Monday, March 9, 2015

LIFE OF A POET ~ SUYASH JHA

We are flying back to India today, my friends, to visit one of our new members at Poets United. It is our pleasure to feature  SUYASH JHA of RECLUSE MUSE, who kindly agreed to an interview. Interestingly, Suyash is a medical student, and his views on medicine and poetry are very interesting. Some chai tea, of which we are becoming very fond, is in order, as we sit back and enjoy our visit.






Sherry: Suyash, I am so happy to be meeting with you. tell us about your life: your family, where you live, your life as a medical student.

Suyash: Well, I grew up in the city of Pune, in India. I spent the first 17 years of my life there. I attended a 150 year old catholic school for 13 years in that city; that had a major impact on my literary outlook. I was a single child, so I guess I had music and literature filling in as company a lot since I was a child. My family was rather academic and my mother was a schoolteacher, so it was an academically charged upbringing, I would say, but I would not change a single thing about it.


Pune, where I grew up


After finishing school, I decided to pursue medicine, and my pursuit brought me to the city of Mangalore, in South India.  And here I began to take baby steps into medicine. So there are three more years before I finish medical school and become a doctor.

Sherry: What drew you to medicine as a profession? Is it what you expected it to be? Is there one underlying truth you have come away with? (I read on your blog about pain being such a great leveler.) How do you deal with the suffering you see on a daily basis?

Suyash: The most attractive thing about medicine to me is the science behind it- the way the body works, the way things go wrong, and the innovative methods to correct them. I find the process of diagnostic deduction exhilarating. It is as exciting to me as one of Holmes’ deductions. And then of course one gets to help people in the process as well.

An underlying truth, well I guess that human life is an incredibly precious and beautiful gift. The incredible processes that subliminally go on in our bodies that make us who we are are astounding. I guess one thing that I could say is that being human is a great gift and we ought to respect that fact and make the most of the time we have.

Sherry: I could not agree with you more!


Mangalore, where I am currently located


Suyash: As to pain being a great leveler, this is another lesson that I have come to learn. Humans spend so much time trying to divide each other, and all these divisions are in our own head. But in medicine we are taught to treat every patient in the same way, because disease does not discriminate . And I find that to be a profoundly unsettling  thought, that it takes disease and infirmity to make us realise that we are all actually the same, we all feel the same, no matter what beliefs we have or which part of the world we are from.

I guess in that way, disease represents the night side of life, a place where we all have to go at least once, and we all are the same in that place. This applies to art as well. So when a writer writes a melancholy piece, I do not brand it as depressing or pessimistic. I find that melancholic art is in a way uplifting, because it makes you feel that you are not alone. It makes you feel you are a part of the human condition, which has both pain and happiness. 

And a lot of my writing revolves around this idea. The best way to help someone in pain deal with his condition is to make him believe that he is not alone. Loneliness is a very pernicious malady. And I think art of any form can help in this situation.



Sherry: I like the connection you make between medicine and art both being inclusive. I, too, appreciate the gamut of emotions expressed in peoples' poems. Because we are all more alike than we are different, in how we experience love, joy, pain, loss, suffering. It is good to know we are not alone.
  
Tell us a bit about your childhood. Is there something (or someone) back then that you think influenced your becoming a writer ? 




Suyash: I guess my parents' bookshelves were what influenced me the most when it came down to writing. When I was a kid I’d just pick out these books from my parents' bookshelves and try to read them. My mother’s bookshelves had a lot of these classic fiction writers like Hardy, Dickens, and the sort, and my father’s tended to be more of the professional management kind of books. I think that is where my interest started. I always love discussing these ideas that I have with my parents and I guess they had a great impact on the way I write. And I still do this over the phone. I think that is a big part of the creative process.

In school, I really got into debating and I got to go to national and international debates while I was at school. I guess that really made me more of a thinking person. They definitely had a huge impact on my writing. The teachers at school and all the debating mentors went a huge way in shaping my literary skill. They were the ones who honed my literary skills the most.

Literature and music were incredibly important parts of my childhood. Like so many other kids, I just wanted to play the guitar like Hendrix and write lyrics like Dylan. My room had pictures of my favourite bands and lines from my favourite poets like Frost, Tennyson and Kipling pasted on the walls. Now that kind of innocence seems like the purest and most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.




Sherry: I love that you had lines of poetry on your walls! When did you begin to write? Did you begin with poetry or prose?

Suyash: I began writing in good earnest in my first year of college. I guess it was an attempt to stay in touch with my artistic side. I realised that my profession was a busy one and it was really easy to be totally sucked into it. 

A lot of professionals end up being very unilateral in their world view and I did not want that for myself. Further, I was in a new place, and there were naturally feelings of missing home and the sort that I felt I needed to express. And writing was the answer. I began with a few short stories, but I guess I’ve written more poems than stories now.
  
Sherry: What do you love about poetry?

Suyash: I guess the fact that you can say a lot by saying less. A short poem can convey a really powerful message. I find that to be a gorgeous thing.
  
Sherry: You have that poet’s heart that observes the world, as so many poets do.  You are also a musician. Tell us about your love of music, and what music means to you.

Suyash: Music is incredibly important to me. I picked up the guitar at the age of 12 , and it has been a constant muse. I listen to and play the blues, jazz , progressive rock and heavy metal. I originally fell in love with Nirvana and Bob Dylan, who have incredibly profound lyrics in their songs. 

I think a lot of the music I listen to affects my writings. There are several rock n roll references scattered all around my blog. With teenage, metal and punk rock entered my life. And I had my metallica phase. Gradually I got into the blues and prog rock. There is something very profound, almost spiritual, about the blues. It’s mostly improv, and these guys are literally singing about how happy they are with their blues. Almost as if making peace with the glaring contradictions life gives us.  Or as this one blues song goes, ‘ if them blues is about sorrow, then why do the blues shine on me?’

On the prog side of things, bands like porcupine tree, tool and the sort have incredibly profound lyrics that  do influence my writing. These guys write about spirituality, to misguided youth, Jungian psychology and the Fibonacci series. I actually wrote poems inspired  by the themes these bands used !

I am a big fan of the concept album and as to how an entire album can be built around one concept .

Sherry: The musicians out there are going to love this conversation. (I mean you, Ollie!) Are there two poems you  would like to include here? And tell us a bit about each one?              


                                                                                                                             
Suyash: I would pick ‘ Black Rose Immortal ‘ and ‘ Neon City Lights’.

Black Rose deals with individuality and uniqueness. I believe that the best people are those who think a bit laterally from the common way- the unique ones. For these unique ones, to find acceptance and kindred spirits can be a hard thing. And that’s what this poem is about. We ought to be more appreciative of people who are different from us and not just typecast them as outcasts or misfits.



I am the eyesore in Elysian fields,
I am the black rose in a world that asks for red petals.       
Water from my roots boils in my stem,
For I can never be red like them.

The black rose blossoms just like the others,
White , yellow and red all are picked together.
But beauty is in the blossoming of the flower,
Yet the world sees beauty only in colour.

I see children rose picking in the morning,
And the reds they seem to pick without warning.
And the black roses waits in the amidst the grasses,
Until it finally fades.

Sherry: Yet in the poet's eyes, the black rose is unique, and special. This is wonderfully written, Suyash.

Suyash: Neon City lights is about the idea that the entire world is not enough to make you happy, if you aren’t happy yourself. It is a very personal poem and is based a lot on this concept of inner world. It’s about accepting yourself as an individual separate from a collective consciousness. 

I think with the way our consumerist society works, we do not always get a chance to look within ourselves, to look for peace or fulfillment or happiness. We are expected to find it in those shops and clubs in the city that have neon lights. This poem is the antithesis of that. It urges the reader to look inside and find some substance in their life. It does stress on individuality.


I arise in my roomy loft,
After a night of  chasing excesses sought.
Seeking the rare beauty in pain,
Living on feels like a bane.

City makes revelry all night,
As I sink to swim the depths of my mind.
Storms have come, storms have gone,
As I swim for evermore.

Once in a perturbed state,
I walked into the city late.
Bright city neon lights shine,
Trying to lighten my blackened eyes

Lights beseeching me hither,
Storms blowing me thither.
The light made fantastic claims,
To rid me of my ails.

I too join neon revelries shunning the garb of the recluse,
I had a neon bright muse.
In ephemeral chaos I found uneasy peace
Beauty never from pain, never at ease.

There are days I arise,
To yet again see those neon lights.
Like little airplanes tied to my toes,
Neon tries to fly me away from my woes.

There are days I arise in my roomy loft
Mind full of excesses sought,
Pain from beauty in rewind.
Sinking me into the depths of my mind.


Sherry: I can feel the swirl and unease of those neon times! I love the phrase "pain from beauty in rewind." How did you come to the world of blogging? How has it impacted your writing?

Suyash: Well , I started blogging because I thought it was a great way to get my ideas out there in front of a global audience. In a way it is my way of expression, my muse if you will.

For one, it keeps me writing. Blogging has also introduced me to the works of so many other writers which always serve as wonderful inspiration. The feedback that I get as comments is also a wonderful aspect. They let me know if I’m doing the good work.

Sherry: I love that "doing the good work". Smiles. Yes, you are. Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Suyash: Just keep going! It is a lovely website with so many wonderful sections. In today’s world of tv and movies, it is so good to see people so enthusiastic about poetry. And PU is trying to keep poetry popular. So all I would like to say is keep fighting the good fight.

Sherry: Thank you, Suyash. We will, and you keep on fighting, and writing, too! Thank you so much  for allowing us to get to know you better. We so appreciate it.

A lovely visit with a deep-thinking poet, my friends, and wasn't it interesting? It isn't often we interview a poet-doctor. This was kind of special. Do come back to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


17 comments:

  1. Suyash, so good to get to know more about you. I have enjoyed your poetry when you have shared it in Poetry Pantry. Fun to learn that you are a guitar player as well. Poetry and music go so well together. Neat to hear that your parents' book shelf was a big influence on you! I hope a lot of young people can say that. Good luck on your last few years of medical school. A noble profession, much needed.

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  2. Bravo Dr, Suyash, Poet! Your perspective is unique and attractive. Here are two examples: "I find the process of diagnostic deduction exhilarating. It is as exciting to me as one of Holmes’ deductions." Approaching life/work/science as a great mystery to appreciate and solve. And "I find that to be a profoundly unsettling thought, that it takes disease and infirmity to make us realise that we are all actually the same. . . . disease represents the night side of life." Keep on sharing your excitement and questioninng of life through poetry. Thanks, Sherry, for helping us come to know Suyash Jha.

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  3. Suyash what a wonderful journey you have had....I throughly enjoyed this interview Sherry. Such an adventure getting to know Suyash...thank you!

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  4. I love, week after week, how unique each poet's journey is. I love hearing and sharing the various perspectives and life experiences. Nothing interests me as much as someone's life story, more intriguing than any fiction. So I have the perfect job. Suyash, thank you for allowing us to know you better. I so look forward to reading more of your work.

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  5. I am amazed at the different backgrounds poets are involved in... doctors really get to know human nature... your poetry can only grow from your future experience in medicine...

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  6. Suyash, thanks for sharing your story. I enjoyed your poem Neon City Lights you are right we must be the inner light of our own world and consciousness. I wish you luck in your healing journey as a doctor and I am sure I will be reading your work in the future.

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  7. Really feeling proud of you Suyash...you are so young with such a wonderful attitude to life.....Thanks Sherry for the enjoyable interview...

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  8. Delightful interview! One of my real-life Australian friends, Leah Kaminsky (who has been featured in I Wish I'd Written This) is both medical doctor and poet, as well as a prose writer. She is not alone, and once produced an anthology of writings by people who are both. It must indeed be a great way to balance both sides of the brain, and it seems that in many individuals both vocations are equally strong.

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  9. Great interview Sherry and Suyash! A medical background provides wonderful potential for some knowledgeable writes to benefit the community! A young man with a purpose we will certainly hear more from in our future poetry do! Keep at it Suyash!

    Hank

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  10. Hi Sherry,

    Really enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about Suyash, doctor and poet, and the 'science' behind his stanzas! I especially appreciate his thoughts on uniqueness and individuality, and celebrating these facets of people, since I, too, find myself among those who have taken the road less travelled, when it came to the more serious decisions in my life. Also, I can relate to Suyash's equally passionate dependence on music, as there is so much inspiration in this realm; from the subtle nuance of a jazzy lyric to the staccato nudge of an eighth note, music enhances our imagination. It is, after all, melodic poetry, is it not?

    Thanks Sherry and Suyash for a most enjoyable conversation!

    Wishing you both a lovely Tuesday!

    Poppy

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  11. Great interview, guys! It's always nice to know the face and life behind the verses. :)

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  12. suyash, i really enjoyed your depiction in 'neon city lights' of an internal abyss that many of us are enveloped in on occasion. your words and the way you constructed this piece seem to take us in a swirl into the abyss. i wish you luck in Med. school not that you need luck because we know it's about applying ones skill set through preparation.

    gracias sherry for keeping us in touch with the world around us

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  13. Enjoyed reading Suyash's wise thoughts on life. His poetry reflects a the writing of a deep thinker who is compassionate and contemplative. I will definitely look for his poetry on his blog. Thanks again Sherry for a delightful interview.

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  14. For me the impact of having the poetry to balance against a unilateral mind is so important.. having a scientific background myself I realize what a privilege it is to understand both sides..

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  15. What a beautiful combination of being both a doctor and a poet; The skill in healing others and to to express your feeling in words. That line of Suyash's "Pain from beauty in rewind" is so apt. Thank you both Suyash and Sherry.

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  16. isn't it amazing, the people we met at Poets United?
    Sherry, another great interview! :)

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