Any movement is a progression: an online interview with Kushal Poddar
Kushal Poddar, living India, is the author of “All Our Fictional Dreams” and been published in “Poor Poet’s Pantry: Collaborative Poems”. The forthcoming book is “Surviving Cyber Life”
Dupur Mitra: Do you think poetry play role in your society? If yes how and if not why?
Kushal Poddar: This morning a stranger from his seat next to mine in a public bus pointed out toward the sky, Does not the blue look like a child in a cradle?
This is the role of poetry in our society. A tool to capture the vast beyond within the canvas of personal experience. To limit the limitless so our thirst and longing for it remains unquenched.
Every element, even the smallest unit, of a society has poetry in it. The same exists silently. This very co passenger may return to his adobe and never acknowledge being in or around poetry. He may deny it, sneer at those who are labeled as poets.
One may quote Ted Kooser unofficially-
“ Selecting A Reader
First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it. She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
“For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned.” And she will. ”
Indeed. But here we are in a society where political leaders want to write poems so the people may take them as thinking people. Here we are in company of some of the wealthiest people who surreptitiously hire writers to ghostwrite for them. Does this mean the very existence of poetry is like jewelries, decorative and useless?
In his Nobel lecture Italian poet Salvatore Quasimodo said, “The politician wants men to know how to die courageously the poet wants men to live courageously…”
Poetry is like a dim light seen after a long journey. We know it means we are near some shelter. It means food. Repose. We may believe in them or throw stones at their practitioners but we cannot ignore what it is. It means various other things. It means we have a window. Even knowing there is a window at hand is near as good as looking at the garden outside.
Dupur Mitra: Who are your major influences as a poet?
Kushal Poddar: Before long I was at the crossroad of camps. How do you like Robert Lax or Bukowski and Piero, Hall, Kenyon or Hirsch? I drank them all. Together. I pursued Ryan to Rich, Byron to Bly, Pavlova to Simic. As random as this. The internet opened more options. I met in a Franz Wright distant close way. Arne Torneck, Chris Madoch, Chris Nelles, Marilyn Basel, Aad De Gid, Shaine Parker, Gail Wolper, Loring Wirbel, Alicia Winsky, Elazar Larry Freifeld and Lois Michal Unger Freifeld. I meet someone amazing everyday. They all influence me, rather mutate me, in a minute way. Then there is the music an insect makes on my keyboard. The three legged dog stares at a baby on four. Poetries make themselves. I become a medium.
Dupur Mitra: What does being a poet mean to you?
Kushal Poddar: Someone close enough to hurt asked the same question. She had an answer herself. Is not writing poetry womanish? She added.
Later I wrote-
At night I felt the milk.
Its congestion swelled my chest.
And I wanted to feed the entire university.
This is what poets are. What I am. We all supply something fluid and white to the society. We make them from our own blood.
Dupur Mitra: What is poetry?
Kushal Poddar: Poetry, as I see it, is the unquenched thirst, life long longing to grasp the vast beyond and quantify it within the personal experiences. It is the long evening you had one morning. The sound on your window when you see midafternoon lawn through it. The more we define it in our terms it ignores our parlance. Like God it smiles at every attempt to reach its core.
Dupur Mitra: What are your observations about trending of world poetry?
Kushal Poddar: We love groups. We make them. Become frustrated in them. Break them and make some more. Trends are the experiments with the same truth. Can we categorize one poem and say he belongs in that box, only there; he had nothing to do with the others? If we imagine William Carlos William being an Imagist had nothing to do with the Pre-Imagism and Harlem Renaissance, we will be wrong.
For a long time expansive poetry influenced me. I needed to get over it. I wrote impressionist and objectivist short poems. It does not mean one box contains my entire efforts.
For example Gail Wolper’s writings are often reticent, minimalist. In a recent poem she wrote rather expansively:
“My family was tall and thin.
For toys they gave me bones
from which I removed cartilage
and made towers.
Mornings it was grey.
but then the mists would lift
revealing river streams
and friendly birds.
My brother, he was late
returning from the Hunt
yet finally he appeared
with buffalo, and a wife.
The meat was in the pot
and everybody danced.
I wore a dress from skin
while someone chanted.
The storyteller smiled
he’d seen it all before
My skirt fluttered in wind
as older boys beckoned…”
From My First Incarnation on Earth
This reminds us of an interesting comment of David Orr on The Voice at 3:00 A.M by Charles Simic “though many of the new poems here are interesting, almost all of them could easily have appeared 20 years ago.”
We move from one compartment to another and the train of conscience moves ever onward.
Dupur Mitra: Is poetry movement can improve the poetry? If yes how, if not why?
Kushal Poddar: Any movement is a progression. Perhaps a poetry movement may open some avenues to involve more people outside the ones already are.
We need to connect those scattered poetries the non poets make, even if this necessitates de-framing this form of art. We need to see if the readers want to read it on a summer day of surprise rain or during a short break on a busy workday, why someone would read Billy Collins over Bernstein, or the other way round.
Dupur Mitra: What is your opinion about today’s world poetry movement?
Kushal Poddar: It is still breathless from its new found freedom through net, still grasping the limitless, multicultural, multilingual sky.
On the other hand it is nice to observe how well the already established streams are accepting the newer generations, how slowly the publishing houses parting their thighs.
In the last decade the orientation of poetry has moved from mere narrative recollection of a memory or abstract representation of emotion. It is the time itself. In an essay Tony Hoagland observed the same:
”Systematic development is out; obliquity, fracture, and discontinuity are in. Especially among young poets, there is a widespread mistrust of narrative forms and, in fact, a pervasive sense of the inadequacy or exhaustion of all modes other than the associative.”
The same has its reflection on life at large. The recent political and economic movements around the world assure us we share the same amount of void or dissatisfaction.
There is something beyond the following list:
by Charles Bernstein
There is a mass feeling that the wood could not be drier than the cured resentments (From Chris Nelles, the steel could not be colder). Poetry is a vastly unacknowledged way to cure this.
Dupur Mitra: How would you describe the contemporary poetry?
Kushal Poddar: The above answer should satisfy this question.