Priya Sarukkai Chabria is a poet, writer and translator with five published books. Awarded by the Indian Government for her Outstanding Contribution to Literature her works’ translated into six languages & is published in The British Journal of Literary Translation , Drunken Boat, Pratilipi, Language for a New Century, The Literary Review, IQ, Another English: Anglophone Poems from Around the World among others. Forthcoming in 2015 are translations of Tamil mystic poet Aandaal with Ravi Shankar (Zubaan) and a short story collection (Niyogi Book).
1.Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??
Sweltering Madras afternoons! When I was about 7 years old, I lived with my grandparents in Mylapore. Afternoons, the adults would doze and I had free run of the garden. This is my special place. It was overgrown and immensely peaceful. There was sanctity in that silence. I’ve tried to reach that secret, welcoming place every since, through words. Perhaps this was the initial spark.
2. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?
I’ve been told my way of looking at the world is poetic — whatever that quite means. Perhaps an intensity of gaze and hearing? Seeking resonance? Reflective? Questing beauty, the everyday sacred…
- Do you think poetry speaks to all kinds of people in all walks of life? How do you think we can take poetry out its confined literary circle?
Doesn’t everyone become a poet when they fall in love? Why don’t they remain in love with life i.e. poetry? The world will be a better place for it.
- When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?
I write poetry whenever — on flights, before snoozingg, I think of polishing the poem I’m working on in my sleep…. Poetry is a part of me. Sometimes though it doesn’t come easy. Sometimes pain or shock numbs me so much that I can’t write. After my Amma passed on I couldn’t write for over six months. At times I feared I’d never write again. Then a poem appeared, then another — trickle to flow to flood. Elegies for my mother. I’m grateful.
- What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?
Why not? If it’s aesthetic enough it’s fine by me. Geniuses aren’t the preserve of long or classical forms. But geniuses are rare.
- Where do you want to take your work in d future in terms of poetry?
The poetry will lead, I will follow. It’s like a poetic experience.
Thanks Prakriti foundation for the wonderful event.
Thanks Haris and smita for the amazing pictures!