Published: 03rd December 2019
Poems on how to write poems: Why you should read this award-winning poet's latest book
His recent collection, Making a Poem, has been hailed by critics as intuitive, thoughtful and creative pieces that work together as a cohesive collection. Read more to understand his creative process
From winning the coveted Michael Madhusudan Award in 1998 to grabbing a mention in the Limca Book of Records (2016) and World Records India (2017) for penning ‘the first poetry book with a poem that has five blank pages in between,’ Gujarat-born Vihang A Naik has come a long way, albeit making a mark in the field of contemporary English and Gujarati poetry in India. The former English professor’s critically acclaimed poems have appeared in literary journals such as Indian Literature : A Sahitya Akademi Bi-Monthly Journal , Kavya Bharati , POESIS : A Journal of Poetry Circle , Mumbai , The Journal of The Poetry Society ( India ) , The Journal of Indian Writing In English , The Journal of Literature and Aesthetics , The Brown Critique ,The Poetry Chain among other significant journals and e-publications. They have been translated into many languages like Japanese, Spanish, Italian, German as well.
We spoke to the bilingual poet regarding his most recent work of poetry, Making a Poem, released in 2018, which is a powerful affecting collection of poetry that sheds a fascinating light upon the writing process and the poet’s personal aesthetics. Excerpts:
1) What themes does Making A Poem deal with?
Before I started writing, I was, initially thinking of coming up with a book on the theory of poetry. After much deliberation, I thought of penning a poem about ‘making a poem’ – the process involved. I wanted to look beyond my personal aesthetics and beyond the physical world itself. There are many themes that have stemmed from individual thinking and experimentation. The pieces that ponder the reality of poetic expression are perhaps the themes that I found most fascinating, and I hope it will resonate with readers too!
2. All aspects of contemporary Indian life are aesthetically and thematically placed in your poetic collections. Why do you have this preoccupation?
I do not do poetry writing consciously, perhaps, it comes subconsciously. I mean, I do not work hard for that but it comes, apparently, naturally with observation and experience of life fired with imagination. However, I agree that I may be preoccupied with contemporary Indian life because it is what we live and breathe and we cannot escape the realities that we see, hear and experience on a daily basis.
3. Do you pen thoughts with a purpose in mind - such as educating the reader or are they just reflections of your mind?
I think they are more reflections of mind or the creative urge which will not let you rest until you put our out in a poetic form. I never thought of education, despite being associated with the field of education almost all my life. Poetry should never be used as a medium of education or propagating your propaganda to people. I am not one who would like to dart my ideas directly to my readers. If I were to educate people, I would write prose instead of poetry. Poetry can reflect the complexity of contemporary life better than any other art form.
The collection is a reflection of the author's ideas about what makes good poetry
4. You have dedicated many poetic collections to various causes. What do you dedicate 'Making a poem' to?
My Gujarati collection of poems Jeevangeet published in 2001 was dedicated for Gujarat Earthquake victims of 26th January 2001, to thousands of men, women and children who lost their lives and homes in Earthquake. I am dedicating Making A Poem to my teachers at The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.
5. Would you call yourself a 'conscious poet'? Why or why not?
No. I don’t think I am that 'conscious poet' because I do not write poems that revolve around a specific theme.
6. When you translate Gujarati poems into English and vice-versa, so they lose their essence? Why or why not?
I do not think that translating poems from Gujarati into English makes it lose their charm or essence. It is a western idea. India is a multilingual and multicultural country where you are always translating one language into another. You never lose the core of the content, instead, you translate the poem in all its complexity using literary symbols, metaphor and philosophical ideas and it remains different but yet so similar in values and ideas.