Moist wind caressing the trees bringing in the fragrance of rain-soaked earth…
Somewhere in the distance an old Hindi film song playing…..”Yeh sham kii tanhaiyaan aise mein tera gham”
I squat next to my big window with a book of poems upturned on my lap.
The clouds almost touch the parapets…
A soft knock on the glass pane.
Am I dreaming?
I pinch myself hard and then realize shamefacedly that this was preplanned.
I had desired the interview with ‘great expectations’ and the interviewee had agreed a little hesitantly perhaps…
I switch on the coffee maker and request him to be comfortable…
A few impatient moments later, with two steaming cups of coffee adding that scintillating aroma to a cozy conversation….
I begin without much ado…….excited? You bet!!
(Those who are still fumbling in the dark……………..this time it is Amit Agarwal on my Virtual Coffee series. Who else could it be after “Chitakte Kaanchghar”? His debut collection of verses which has the strength of touching the deepest chord within. Those who have still not read him, my implore would be that they do so without further delay.)
Me: A photographer, a painter and a poet. The three Ps. What is the common thread needling through these three profiles?
Amitji: The answer is yet another ‘P: Passion! I am passionate about art, all forms of art!
The commonality is my love for art, and the fact that I can try my hand at these 🙂
I admire music, dance and sculpture too but am not good at them.
Me: It’s the most painful ordeal to explain poetry to a non-lover of poems. How would you feel if you had to define your poems?
Amitji: I would rather surrender! I can ‘explain’ some points sometimes to a person I know is interested, but I humbly resign if I were to ‘define’.
Me: How do you rate yourself as a poet?
Amitji: A learner in process! Though I don’t want to write ‘like’ great, celebrated poets, I definitely wish to be able to write better as me, myself.
Me: Do you really believe that poetry can play a game changing role in contemporary times?
Amitji: Ah! ‘Contemporary times’ is the real catch in your wonderful question…I am taking the liberty of restricting it to Indian background. I don’t want to sound disheartened or dejected, but the fact is that poetry has been thrown into the backseat today. People are generally more interested in other forms of expression. Nothing really bad about it as people’s tastes keep changing…it may come to the forefront again sometime when we’re tired of the present situation. That the Westerners appreciate poetry better is a proof of my notion. Under these circumstances I feel poetry may not be an effective instrument or tool currently..!
Me: Where does literature stand in a society driven by unpredictable market forces, growing consumerism, cut-throat competition and all pervasive cacophony?
Amitji: Literature as a whole is very much in sync. English Fiction for example does fight through all these factors, and writers emerge as ‘winners’ like in a commercial field!
Me: Free flowing verse versus rhyming verse. Your preference?
Amitji: Blank verse anytime! The fact may amuse you but I have never written a rhyme, barring those at the age of seven! This preference does not apply to my reading though. I like rhyming ones too.
Me: Poetry is a derivative of pathos and deprivation. Do you agree?
Amitji: I think I agree. “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought”…No? 🙂
Me: Of all literary forms, poetry is the most personalized statement of catharsis. Do you really feel you give yourself away in poems? In a way, is there an element of vulnerability attached with poetry?
Amitji: I am not an authority on the subject, but I feel, yes, poetry is the mirror image of the poet. And it does have a cathartic effect too: on the poet essentially, and on the reader, depending on one.
A poet is a highly vulnerable being…you read half a dozen of one’s ‘typical’ poems and it’s like they have been seen undressed! The reader’s sensitivity will obviously matter.
Me: There are many facets to a creative artist. Which of these would you like to showcase most and which one would you like to keep as very private?
Amitji: I generally give away all I feel, save matters pertaining to physical aspect of man-woman love. Not that I have not written on it, it’s just that I am too shy to make it public. I am also conscious of a large number of my female readership and I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable in any way! It may not be out of place to add here that they will like this segment too, but I might not receive a feedback, which is quite important. I respect and value my women readers more than my possible popularity in this particular segment.
Me: How would you describe the journey called “Chitakte Kaanchghar”?
Amitji: ‘Chitakte Kaanchghar’ has been a wonderful journey indeed. The credit goes to all my loving reader friends, without whose support I wouldn’t have even dreamt of it 🙂
Me: In many of your poems, there is a subtle undercurrent of critical self-evaluation? Is it deliberate?
Amitji: I write on an impulse, and simply can’t write on a prompt within a timeframe The undercurrent of ‘critical self evaluation’ is not deliberate at all…it’s just that I am candid when penning my emotions. Most of my verses have ‘occurred’ in a state of trance…as if I were possessed. That is why editing at a later stage is minimal.
Me: How does a negative critique influence your outlook towards your own work?
Amitji: Please don’t take it as arrogance but I don’t care… nor do I make amendments in contents or medium. My reason is that it is an honest insight, hence must be kept simple and ordinary even if there are some errors; I am not perfect how can my writing be?
Me: How would you like to be known as ten years hence?
He was about to answer when the sky broke loose…..a streak of fire came crashing down just outside the window to be sucked into Mother Earth’s heaving bosom like a shaft of pain. The clapping of thunder came a few seconds later deafening and leaving us stunned for a while.
Howling rain and roaring thunder! Nothing new yet Nature has its own renewed ways of dumbfounding us….
“We need a second cup of coffee”, I said and got up to switch on the machine…
The conversation was not yet over….but like every worded thought we needed a little space in between for contemplation….
To be Continued…/-