(PUBLISHED IN MOSAICO, ITALIANO FEBRUARY 2012 ISSUE AND ENGLISH TRANSLATION IN Labyrinth 4.2 (April 2012) from Gwalior, India)
Prof. K. V. Dominic, English poet, critic, short story writer and editor is a retired professor of the PG & Research Department of English, Newman College, Thodupuzha, Kerala, India. He was born on 13 February 1956 at Kalady, a holy place in Kerala where Adi Sankara, the philosopher who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta was born. He took his PhD on the topic “East-West Conflicts in the Novels of R. K. Narayan with Special Reference to The Vendor of Sweets, Waiting for the Mahatma, The Painter of Signs and The Guide” from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala. In addition to innumerable poems, short stories and critical articles published in national and international journals, he has authored twenty two books so far. Prof. Dominic is the Secretary of Guild of Indian English Writers, Editors and Critics (GIEWEC), Editor and Publisher of the international refereed biannual journal, International Journal on Multicultural Literature (IJML) and Editor-in-Chief of the Guild’s international refereed biannual journal, Writers Editors Critics (WEC). He is also the publisher of New Fiction Journal, an international refereed annual on contemporary fiction in English. He is in the Advisory and Editorial Boards of several leading international journals. International Poets Academy, Chennai conferred on him its highest award LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD in 2009.
Prof. Elisabetta Marino is tenured assistant professor of English literature at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata.” She published a book on Tamerlane in English and American literature (2000) and edited the volume (2002) of proceedings of the “Asia and the West Conference” organized at “Tor Vergata” by Professor Lina Unali in 2001.
She co-edited the collection of essays entitled Transnational, National, and Personal Voices: New Perspectives on Asian American and Asian Diasporic Women Writers (2004), and in 2005 she published a volume entitled Introduzione alla letteratura bangladese Britannica (An introduction to British Bangladeshi literature). She has translated poems by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, collected in a volume entitled Talismans/Talismani (2006), and edited the second volume of an e-book, New Asian American Writers and News from UK, Italy and Asia: Literature and the Visual Arts (2007). In 2010 she edited the second volume of another e-book: Una città tra Oriente e Occidente. Istanbul Shanghai (A City between East and West. Istanbul Shanghai). In the same year, she co-edited a volume entitled Positioning the New: Chinese American Literature and the Changing Image of the American Literary Canon.In 2011, she published a book entitled Mary Shelley e l’Italia. Il viaggio, il Risorgimento, la questione femminile (Mary Shelley and Italy). She has published extensively on travel literature, Asian American and Asian British literature, Italian American literature, and on the English Romantic writers.
EM: Good morning Prof. Dominic! Your scholarly and artistic careers are equally amazing! Can you outline them?
KVD: I have been a faculty member of the Post Graduate and Research Department of English, Newman College, Thodupuzha, Kerala, India for twenty six years till my retirement from service on 31 March 2011 at the age of fifty five. I have been teaching both UG and PG English literature students research methodology and MLA style of documentation for their project papers. In addition I have been the editor of the international biannual refereed journal Indian Journal of Postcolonial Literatures, a publication of the PG department of English. Thus I came into contact with hundreds of university/college professors, research scholars and professional writers in India and abroad. I found much thrill in editing the issues of the journals with minimum mistakes and using the correct latest MLA style. I have been very punctual in publishing the issues in the due months themselves and sending the copies to the subscribers and contributors in the respective months. This punctuality in the release of the issues created much impression and trust among the subscribers and contributors and the journal thus flourished. I took the editing and publishing of the journals as a mission—a mission of serving research scholars and college teachers. Hundreds of PhD Research scholars could publish their research articles—a requisite of their course, and innumerable college teachers got promotion by publishing their articles in my journal. This service rendered to them gave me much happiness and boost for further editing and thus I started editing anthologies. Fortunately, I got a great scholarly publisher—a lover of literature who is very selfless and never profit-minded. I am talking of Mr. Sudarshan Kcherry of Authorspress, New Delhi, who is my soul mate now. Thus our team work resulted in the creation of several edited books. So far I have edited/authored 22 books of which 18 have come out and four are under print. Given below is the list of my books:
(1) Postcolonial Readings in Indo-Anglian Literature, (2) Selected Short Stories in Contemporary Indo-Anglian Literature, (3) Stephen Gill’s Poetry: A Panorama World Peace, (4) Discourses on Contemporary Indian English Poets, (5) Studies in Contemporary Canadian Literature, (6) Critical Studies on Contemporary Indian English Women Writers, (7) Critical Perspectives on the Poetry of R. K. Singh, D. C. Chambial and I. K. Sharma, (8) Discourses on Five Indian Poets in English: Keki N. Daruwalla, Shiv K. Kumar, Pronab Kumar Majumder, Syed Ameeruddin and Aju Mukhopadhyay, (9) Concepts and Contexts of Diasporic Literature of India, (10) Changing Face of Women in Literature: The Flaming Spirit, (11) Studies on Six Indian Poets in English: Jayanta Mahapatra, Hazara Singh, P C K Prem, Gopikrishnan Kottoor, Manas Bakshi, Chandramoni Narayanaswamy, (12) African and Afro-American Literature: Insights and Interpretations, (13) Critical Evaluation of Contemporary Indian Poetry in English (14) Multicultural Literature of India: A Critical Evaluation of Contemporary Regional Literatures, (15) World English Fiction: Bridging Oneness, (16) Jayanti M. Dalal: Select Stories.
(1) Pathos in the Short Stories of Rabindranath Tagore, (2) Reason and Fantasy (A Collection of Poems and Short Stories), (3) Winged Reason (A Collection of Poems), (4) Write Son, Write (A Collection of Poems),(5) Multicultural Consciousness in the Novels of R. K. Narayan, (6) Multicultural Symphony (A Collection of Poems)
On 23 September 2010 nearly ten well known professors-cum-writers from different parts of India assembled in my college for a national seminar I had organized and in that evening we gave birth to a guild of writers entitled, Guild of Indian English Writers, Editors and Critics (GIEWEC). I was elected as the Secretary of the guild and others different office bearers. The main objectives of the guild are: promote Indian English Literature in general; publish an international refereed biannual journal entitled Writers Editors Critics (WEC) for the contributions of the members; inspire and enlighten the members in creative and critical writing; assist Ph.D. scholars in thesis writing; make the members aware of research methodology and the latest documentation style and conduct annual conferences at various States. The guild was registered as a society and the first issue of Writers Editors Critics came out in March 2011. After my retirement in March 2011, I started editing and publishing another international refereed biannual journal called International Journal on Multicultural Literature (IJML). The maiden issue came out in July 2011. Thus I am now busy with editing and publishing both the journals. WEC’s issues come out in March and September and IJML’s issues in January and July. I am very prompt in releasing the issues in the respective months. The Guild has now 164 members of which 74 are life members. IJML has 107 subscribers within this short period. Due to the high quality we are maintaining, both the journals have been indexed and abstracted by Literary Reference Center Plus, EBSCO Host, USA. As fulfilment of the objectives, annual literary conferences were held in Kochi (Kerala) and Mumbai in the last two years. In addition, I have conducted several workshops on research methodology and MLA style of documentation in several parts of the country.
Now coming to my creative activity, I take poetry and short story as a weapon and reaction to the evils of the society. The function of poetry is to instruct and delight. To me, the aspect of ‘instruct’—impart great values and messages, seems more important than ‘delight.’ Hence I don’t care much about rhythm, rhyme or such decorations which add musicality to the lines. I write in free verse, using very simple vocabulary, with minimum figural language. I have a very clear vision in my compositions: even an uneducated man—one who can just read and write should be attracted to my poetry and thus the message should enter into his/her mind. Unlike T. S. Eliot and several other modern great poets, I write for the masses and not for just elite and educated.
EM: It seems to me that both branches of your career aim at uncovering channels of communication, at fostering peace. Can you please expand on that? Did you have any source of inspiration? Did your father and mother have a strong influence on that?
KVD: As I have explained, I have a mission and vision which I have been scholarly fulfilling through my journals and edited books. The main objective of our life is happiness and we can attain this happiness best by serving others. That’s exactly what I have been doing by editing and publishing journals and books. Since good literature imparts the message of peace and happiness, the critical studies on them underline and focus this great message. Exhortation for peace and happiness is the main theme of my poetry and short stories. Acting as a social critic, I charge at men as well as their customs, traditions, beliefs, superstitions, pseudo-philosophies and all such narrow thoughts which annihilate peace and happiness in societies. I am a champion of the marginalized, oppressed and downtrodden. I have composed several poems on the problems of working class, sexism and ageism, child labour, cruelty to animals, casteism, etc.
I have been greatly influenced by my father and mother in moulding my philosophies and attitude to life. They were very generous and humane not only to the people associated with them but to animals also. I have dedicated my first poetry collection to my father and the second one to my mother. The second collection Write Son, Write has my tribute to my mother in the poem “Elegy on My Ma.” My wife Anne, who is also a post graduate in English literature, is my constant inspiration and first critic of my creative works. Romantic and Victorian poets–Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Browning, Tennyson, Arnold and Indian poets in English–Tagore, Nissim Ezekiel and Jayanta Mahapatra have exerted influence on me. Buddha, Christ, Swami Vivekananda, Gandhi, Nehru, etc. are the philosophers and statesmen who influenced me.
EM:Focusing more specifically on Write Son, Write it seems that writing is turned into a strong and powerful tool. The title itself looks like a prompt, to act and change the world. Some of the poems, like the one dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi, seem to confirm this idea. Can you expand on that?
KVD: Write Son, Write is my second collection of poems after Winged Reason. I do believe that whatever I have written or going to write is inspired by poets’ poet, God. A poet is a sage and God speaks to the world through his/her pen. Thus the title of the book and the title poem “Write My Son, Write” is justified. This title poem is the longest of all my poems, 483 lines in twenty one sections. In fact it is my manifesto, my philosophy of life. My concept of God and creation, the triangular relation between God, human beings and other beings, how human beings play discordant notes to the symphony and harmony of universe, how other beings, though less intelligent, are superior in feelings and emotions, how religious, political and intellectual mafia exploit the innocent, illiterate laity, etc are dealt in detail in this poem. When religious, political leaders and intelligentsia fail to inject values to the masses, only poets, who are like prophets, can save this planet and its inhabitants from imminent devastation. Aung San Suu Kyi is such a prophet.
EM: The animal world seems to be characterized by a moral code, a sense of friendship and companionship and a respect for life and nature that is quite difficult to find in humans. Can you tell me more about it?
KVD: Man has to learn a lot from nature, especially from the animal world. It’s a perverted concept that man is the centre of universe and God has created the earth for his existence. It is his intelligence which makes him think so selfishly, distort the Creator as he likes and subject the animal world and plant world to his whims and fancies and comforts and luxuries. Man, the latest evolutionary being, has to respect his predecessors and ancestors, and allow them also to coexist with him. There are eleven poems dealing with animals and birds in my collections and most of them portray the cruelty shown to animals by human beings. I believe that all creations of God are beautiful and there can be nothing ugly among his creations. As Keats says, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,” these creations—both plant world and animal world are sources of happiness for those who observe them. Man can learn many values from animals: love, kindness, friendship, cooperation, industry, cleanliness etc. I am of opinion that non-human beings are dearer to God than human beings because they don’t sin against Him. They move with perfect rhythm to His eternal symphony.
EM: What do you wish for Mother India, cherished in your writings?
KVD:In my poem “Victory to thee Mother India” in Write Son, Write I have expressed my wish for Mother India. At present the Mother’s heart is being torn and the blood is being drunk by three mafias—religious, political and intellectual. Tagore, Gandhi and Nehru were her great sons who filled her heart with happiness. “no doubt, your womb / will bear more great children, / who will lift us from this trance / and tether us back to the global home, / and you will sleep on the lap, / fondled by your Mother World” (Write son, Write 43). I dream of a global family where Mother India becomes an affable, sweet and darling daughter to Mother World.
EM: Plans for the future?
KVD: I would like to continue my literary activities, both scholarly and creative, with more zeal and fervor. The only problem is lack of time. Since I don’t have any assistants for the office work of the Guild–for countless email answers and phone calls–much of my time everyday has to be diverted for it. As membership rises I will be overburdened. Still fighting against time and physical ailments caused by overuse of computer, I will go on editing and publishing journals and books and at the same time find time to involve in creative activity of composing poems and short stories.
EM: Thank you very much Prof. Dominic for sharing your views and philosophies with the readers in India and abroad.
KVD: It’s my pleasure and pride dear Prof. Elisabetta to be interviewed by an Indian loving literary celebrity like you. Thanks to all readers.