Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A middle-class Indian settled in suburban Mumbai. A college principal about to complete five-year tenure in July this year. Parents were teachers. A highly-educated family. Father taught literature. Mother, drawing and painting. So I inherited their genes of appreciating the fine arts. Almost steeped in a liberal humanist culture of the 60s-80s India.
At what age did you start writing?
I started writing at 12 and drawing cartoons and sketches. Then, a long hiatus. After that, continued to write from my BA days.
Have you always written poetry?
No, poetry happened at the age of 50! Surprising! Most teens start as poets and then become prosaic.With me, it was reverse. Earlier in youth I romanced the prose. Now, major chunk is poetry. At 57, if you see the world as sheer lyricism, despite setbacks and disillusions by life, that is real miracle! Somehow, poetry makes me survive the poisons.
My father was a writer who could not follow his heart. He encouraged me to write in subtle ways. He taught me the basics. It was beautiful! A father who lost interest in writing due to the odd pressures of job and existence but became a kind mentor to his youngest son—a shy, thin, yellow-faced teen, socially awkward and not bright.
He brought me classics in English and tutored me in their readings. That opened up a magical universe for a quiet me.
Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?
The great Romantics; Eliot; Neruda;the Symbolists; Plath; Pound; Dickinson; Cummings; Beat Generation, and, many others. It is a kind of dialogue with these important poets that define their age like nobody else does. Very enriching!
How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come?
Well, an image strikes me first with the force of a tornado. Most images present themselves during commutes. I watch street life and people. Get the ideas and images. Look at these lines:
turning an asbestos sheet
into a golden roof
for the slum-dwellers.
How nature provides some relief and colour to the shanties in India.
Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
No, my definition about poetry has not changed. It must register the underdog, the marginal. It must raise voice. Must rage.
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
I am on both but most active on the FB. It has expanded my social reach and made me connect with my peers worldwide. FB is a good medium. You share work and comment on others. A growing global community out there—and you are part of that. Many open calls are there. So many opportunities in the virtual space. It is wonderful conversation.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they?
I am largely into the FB groups only. We share and become part of the ongoing discussions. Then there are some supportive groups like the Destiny Poets, among others, or journals like Tuck Magazine, the Dissident Voices, the Dead Snakes, the Peregrine Muse, the Whispers, the Duane’s Poe Tree blog and few others. They promote good writings and welcome new voices. I deeply appreciate their contributions to the field.
What are you reading right now?
I am eclectic reader. Currently I am reading John Grisham. Earlier, it was Wilbur Smith. Pop writers are great entertainers and write well. They expose the underbelly of our culture. Most are well-researched.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
Too small for that! As a working writer, I feel one must work hard and sincerely, listen to the great writers—the Immortals—find your own voice. This combo of attributes, I am sure, will fetch critical notices—sooner or later.