Eminent Marathi poet Narayan Surve dead

Thane: One of eminent Marathi poets who was honoured with Padma Shri Narayan Surve passed away in Thane Monday after a brief illness, family sources said. He was 83.

A self-made man, Surve was orphaned soon after his birth. He lived on the streets of Mumbai and earned his daily bread by doing odd jobs. A quick learner, he taught himself to read and write and in 1966 published his first book of poems "Majhe Vidyapeeth" (My University).

Also a social activist, Surve worked in the workers` union movement in Mumbai and supported himself as a school teacher.

In the 1970s, he was often hailed in India and the erstwhile Soviet Union as a proletarian poet.

In 1998, he was awarded Padma Shri for excellence in literature and education.

Politicians expressed grief Monday over his demise, saying that Surve`s death was a loss to Marathi literature.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said: "We have lost a legendary poet and thinker who represented the commonest of the common man."

Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said: "We have lost a great poet and social activist who became the voice of the depressed classes through his poetry."

Shiv Sena MP Bharat Kumar Raut hailed Surve as a "people`s poet".

"Surve gave words to the pain of people who had no voice," Raut said.

Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde praised Surve`s "unique" style of poetry.

"Through his poems he vociferously proclaimed social revolution. He had created a unique style of writing poems, using colloquial language of workers in a prose-like style," he said.