Tag Archives: interview

Quick Bite with Sonnet Mondal

Sonnet Mondal has read, and represented India, at literary festivals in Macedonia; Cork, Ireland; Istanbul, Turkey; Granada, Nicaragua; Sri Lanka; and Slovakia. Winner of the 2016 Gayatri Gamarsh Memorial award for literary excellence, Sonnet was one of the authors of Silk Routes Project, IWP, University of IOWA. One of the current directors of Odisha Art & Literature Festival, Sonnet Mondal edits the Indian section of Lyrikline Poetry Archive, Berlin and serves as the Editor in Chief of the Enchanting Verses Literary Review (www.theenchantingverses.org) His upcoming visits include 2018 Galle Literary Festival, Sri Lanka.

  1.Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??

I just scribbled one piece of 10 lines, back in 2006 which I don’t recall as a poem, but something which drew me into writing poetry.

  1. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

A poet’s eye is his sensitivity and together with intellect, he creates an aperture called poetry through which readers can perceive that everything we see, feel, hear and sense is not everything. I feel like travelling through my deepest emotions while writing poetry and it allows me to examine and re-examine the world. The way how I see life is best communicated through this journey.

  1. 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?

No single piece of art can relate to all walks of life at the same time. Poetry portrays those emotions which cannot be pictured — through any direct exact way or through any other genre of literature.

Taking poetry as a curiosity and a form of expression — it has always had a limited yet pronounced space in the world.  The general mindset — that people don’t understand poetry and are unenthusiastic about reading poetry is a misconstrued rendition of the queries  — that readers have about poetry while thinking of buying an anthology. May be — it can be addressed to a certain extent by incorporating more poetry sessions or workshops in literary festivals or events.

  1. When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

Thoughts have no time to arrive. They may pop up even in extreme situations. They are extremely volatile and evaporate easily from mind. So I mostly make notes whenever they surface in my mind and later I work upon them after 12 at night. Night somehow allows me to give the much desired shape to my muse. The desire to have an element of surprise in my life and the desire to have a sight of the skyline through the uplifting mistiness, often inspire me to write down poems.

  1. What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

Waves as such come, break and dissipate into obscurity. I think ‘Poetry’ and ‘Insta-poetry’ should not be confused. Poetry is the most pithy and figurative of all genres of literature and these artificial prefixes added to the word ‘Poetry’ don’t make them what we have known or what I call as poetry.

  1. Where do you want to take your work in the future in terms of poetry?

I never thought about taking my poetry somewhere. It travels with me like my shadow. Poetry once on paper is independent and can travel on its own — beyond the fences set by desire or time.

Thanks Prakriti foundation for organising such wonderful event.

Thanks Haris, Smita Anand and Kirbaa Karan for the wonderful pictures!

Quick Bite with Priya Sarukkai Chabria

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…

  1. 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.

  1. 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 snoozing​g, 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Where do you want to take your work in d future in terms of poetry?

T​he 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!

 

Quick Bite with Saima Afreen

Calcutta is where she grew up. To breathe she churns poems; to earn a living she works as a journalist. Her poems have been featured in The McNeese Review, The Notre Dame Review, The Nassau Review, The Asian Age, The Telegraph, The Times of India, and many other publications. Her poems have been part of several anthologies. She was invited as a poet delegate to Goa Arts and Literature Festival, 2016, Guntur Poetry Festival, TEDx VJINET, Writers Carnival, Aliah University and several other poetry platforms. She is currently working on the manuscript of her first poetry book.

  1. Can you say something about what made you write your first poem?

I was 14 when began writing poems. All I can reminisce is, one day I was feeling really restless; there was an unnamed angst which boiled inside me and wanted to erupt, get scattered. I picked up my pen, opened my notebook and wrote a poem in iambic pentameter about a crushed rose, its mingling with dust; edited it and then sent the work to The Asian Age newspaper, which had a column for students who wrote poetry. I then knew that something has changed inside me which demands to be spilled on the paper tearing a sliver of my soul.

  1. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

Poetry is an attempt to capture the zone that flickers briefly between the fields of light and darkness. In that short a duration a poet picks up what his eye catches, his mind registers and his cells record which may not be longer than the period when the fork between two leaves holds a raindrop only to let it fall the very next moment. This speck of time is distilled, crafted, resuscitated and then blown into life while it still remains a shadow of its own shadow. It holds the hand of the reader to make him part of this magical realm.

A sort of trance possesses me while I write poetry, the feeling is indescribable.

  1. Do you think poetry speaks to all kinds of people in all walks of life? How do you think we can take poetry out of its confined literary circle?

Poetry is wind, it’s always there. If you close the window and complain it’s sultry, you deny the breeze an invitation. Poetry is not rocket science, everyone can understand it and explore the journey the poet took to write the words. Can we see music? Why does an orchestra piece appeal to us? There’s something which connects with one’s being and makes one listen to it even when you don’t comprehend its nuances and the grammar involved.

Poetry isn’t confined in literary circles. If that were the case then mystic poet Rumi wouldn’t be embraced by so many people in today’s world. That’s how the other day at The Brew Room during the ongoing poetry session so many people turned up that there was hardly any space to stand, and trust me not all of them were students/aficionados of literature. Poetry festivals and reputed journals bring readers and poets together in a much faster way than before.

  1. When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

No. There is no specific day or mood for me to write. Poetry comes on its own, uninvited, unannounced. It doesn’t even knock, it just stares at the pen and seeps onto the paper without me realising what’s happening. The images, of course, are already there in the subconscious lending voice to the words, colour to the depiction. Often, while I draft my journalistic reports, poems find their way onto the page. It so happened that one day while I was mentioning Russian ballerinas in one of my articles, a poem seized me till I wrote it. I titled it ‘A Song for the Twisted Feet of a Russian Ballerina’ published in an issue of The McNeese Review.

  1. What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

Depends who’s writing what. Your question has the answer. We often see oh-that-poor-brown-girl-troubled-by-misogyny-racism kind of poems bringing myriads of likes on Insta pages. Does it have the beauty of craft? Is it different from the usual attention-grabbing cacophony? Not often. Sample the beauty in these lines from Nayyirah Waheed:

           can we speak in flowers

           it will be easier for me to understand.

                       — other language

At the same time, not all, in the ‘new wave of Insta poetry’, are capable of tenderness and mastery of words. It’s a trend with ‘#MeToo’ kind of poems, if at all they meet the condition of being called poems.

  1. Where do you want to take your work in the future in terms of poetry?

Poetry is epiphany. You are in constant motion where the topography changes with every step. You can harvest both fire and water without knowing which one will seep in your words. It’s a forest which moves, and with it you move. You can’t see anything while you are within it.

Thanks Prakriti foundation for the wonderful event.

Thanks Haris, Kirbaa Karan for the wonderful images!

Quick Bite with Sharanya Manivannan

Sharanya Manivannan is the author of four books, including the award-winning short story collection, The High Priestess Never Marries and the newly-released poetry collection, The Altar of the Only World.

1.Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??

I wrote my first poem at 7 years old, and it was built around all the words I could think of that rhymed with “cat”.

  1. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

I’ve written and read poetry for so much of my life it’s very much one of the modes through which I know myself. One of the greatest gifts poetry has given me has been consolation. At other times, it has been a way for me to salute beauty by trying to bring more into the world.

  1. 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?

The problem begins with how poetry is taught in schools. Students should never be forced to memorise poems, or be force-fed “meanings” of poems. This is a cruel and meaningless method, both to people and to poetry itself. Teach the word through voice, teach it as love, teach it as a shield against loneliness. It is difficult to change people’s minds later in life, when they’ve been traumatised by the way poetry has been introduced to them as children.

  1. When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

Whenever a poem calls to me. This can be day or night. I’ve bolted upright from my sleep many times because the words were suddenly pouring out of me. Other times, it’s less dramatic — a subtle shift aided and accompanied by music.

  1. What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

In a lot of ways, Insta-poetry is a reaction to the horrible way poems are taught in schools. I like the accessibility of the medium, but I dislike how it encourages laziness, the need for constant validation, and a skewed relationship with one’s own work — it ceases to be craft if you’re counting likes.

  1. Where do you want to take your work in d future in terms of poetry?

I’m trying to become better as a writer of fiction, and as an illustrator. I hope poetry forgives me these extramarital alliances.

Thanks Prakriti foundation for the wonderful events!

Thanks Haris for the amazing pictures!

All images are copy right protected to Madras Photo bloggers and Prakriti foundation

Quick Bite with Ajinkya

Currently residing in Delhi, but born and brought up in Bombay, Ajinkya is co-founder of Wildfire, a tech/digital startup that creates core technologies for original content creators. He is a student and practitioner of dhrupad music, and is deeply interested in arts education. As an independent researcher (and IFA Grantee), he wrote a book (in publishing) on Learning with the Dagars. He finds solace in poetry; and is figuring out a way to balance his writing, music, and his work as an entrepreneur, and consultant. His work has been published in Gallerie. He is currently compiling his poems to publish his first anthology.

1.Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??

I think I wrote the first poem I wrote (that I can remember and still exists somewhere) for a  girl. In school. Possibly, the most filmy, and unintuitive thing to do at the time .

2.What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

For me writing is speaking. There is no  real, true communication. I see our multiplicitous, diverse life journeys as an attempt to fill the hole of the absurd and the incomprehensible with narrative and meaning. We strive to make others see as we see, feel as we feel, know as we know.

Only in the arts – in poetry, music, performance arts among others – do I feel that without explanation, without acknowledgement, without trying even, sometimes, an impulsive, almost natural connection is established. For me, poetry is a winding bridge that connects people. I like to learn people, learn spaces, learn what it means to feel and say the same things as those who walked this world thousands of years ago. I’m interested in our sameness and in our difference. Those who didn’t suffer the scourge of memory. Poetry and music – the arts and crafts – become the classroom, where we can all sit together – as naked as the first light of dawn

3.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?

Goethe said that one should “hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”

This is, of course, spoken with the assumption of privilege of many kinds. As artists and enthusiasts, we have to question this privilege, and resist it’s oppressive and elitist gaze. This year Prakriti had a lovely selection of artists – an Ishvar Krishnan whose voice resonates with the labourer on the street to other well established poets whose truths are universal, poetry sublime.

The endeavour is always to find alternative spaces, create, as Hakim Bey would call it “art sabotage” or “poetic terrorism”. The purpose of poetry is to speak truth. Limiting it to elite spaces would only be counter productive. This becomes especially significant in the current political climate, where voices of dissent and resistance are being violently silenced. In such a situation then, poetry should become prophecy.

In street corners, public squares, classrooms, train stations, bus stops, the voices of artists must echo.

4.When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

I write when something builds up inside and overwhelms me in a deeply visceral way. So much so that I have to put pen to paper, or fingertip to smartscreen, or keyboard, otherwise it will kill me! The incompleteness, almost as if a peg is not fitting into a hole hurts – sometimes a word is meant to be in that exact place in the scheme of things, a note is destined to curve in a certain way. The urge of the artist becomes an obsessive one – to set things right almost

5.What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

Haha, I know where you’re going with this question. It’s a trap!

Yaar, each to her own. The frames of reference are changing. Popular opinion decides the fate of art. Social media has changed the meaning of popular opinion to loudest rant or most simplistic accusation. This is easy, but it’s not always wrong. But who are we to decide, what is and what isn’t poetry. Today even machines are writing poetry (😂) There are all kinds of art, but I relate to the kind that touches me. that takes the craft forward. I cannot expect everyone to relate in the same way.

In the end the time will decide, of course what remains, and what survives

6.Where do you want to take your work in d future in terms of poetry?

I want to explore the forms more. Create more equitable spaces where my work takes on a life of its own. I want to collaborate with other artists across the spectrum and create narratives that mean different things to different communities in society. Poetry spreads in tandem with music, visual art and theatre. I see these as different threads that form a beautiful pattern in the same patchwork tapestry. I want to stitch my work to this endeavour.

Thanks Prakriti Foundation for the wonderful event.

Thanks Smita Anand for the wonderful pictures!

All images are copy right protected to Madras Photo Bloggers and Prakriti foundation

Quick bites with Erik Lindner

Erik Lindner is a poet born in 1968 in The Hague, The Netherlands. He has published five books of poetry and the novel Naar Whitebridge (De Bezige Bij, 2013). His work has been translated into many languages and in France, Germany and Italy. He has read on numerous international festivals all over the world and was a poet in residence in Berlin (DAAD Artists-in- Berlin Program), Taipei, Montreal, Athens, Marseille and Paris.According to a critic the poems of Erik Lindner can intensify our patterns of perception and sharpen our senses for what is possible.

1.Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??

My first text were written in English and more than poems they were meant to be song verses, texts to sing. But I knew at the age of fifteen or so they weren’t any good, they were clichées. Than I wrote one line in Dutch: “De wereld is zojuist de trap afgelopen en sloeg zonder woorden de deur dicht.” This is maybe also not one of the best or very original lines, but it was different, it had a different sound, it was a little strange. What made me write it is that someone left and with that I knew things would change after.

2. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

What it means? I don’t know. I have never had high ambitious to become a poet, it is just the one thing I did that I always kept doing, the thing that was the most closest to me. Expressing in words somehow was more urgent than through images or melodies, although melody and rhythm is important in my work, also in the process of becoming a poem, in carrying it to a result. I can have all sort of feelings when I am working on a poem, from joy to sadness, the important is that putting down words again after a phase of contemplating or humming certain words together, is always a liberation. So to write makes me happy, yes. It has more than emotions or inspiration to do with a certain concentration that remains always rare. I cannot always be in that concentration, often have to wait until it is there.

3. 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?

No, poetry doesn’t speak to all kinds of people and indeed also not in all walks in life, if walks are meant to be different situations and circumstances. It could speak to more of them than they think, and also more often, but I have lost the evangelical approach that one would need to convince people poetry is good for them, if they don’t like it, let them do something else. But then again it is very necessary indeed to escape the literary circle, to survive as a poet, to learn from other people, to show it to other people than specialists. When I started in the 1980’s, I worked with musicians and we had poetry readings in youth clubs, alternative or squated theaters. That had quite a following, I could live from that in 1986 at the age of 18. These were audience that hardly read literature. But when my work grew and became less theatrical and more condensed and I was going towards my first official book in 1996, I depended on the inner circle of editors, publishers, specialists. Still, traveling is important, meeting new people, seeing how different poetry is in every culture in the world. And another example, I work with a very good art photographer Stephan Keppel and at openings of his exhibitions he asks me to read some poems. And his audience is not used to poetry readings, they take my words as images without frames around the picture. I like that escape of the inner circle very much.

4. When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

I used to write in the late evening or early evening, but that robs one from having a social life. April 2000 I wrote my first poem waking up in the morning with a cup of coffee next to me. I remember quite well the sensation of concentration it gave. Of course, one must be good awake and not sleepy. What makes me write a poem can be many occasion, just as a poem can be theoretically about everything. But not every line can be in a poem, they must be the right lines on that specific moment. I am building up to it every time, making notes, walking around, trying to see carefully the details. And very prosaic: a deadline helps.

5. What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

I haven’t study it, I must say. It will interest me when a good poem comes out of it. I am not against using new media, that is only good. I have also collaborated on two video poems*. But a lot of these waves are temporary, somehow everyone always gets back to paper, even if other medium are at times more practical to carry.

6. Where do you want to take your work in d future in terms of poetry?

Basically everywhere. I like to go back to places I have been before, create a deeper bound with them. I need to travel more in Asia, Africa and America. But than again, even with how much I was lucky to travel with poetry since 1988, I still need more decent English translations. I have books published in German, Italian and French and that felt as an enrichment coming from a small country.  But a future poetry book in English will take my work a bit easier to readers than before.

Thanks Prakriti foundation for organising wonderful events.

Thanks Kirbaa Karan and charles for the pictures.

All images are copy right protected to Madras Photo bloggers and Prakriti foundations.

Quick bites with Ashwani kumar

Ashwani Kumar is an Indian English poet, author and Professor of Development Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai). His books include Banaras and the Other (Poetrywala; Mumbai), first of a trilogy on religious cities in India; My Grandfather’s Imaginary Typewriter (Yeti Books; Calicut) and Community Warriors (Anthem Press; London) among others. His poems, reviews and columns are widely published. He is also one of the chief editors of London School of Economics’ prestigious publication ‘Global Civil Society’. He has been visiting fellow to leading universities around the world. Presently, he is a Senior Fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

  1. Can you say something about what made you write your first poem?

“I was wounded early,/and early I learned/ that wounds made me” (Adonis). Don’t remember exactly what made me write the first poem; probably when I loosened the promontory childhood memories and experienced the furious lashing of adult fantasies of vernacular language in the palai(desert) in my backyard.

  1. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

Poetry is like ‘skies with burning funnels’, and poets swim in the thick maelstroms ‘under the terrible eyes of prison ships’ as the French poet Arthur Rimbaud said. I am neither a formal student of literature nor a workshop trained poet.  So personally speaking, I feel like burning in the fire of my own ashes when I am writing poetry.

  1. 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?

Poetry is not an opaque mystical thing that only so-called Godmen, spiritual healers or over educated  literati  can experience.  It speaks to all. Remember what saint-poet Basavanna said “The rich/will make temples for Siva. /What shall I, /a poor man, /do? /My legs are pillars,/the body the shrine,/the head a cupola/of gold.  In other words, only poetry can heal the wounds caused by Varna divide and quotidian injustices. Thus, poetry needs to be liberated from a culturally impoverished elite minority and neo-middle classes. And we need to create more inclusive mythic and mimetic poetic spaces with million tongues gossiping and quarrelling about the poetry. I am happy that poetry with Prakriti is one such instance.

  1. When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

When I am listening my imaginary Granny Maria’s favourite song ‘Picotante, paralysante…picotante, paralysante’ or when I am between my trips to the farmer’s market and making litti-chokha for my neighbours in Bavaria.  But let me tell you the truth, I often fantasize about not writing anything.

  1. What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

New poetic traditions evolve, and old traditions acquire new indexical and symbolic forms. So wont be surprised if Insta poetry becomes   triumphant messenger in the hubbub of La La land of baby-faced millennials.  In short, Insta poetry is a liquid poetic body without permanent organs.  Guard it from the narcissistic, guilt-ridden trolls and bots!

  1. Where do you want to take your work in d future in terms of poetry?

Presently planning to complete the Banaras trilogy. Hope, my poetry in future remains unvanquished satyagraha against the growing power of ‘lies and more lies’!

Thanks Prakriti foundation for organizing such wonderful event.

Thank you Haris, Gopi, Smita Anand for the pictures.

 

A chat with the Grand old poet of India : Shri Jayanta Mahapatra

A heartwarming Poem reading by a self-actualized soul and a grand old Indian poet Shri Jayanta Mahapatra. He is the first ever Indian poet to win Sahitya Akademi award for English poetry. He is also a winner of Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour in India. He is physicist by education and commenced writing poems at the age of 40. He has spent his entire life time in Cuttack, Odisha and all his poems revolves around his own land.

Our team had an opportunity to listen to his poem reading and interview the living legend during the part of Poetry with Prakriti, Festival 2017 – 10th Edition. All his poems revolve around facts of life. During our interaction with him he also shared his childhood memories, where he had run away from his home town twice. There were few questions put to him and beautiful answers from him.

The poet says anyone can write poem, quotes himself as a humble example “when a 90-year-old man like me can write poems, anyone can write”

When asked, what makes him write poems, he beautifully said that he don’t choose poems. Situations make him write poems. He said “I write What I feel, What I hear and What I see”.

Also, he added that the poems written by him are his experiences. The Poetry has taught him to love people they are!

He wrote his first poem at the age of 40. When asked, what made him to write his first poem, he said that sadness prevailing around him, made him write his first poem. Most of his poems revolves around grief experience.

As the awareness about literature and culture increasing amongst people, we inquired whether poems create impact in society. The strongly denied that Nobody cares about the poems and it doesn’t create any effect in modern society. He feels that only few readers and youngsters read poems and get influenced by it. He believes people are very selfish and egoistic. They are self-centered and busy with their own priorities in their life.

The poet began his career as a physicist. When provided an option to choose between a poem or physics, he said did not want to choose between them and said that they were like two eyes for him. He funnily said that he loves high level physics and poems because people cannot assimilate the essence of both swiftly.

Since alternate career professions are becoming popular this year, we are keen to know the poets view on new age poems. He told that, it has not taken a serious traction. He added that those poems are not really from inside a person, rather a quick outburst of expression, after reading a couple of poems from the internet by the current generation.

Lot of youngster turned out for the poetry festival. When asked about message to the young poets he said “Read a lot poems, it will inspire you to write more”.

A lifetime experience and moment which shall always be cherished, interviewing Shri Jayanta Mahapatra. Thanks to Prakriti foundation and Madras Photobloggers.

Venkat Suriyaprakash.

Thanks Haris Manian for the wonderful pictures.

All images are copy right protected to Madras Photo Bloggers and Prakriti Foundation.

Of style and sensuousness: A Ten Minutes Interview with Navkirat Sodhi

A picture of punk rock elegance, she takes her seat amongst the poets with an unassuming nature and a simple smile on her face. But once she picks up her poetry and breathes life into them, both Navkirat Sodhi and her words thrill you with their secretive allure and surprising depth. Having published two collections of poetry, Ms. Sodhi brings her sarcastic wit and seductive allusions all the way from Delhi.

Having studied English literature and journalism, she was well on her way to becoming a broadcast journalist and even worked with BBC; but a gnawing feeling prompted her to quit her job and take up writing. A sabbatical of a few months created a deep hollow in herself which could only be filled with words that she had refrained from writing all those years. It was not a conscious choice to become a writer or write poetry she says but rather a natural result of the ebb of words within her. Before her move to Delhi, she scribbled the words in her head, and poetry was born.

“Every moment up till then built up to it. Every moment lived, everything experienced”. She was very conscious of not mass producing poetry, grand in quantity but insipid in quality and chose instead to streamline those stark lines that sting and sear as she recites them. Her work is not free from influence but it is free from imitation. She steps away from the people that inspire her and writes in a way that’s unique to her relationship with the language. Dostoevsky and Murakami impact her work but it is only in a subtle and psychological way.

Most of her poetry takes a very short form with most poems only a few lines long. Much like herself, her work does not speak profusely but it does so effectively. “Love was my full time job” she says and she is proud of how much she knows about the subject. Be it a romantic emotion or love towards a particular thing, it is easy to see how through the verses that she often slices short, the emotion lingers on, much like love itself. In her short poem, “Act III”, she talks about the lukewarm decline of a relationship and does so powerfully in less than 30 words. Invoking love, memory and the unlearning of emotion, the poem serves as a modern ode to descending love.

Apart from poetry, Ms. Sodhi also dabbles in art. A self-taught painter, she has been painting for a year and a half and hopes to present her paintings next year. Most of her artwork ties into her poetry and represents the abstract through figures instead of words. Fashion is also a huge part of her personality. She talks of how unlike most poets that walk around with the air of “the artist on the fringe” with their khadi clothes and “jhola pai”, she is very conscious of what she wears and how she presents herself. Thanks to her best friend Gaurav, a leading designer in the country, fashion and design have become an important part of her life. Navkirat Sodhi is not merely the words she bleeds on to the page but also the impression she creates as she walks into the room and it is quite clear, that both will linger on.

Thanks Prakriti Foundation for organizing such wonderful poetry festival in Chennai  .

Thanks Sandhya Kannan and Haris Manian for an amazing article.  All pictures are taken by our team member Hasan Mohammed

All images are copy right protected to Prakriti foundation and Madras Photo bloggers

MRF MMSC FMSCI Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship 2017 – Round 3 (Aug 5, 2017)

  • Jagan Kumar leads 1-2 finish for TVS Racing
  • Aishwarya, Aravind score second win
  • Dinesh Kumar halts Amarnath Menon’s win-spree

Chennai, August 5: Defending champion Jagan Kumar of TVS Racing put in a command performance to score a crucial win in the third round of the MRF MMSC Fmsci Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship at the MMRT track, here on Saturday and moved up two spots to third on the leaderboard.

A very relieved Jagan Kumar (62 points) though had to fight hard for only his second win of the season that put him behind the front-running Honda Ten10 riders leader Rajiv Sethu (90) who barely nursed his bike to third-place finish and Mathana Kumar (66) in the championship stakes after a race that was cut to a four-lap sprint following a red-flag stoppage due to an oil spill on the start-finish straight and was re-started.

Jagan, starting from pole position, slipped to third due to a poor start as Sethu and Mathana Kumar passed him on the very first lap. However, the red flag stoppage provided Jagan a second chance while Sethu’s bike bled speed and Mathana retired due to an electrical problem. It set Jagan free and he was followed home by team-mate Harry Sylvester and Sethu.

“I am very relieved that I won today, though I was not happy with my pace. In Friday’s practice, I did 1:57 (one minute, 57 seconds) lap and today, I was two second off that lap pace. I had some issues with the bike, but I think I will not tinker with it for tomorrow’s second race,” said Jagan.

Also scoring an impressive win was Bengaluru’s Aishwarya Pissay (Apex Racing) in the Girls (Stock up to 165cc) category to further consolidate her position at the top of the leaderboard with 65 points.

The race witnessed a bit of elbowing among riders at the front before Aishwarya overcame a poor start to clinch a dominating win to move to 65 points, ahead of Indore’s Kalyani Potekar (51) who was docked 10 seconds penalty for causing collision that took out Alisha Abdullah on the start straight and was placed third behind local girl Shruthi Nagarajan (Honda Ten10 Racing).

Aravind Balakrishnan, courtesy a fine victory in the Pro-Stock (up to 165cc) category, caught up with leader and his Honda Ten10 Racing team-mate Mithun Kumar who finished a distant fifth. Both are on 83 points with the second race of the round to be run on Sunday.

In the Super Sport Indian 300-400cc class, Kozhikode’s Amarnath Menon (Gusto Racing) saw his four-win streak ending in a cloud of dust as he crashed on the last lap during hot chase of Chennai’s Dinesh Kumar of the newly-formed Team Alisha Abdullah. Despite the non-finish, Menon is still comfortably placed at the top with 100 points, well clear of other contenders Deepak Ravikumar (51, Moto-Rev) and Vivek Pillai (75, Rockers Racing) who finished second and third respectively.

The results (Provisional):

Super Sport Indian  (Up to 165cc) 4 laps: 1. Jagan Kumar (TVS Racing) (08mins, 06.210secs); 2.Harry Sylvester (TVS Racing) (08:06.370); 3. Rajiv Sethu (Honda Ten10 Racing) (08:12.951).

Super Sport Indian (300-400cc) 6 laps: 1. Dinesh Kumar D (Team Alisha Abdullah) (11:48.208); 2. Deepak Ravikumar (Moto-Rev) (11:55.445); 3. Vivek Pillai (Rockers Racing) (12:08.044).

Pro-Stock (Up to 165cc) 4 laps: 1. Aravind Balakrishnan (Honda Ten10 Racing) (08:30.837); 2. Naresh Babu (RACR) (08:32.463); 3. Aravind Ganesh (Chennai) (08:39.352).

Girls – Stock up to 165cc (5 laps): 1. Aishwarya Pissay (Apex Racing Academy) (11:18.287); 2. Shruthi Nagarajan (Rockers Racing) (11:29.306); 3. Kalyani Potekar (Team Speed Up Racing) (11:37.258).

One-Make Championship – Honda CBR 150 (Novice) 5 laps: 1. Satyanarayana Raju (Hyderabad) (11:08.098); 2. Balaji G (Chennai) (11:22.842); 3. Senthil Kumar (Coimbatore) (11:23.098).

TVS Apache RTR200 (Open) 6 laps: 1. Kannan Karnan (Chennai) (13:16.480); 2. Sivanesan S (Chennai) (13:16.578); 3. Yuvaraj S (Chennai) (13:17.312). Novice (6 laps): 1. Romario J (Chennai) (13:23.636); 2. Anup Kumar M (Chennai) (13:23.803); 3. Shankar Guru J (Chennai) (13:30.885).

Support races (Girls) – Honda (5 laps): 1. Ryhana Bee A (Chennai) (11:26.214); 2. Kalyani Potekar (Indore) (11:41.677); 3. Shruthi Nagarajan (Chennai) (11:41.767).

TVS (3 laps): 1. Aishwarya Pissay (Bengaluru) (06:52.318); 2. Ann Jennifer (Chennai) (07:02.739); 3. Priyamvada Saradhi (Bengaluru) (07:15.431).

Courtesy: AP Media Communications

Photo Credits: Srinivasa Krishnan

GRANDEUR OF PARTHASARATHY THEER (CAR) FESTIVAL BY LAKSHMI RAMANAN

Madras Photo Bloggers is featuring  *Story Inspired by the Theer festival* article  by   Lakshmi Ramanan

◊ – words with the mark are explained below the images

Idly◊ was whistling away in the kitchen. The aroma of sambhar◊ wafted throughout the house. Filter kaapi◊ was the befitting beverage for that morning. Big golden silk borders adorned the mamas◊ and mamis◊ of the house alike, simplicity was reserved for another day. Tiny tots who were adorned with Srichoornam◊ ran in as time tickers, giving constant updates. All cousins had gathered under their grandfather’s house, it was ‘thaerottam’ or the car festival which was taking place in Triplicane◊ Parthasarathy temple.

“Keshavaa!”voice called out “Come here”

“Keshav Chittappaa◊! Thata◊ is calling you!” the little messenger screamed at the top of his voice as he rushed across the house

“Thata?” A deep voice responded briskly “Tell me”

“Keshu. Can we leave?” He said pulling his walking stick

“Thata! You have tied the panchakacham◊ very well” he said, “you are as always splendid young man” reaching his hand out to the Septuagenarian. He was someone whom you just have to respect, he commanded that out of people.  His grandfather was beaming with pride as the entire family of the old couple, his four sons and four daughters and the next two generations made their way through the crowd.

They went all the way near the thaer, and prostrated in front of the Lord. It was grandeur all around, The decoration around the Thaer was a league apart. The pagoda like top had cloth draped with srichoornam. Dwarakabalaka◊, Yali◊, and horses surrounded the Lord, while few men also made their way up. Among them were the pandits,◊ nadaswaram◊ and mirdamgam◊ players, playing exclusively to entertain the Lord. The lower half had many idols of the Lord was intricately carved in. The entire structure was supported by large wheels, taller than an average standing man. Streets had a festive look, they were washed clean, with large kolams◊ decorating every inch of tar road. It was a sight to behold. Keshav however looked around nonchalantly.

The procession started with the hymns being recited by the panchakacham clad pandits. Everyone prostrated before them marking their respects. Following them were fleets of photographers weaving in and out of the crowd. The finally chains of people aligned themselves clinging on to the chains dragging the thear. Behind the scenes was always something that was missed. A rod will give a tug to push the Thaer, three men will climb upon one wheel and pressure them to propel the thaer forward. It was undeniably focused team effort. To conclude it all would be a yet group of pandits who recited the vedas.

Keshav stared at the whole scene, his face was expressionless. “Grandeur – but why? Did the God ask for all this? If he is prevalent in everything, this is all meaningless. There is no peace in doing these, they distract us from praying” His troubled mind was never put to a rest. These thoughts kept coming back to him throughout the procession.

***

As the night fell over the tired streets, grandfather’s mind was fixating on Keshav and his disturbed . He went over to engage him in a conversation. “Does Perumal need this grandeur? He has everything doesn’t he? Same case at Tirumala◊. Did the Lord ask for these?” Keshav spoke fast, unable to hold the questions with himself any longer.  Thata took a deep breathe, I’m happy that you are asking the right questions. Thoughtful indeed. Kesu, these do not concern the Lord the least is the fact.”

Keshav opened his mouth, his grandfather held up his hand to silence him and continued

“With that said, why do we have these elaborate ceremonies? These ceremonies help us tune the mind, in fact so much of sastram◊ is to tune the mind. Why do we need to tune the mind should be your next question. Mind gives yo u ultimate control over the self, a great man is one who mastered the mind. To get there we can choose from the nine forms of devotion, Do know them?”

“Oh yes Thata! Listening, chanting, singing, archana◊, prayer, then like deva dasis◊, thinking Lord to be a friend, serving his feet and finally self-surrender. I remember them, but how do these help?”

“Devotion compels you to involve yourself. The drums, the beats, the agarbathhis◊, the abhisheka◊, the alankara◊, the slokas◊, the ithiasas, the puranas are the varied triggers for the different minds. Once they involve themselves into devotion it helps to spread positivity. Stay with me, “he paused , “The arrangement today, Hymns were sung even before the procession would start, leading the crowd through and through. While they dragged the car, they were shouting Govinda◊ Govinda and finally, vedas◊ were recited by a another group of pandits. These calm the atmosphere, spreading the positive vibe. That vibe can be felt when you visit a temple, when you stand in the pooja room, that calming vibe is set afloat. It is harnessing that positivity. Positive affirmation, harnessing that cosmic energy, and to be there one must be satisfied. Their wounds should have healed and they must believe in a greater source of power to keep them grounded.

As for grandeur – Rest assured God never asked for this sort of celebrations, we human would have would have come up with it to break the monotony of life, thus taking care of battling the stress factor. Then to admire the work of artists, what more does the artist want than appreciation and respect. Carpenters, Kolam artists, Painters, Dancers, Musicians, Bhajan Goshtis◊, cooks, the list is endless. This makes people happy, accepted and respected in that society. Society becomes a well-rounded one, people with diverse occupations well rewarded.”

Singing Hymns – A form of Devotion

A Classic Iyyangar style kolam and the view of the forerunners of the procession

A Classic Iyyangar style kolam and the view of the forerunners of the procession

Among the wave of pandits

Intricate carvings on the ratha / Car

Idly it is a south indian breakfast prepared from soaked rice and later steamed

Sambhar is side dish for Idly and other breakfast items; it is tamrind dal gravy with vegetables

Filter Kaapi – Coffee brewed with water forced through grounded beans; favourite beverage of many in Tamilnadu

Mama – A respectable way of calling male, usually who is older than oneself in TamBrahm household

Mami – A respectable way of calling female, usually who is older than oneself in TamBrahm household

Srichoornam – The three lines appearing on the forehead of Shri Maha Vishnu devotees

Triplicane – A locality in Chennai which has the ancient Temple dedicated to Shri Maha Vishnu

Chittappa – Tamil way of addressing Father’s brother or Mother’s sister’s Husband

Thata – Tamil way of addressing one’s Grandfather

Panchakacham – Dothi wrapping style which is usually around 8 meters long

Dwarabalaka – guards who guard the doorway to God

Yali is a mythical animal with a body of a lion but with a trunk of elephant

Pandits are those who are knowledgeable

Nadaswaram is an wind instrument with a long tube like structure with a wide flat base opening

Mirudhangam is a percussion instrument

Kolams are decorations that is drawn in front of the house to decorate entrance. It is geometically complex and is drawn with rice powder

Tirumala – Famous temple at Tirupathi

Sastram – The ideal way of life stipulated by ancient people

Agarbathis – Incense stick

Abhisheka is process of bathing the idol at temple

Alankara means dressing up and in this case refers to dressing up of the deity at the temple

Sloka is prayer

Itihasas are stories as told by forefathers of Hindu religion

Puranas are ancient stories, refers to epics which is Ramayana and Mahabharatha

Govinda – Another name for Lord Maha Vishnu

Veda is the holy scriputures of Hindus

Bhajan Ghostis are those people who sign songs about the Lord

Thanks Lakshmi Ramanan for the wonderful story and pictures. All images and content are copy right protected.

Monthly Meet up – May 2017

The first monthly meet-up of the madras photo bloggers was conducted on the breezy evening of Sunday at Besant Nagar, Chennai.

Bloggers and photographers joined along with the members of Madras photo Bloggers to talk about the various objectives and its importance.

The participants were also informed on the advantages of volunteering for Madras Photo blogging. This was followed by a brainstorming session where the methods for the development of a blog was discussed.

  • Importance of photo Blogging.
  • Roles & Responsibilities.
  • Future Events
  • Core Team Expansion

It was a short 1 hour meet-up, which was extremely useful.We member of MPB look forward to more

of this meets with more and more topics to discuss on!⁠⁠⁠⁠

Karthik Arvind Kumar

15 minutes Interview with Karthik Arvind Kumar, the young art Illustrator

Open your eye, widen your knowledge and calm your body to understand an art

And,  Open your mind, enhance your soul and brighten the spark to be an artist.  Only a great prodigy can understand the magical extract of art but it takes a legend to do art.

Professional and high class life schedules of an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer can never beat the adventurous and easy going life schedules of an artist.

The whole of madras photo bloggers team realize what great effort it takes to specialize in art and what more of effort it requires to be an artist by profession in a country where science and commerce are the two available streams.

It was such a privilege to meet, greet and have a small talk with one such inspiring  Chennai based artist, Karthik Arvind Kumar.

Who would describe his interview an eye opener when it was a heart opener?

1)From when have you been drawing? Is there any specific incident where you realized that you indeed draw well?

“Professionally, I have been drawing since December.  I draw from my 9th or 10th grade.

I was a good scoring student in my 10th. I badly wanted to go the USA to do my masters, and my family members put a simple rule to clear in all exams and go abroad with a scholarship. So, I really studied hard for the 4 years and got 9.00 gp in my exams overall. Atlast I went to the USA to later on realize I have no interest in science. My brother and his wife gifted me a micron pen and an art pad in which I started drawing. I took It to all places with me. I started my own profile in facebook and instagram and developed.”, says Karthik, the artist

2) What kind of drawing is your favorite?

“My favorite kind of art is doodling. Everyone has a different story and each one is talented in different kinds of art. My fav is doodling and I do well in portraits”, he says.

3)Being any kind of artist in India and being accepted by society and own family is a Himalayan task. Did your family support you when u decided to take illustration as a profession especially after being graduated as an automobile engineer?

“My parents always support me. It’s really difficult satisfying and impressing my brother. My mom’s the one who gives constant encouragement and professional advice regarding my job and my dad gives me non-artistic advice. But, when I told them that I’m going to take illustration as my profession,primarily, everyone lost their minds. My sister in law was the first one who told me to do whatever I wanted to do and she spoke to my family about it. So, whenever I wanted to start something new I always approached my sister in law who spoke to my brother who in turn spoke to my parents. My parents will be really satisfied if my brother speaks.

But my dad gave a clear warning that I will either be a total success or total failure. I was so sure and clear when I took up this as my profession.” , he says with a chuckle and a sigh.

4) Were there any regrets for art as profession or as passion?

“There are absolutely no regrets. Right from when I was a kid, I wanted to be a cartoonist. There was one moment in my life when I sat on the flight from Chicago to India, staring outside, when I thought whether I’ll ever have regrets. Because I clearly know once started there’s no turning back. But, I decided I’ll never be having any in the future also.”, he says. Sir, that’s enough of Goosebumps for a sleepless nights.

Eyes Closed Butterfly Girl Flagship

5) How much of your life do you owe to drawing?

“I owe my entire life to drawing and to art”, he say’s quickly without a second thought.

6) I went through all your work which u have published in facebook. And I must say I loved the harry potter doodle. Did u go to any class or take any course to improve your skills or was it just mere interest?

“Quentin Tarantino, the director said that he never went to film schools but he went to films. Like that I truly believe one only needs pure passion and interest to achieve their aims. I didn’t require classes, I just kept drawing and drawing until I excelled in it.”, he tells which could inspire so many people who can’t afford to carry on their course for their career.

7) What would u like to tell all the artists out there?

“All I would like to say is that: find your passion and pursue it. I regret wasting my time doing my engineering course and wasting my parent’s money. Rather, I should have just joined in some arts college.Just do whatever u like from the beginning.”, he says and ends it in style.

Heart Felt Monk Mother Earth Save the Earth Vader Water Days Wilderness

Cheers and best of luck to Karthik Arvind Kumar , from team Madras Photo Bloggers.

If you like to connect with Karthik in facebook , please click here

For more of his work , please Check out his facebook page 

Interview by Jaya Roshini and edited by Srivatsan Sankaran

Photos by Kirbaakaran

yoga champion

15 Minutes with Avanthika, The Young International Yoga Champion 2016

Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline which originated in India. Among the most well-known types of yoga are Hatha yoga and Raja yoga

An art for the mind, soul and body. A very peaceful art which requires constant dedication and extraordinary skills to master in it .

With the chill morning summer breeze, in Neelankarai beach, Madras Photo Bloggers,MPB interviewed the eight year old Avanthika, a Gold Medal winner in the International Yoga Championship.

She is naughty, witty and hyper but just wait until she is instructed to do an Aasana. ( a yoga posture)

Her way of greeting the waves and her friendly battle with the sand showcases her age but one can rapidly see her personality change when she is told to perform yoga. She sits in padmasana with sheer elegance, maturity and curved happy lips.

She tries to fit herself into her large “Indian Jersey” as she sits with us for a small chat.

1) Yoga is a very seemingly boring task for even a 30 year old. Being a 8 year old, an age of full energy., how did u fall in love with a calm and peaceful art? 

“I started Yoga only because I was highly energetic and flexible”,she says as she bursts out laughing.

“I started learning yoga since my 1st grade and I never find it boring, Indeed I’m very naughty during my class hours. My class is packed with elder people and they deal with me very patiently and never scold me”, she adds on with a blush. “I like yoga because I win in it”, she says with a naughty grin.

2) Competing with students of my class still awakens the butterflies in my stomach. How is that you being an 8 year old took it sportive and face people from around the world with such courage?

“As I entered the auditorium I never felt nervous , Instead, I felt happy that I’m going to challenge unknown people. I was never scared looking at unfamiliar faces challenging me as they can possible do nothing that can scare me”, she says as she starts playing with her hair.

” Avanthika participated along with 150 other participants who belonged to 6 different countries and won Gold medal followed by Singapore”, adds her mom beaming with pride.

3) Who is your guruji and how supportive was he/she in this competition? Who supported u a lot from your family?

“My teacher is Dhanalalshmi ma’am. Maariappan sir took me to the competition. My parents and teachers were super supportive and encouraging”,she says.

4) Wearing the Indian jersey and holding a golden medal in the hand is everyone’s dream and aim. How great does it feel to be achieving at such a young age?

” Romba happy aa irruku”, she says and ends the question. This shows us clearly how much she doesn’t understand her own achievements.

” She won in the state level competition in Coimbatore and won Gold medal followed by Nationals in Kovilpatti where she won Gold medal again and then she attended the international championship in Indonesia where she once more won Gold medal” adds her mother.

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5) Did u feel bad when you didn’t get enough recognition from the press?

“Nobody approached us and we felt very sad. But, who in the present society is paying any attention to vedic art?” Ankita’s sister questions us with frustration.

6)what would you like to grow up and do? Will you take up yoga as passion or as career?

“Yoga will be my forever mate but not my profession” she says as she hops and runs away chasing crabs.
Team MPB is very happy to interview such a young talent.

Interview by Jaya Roshini 

Photos by Kirbaakaran