K.Ayyappa Paniker (b.12th September, 1930), poet, professor and critic, has been the pioneer of modernism in Kerala. His influence has been quite profound and far-reaching in the entire cultural and intellectual life of the Malayalee. If in poetry Paniker could be seen as the harbinger of a new voice, in the field of literary criticism he ushered in a paradigm shift towards a radically newer awareness.
His influence on modern Malayalam theatre and on new playwrights has been of equal importance G.Sankara Pillai, Kavalam Narayana Paniker and Narendra Prasad have all come under his sphere of thinking at one time or other. Similar has been the case with film and filmmakers like G.Aravindan, John Abraham and actors like Bharat Gopi and Nedumudi Venu. Among the visual artists Paniker's influence is evidenced by his long standing association with M.V.Devan, Paris Viswanathan and others.
Above all Ayyappa Paniker has come to be regarded as an icon of modernist culture and thinking. A widely travelled scholar and poet of international renown, he is a unique instance of creative and intellectual genius.