The main trend of poetry today is Online poetry: An online interview with Rohith
Dupur Mitra: Why is poetry important?
Rohith: Poetry always has its role in society. Not just poetry but all the other forms of art. cinema, painting, novels, short stories, music…and all the other many many forms of art played very essential role during the time of any change in the society. Arts and society always associate symbiotically. You cannot separate one from the other. We all know how songs, poems, stories, plays and the other forms of art played their role in any freedom struggle of any nation. It essentially speaks, how important poetry is to the society. And, society was never with a protest. It was never with a revolution. From a society that is without a struggle or change, one can comfortably understand that something terribly wrong is happening in that society and it is even easily understandable that a struggling society always emits art.
Dupur Mitra: How does a poem begin for you – with an image an idea or a phrase?
Rohith: This question simply reminded me that dialogue from the film Inception, ” you never really remember the beginning of a dream”. And a poem is like a dream for me.
Dupur Mitra: How do you edit your poems?
Rohith: While writing poetry is a talent, editing poetry is a skill. When I write a poem, and still don’t feel satisfied, I wait. For hours, days, weeks, months and sometimes even years. All these times…I keep on revisiting my poem. Sometimes I make a change in punctuation or a word or a sentence and most of the other times…i write a new poem out of it that may have no connection with the earlier poem. I edit it until it speaks to me. I edit it until it become a being of its own, until it breathes a life and until it speaks with its reader.
Dupur Mitra: Can you talk about the importance of sound in your poetry?
Rohith: Every poet has his language, his slang…in poetry. One can easily identify Eliot, when you read a poem like “Love song to Alfred Prufrock“. But how sound sounds in reader, when he reads it? To answer this question I must take the example of the first book I ever read, “Mahaprastaanam(Telugu)”. I started reading it silently and it took 3 hours for the first time. But by the end, I was screaming…I was simply screaming poetry. I dont know when I started speaking out, when my silence became whisper and when my whisper became screams…but by the end of the book, I really screamed.
Dupur Mitra: Is there a relationship between your speaking voice and your writing voice?
Rohith: Yes! I speak in Telugu and I write in English. Many asked me, why do you think in Telugu and write in English? My first answer is a counter-question “Do we really think in a language?” .Telugu is my mother tongue, I talk with everyone in Telugu. But, writing was a thing of pleasure during my first days of writing. In those initial days(school days), all those things that give pleasure are banned! Cinema, cricket with friends, cartoon network, roaming on roads, video games and all these things were called crime. I was desperate for a secret thing that gives a secret pleasure secretly! It was from then that I started writing in English. But writing in English used to give me better pleasure. It was like rebelling against all those conventional Telugu-thoughts and making a new space for myself. That is why, to keep that gap between conventional and mainstream world and my strange world, I write in English.
Dupur Mitra: Is poetry movement can improve the poetry? if yes how, if not why?
Rohith: Poetry is always associated with a movement. But, I wonder if poetry can ever be improved. Poetry had always been poetry through ages…and it will be. A particular time produced a particular type of poetry and that poetry is best suitable for that particular period only.
Dupur Mitra: Can you describe your writing process?
Rohith: As I said earlier, writing poetry is like dreaming for me. It just happens so naturally like the leaves that occur to branches.
When I feel like writing a poem, and when I have my computer or a paper and pen around me…I just take a deep breath cutting myself from the outer-world…and I bleed, into words. No, I don’t mind if hundred people are in my room or if I am absolutely alone…for me to travel into that privacy and loneliness among hundred people…all I need is a deep breath.
Dupur Mitra: How does a poem usually start for you?
Rohith: It just starts. I don’t have any key, to start that poetic engine. On the contrary, poetry has that key to wake me in another reality, in a fourth dimension, where I can scream…though no one can hear. And I will be absolutely helpless when it happens, I remember myself writing a poem on the back of a question paper…in the middle of an examination. It all happens as a dream and as i said earlier… ” you never really remember the beginning of a dream”
Dupur Mitra: Who are your major influences as a poet?
Rohith: Sri Sri, Neruda, Faiz, T.S. Eliot, Ginsberg, Kamala Das, Ismail, Langston Hughes, Lorca, Andrienne Rich, Szymborska and many others. Its an endless list, including many of my facebook friends. But Sri Sri’s “Mahaprastaanam”, the first book I ever read is the book that lit the desperate desire to write.
Dupur Mitra: What is poetry?
Rohith: Many great poets and intellects had always tried to define poetry ,but no one was really comfortable with what they had defined. Its difficult to jail a thing like poetry between words…poetry is a free being. Its a dynamic thing. And a poet always have different definitions for poetry in different times…and for this time, my definition for poetry is that poetry is an “extension for reality”. And I am absolutely sure that this will not be my answer if you ask the same question again.
Dupur Mitra: What are your observations about trending of world poetry?
Rohith: Poetry always flow into new lands and into strangest places. Now, the poetry is streaming into ether…into internet.
I believe, the main trend of poetry today is Online poetry,Online workshops, Online magazines, Blogs and Social networking sites. There are many groups and wonderful circles. Internet is a great stage for poets…providing great opportunities.