Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, as you know, my name is Sudeep Adhikari. I am from Kathmandu, Nepal. I am a PhD in structural engineering, currently involved in consulting business; happily married and staying with my wife, my brother and my parents. I also teach structural-engineering on my leisure time.
I am a keen observer of inter-disciplinary dynamics between science, philosophy, religion, literature, music, mathematics and psychology, and its implications on the epistemological foundation of human ideas.
I have spent a very significant portion of my life in the field of science, with no formal education in art. But I love both. Both make me very curious. I am basically interested in the archetypal background of human-thought, either scientific or artistic.
At what age did you start writing?
I started writing at around 12-13. But I started doing poetry in English when I went to United States in 2008 for my higher studies.
Have you always written poetry?
Yes. During my school and college, I used to write regularly and participate in different programs. But I got serious about poetry, when I started writing in English after going to America for my studies. It was the moment of head-on collision with my existence. I was awed by the philosophy of excess there.
It certainly altered my psychology in some irreversible way. I had to write to save myself from losing my mind.
Writing, in a sense, is also my fight against conformism, which is such a characteristic of our generation. But by non-conformism, I am not implying the “culture of dissent”. Non-conformism is keeping an open mind and not taking sides based on your herd-psychology. So it implies both assent and dissent. It is like being a sort of compassionate punk.
Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?
As far as I can remember, it was definitely Allen Ginsberg and Laxmi Prasad Devkota at first. Reading “America” impressed my 17 years-old mind in a profound way. Another indelible influence came when I started reading the poetry and philosophy of an Indian philosopher/mystic, Sri Aurobindo. His epic poem “Savitri” altered my brain-cells; very abstruse, very verbose and very cryptic. If you are interested on the aesthetics of sublime, he is definitely the guy to read.
Laxmi Prasad Devkota, Friedrich Hölderlin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Ted Hughes, Paul Muldoon to name a few others. Now with the internet thing in action, small press and independent poetry are also coming strongly into the literary scene.
And I am a big follower of underground sub-culture, whether it is music or poetry. Now I know a lot of great poets of our generation whom I dearly admire; Kushal Poddar, Steven Klepetar, Thomas L. Vaultonberg, Salvatore Ala, Scott Thomas Outlar and many others.
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?
That has evolved too. Before, I used to wait for a genuine moment of inspiration. These days, all I really need is an image to hit me mighty. Can be anything. And Nature is always there, when you are kind of empty. We are the symbol-creating creatures. Even when we are not awake, we do it in the form of dreams; Carl Jung said that, I think. And what is there more symbolic than poetry?
Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
Yes, it has changed. Before, I used to think that poetry is exclusively the voice of my unconscious. That may be partially true, but later I realized that sticking with such ideas or any idea is dogmatic. I realized that I was limiting myself. My greatest enlightenment came with my realization that I need to forgo my preconceived notions on art and poetry. Now I don’t know what poetry is. And besides, what is there to know about it?
And I disagree with the idea of poetry to be the “mirror of society”. My poetry has no particular job to do; it sometimes speaks on social issues; war and injustice and so forth, sure. But I certainly don’t write to fulfill my social duties. My poetry is about my “experience”, and it may or may not have any social values. I dwindle on the middle of “Hard Realism” and “Dadaism”, I must say.
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
I don’t use Twitter but I am active on FB. Connecting with writers from all over the world, that feeling is very spiritual. It is also an important part of learning and unlearning the craft. I have discovered great writers, magazines and journals through this forum.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they?
There are many Facebook groups and pages I regularly follow. I particularly enjoyed a magazine called “Verse-Virtual”, where you get the actual hard feedbacks in your email from fellow writers. My poem which was published in V-V had a reference to John Cage. After the publication, I was flooded with warm advice/reviews from many established writers. Dang! I was not the only one who was writing about Cage. That connection was beautiful.
What are you reading right now?
I am a compulsive reader. I can’t sit at a place without reading, unless I am writing or doing my professional work. Mostly, I read poetry, science, philosophy, psychology and religion. At the moment, I am reading “Green Philosophy” by Roger Scruton, along with “On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness” by Jacques Derrida. I generally read 2 books at the same time, one on my Kindle and the other in print. It is a sort of an improvisational technique to manage my time. And I read poetry on a day to day basis.
My philosophical essays have also appeared on forums like Novelmasters, Tuck Magazine and Lokantar.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
Nada ! I am on the same page. But this is what I keep telling myself: Be true to your experience. Listen, but don’t conform.