala into a radical soulful discipline that addresses regional and local issues of culture and society in an engaging academic way with an ethical thrust.  Deconstructing and critically rejecting the colonial canon English studies are moving towards little englishes and new minor literatures, histories and subjectivities towards the margins of the modern world.  His identification with and addressing the key issues of inequality and cultural difference in our society are crucial for the epistemological and academic development and just contextualization of English studies in Kerala in the present and in the times to come.

Using modern technology in the classroom: Prof M Dasan in engaged dialogue with the M A English students at S S U S Tirur

Prof Dasan began by elaborating that all literatures are not the same and there is great deal of difference and diversity in human experience, culture and history. He theoretically critiqued the dogmas of universal aesthetics and eternal values. He explained the difference in the socio political contexts that gave birth to African American literature in the U S under the conditions of colonialism, slavery and racism.

Critically engaged pedagogy: Prof M Dasan enlightening the M A English students at S S University Tirur centre.

From literary history he moved to cultural and political history and contemporary reality.  As a learned scholar and orator Prof Dasan is able to connect the black reality in America with the dalit realities in India and Kerala.  His comparative reading and analysis of race, gender and caste are illuminating and enlightening.  He proves after Derrida and hooks that pedagogy, teaching and education are not coldblooded musings or neutral academic exercises but inevitably political and part of our life-struggles.  Pedagogy is deeply indebted and engaged with the life and acts of the people at the bottom.

Inter-subjective moments of interaction  :  Prof M Dasan unleashing the creative energies of self-discovery in the classroom at S S University Tirur centre

His clear language and brilliant delivery are excellent models for young teachers and researchers who are interested in pedagogy and the art of the possible.  Prof Dasan’s passion for teaching and his eagerness in addressing diverse audiences in various locations in and out of India are remarkable and educating.  The kind of energy and enthusiasm that is transmitted to the audience during his talks are simply motivating and recharging.  M Dasan teaches us not just for getting degrees but to become new politicized subjects in a changing world.  As Raymond Williams has reminded us we cant be neutral on a moving train.

Towards ethical and egalitarian academic futures: Prof M Dasan teaching M A English students at S S University Tirur centre.

His oratory and rhetoric not to mention about his pitch variations and apt gestures; make it a total organic experience.  Teaching and learning are new acts of discovery and change for Prof Dasan and his students.  He instills self-respect, courage and confidence in the listeners and prepare them to face the world with a difference and new vision.  In simple terms he empowers the students especially those coming from the contested sections of the society in a liberating way.  He is a possibility and pointer for a student who aspires to become an academic, writer, researcher or activist in future.  He is for future and for change.  He teaches for transformation; epistemological, human, academic and democratic transformations.