August 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
Interview with Mohan Rana by Bakaji Balekelayi
1. What was the first poem you read and how did it affect you?
In the winter of 1981 while sitting on a garden bench in my school grounds I noticed a discarded paper bag which had held roasted groundnuts. Out of curiosity I picked up the bag and noticed it was made out a recycled poetry book. I realized at that moment there was a way of reading language; it was the beginning of my new linguistic relationship with everything in the world.
2. Did you always want to be a poet and when did you start calling yourself one?
I had no such ambition I wasn’t looking for the poetry it found me I feel everything that is happening right now even what I am saying is happening in a poem.
3. Where and when do you write, especially when writing about strong emotions is it immediate or on reflection from memory?
I don’t have a where and when as far as the act of writing is concerned it can be on a train or on the kitchen table. I jot lines down on anything I can lay my hands on which could be a diary, paper napkin, the back of a receipt or an envelope to rediscover them later when they are formed into poems.
4. What advice would you give young writers to encourage them to write poetry?
Be aware all the time and stay awake even in your dreams and learn to write silence on the blank paper.
5. In your poem ‘After Midnight’ how did you bring together the different ideas and inspirations in this poem?
This poem is based on the idea of the ‘cyclical nature of reality’ I believe the future has already happened we just don’t remember that past at any given present time as stated in the poem
“Am I living this life for the first time? Or repeating it, forgetting as I live the first moment of breath every time”
The rest of the poem weaves around itself, conversations with oneself about reality the cosmos and love.
6. At what point do you decide that a given poem is finished?
The decision is not mine to make I feel at times as if I am playing the role of a midwife; I might be responsible for the physical aspect of a poem, its beginning and end. The guidance to end the verse comes from the poem itself, just as the given poem decides when to take birth
7. What is poetry both in contemporary society and for you personally?
Each society has its own definition and attaches value to poetry it derives from history, culture, politics, economy and individual freedom prevailing in that society.When considering my personal feelings on poetry first and foremost I am a reader the writing process is a method of decoding a poem from the language of poetry into Hindi . I am not sure what the real language of ‘the poem’ is I play a role of translator poetry is outside the geography of maps. It can change lives, it can empower the individual with a language to make sense of this ever –transient reality in which surprise is the only certainty.
8. Which other poets inspire and influence your writing?
Those whose words resonate with my own experience include the poets of the Upanishads , 8th century Chinese poets like Li Bai and Du Fu, the medieval mystic poet Kabir, the modern Hindi poet Agyeya, the Portuguese poet Pessoa and the Argentinean poet Borges my reading of poets is eclectic.
9. Is there any other particular Indian poet that you see potential or yourself in and why?
Naming one or two is not the answer , there are many it is difficult for a mirror to see itself and I can say I have not seen a mirror yet , as I believe to write a poem even one life is not enough.