Dr. Jernail Singh Anand’s Interview with Dr. K. V. Dominic on the topic POETRY AND OUR WORLD
(Published in Interviews with Poets, Critical Thinkers and Scholars, 21st CENTURY CRITICAL THOUGHT, A DIALOGUE WITH POSTMODERN VOICES, Volume 3. By Jernail Singh Anand. Published by Earth Vision Publications, Gurugram, Haryana, India, 2021, pp. 166-169.)
POETRY AND OUR WORLD
1. Why is academia so indifferent to Poetry? Teaching and researching poetry are one thing, but creating poetry is quite another. It is the primary task in the world of poetry, yet it has no takers in University departments. I wonder if there are any Creative Schools in India, and third world, although in America, such departments are to be found.
KVD: True, academia in India is indifferent to poetry. I haven’t come across any Creative Schools in India. Fiction has conquered the entire literature of the world and the other genres have suffered a lot. This global reflection is found in India also. Compared to the West, Indians read less, particularly literature. Of course, visual media have changed the habits and hobbies of the people. Majority of the established reputed publishers in India are after fiction and they promote less poetry. Academia in India flows with the trend of the people rather than trying to change and uplift their minds.
2. It is one thing, to read, teach, and research poetry, and quite another to have a society which believes in poetry, loves poetry, and has faith in the poetic powers of its poets. Don’t you think the world of opportunity that we are talking of, has lost all interest in Poetry and ordinary people find poetry absolutely irrelevant to their needs of survival?
KVD: Poetry can’t be taken as a means for survival. When we speak of English poetry in India, I don’t think there is any Indian poet who lives with the royalty he earns from his/her books. The scenario of regional literature and poetry are different. There are many writers in regional literatures who survive with the money they earn. As to make poetry appealing to the ordinary people, the Indian English poets should write to the taste of the ordinary people, about their issues, and solutions for them in very simple vocabulary. As poets are seers, it is the duty of the poet to serve the people as a messenger or saviour.
3. Although the society is indifferent, what makes poets still go on writing, publishing poetry, being happy with very limited readership?
KVD: The driving force of the poets writing and publishing even when the society is indifferent, is nothing but their love for poetry—poetry for poetry sake. When a poet is brimming with some emotion he/she can’t but express it out either through social media or print. Of course the poet longs for appreciation and feedback of his/her poems, minimum from his own friends and relatives. On a higher level, the poets think that there will come a day when the societies’ taste will change and they will start reading poems.
4. At the centre of all human struggle is the question of survival, and life comes prior to poetry. Don’t you think the demands that life makes on the poet are incongruent with the demands that poetry makes?
KVD: When we elevate poetry from the conventional concept for enjoyment alone, poetry can function as a guide, as an art of living. What I mean is that there should be some didacticism in poetry. Poems should be full of values and messages. Poets are different from ordinary people, as they are thinkers and philosophers. They are representatives of the Poet Almighty. So it the duty of the poets to guide the society, point out their weaknesses and deficiencies, correct them, remove their ignorance and illumine their minds with good values and messages which will guide them for good life.
5. A poet has imagination to which he escapes in his romantic escapades. Where does an ordinary man engaged in a bitter struggle with a ruthless society should escape to?
KVD: Answer to this question is there in the previous answer. An ordinary man engaged in a bitter struggle with a ruthless society should find a haven in the world of poetry. To make such a haven, poetry should serve as a balm. When an ordinary man confronts with struggles and one’s heart bleeds he/she may find solace in the scriptures and holy books. Similarly he/she should find solace in the poetry books which one keeps in the houses.
6. If the people loved Poetry, and had faith in Poets, it was because they participated in movements and suffered for their ideologies. Don’t you think such things are almost non-existent from the annals of contemporary history?
KVD: True, poetry of the past during the movements was composed with the blood of the poets. Those poets wrote what they really felt or experienced. They were involved in the struggles, went through the ordeals, imprisoned several times, tortured and even executed. They stood for their ideals which they propagated through their poetry. We come across very few poets of that category in the present world. A poet should be faithful to his mind and life. One should write from one’s experiences. Like many priests preaching from the pulpits, a poet should not exhort to the readers which one doesn’t practice in one’s life.
7. Poetry is no doubt a noble mission. But aren’t the poets after puny gains rather than working for a greater vision, a new world order, and trying to chisel a cosmic character of man?
KVD: True, when we analyse majority of the present poets we find that they are after puny gains rather than working for a greater vision. In fact it is the duty of the poets to bring out ordinary people from the narrow boundaries and petty thoughts. For a poet the universe is his/her family. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakom should be one’s motto. For a genuine poet there is no religion, community, caste, division of States or nations. All human beings are his/her brothers and sisters. Similarly all other beings are his/her siblings. A poet can only love and never hate. He/she loves the entire universe and its inhabitants.
8. Is it enough to just lust in joy or shed tears over the destiny of mankind? Is poet only an objective commentator and not an involved sufferer?
KVD: As I stated earlier a genuine poet can never share an emotion or feeling unless he/she feels in the mind. Expressing ecstasy of joy or shedding tears over the destiny of mankind on papers without feeling it in one’s mind is fraud and betrayal. When a poet writes about starvation even though he is not starving he should have a mind to provide food to starving people around him. A poet’s mind should be always compassionate.
9. Poetry stems from life, but leaves out into airy flappings, making music out of winds. Any serious job for the poet?
KVD: In my opinion poetic composition is a serious job. It is as serious and sublime as creation. Romantic poetry might be having the airy flappings and makes music out of winds but realistic poetry portrays life as it is. A poet re-creates and makes more beautiful the world around him/her.
10. Wherein lies the salvation for a Poet so that he returns to the centre of the Universe? This is my ultimate question to you.
KVD: I doubt if a poet can achieve salvation at all since the problems and agonies of the world will never decrease but increase. The poet’s mind gets arrows one after another. The fact that he/she is not heeded by the society deepens the wounds. And the poet leaves the world with an unfulfilled dream, with a broken heart.