Monday, November 26, 2018

LIFE OF A POET - AMIT AGARWAL

This week we are flying to India again, to visit Amit Agarwal, who blogs at Safarnaamaa... सफ़रनामा...  Amit has participated at Poets United for a long time, but somehow I have not yet interviewed him, so I rectified that immediately. Pour yourself a cup of tea and draw your chairs in close. You won't want to miss a single word.





Sherry: Amit, we were so happy to see you pop up again at Poets United.

Amit: Thank you Sherry, the pleasure is all mine to be associated with PU, a great platform where I have been showcasing my work since past many years.

Sherry: We have much catching up to do. Tell us a bit about yourself, Amit, where you live, your family....... Anything you’d like us to know, to give us a sense of the poet behind the pen.


Amit: Okay, I live in Meerut a mid size town near New Delhi, India. Apart from its mythological connections with The Ramayana and Mahabharata, the town is distinguished as India’s fight for freedom started here in 1857, known as ‘Sepoy Mutiny’. It is the second largest cantonment in India. The Himalayan foothills and the world famous Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve are about 150 kms from my place.




My wife is a Professor and Head of the Department of English in a college. She is a wonderful cook and host, and a gifted singer. My elder daughter Atisi, a qualified Interior Designer, and a fine Madhubani painter, lives in Pune a town in West India near Bombay, and owns a business with her husband who is a Lighting Designer. 



An example of Madhubani Folk Art
by Amit’s daughter, Atisi Amit

My  younger daughter Aditi, a qualified Handicrafts Designer (Luxury Lifestyle), and an avid photographer lives in New Delhi. Having interned with a couple of established business houses she is now working to create and launch her own label.



Photography by Aditi Amit


As about me, well, I taught at college level for a short while before I joined the corporates due to circumstances beyond control and worked with them for many long years. Then I started my own venture which did fine for some years and then nosedived. In spite of best efforts my partners and I could not revive it to a satisfactory level and as of now it is in a bad shape. So, to be honest I would say I am out of business and unemployed at the moment.

Sherry: We are sorry to hear that, Amit. It happens in today's volatile market. When did you first begin writing poetry?  And what is it about poetry that caused you to choose it as your means of creative expression? What do you love about it?


Amit: I started composing rhymes at a very young age but those cannot be categorised as poetry now. My serious initial writings were in my early twenties, mostly off the cuff, and usually thrown around carelessly. I like to write ‘something’ to release the upsurge of emotions and feelings (mostly sad and melancholic), and give vent to the uncomfortable notion of suffocation within me, and a poem is born! I write effortlessly without devoting too much time or effort to diction or presentation, because I like to keep it simple, like my own self..ha ha JJ

I chose poetry as my preferred means of creative expression due to its power and capacity to contain volumes in a couple of stanzas or just a few lines..and being an easy going person I leisurely pour myself out in a relaxed way through a poem!


It is difficult to specify what I love about poetry. There are too many  to count, like there are numerous poets with different styles and manners. I particularly love lucidity, fluidity, musicality and succinctness in a poem, and as a result keep mine pithy and concise. Elaborate high flying words are a no-no for me for they kill the joy of reading, and obstruct the flow of something within..I give preference to convey exactly what I want to, and sometimes even go to the extent of using archaic or rustic words.

Sherry: Do you have a writing practice? A time of day set aside for writing? Or do you write when the inspiration moves you?

Amit: I don’t follow a set routine in writing or in life..my poems are  sudden outbursts of intense response to deep felt emotions..or call it inspiration if you like!



Artist  Atisi Amit


Sherry: Is there someone in your life that you feel was a significant influence in your becoming a poet? 


Amit: Well, it’s not ‘someone’ but it’s ‘something’.. It is anguish, the pain within! My sensitivity is a bane..I suffer in distress even when things are seemingly fine (as they say), am never at ease. I am a loner and it seems there is a deep rooted ache within my being.. I am intrinsically lonely and sad at heart; but nothing to worry about, God made me like that.


I am and was encouraged by the appreciation and love I received from my readers. Unfortunately I did not have a very happy childhood and hence don’t have any treasured memories, I rather try to forget things from the past and wish to live the moment, for which I practice meditation. There might be an inherent factor for my fondness of poetry: that I am a Libran, and love aesthetically appealing things around me, poetry being one perhaps.

Sherry: I think many poets share a melancholic nature. It fuels our poetry! Do you have a favourite poet? What do you love about his or her work?



Amit: Oh yes, by all means! I adore the 19th century English poet John Keats. What to say about Keats? It would be like showing a lamp to the Sun! His romance, sensuousness, love for beauty and nature.. uff.. he is The Ultimate! Unsurpassable! He died at the tender age of 25 years and none has written like him in these 200 odd years.. To me he is the God of poetry. I worship him.

Sherry: He was brilliant indeed. When did you come to the world of blogging, and how has it impacted your work?


Amit: I created my blog some eight years back. It has definitely given me the intended results: lovely and sensitive readers from around the world! I speak two languages: Hindi and English, and write in both. My bilingual blog posts reach a good number of readers and their love and appreciation keep me going.

Sherry: Blogging is such a wonderful forum for poets! You were away from the blogosphere for a time. What drew you back?


Amit: As my business went bad and could not be revived I took a hiatus and have gone to stay in an ashram deep into the Himalayas where there is mostly no phone/internet signal; am working with an NGO as a team member where we are planting Apple and Walnut orchards with an Indo-Dutch company who are expert consultants in the field.




In fact I was never away from writing or photographing all these months. I have done both, only could not publish them due to the aforesaid handicap.

Sherry: How wonderful to be planting trees in the Himalayas! That is awesome. I so admire that you are doing such good work. 



"Nirvana" by Amit Agarwal


Amit: The Rham Jhula bridge (above) is used for pedestrians and two-wheelers. Jhula in Hindi means a swing, and since bridges in the hills have no pillars or reinforced concrete base, they are called 'jhulas'.  It is close to the world-famous Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh. I have crossed it hundreds of times on foot. Legend says that Lakshman, the brother of the Hindu deity Lord Rama, crossed the river Ganges 10,000 years ago on jute ropes where the Lakshman Jhula is today, hence the name.

Rishikesh is the gateway to the great Himalayas, the journey to the charming, mystic and spiritualistic hills starts from here only. It is barely 150 miles from my home.  I have been here more than 50 times in the last thirty years.

Sherry: That is so interesting, Amit, and your photo is beautiful. You are fortunate to live so near the mystical Himalayas. They have called to my soul for a lifetime. I read many books about the Himalayas. 

Are there three of your poems you would like to share with us? And tell us a bit about each one?







Amit: Oh sure, I am delighted and would love to! But request you to excuse me for not explaining. Let the readers decide.

The poems I present herewith have been selected to demonstrate versatility / fervour / flavours. They go like this:


Perennial

Will the Ganga defile
If I end
My life in it
To reunite with Thee?

Why no my soul
Is too pure
To pollute it
For the moments it remains
In there..

And the biodegradable body
Will satiate the fish
Within couple of hours.

Ah but for the stent
In my heart
And the ache!
  

Paris blasphemy

The ping of bullets
lulled the tinkle of Champaign flutes
Took over the lilt of violin
the booming  guns

The red wine oozed
out of burgundy lips
To mahogany ceiling
the caviar flung

chanel No.5 reeked
of blood smoke
Stunk of burnt flesh
Pour Homme

The half written poem
Dried in fingers
The song in throat
got strangled

Breath in breath
Whirring hearts
Abrupt silence..
Paris blasphemy!

Puzzled

I vulnerable
Naked stark
You fascinate
In frills intricate.

Showing bits
You intrigue
Beguiled
I chase.

 Fruit forbidden
You offer
Hesitantly though
I oblige.

You elude
Since then
O life
Me Tarzan you Jane!

***
        
Sherry: Each poem has such impact, Amit. I especially resonate with the poem about the Ganga, and the ache in your heart. Thank you so much for sharing them with us. What other interests do you pursue when you aren’t writing?


Amit:  I write Haiku in Hindi and wish to write in English too, which, due to technical reasons I have not attempted as yet. I understand that the new norms are relaxed and give freedom from the classical syllable count, but the idea somehow doesn’t appeal to me, that is why I do not call my three liners, Haiku. Although I write poetry in blank verse but when it comes to Haiku I feel its charm lies in perfect syllable count.

Besides Hindi and English there is one more language that I wish to learn some day and that is ‘Urdu’, it’s an amazingly beautiful language..very sophisticated and delicate. There are no synonyms of some Urdu words in any other language of the world. I do use Urdu words in my Hindi poems whenever possible and take delight in doing so.

I am a published writer (in print media, that is) and have a solo collection of Hindi poems and a contributory anthology of English poems to my credit. I am often published in Indian/ International journals of contemporary literature, art and culture. My poems keep appearing regularly in a good number of cyber magazines.

I am a seeker with a deep interest in spirituality and metaphysics. I keep experimenting with different philosophical theories and mystical ideologies.


The Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain
photograph by Aditi Amit


Sherry: Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Amit: I love you Poets United, and thank you for everything you did for me.

PS: I’m embarrassed with the I’s and my’s in this interview, so kindly pardon me and blame it on Sherry.. ha ha J J whose questions made me, a reticent and reclusive person, come up with so many detailed, candid responses.


Sherry: Thank you, Amit, for giving us this chance to get to know you better. And thank you for keeping on coming back to Poets United. We value our long-time members, and appreciate your loyalty.


Amit: I sincerely and genuinely thank you Sherry for giving me a chance to be featured on your prestigious space, I am highly obliged and feel honoured! 

Sherry: It was truly a pleasure. Thank you for saying yes!

Wasn't this an interesting visit, my friends? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


36 comments:

  1. What a pleasure getting to know you Amit and a bit more about your wonderful poetry....and thank you Sherry for this most interesting interview.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm happy that you liked my poetry and found me interesting, thank you Donna, the credit goes to Sherry:)

      Delete
  2. You are most welcome, Donna. It was a pleasure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a load Sherry for transforming this tete-a-tete into a presentable feature with your midas touch:)

      Delete
    2. Smiles. I am happy you are pleased, my friend.

      Delete
  3. Amit, it seems your spirituality must be the antidote for your inner tendency to sadness. Your poetry reflects this.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Thank you Sherry for this interesting interview.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Myrna for your time and interest, and most of all for the way you interpret my poetry..Glad you liked:)

      Delete
  4. Thank you for this wonderful share, Amit and Sherry. Your poetry is brilliant, Amit … impactful and authentic. And what a fascinating life you live. I think that your quest to find art and serenity and poetry and purpose is lovely. So often, I have encountered people who seem to be trapped by inertia and just let the stuff of living wash over them. It seems, to me, like such a waste of this precious gift of life. People who are proactive in there endeavors, such as yourself, are inspiring.

    I really relate to so many aspects, touched upon in this interview. My husband and I suffered a similar reversal-of-fortunes (as the expression goes) about 20 years ago, and it was incredibly difficult to, slowly, work our way across to the other side of it. The mental anguish can be almost more than you think you can bear, at times. But, in retrospect, the experience offered up many opportunities and new relationships, that we would have missed out on, but for that gift of 'bad luck' ~ smiles ~ I also, really related to the reflections on melancholy and the bane of sensitivity. I don't know if it comes from the curse of a restless mind, but I find that a lot of creative souls, express similar thoughts. I have found that poetry is my 'go-to' place in those times, when I seek solace and peace (meditation, art, music - also - are all magical in their ability to heal).

    I very much enjoyed this post. Great job on this, Poets!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having lost it with the world, I, as a last resort, moved to this refuge as a recluse and as expected have been labelled as an escapist by the family and friends, whereas you find this endeavor positive and proactive.. even 'inspiring' *smile* Wish I had more like you in my immediate circles.. thank you Wendy for you kind support, reading this who knows some may change their opinions. *smiles*
      Happy to note that you could relate to some of my life situations, and am grateful that you find my poetry brilliant:):)
      Thanks a whole lot again, Wendy:)

      Delete
  5. Thank you, Sherry, for interviewing Amit and thank you Amit for sharing some of your life and poetry with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Kim for finding time to read this piece on me, it was a pleasure interacting with Sherry, so the credit is hers:)

      Delete
  6. Amit, a pleasure to know a bit more of you and your poetry.
    what interesting and rewarding work you are doing in the Himalayas with the NGO.
    like you, i like to keep my poetry simple too. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am very impressed by that too, Amit - your time in the ashram and your work with the NGO. Wonderful! It is a time to plant trees!!!! We need as many as we can get to cunteract all the ones coming down. Where I live, we are trying to make Council aware of the need for developers to leave significant trees, not raze entire landscapes when they build. Too many trees are coming down. We propose a bylaw to protect significant trees.

      Delete
    2. I'm sure your efforts with the Council and lawmakers will bear fruits, Sherry *smile* pun not intended..
      Yes,saving and rearing trees is the most essential need of the hour, let's enthusiastically work together as it is already quite late..

      Delete
  7. Thank you Cheong for your interest:)
    Glad to note the similarity of approach between us:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Amit. Thanks for stepping out of your comfort zone to let us know a little more about you and your work. I also love how so many things can be expressed by the perfect combination of words in a poem. The art of writing poetry often feels like the perfect synergy between the logical mind and the emotional one, where the precision with which we choose our words can pull strong emotional responses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rommy!
      I'm impressed by the way you have analysed and defined the very process of creating a poem.. I completely agree! Poetry is mostly a play of words, but they need to be robustly soulful.. honesty is the best policy for me, I prefer it to being an erudite..
      Thank you for liking my work:)

      Delete
  9. So happy to find this successful father and husband behind the poems blogged and the kind comments you leave at my blog. A truly charming event getting to know you Amit

    Much☺🇹🇹☺love

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Gillena for your time and interest:)
      Love..

      Delete
  10. What a great interview this is Sherry and what a delight to read about your life and poetry Amit. I love the unique style of your poems that makes the point in so few words. The selected poems clearly showed the range of your verse with the traditional Indian theme; the modern migrant crisis in Europe and of course my favorite the romantic humour!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy to note you like my writing style Robin sir:) Thank you for your kind words, and the classification of poems:)

      Delete
  11. Excellent interview, Sherry! Thank you, Amit, for allowing us to get to know you a little bit better.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great interview where you come out with a bang! Read your poems after a long time. Liked Perennial.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jog sahab for dropping by and liking my poem:)

      Delete
  13. How blessed you are to be one of a family of unique artists and diverse arts! Add to that the history surrounding you and your proximity to places and work that awakens your soul. No wonder your poems slide into the deep and deliver surprise after surprise. In the three you include here, I especially love "Perennial" and the ways we feed others rather than defile--"Ah but for the stent
    In my heart
    And the ache!"
    The images of blood in the second one are startling, and finally, when I reached the Tarzan and Jane poem, I couldn't help but think of my relationship with God. A marvelous interview. Thank you, Amit and Sherry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we all are artists by nature and professions, and happy about it:)
      Thanks a whole lot for your generous words, Susan, about my poems:)
      Glad..!

      Delete
  14. Oh yes, a lovely interview. Thank you both! Please don't be embarrassed at the focus on yourself, Amit. It was great to learn more about you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Rosemary for your encouraging words, I'm actually bashful by nature and avoid arc-lights, that is why..
      Glad you liked:)

      Delete
  15. How interesting Amit. Love the thoughts on the stent in the Ganga especially.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome Rajani:) But let me make it clear that there's no stent in my heart.. I have used it as a prop in this poem for obvious reasons (i.e. something imperishable and lasting forever to equate with and highlight the ache)
      Thank you for liking:)

      Delete
  16. A very enjoyable and interesting read. Thank you Amit and Sherry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy to note that you liked:)
      Thank you for you time and interest Rall:)

      Delete
  17. Amit, thank you once again for allowing us to get to know you better. And for being so reciprocal with comments. How lovely. I think of you in your ashram, planting trees, and it must be a most lovely and fulfilling place to be.

    ReplyDelete
  18. So good to know you Amitji. It's wonderful that you have kids who pursued art. Deep poems and a true human being....stay blessed with Himalayan aura, trees, poetry .....good wishes your way ...

    ReplyDelete

This community is not meant to be used in a negative manner. We ask that you be respectful of all the people on this site as each individual writer is entitled to their own opinion, style, and path to creativity.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Blog Archive