I like to explore in my poems subjects like my inner journey with a mythical connection to the actual situations.

5th vol  No 1 (July 2018)


Interview of Mesut Şenol

                                                       by Vatsala Radhakeesoon 

Mesut Şenol is an eminent Turkish poet and translator. His works have been translated into English, French, German and other languages. He participates actively in poetry events and organizes literary festivals in Turkey.

Vatsala Radhakeesoon : Mesut Şenol welcome to Asian signature!
Please tell us about your background, earlier life and actual life?

Mesut Şenol: My late father was a very accomplished teacher-educator and community development pioneer. My family used to live in an agriculture oriented town where almost all types of fruits and cotton were grown alongside large olive groves. Figs, grapes, pomegranates, apples, melons, olives and all others were part of our life. As a kid, I felt the liberty to take adventure in the vicinity of town – be it woodland, an ancient archeological site or somewhat mysterious dark basement of the school. We were allowed to go to the orchards to pick and eat the fruits we liked. I was also very excited about our school’s theatre performances at the end of the educational year to be attended by almost all town-folks. Our teachers and students were taking part in various theatrical performances. They became so famous that we organized tours to neighboring towns to share our shows. Then I won a scholarship in the year when I was about to start my junior high school education. This was the beginning of my boarding school period. From high school up until my graduation, I had very rich, sometimes turbulent experiences in life. Once I decided to escape from school life, and ran away to a big city, Izmir where years ago I was taken there by my family for a very impressive international fair visit. I thought at the age of 11, I could find a job and manage my life. Thank God, I had that experience. You might easily guess what happened! I just returned as soon as my money was depleted. I had not forgotten to leave a message before I departed to Izmir that I sold my watch and what I did was my own decision. When I returned to my boarding school in the night and entered the night study time classroom soaked with a heavy rain water, hall monitoring teacher led me to the dormitory room. The following day everything seemed to flow in their own normalcy, except the school principal called on me and when I entered his office, he closed the door and asked me to open and extend my palms. He took up his cane sitting on the top of the cabinet and started beating me with all his power. My palms became swollen almost twice as much. As a twist of fate, my family moved to Izmir where I enjoyed an international environment. I used to go to see the tourists and tried talking to them. I was very happy to be able to help them and from time to time I was inviting some tourist couples to our house. My family and our neighbors were very happy about my initiatives. Once we had an Argentinean couple who were so tall, that our bed was not long enough leaving some parts of their legs out of the mattress. One Belgian couple were playing the guitar at the balcony of our house and our neighbors gathered to listen to their playing and singing.

Then I passed the national exam to enter university. It was Ankara University’s Faculty of Political Sciences in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. During my university years, I worked as a receptionist at a hotel and as an editor at the Directorate General for Press and Information of the Prime Ministry. My public career had started this way, and it was a very enriching post for me intellectually since I was in charge of preparing special informative bulletin for the government higher ups . I was guiding very important state visitors. And in the meantime I was accompanying and helping the TRT’s (Turkish Radio and Television Corporation) educational and cultural programs producers. That gave me an incentive to apply for announcer exam for the TRT and I passed the multi-layered exams. At that juncture of my life I had to make a choice between the TRT, being a candidate for district governor and staying at the Directorate General for Press and Information to continues my press career eventually to be appointed as a press attaché in a different country. I chose to become a district governor and started its long training process. After many fruitful years in my job as district governor, vice-governor and mayor, I was able to start many tourism, culture and art related projects. I attended and organized many national and international cultural events. Then I was appointed as the Public Relations Department Head of the Turkish Prime Minister. In that capacity I initiated various projects to facilitate better and effective mechanism to channel citizens’ grievances like “Hello Governor”, “Hello Prime Minister” hotlines. I completed my public sector career, with my tenure as Prime Ministry Advisor in charge of international affairs and organizations. There, I was also responsible for promoting our country abroad.
Upon my retirement from the last government job, I focused on my literary works. When I moved to Istanbul there I got involved in many literary projects be them editing international magazines such as Rosetta Literatura or organizing international festivals like International Ordu Festival of Literature, in a Black Sea provincial center.
Now I teach public speaking, public diplomacy, communications, non-profit organizations, voluntarism in different fora (universities, institutions, NGOs). I help municipalities and institutions such as universities, foundations organize their cultural events. I also translate literary works like poetry and novels as well as text books in social sciences.

V.R: How did poetry come into your life?

M.S: I noticed my inclination towards poetry and literature at a pretty early age. When I was a
3rd grader in my primary school, I had already started writing poems about love and life. My parents and teachers were amazed by my ability to think of those abstract concepts at that age. My perceptiveness to write and improvise poetry is still with me. I can instantly focus on a given subject or word by having no problem at all to get concentrated to produce poetic lines almost at will. I sometimes think of it as if I was born with a mission to promote poetry. In traditional Turkish folk poetry and minstrelsy, the bards are expected to improvise their poems or lyrics of their musical pieces right away.

V.R: Who/ what has been your initial source of inspiration?

M.S: I guess my initial sources of inspiration were my teachers and classmates whom I liked very much. I was hungry for getting to know people, their soul, the ways they think and feel. So at that age, I was curious enough for my own and for others’ minds and hearts. Another important element in this issue was the general attitude and mentality of my parents: they were so humanistic and universal minded persons; they were loved by town-folks since they were helping them in their business with governmental bodies – be it writing a petition or initiating a development project that was helping them to prosper.

V.R: How does the creative writing process work for you (from the initial inspiration stage to final writing of a poem)?
M.S: I can get into a half-trance state to write and improvise poems. My friends and colleagues often complain if I improvise a poem without writing it down or recording. It just flies away! But the inspiration comes with your own experience related to the location, to the event you participate, to the interactions you have with other persons. For example, I have written many poems when I was being affected in a particular place be it in Belgrade, Moscow, Minnesota and so on. If it is about a bus ride with writers, that might evoke my inspiration to write about it. So, eventually it is all about being affected emotionally through your actual experience in life.

V.R: What favourite themes do you like to explore in your poems?

M.S: I like to explore in my poems subjects like my inner journey with a mythical connection to the actual situations. In that vein, for example, I may associate samurais, dragon-fighters, shamans with contemporary settings. Feelings and philosophical thoughts may blend in my poetry. I also would like to have my readers to decode my poetry the way they interpret my connected and alternative sub-meanings. Though my poems seem to be simple ones, I unconsciously make them multi-faceted or multi-interpretable associated statements. In short, I try to explore my own world that is as complex as a very sophisticated advanced computer program. I believe we are not single creatures by our own sake. We hold the coded genes of our forefathers and mothers who had lived before us. So it is not that simple to explore one’s inner world. I am just scratching the surface.

V.R: You recently organized /coordinated the International poetry festival in Turkey. Please tell us about this event and its deeper purposes?

M.S: As you know, poetry is an oral form of communicating emotions and reactions to individuals and social issues. It is almost a common language regardless of the script it is composed. We wanted to organize a poetry festival on the UNESCO WORLD POETRY DAY, on 21 March, at Bahçeşehir University, one of Istanbul’s, actually Turkey’s most prestigious universities. Our Festival Organizing Committee comprised of Poets Haydar Ergülen, Osman Öztürk, Mesut Senol and Bahçeşehir University’s Sociology Department Head Prof. Dr. Nilufer Narli shared our views as follows:
“They say poetry is all about life… That is very true… When we examine how humans developed language as a tool of communications during the infancy of civilization, at a time when human beings started to live within a sort of a communal structure, we can readily see that poetry used to be one of the first forms of speech among our ancestors…

Why? Because poetry is the best way of expression to reflect our soul, our sentiments, our desires, our grief and so much more…

After all, we can recognize that in the history of almost all societies, the oral traditions of spoken words, stories, phases, the rhythm, music, tempo and even the magic of poetry has influenced legends and tales which were passed down by word of mouth, and has been a driving force in our espousing universal human values…

As we are crossing the threshold of the Information Age, we can observe that poetry maintains its traditional encompassing and magical power, and it can also make a sound comeback. This is so because poetry gives us a literary tool, a capacity, in this globalized world where the alienated individual among the crowd can get across his or her genuine cry in an effective way to society and other people.

THE UNESCO ISTANBUL FESTIVAL – WORLD POETRY DAY, which hosted 15 foreign poets and 12 Turkish poets last year, performs an important role in promoting the strong poetry tradition of our country internationally in a cultural dimension and introduces world poets to Turkish poetry and literature lovers.

In this beautiful city of Istanbul, which has groomed many poets throughout centuries since antiquity, we are very happy and feel extremely proud that this festival is being conducted under the auspices and hosting of Bahçeşehir University, Istanbul, Turkey.”

V.R: Is there any specific Turkish poetry-writing style that has impacted on your works?

M.S: I write my poem in a free style genre. Some lyric and epic poetry styles practiced by classical and contemporary poets had an influence on me including Nazim Hikmet, Yasar Kemal, Cemal Sureya. I also get inspiration from sufi poets like Yunus and Mevlana.

V.R: What is the actual poetry trend in your country and how do you foresee the future of this written art?

M.S: Nowadays poetry is searching its soul so to speak. Turkey has a great tradition of poetry dating back to pre-Islam period. Folk poetry and court poetry made their ways into the minds and hearts of modern poets. The Western style literature genres have been also making some impact on Turkish poets. Lately the widespread use of social media allows many people to get exposed to national and international poetry models.

V.R: What advice would you give to young and emerging poets?
M.S: It is all about interest in poetry and a strong will to widen their knowledge and grasp in the variety of poetry styles in their country and in the world. There are many occasions and opportunities for them to attend poetry or literature festivals and events. In this way they can understand and appreciate the value of poetry and realize whether this is their cup of tea or not. Getting their works published is another matter. If they are serious enough, they have to be content to start with small steps.

V.R: Any message for the world?

M.S: Poetry has been a powerful instrument both in oral and written forms to embody the reactions of humans as opposed to the nature and/or any kinds of events that have an effect on them. So it is a meaningful tool to reflect what we think and feel in order to share with our targeted audience that happens to be our social environment at large. To me a poet is not only a person who represents himself of herself but somebody speaking on behalf of a communal experience albeit of the appearance of a poem coming from an individual source. Poetry strives for the good of the people, the world, environment and nature. It is our humane power to deal with abnormalities in the world. It is the way we can enjoy life more, it is our motivation to beautify and better our existence.

V.R: We end up this enriching conversation with some of your poems


an agonic, horizonless window
here you are welcome to follow
small boats
and middle size ones
and grey silvered colored lines.

without looking at dazzling rays
of the red light
and while the traces of time were gathering dust
to have the waves of the Bosphorus upraise
to the near shore and far away sails.

in the binoculars of the soul
as sea sparkles giving heartaches
and their cool shadows inflaming the love
boats got enriched all over
from the melodies’ spill.

the sea and a drop are just here
you would plunge into the depth of love
in order to find out the enigmatic formula
you and the Bosphorus are wanted

Here you have the red…

Mesut Şenol

Original above poem in Turkish :


köşesiz, ufuksuz bir pencere
gri gümüşîliklerin
küçük kayıklarla
ortanca vapurların
peşinden buyurun gelin.

gözleri kamaştıran
kırmızı ışığa bakmadan
zaman izleri tozluyken
boğazın dalgası kabarsın diye
sahili yakın uzak yelkenlere.

gönül dürbünlerinde
yürek yakan yakamozların
serin gölgesi aşkları azdırırken
gemiler zenginleşti yine
dökülen nağmelerden.

derya ve damla hemen burada
aşkın en koyusuna dalarsınız
bilinmeyen karışık formülü bulmada
siz ve boğaz lazımsınız

buyurun kırmızı’ya…
Mesut Şenol


I have proven to be a failure against all possibilities
Harsh elements of life did not turn me into a heartless beast
Once the gene was out of the bottle as leaving my boyhood behind
I became hugely ambitious to catch genuine glimpses of life
There were times I thought I could be utterly overwhelmed
Dazzled by the moments of retaliation to an ominous offence
On a scale of unimaginable torment reigned those moments
Divine powers utilized methods making them a matter of threat
I may have proven difficult to be known as a decent breed
I have lost my vigor to kill a success deserting my consciousness
I could not stabilize my mood to my biggest embarrassment
My resisting feelings were on the rise but getting desperate
Last line of defense was defeated by non-alien forces

Inspired ideas died down in the face of idling impairment
I became crippled being crushed under unseen pressure
At dawn accumulated debt of vile actions regenerates
Moving from odd to bizarre, the horizon got blurred
Open eyes could have made a discovery of mankind

Wisdom was being venerated by shamanic souls
The question of unsolved crimes still lingers
As an un-repented creature I dare to figure out
My inertia seems to be now on the move
To retrieve the freshly vanishing records.

Mesut Şenol

Original Turkish version


Bütün olasılıklara karşın bir başarısızlık olduğumu kanıtladım
Yaşamın acımasız unsurları beni kalpsiz bir canavara dönüştürmedi
Delikanlılığımı geride bırakırken bir kere cin şişeden çıktığında
Yaşamın gerçek işaretlerini yakalamak için çok hırslandım
Tamamen şaşkına dönebileceğimi düşündüğüm anlar oldu elbette
Uğursuz bir saldırıya karşılık verme anlarıyla gözlerim kamaştığında
Yüce güçler bunu bir tehdide dönüştüren yöntemleri kullandılar
İyi yetişmiş birisi olarak bilinme konusunda sıkıntılarım olabilir
Vicdanımı terk eden bir başarıyı yakalamak için coşkuyu yitirdim
En büyük utancımla ruh halime düzenleyemiyorum
Direnme duygularım artıyor ama umutsuzluk da öyle
Son savunma hattı geçildi yabancı olmayan güçler tarafından

Esinlenen düşünceler, hareketsiz zayıflıktan dolayı kaybolup gitti
Görülmeyen baskı altında ezilerek sakatlandım
Şafak vakti kötücül eylemlerin birikmiş borcu çıkıyor önüme yeniden
Garipten acayibe giderken ufuk bulanıklaşıyor
Açık gözler insanlığın keşfini yapabilirdi oysa

Bilgelik şaman ruhlar tarafından saygı görüyordu bir zamanlar
Çözülmemiş suçlar sorusu hala yanıtsız bekliyor
Pişmanlık duymayan bir yaratık olarak anlamaya çalışıyorum
Şimdi harekete geçmişe benziyor hareketsizliğim
Ortadan yeni kaybolmuş kayıtları geri almak için…

Mesut Şenol
Link of Mesut Şenol’s poetry reading:

Poem : Here You Have the Red (Turkish version) (Buyurun Kırmızıya – Mesut Şenol)

V.R: Thank you Mesut Şenol for joining us on Asian Signature!

M.S: You are welcome.


Mesut Şenol Graduated from the Political Science Faculty of the Ankara University. He earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Public Relations. He Served as District Governor,
Vice-Governor and Mayor in various regions of Turkey and worked as an editor at the Directorate General for Press and Information, and produced and presented programs for TRT and some private TV channels. He also Served as Prime Ministry’s PR Division Head and Prime Ministry Advisor responsible for international Institutions and Organizations. He has had seven poetry collections published and many of his poetry and literary translations have appeared in national and foreign literary publications and anthologies. He is a freelance translator and instructor on public relations, communications, public speaking and voluntarism. He often attends a number of national and international poetry and literary festivals in his country and abroad, and acts as an organizer for some of them. An Honour Prize laureate of Naji Naaman’s Literary Prizes 2011, Meut Senol is a member of many national and international professional organizations. He is part of the Executive Board of the Three Seas (Baltic Sea, Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea) Writers and Translators Council headquartered in Rhodes to serve for three years. He teaches at the Communications Faculty of Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul.


   Vatsala Radhakeesoon:- Associate Editor of Asian Signature.

Rudrasankar’s poetry is a sophisticated combination of self-reflections of everyday life.

Rudrasankar is a contemporary Bengali poet of the young generation. His poems have been published in several leading literary magazines and Bengali poetry collections in India, Bangladesh and other parts of the World. According to critics he is the first recognized atheist Bengali poet. He is currently working as an Assistant Professor in Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, USA. Rudrasankar’s poetry is a sophisticated combination of self-reflections of everyday life. Some of his lyrical poems has been converted into songs by popular singers. Elocutionists from West Bengal and Bangladesh often recite his poems. Rudrasankar was involved in editing the poem section of ‘Prothom Alo’ published in North America. Rudrasankar has published six poetry books and 2016 he received Bhasanagar award from Kolkata, India. He recently was an invited poet in North America Bengali Conference (NABC 2017).


1. Could you please tell all about your parents, place of birth and childhood? What did you like most in your childhood? What were your childhood fantasies and unforgettable incidents?

I was born in an economically lower middle class family in Bandel, Hooghly. I spent most of my childhood in rural area of Bandel. My father was a government employee and my mother was a happy housewife. Within their limitations they took good care of me and made sure that some of my needs are looked into and fulfilled.

The thing that fascinates me the most about my childhood days is the time I spent in play ground with classmates. As a child I always dreamed of playing cricket. I thought I could make myself as a good cricketer, I was so ambitious. However, at that time my socioeconomic environment did not support me to pursue my career as a cricketer. The memories still linger on in my mind, although many other fascinating memories also persist.

2. When did you start writing poetry? Do you remember the first time you wrote something? What was the source of your inspiration earlier? Did it change with the time?

I started writing poetry when I was in middle school around 8th grade. My early poems were published in little magazines like ‘Archi’ and ‘Sanket’ before I passed the secondary examination. Reading poems of Rabindranath Tagore and Nazrul Islam was the early source of my inspiration to write poems, however, it gradually changing over time as I began exploring the world.

3.Which poets have inspired you? Do you feel yourself ever influenced by the writing style of a poet?

Many poets all over the world have inspired me. Actually, it is a long list including Rabindranath Tagore, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, William Butler Yeats, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Jibanananda Das, T. S. Eliot, Binoy Majumdar, Harold Pinter, Pablo Neruda, Abul Hasan, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Rudra Mohammad Shahidullah, Bhaskar Chakraborty, Joy Goswami, Subodh Sarkar, etc. The writing styles of some of these poets also had great impact on my early writings.

4.Being a contemporary Bengali poet you led a career as a scientist, and your poetry is known for its sharpness, wit, and image as well as your search for love in this mechanical world. So how do you think your Science background influences your writing?

My scientific activity and my poetry writing both influence each other. Through both of these activities I am trying to understand the truth in my own way.

5. Now tell me about your writing and books you have published.

I have published poetries in several leading literary magazines and poetry collections in India, Bangladesh, USA and UK.

Published Books:

Jodi Amai Bodle Felo (Poetry collection, Publisher: Patrabharati, Kolkata, India)

Premer Kobita (Poetry collection, Publisher: Shuddhashar, Dhaka, Bangladesh)

Holud Patar Pyramid (Poetry collection, Publisher: Shuddhashar, Dhaka, Bangladesh)

Mathar Bhugole Kalponik (Poetry collection, Publisher: Prativash, Kolkata, India)

Ami Youban Prethibi (Poetry collection, Publisher: Ashok Library, Kolkata, India)

Nirbachito Charra (Rhyme collection, Publisher: Ashok Library, Kolkata, India)

6.   Would like to know about the album of Bengali Modern songs based on your poems ?

There are five published albums on recitation and song based on my poems by various artists.

Published Albums:

Achena Haate (Songs from Rudrasankar’s poetries, Golden Voice, Kolkata, India)

Facebook (Recitation from Rudrasankar’s poetries, Sagarika, Kolkata, India)

Triteo Borsha (Songs and recitation from Rudrasankar’s poetries, Laser Vision, Dhaka, Bangladesh)

Anubartan (Songs from Rudrasankar’s poetries, Dingo, Kolkata, India)

*Bangla Bhasa Dio (Single music video from Rudrasankar’s poetry, online published by Asha Audio, Kolkata, India)

7. One poet more people should know: Who is it?

Jibanananda Das

8.If you could pass along only one piece of advice for other poets, what would it be?

Being a poet, it is very difficult to give advice to other poets because everyone else is different from me. For me, I am always trying to realize the life in world and therefore trying to write something that the world hasn’t seen before.


Here are few YouTube links for songs based on my poetries by Rupankar, Jayati, Pratik etc.

’’Flip talk with I.K.Sharma by Goutam Karmakar.”



Belongs to Rajasthan, the land of desert and sand dunes, Indra Kumar Sharma has become one of the leading voice of Indian English poetry. Born in the year 1932 he has done his graduation from Maharaja College at Jaipur. After that he has studies at the University of Rajasthan and he has also taught there as a professor of English in the department of English till 1991. But he has never retired from writing as his creative faculty urges him to compose six volumes of poetry namely Shifting Sand Dunes in 1976, Native Embers in 1986, Dharma Sala and Other Poems in 1995, Camel, Cockroach and Captains in 1998, My Lady Broom and Other Poems in 2004 and End to End in 2008. He is a bilingual writer who writes consistently in Hindi and English as he has a consistent command of cadence in these two languages.  In 1971 he has received Rajasthani Sahitya Award and later he was honoured with Michael Madhusudan Dutt Award. He is the first one from Rajasthan who has not only sensible for triggering and cherishing Rajasthani Poetry but also has the capacity to articulate himself in a more subtle and comprehensive way. Contemporary social issues, values, cultures, norms, tribulations and trials have been transformed into a new way in his poetry. With the aid of satire, irony, black humour, sarcasm and wit he has evolved his poetic technique to such a status that he becomes one of the leading contemporary poets of post-modern sensibilities. His poems are not generally long but within a short parameter he has given a delicate and personal touch to his poems which prove his self-awareness to a large way. With the lucid languages coupled with irony, metaphor, images and verbal devices show his urge and desire to regenerate the forgotten cultures. In a very subtle and personal way he has able to assimilate not only many literary influences along with discordant surroundings but also urban syncopation of the rhymes of life. His dream of creating a brave new world remains the prime focus of his life and he has done it by exposing the follies and foibles of the world in a very intensive manner by conjoining the concerns of life.


In a conversation with Goutam Karmakar, I.K.Sharma has once again shed light on his profound understanding of man and matters along with his vision of life. With this conversation he again tells us that think and act in a gentler manner. Hope this conversation will make his readers and every poetry lovers to think and act.


  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Hello Prof. I.K.Sharma! You have an amazing career both from scholarly and artistic point of view. Can you please make an outline of them?

I.K.SHARMA: Well, my literary career began as early as 1961, the year my article appeared in the Saptahik Hindustan, New Delhi, — a prominent Hindi Weekly of that period. In the following year another article of mine appeared in the same paper. Thereafter many poems and articles appeared in literary magazines and newspapers of Rajasthan, M.P., and Bihar.A year later (1963) I brought out a book (in collaboration) on English Grammar with a Foreword by Prof. V.V. John. Surprisingly, the book in an improved version (A Practical Course in English) is still alive in the market. The seventies was a turning point in my life and literary career. In 1972 I was invited to attend All India Poets Meet at Madras (now Chennai) and was asked to present a paper on the contemporary literary scene of the State and also to read out a few poems of Rajasthani (in original along with their translations). The event was organized by Dr. Krishna Srinivas, the editor of international monthly, Poet. (He became Padma Bhushan much later in his life.) There, I came in contact with many poets and scholars of India.

In 1973 our department organized a three-day seminar on Indo-Anglian and Commonwealth Seminar of which I was the Organizing Secretary. Prof. P.S.Sundaram was the convener. This seminar attracted the best in the field: Khushwant Singh, Nissim Ezekiel, V.V.John, Samual Mathai, C. Paul Vergese, Ms. Sujatha Modayil, A.K.Mahajan, G.S.Balaram Gupta and others. In 1974 I guest-edited a special Rajasthan number of Poet. In 1975 I was again invited to attend Asian Poets Meet, at Madras organized by Krishna Srinivas. On the way back I heard about the clamping of EMERGENCY. The news disturbed me deeply. Next year a seminar on Translation was organized by the Sahitya Akademi (New Delhi) at Bhopal(MP), which I attended along with my friend Rawat Saraswat. The poets of seven languages/states of north India were present. I read out a poem which I wrote the same morning. The Hindi poem is now classic, finds a mention in books including the Critical Survey of Indian English Literature by T.V.Reddy, published by Authors Press, New Delhi this year. The same year (1976) I brought out my first collection of poems The Shifting Sand-Dunes against Emergency. In 1976 I was asked to participate in Skylark International Poetry Competition. I sent three poems. There were 160 entries from Europe, America, and India. Dismissing very weak efforts, the adjudicator was left with 50 strong poems. Of these, he finally selected 18, and my two poems stood there. In the end, my “The Leader” won the First Prize and Gold Medal. Reason: the poem “masterfully compresses a profound political image into eight handsomely- turned lines.”  (The judgement took place in England—under the International Poetry Society headed by Christopher Fry.)  In 1978 I brought out Contemporary Rajasthani Poetry, a seminal work of Translation covering 20 poets, with a Foreword by Prof. V.K. Gokak. Around the same time I was roped in to help edit Indian Book Chronicle, (founded in New Delhi, by Prof. Amrik Singh,) and later —after 20 years— brought to Jaipur by a group of scholars and administrators. I worked for it till its closure in 2011.

In between I reviewed scores of books, wrote critical papers, and helped edit Contribution of Writers to Indian Freedom Movement (section on Hindi writers), 1985. Take a look at the Photocopy of one chapter of it and I have given it to you.In 1981 I attended the V World Congress of Poets at San Francisco, USA and presented a paper. Thereafter I went to Chicago where Prof. A.K.Ramanujan had made all arrangements for me. I was made the President’s Guest and paid not a single dollar. I returned home via London where I attended the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Diana. In the same decade I gave a 40-page long paper “Between Two Hells: The Muse in Rajasthan” at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Before the end of the decade I attended many seminars across the country. In 1988 I went to Bangkok to attend the World Congress of Poets. This is a partial account — one part of my life. The other side is my involvement in social activity of our colony —Tilaknagar—where I lived for 30 years from 1963—2003. Then, I lived half in town and half in gown, standing on the hit- list twice. I have no regret because I had followed the Geeta’s: Sarvabhoota hite rita.


  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: How have the landscapes and surrounding of Rajasthan shaped your creative faculty? Did you have any other source of inspiration like parents and other poets?

I.K.SHARMA: I came to Rajasthan at age 4 with my aunt (father’s sister) to Shahpura, the erstwhile princely State, now part of District Bhilwara. (I was deeply attached to her— something predestined, I say. I rebelled against my parents’ wishes at Shamli (UP), my birthplace, and clung to her.) My formative period (12years), was, thus, spent there under her care. Put it differently: In every way I was moulded there in those turbulent times. (Bliss it was in that heaven to be alive!) It was the period of national fervour and I had seen freedom fighters lying flat before the cars of British agents letting them go over their dead bodies! They were honest to the core and remained so even after 1947. In 1948 I, along with many school boys, went to Jaipur to view the Congress session, first in Independent India. On the day of departure, a teacher asked us— what for do you go to Jaipur? ‘To meet our Netas’ was our chorus.  ‘No. You go to meet the devtas.’ That remark still rings in my ears.

I have seen all parts of Rajasthan, from Bharatpur to Jaisalmer and Udaipur to Bikaner including Kota and Bundi. The state is half green and half desert. But the desert has its valuable contradictions— plenty of milk, music, and literature! I have translated two prominent books of that region —Lu and Badali by Chandra Singh ‘Badali’. To this literary adventure I gave about five years. Dr. K.M George introduced this venture, wrote the Foreword.

My source of inspiration is my surrounding. My very first volume of poems is a testament of the impact of physical surroundings. I wrote on the famous historical building of Jaipur—The Hawa Mahal. I have composed many poems related to the theme of Rajasthan, like Camel, Desert, Waiting for Rain, Happy Home, etc. Recall what D.H. Lawrence said: “All creative art must rise out of a soil and flicker with a spirit of a place.”


  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Why have you started writing poetry in your late forties? And why have you selected to go with only poetry instead of other genre of writing?

I.K.SHARMA: Your question makes me laugh Goutam— Why? And I would like to answer it in my way. But I have been writing all along. Before coming to poetry I had written many Essays in English and published them in The Democratic Youth (Jaipur), even a travelogue at the age of 24—surely an adolescent exercise— wrote a short story, and gave replies to questions raised by readers of our monthly journal (English). Also wrote a regular weekly column (Hindi) for the sister publication of the Rajasthan Patrika.

Mark: there was no university in Rajasthan till 1948 and no English department till 1963. There was no English newspaper or a literary magazine/journal in the state. I did write poems and destroyed them. However, Poetry had always stayed with me, and after attending Poets Meets she didn’t like to leave me.


  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: You are a teacher and a poet. So tell me what is your real self? And have you ever felt that you are among crooked and vicious individuals while dealing with personal and professional career?

I.K.SHARMA: Your question has two parts. Well, I never liked to reduce myself to a mere teacher making money in the afternoon\ evening; instead I strove to raise myself to a different level and worked for my own dreams. That helped me build a wide network of friends and acquaintances across all streams of society: from poets and scholars, politicians and administrators to clerks and petty shopkeepers. And my ‘Poet’ always stayed well-purged in the inner sanctum.

You cannot know white without knowing black. Hence, contrast is a must. The ‘crooked and vicious individuals’, you mention, seem to me to be the part of a divine pattern. They are there and they will always be there. That makes the show of the world go on. In the dark hour, the Geeta illumines the mind. Otherwise, brilliant minds like Aristotle commit suicide drinking hemlock!


  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Apart from subtle, simple and gravity of expression and thought, what are the unique characteristics features of I.K.Sharma’s poetry? And does your writing in free verse form carry any specific purpose for you?

I.K.SHARMA: Scholars have traced different strands in my poems. At length it depends on the reader what he gets out of the text of the poem. He feels pleased with its shape or with its hidden thought?

Free verse has been the norm after the First World War, though many returned to sonnet and other art-forms. It brings the poet closer to the common man. Poets at present cannot afford to live in egotistical sublime or bellowing prophetic utterances. He is a responsible citizen talking to fellow citizens. The secret of its success lies in its grand freedom. It communicates directly to the reader: s/he feels involved in the composition like a civilized neighbour. The only condition is its smooth, appropriate syntax.


  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Through irony, pity, sympathy, adoration and admiration, you have conveyed your vision. So how far does this vision help your readers to gain wisdom? In this context tell me sir how do your compositions perch in you to share with the world?

I.K.SHARMA: Wisdom is a heavy word as it is multi-layered. Poetry should give pleasure, happiness.

Wisdom is not the parade of melancholy or a silent procession of wooden statues. It is joyful equilibrium, takes interest in the multifarious activities of life. It makes man free; simplicity becomes his livery.

  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: How does I.K.Sharma visualize a world where peace and harmony prevail? Do you really think that poetry has the power to make certain possible changes in a society?

I.K.SHARMA: Peace and Harmony belong to the field of Satwa. They are disturbed when Tamas (Ignorance) comes to play. The poet, then, can only admonish not to give status to the wild men of the world.

Wholesale changes in the society in general are not possible through poetry. But it appeals at individual level, for sure. It persuades him through civilized discourse.


  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Your poems has projected trivial subjects and objects like nurse, peacock, camel, teeth, broom, cockroach, bus, roadside workshop etc. on a large scale. So why have you presented these simple theme on such a large canvas in your poetry?

I.K.SHARMA: If you carefully survey the history of English poetry in India, many poets, you will notice, slip or escape into abstraction or the so-called philosophy. They hold it is infra dig to write on such ‘trivial’ objects. Such subjects will make them trivial; so they go for high subjects and write in a high language.  Is it not the ‘untouchability’ of a new kind, practised by small minds?

I, on the other hand surmise, that no subject is trivial; it depends on the talent or vision of the poet, and how he treats the subject. All the titles you have mentioned are within our range but are dutifully ignored by contemporary poets of the country.. Do they (trivial objects) not deserve a line of appreciation from our sensitive human beings, called poets? Related to this area is ‘rural landscape’. Major poets of our literature, unfortunately, began their poetic journey in England and landed in India in a flannel suit trying hard to fit in in the chaotic Indian scenario. They find themselves more at home in London rather than in the streets of a city in India! From them you will not expect a poem on the ‘farmer’ of India because they take machine-made loaf of bread with tea and not the home-made roti! They would not waste their high talent on such perfunctory items.Similar is the case of poets who have settled abroad for their personal promotion and write from their hideouts about their two-part soul and memories of India. Liars! Hypocrites!

  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Poetry of I.K.Sharma has demonstrated individual thought as you have defined yourself in your composition. So kindly tell how far does your poetry internalize a process of self-definition?

I.K.SHARMA: Every work I do defines me. Every poem I have written is an extension of my Self. If you spread all the poems on the canvass of your mind, you will find me twinkling everywhere.

Good observation Goutam. Then it is a known fact to you that my Preface to Collected Poems sheds light on this point.


  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Your penned composition has emboldened and substantiated your position as a poet of sarcasm, with, irony, pun, humour and modern sensibility. And this makes you a post modern poet of great significance and relevance. How would you like to justify yourself as a poet of post-modern sensibilities?

I.K.SHARMA: The literary characteristics you have noticed in my poems are enough to upgrade me to the status of a post-modern poet (but without the nightmarish vision of terror, disharmony, and fragmentation). I have never descended into the dark tunnels of emptiness or taken recourse to violence or the so called boldness in painting sex.

This deviation from the norm, from the common pattern, from the prevailing fashion is decidedly a forward step in new writings.

  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: What is the predominating theme in your works? Can you relate all your poetic volumes in a single thematic thread?

I.K.SHARMA: To tie down about 400 poems on and around a single thread is neither easy nor possible; for, I moved from one time-zone of life to another in my career. If attempted, there will be knots all the way.

Yet for your sake: it’s an attempt to explore present-day Indian identity or new consciousness that welds the voice of the masses with the voice of the new emerging class.

  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Are you aware with the ongoing and existing research on your poetry? What are the possible areas you want to be explored by the scholar and readers in general?

I.K.SHARMA:  I have come across a few stray articles on my poems. A few researchers had studied my poems, comparatively with the poems of other poets—thematically.


A friendly scholar once wrote to me that nobody has written on your ‘winking humour’, or on your poetic art or on features that make you singular in the post- 20th century.

  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: It seems that you have continuously shifted your focus to negotiate a multifaceted vision. Why have you done so? And why does your poem seem to be swinging between the mundane and the metaphysical?

I.K.SHARMA: True. It was the call of the moment. If I had written on political events, I had written on social scenes too. I wrote on the glory of Nature and the architectural marvels, I also composed a poem on the most neglected person of the crematorium. Hence, to embrace the overall – reality the writer moves from one sphere of experience to another effortlessly.

  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: How do you foresee the future of Indian English Poetry? Do you think that globalization has affected the poetry?

I.K.SHARMA: English is no more the hated language of the sixties of the 20th century India when Angreji Hatao movement was at its peak. Now it is gladly accepted by the new generation of Indians.  Several literary magazines and journals that appear across the country have consolidated its position.

Globalization / glocalisation will not affect Poetry as such. People will continue to write poems even against odds. Did the two world wars succeed in sealing its fate? Only its face and tone changed. Surely it has affected the status of poets. They no more enjoy the privileged status of the earlier ages.

  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: I.K.Sharma’s mastery rests in his dexterous handling of satire while depicting social realism. How have you presented the contemporary social issues and scenario in your work? You have discussed the politics and your frustration over it. How have you depicted the political system in your poetry?

I.K.SHARMA: The element of satire you have noticed in my poems is not of a virulent kind harming the victim; rather, it is of a sophisticated nature drawing the attention of the reader.                                                                                                  From book one to the last (seventh)I have tried to demonstrate many contradictory faces of Indian society —its apparent holiness, its hollow pride in status and paltry achievements, its protean malingerers, its new faith in TV chatter, and many other ills of the same kind by portraying characters. Yet I haven’t ignored the street children …

I have depicted the political system through characters (visible on the stage), and through other literary strategies like slapping humorous punches …


  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: What is your favourite poem among those six volumes and what is the reason for selecting that piece? Sir beside this success today that you have achieved must have a struggle. So tell me whether you have faced any obstacles while writing a piece and any struggles you have faced?

I.K.SHARMA:  Not easy for me to choose one. They have been written in different phases of my career. An 8-line poem can earn praise from a critic and 10-page long poem can earn a long critical article by another one.

Well, struggle is the part of life. See the maiden flight of a bird — it rises, falls and again rises. At last it flies and surveys the sky— In case of writing the struggle is always with your self— the theme, the language, the presentation… a writer has to be alert when the idea strikes…if he doesn’t catch it red-hot it will give a slip and lost for ever— To avoid this calamity I would keep pen and paper in my bed at night.…


  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: The presence of god and religious passages are undeniable fact of an Indian poet writing in English. So how have you used theology and mythology in your verse? And what are the purposes behind your dealing with religious and spiritual matters in an ironical way?

I.K.SHARMA: Not for various purposes but simply to project the different dimensions of broad Indian culture without being dogmatic I have used all these in an ironical way. I hope you have got my point.

  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: What is your philosophy of ‘Nature’ and how have you portrayed Mother Nature in your works? Sir how have you mingled your native Rajasthani cultures and surrounding with Indian ethos in your works?

I.K.SHARMA: I haven’t propounded any specific philosophy of Nature but I have drawn attention to its value in the scheme of human welfare.

The Indian Culture has its origin in the vast theatre of Nature. The culture of Rajasthan is not much different from the broad Indian culture. We adore trees, rivers (offer them clothes), die for the sake of harmless animals etc. Save- the- tree movement started from Rajasthan. Sur santhe rookh rahe tau bhi sasto jaan ie A TREE is more valuable than a Human Head. You will find poems on this theme.


  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: How far does the concept of dehumanization give your poetry a humanistic appeal of anger and protest? And how should reader interpret the message of your poetry collections?

I.K.SHARMA: There is always a second meaning in my poems. When you read them keeping in view the goings-on of the world, the meaning will surface… A scholar has written an essay on this aspect of my poetry.

  1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Are you engaging with some project now? And what will be your advice for the younger generation of poets?

I.K.SHARMA:  I don’t have any specific project but I have never felt retired. And they who wish to join the brigade of Indian English poets should never ask when to start and how. Does the cub ask when to kill? Does a bud ask when to open up?  Start. You will gather speed. Goddess Saraswati will help you.

Read poems every day. Thus you will stay in the company of best minds. And apart from these I have no advice for them. Enjoy reading poetry.


GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Thank you sir for giving such insightful answer. You will be always remembered as a poet of with and humour with sarcasm also. And like me all the poetry lovers know that how these devices lead to the path of wisdom. So sir please enriches us in this way.

I.K.SHARMA:  Oh yes! Goutam. Thank you for your queries.


Goutam karmakar, a PhD Research Scholar  Department of Humanities and Social Sciences  National Institute of Technology Durgapur  West Bengal, India .Email:





“I have a paper soul”

3rd Vol , No 2 (August 2016)

Flip chat between Spanish poet Luz María López & Surabhi Bhattacharjee.

Luz María López from Puerto Rico. She is Continental Director World Festival of Poetry (WFP). As well as she is activist of Poetic Front in Defense of Women’s Rights (WM). Winner of Pentasi B “Universal InspirationalPoet” Award 2016

luz luz3 luz2

Millenarian Chants by Luz María López

a sorceress
spreads its wings

a timeless
cosmic ritual

millenarian chants
enlighten the soul

wisdom and lust render
their ultimate divination


 1.What does poetry means to you?

Poets are healers. Being poetry the most compelling force connecting beyond borders and ideologies, poets have the mission to reconcile a strife-torn and wounded world. The Universe was created out of poetry. Its transcendent beauty is within each of us as the ultimate knowledge to sublimate ourselves and others, to reach spiritual conscience and fraternal harmony. Poetry is free and seeks freedom. We all deserve social justice and truest peace. We all deserve to live in congruence, tolerance of cultural traditions and religious contemplation, for it only enriches Humanity. This is our highest responsibility as poets, to make it possible.

  1. A purely individual question – to you, as a poet, what matters the most? Do you prefer the wilderness, the imagination or like the practical views in your writings?

As poet what matters the most to me is this fiery need to express emotions which require, when stabbed by painor love or joy, tobe release in verses.  Imagination flows here, I must concede. A state of mind or soul then expressed with conscience, sensibility, highest consideration of the beauty of language, to the inner self and the outer self, to the bigger word, to become a world of their own. Poems that are no longer mine for I have delivered them. Once conveyed a myriad of encounters take place and in this mirror we call “Poetry” others see themselves, we see ourselves, bond somehow. And if some healing or noble action- reaction is possible, my poetry has achieved a purpose, a reason to be. Only then I become the “poet”. What can really matter more than that?

3.Tell me any favorite line from your own poems, and one from any of your favorite poets.

From my own poems there is always a favorite line in each. I will offer this one:

“I have a paper soul, it has had to crumplemore than onceeven so it still revivesand keeps being the gentle wrapof my own existence”.    From the poem “Paper Soul”, Beneath Your Skin (2016)

One of my favorite poets is of course Julia de Burgos (1917-1953), from Puerto Rico.Julia is considered to be one of the greatest female poets in Latin American history. I actually have her original 1954 poetry book titled “El Mar y Tú” (The Sea and You), given to me as gift by the owner of a Library in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Besides poetry, or because she was a poet, she became a women’s rights advocate and libertarian as well.

From the poem titled “I Was the Most Quiet”:–“My route was the wild music of birds which flung into the air my kindness…”

  1. What are the things that you like to write about? What inspires you the most?

I like to write about the soul and social justice, although I also write about love as the greatest force governing our minds and emotions. Right now I am in a process of writing  poetry for  peace  and women’s struggles, taking a stand for it is necessary to  voice to the world that we need to come to terms  and  make it better for all, not  for  some. As poet we must convey messages to subdue humanity of wrongdoings and praise all efforts towards that ideal.What inspires me the most (in terms of how can I through poetry might help to heal this world) is to see sadness in a child’s eyes, to see deprivation, to see that even so they are capable of coping with misfortune in the most surprising ways. We got to learn from these souls and teach the world what we have appraised through their beautiful hearts and redeem ourselves as well in that process before trying to redeem others.

  1. What led to your work as a human rights activist and humanitarian?

I have seen a lot of suffering. To stand before it and do nothing corrodes the soul.Bring the “human” to “human rights.” Make it personal. Human rights violations, social neglect, violence affectus all, eventhose blissfully unaware of such.For once, I have worked with victims of domestic violence and have seen how impotent they become, how a strong emotional support is vitalfor them to start on new and better terms with themselves, rather than financial or legal help. The gravity of social problemsand inequities is overwhelminghavinga toll in family members and ultimately society as a whole.We must educate, take actions. Humankind needs advocates. Harmony must be reconstructed as a daily prayer. I have a mission.

  1. What’s next for you or are you currently working on any new projects?

Right now I have returned  from a Poetry Festival  in Ghana  and  while there  was able  to talk to many leaders of  organizations and activists working in deprived neighborhoods, providing education, medical relief and hope. The proposal for WM World Summit on women’s issues, health and educations has taken place for 2017.With the support of the Minister of State, Anglican Bishop, among other influential Ghanaian leaders and advocates from different countries.  Also in agenda is a World Festival of Poetry Poetic Sanctuary next October 2016 in India, which I am the main organizer. Of course,more traveling and possibly couple of books,this might be poetry and the pending novel over my desk.

  1. What in your life has brought or given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment? Looking back, what would you have done differently? What would you do again?

Greatest satisfactions are simple: beautiful family, love, the opportunity to travel to many countries which granted me cultural and social awareness, to help others including animals and publishing my books. As for looking back at personal history, past events are impossible to change. I can do differently the “now”. I will do again poetry, dancing, happiness, kindness and humanitarian actions.

  1. Who have been your role models? What about them do you admire?

 Let me mention four:

Ana Roque de Duprey, Puerto Rico, opened the academic doors for the women in the island. Roque was a suffragist who founded “La Mujer”, the first “women’s only” magazine in Puerto Rico at that time. Ana Roque was one of the founders of the University of Puerto Rico in 1903. From 1903 to 1923, three of every four University of Puerto Rico graduates were women passing the teachers training course to become teachers in the island’s schools.

Rosa Parks, “The First Lady of Civil Rights”, United States of America. She set an example with highest dignityto stop racism against black people, even risking her life.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mexico, an exceptional seventeenth-century nun who set precedents for feminism long before the term or concept existed, a self- taught scholar and greatest poet.

Doňa Gabriela AneyroOliveras widow of López, our family matriarch and social benefactor. Mamá (Mother) was the daughter of a Spaniard and Puertorrican mother. Well educated in times of women’s analphabetism, she took under her wingmany young black men descendants of slaves.Our family photos portray all her children next to black brothers.She would read every day and plant margaritas.

Interview is taken by Surabhi Bhattacharjee .She is founder 13423766_1197516223616489_1016550526605554220_n(1)Editor of Asian Signature.

My love waiting for me under the orange tree.


Flip Chat between Anjum Hasan & Surabhi Bhattacharjee


Apjee kolkata Literary Festival 2016. Anjum Hasan with Saikat Majumdar & Kalyan Roy

PETTINESS  by  Anjum Hasan

The search for fresh carrots, small bureaucratic victories, wondering

if it’s going to rain when it’s clearly going to rain, and allowing,

even if briefly, the thought of new underwear to lift your soul.

It’s enough to fill the kind of book that life is too short to read. 


Anjum Hasan is an Indian novelist, short story writer, poet, and editor. She was born in Shillong, Meghalaya and currently lives in Bangalore, India.

Her works includeStreet on the Hill which won her Sahitya Akademi Award in 2006 . It was her debut collection of poems. Her debut novel Lunatic in my Head (Zubaan-Penguin, 2007) was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award 2007. Set in Shillong, a picturesque hill-station in north-east India, in the early 1990s, the novel weaves together the stories of its three main characters, ranging from an IAS aspirant who is obsessed with Pink Floyd to a college teacher struggling to complete her PhD and longing to find love. The novel has been described by Siddhartha Deb as ‘haunting and lyrical’ and as acquiring a ‘lyrical intensity’.

Her second novel titled Neti, Neti (Roli Books, 2009) was longlisted for the 2008  Man Asian Literary Prize and shortlisted for The Hindu Best Fiction Award in 2010. Her short-story collection, Difficult Pleasures (Penguin/Viking 2012), was shortlisted for The Hindu Literary Prize.

She has also contributed poems, articles and short stories to various national and international publications.

She is currently Books Editor for The Caravan


  1.What does poetry mean to you? 

It’s a language through which to make sense of or extend experience in an imaginative, open-ended, metaphorical, completely non-utilitarian fashion. So writing and reading poems becomes a way of being in the world and not just literary practice.

2.When did you start writing poetry? Do you remember the first time you wrote something? What was the source of your inspiration earlier? Did it change with the time?

 I was about seven years old and wrote a poem about my love waiting for me under the orange tree. I don’t recall it impressing my parents terribly. I’ve always taken my inspiration from poetry itself – whether that of AA Milne at that age or the contemporary Indian poetry I started reading much later. It was poetry that gave me a life, or illuminated it, which I could then, in turn, put into poems of my own.

3.Which poets have influenced you the most? What are the qualities in them that inspire you the most?

I was very attracted to the aesthetic of the Italian poet Cesare Pavese, who could write of ordinary lives very distinctly situated in a rural or urban landscape in a laconic, imagistic and moving way. I also liked the English Movement poets, particularly Philip Larkin.

4.Tell me any favourite line from your own poems, and one from any of your favourite poets.

I think it has to be Shakespeare. His lines have tended to stay in my head – mostly from school and college. Hamlet’s famous speech about being versus doing keeps coming back to me – as do less portentous things like a song from As You Like it, “Under the greenwood tree/ who loves to lie with me/ and turn his merry note/unto the sweet bird’s throat”. Strangely my own under-the-tree poem was written before having read any Shakespeare. As for my own poems, I’d encourage you as a reader to choose your favourite line!

  1. I have known many poets, and have read about many. They all have different goals when it comes of poetry. What is your motive behind writing it – entertaining others, self-solace, providing a perspective to others to see the things in a different way or something else?

I think there is a continuity in poetry, in all literary writing, which is vital – you are writing to extend a conversation that others have conducted before you or are conducting around you. I don’t believe in solipsism in writing. Of course you could write without any sense of connection or quarrel with literature but then what you create might have no openings for other writers either.

6.A purely individual question – to you, as a poet, what matters the most? Do you prefer the wilderness, the imagination or like the practical views in your writings?

 I do believe in poetry that is introspective yet communicates, that has a specific voice, with necessarily being accessible, that word that has become our new touchstone for judging literature. Rilke is a good example. You can hear him speaking to himself and yet not all of his thoughts are immediately accessible or transparent.


Interview is taken by Surabhi Bhattacharjee .She is founder 13423766_1197516223616489_1016550526605554220_n(1)Editor of Asian Signature.





“If you Want to be a Dreamer be a Good Dreamer”

3rd Vol , No1 (January2016)

“If you Want to be a Dreamer be a Good Dreamer”—-Ben Okri at Kolkata Literary Festival.

ben ben

Ben Okri is a handsome tall man with an intense presence, came India to attend APEEJAY KOLKATA LITERARY FESTIVAL, 2016 on Saturday eve (15th January2016) 6.30 P.M, at the hall of Victoria Memorial. He wore a royal black jacket over a white shirt, and a black beret. His voice was full of magic but when was reciting his poems, he read in a powerful voice. Unlike other “conversations” in which both participants were equal partners, Sujata Sen modestly took the role of an interviewer for this one. Next day in his discussion on POETRY TO POLITICS, he read his poetry with very firm voice after getting up and walking to a nearby podium. .“A conjurer, a dreamer, a healer Ben Okri is best known for his novel The Famished Road, a phantasmagoric tale about an Abiku or “spirit child,” a boy who in Yoruba tradition lives closer to the spirit world than ordinary mortals and who is fated to die young. His later fiction has become more abstract and allegorical.

Born in 1959, in northern Nigeria, to an Igbo mother and Urhobo father, Okri has said his biggest literary influence has been his mother. Okri’s work is particularly difficult to categorize. Although it has been widely categorized as post-modern, some scholars have noted that the seeming realism with which he depicts the spirit-world challenges this categorization. If Okri does attribute reality to a spiritual world, it is claimed, then his “allegiances are not postmodern because he still believes that there is something a historical or transcendental conferring legitimacy on some, and not other, truth-claims.” The alternative characterization of Okri’s work suggests an allegiance to Yoruba folklore, New Ageism, spiritual realism, magical realism, visionary materialism, and existentialism. Against these analyses, Okri has always rejected the categorization of his work as magical realism, claiming that this categorization is the result of laziness on the part of critics and likening this categorization to the observation that “a horse … has four legs and a tail. That doesn’t describe it.” He has instead described his fiction as obeying a kind of “dream logic,” and stated that his fiction is often preoccupied with the “philosophical conundrum … what is reality?” insisting that: —“I grew up in a tradition where there are simply more dimensions to reality: legends and myths and ancestors and spirits and death … Which brings the question: what is reality? Everyone’s reality is different. For different perceptions of reality we need a different language. We like to think that the world is rational and precise and exactly how we see it, but something erupts in our reality which makes us sense that there’s more to the fabric of life. I’m fascinated by the mysterious element that runs through our lives. Everyone is looking out of the world through their emotion and history. Nobody has an absolute reality.” For Okri, the primary impulse behind a work of literature is “akin to the first feelings when you have a cold coming on, only more metaphysical, breach, a disturbance in the spirit.” An idea first comes to him in the form of a poem. “Everything is embedded in it as a tree is embedded in the seed.” The poem may remain a poem, or it may turn into a story or a novel. A poem is often an incomplete swell of feeling, or maybe even just a beat that latches on to a wandering theme. Inspiration is free. It is everywhere: it is in books, it is in conversation, it is in art, it is in films, it is in history, it is in our lives. But we know that poetry is as rich as the human race.

For most of us, childhood was a period of our most intense and furious dreaming.
In ”A Mental Fight”, Okri assures the reader that, ‘you can’t remake the world without remaking yourself’ , a recurring leitmotif often defined as a ‘redreaming’ or ‘dreaming into reality’ which he further explores in his collection of essays ”A Time for New Dreams” (2011). The final stanza of ”A Mental Fight ”also concludes with, ‘this is the time to dream the best dream of all’, and it is this mental process of metamorphosis that empowers the transforming of reality. Creativity, he said, is bound up with destruction — an unpopular idea these days. He once wrote a hundred poems over the course of three months, kept five, and destroyed the rest. “If you’re strong enough to destroy, you’re strong enough to create.”
In his book ”A Time for New Dreams ”(2011), Ben Okri describes poetry as ‘the great river of soul-murmurings that runs within humanity’, and true literature as ‘the encounter of possibilities’ that ‘tears up the script of what we think humanity to be’. It makes something from what seems like nothing. How insubstantial words are, who can weight a word on a scale, even against a feather or truth? And yet see how much words weight in the heart, in the imagination, in dream, echoing down the ages, as durable as the pyramids. Poetry hints at the god like in us and causes us to resound with high places of being.
To him ”Books are like mirrors. Don’t just read the words! Go into the mirror. That is where the real secrets are;- Inside, Behind. That’s where the gods dream, where our realities are born”
The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love. Ben Okri’s epic poem “Mental Fight” is a song of rage and restoration. It speaks to each new moment and each new person, like sunlight or like pain, an anthem to our ascending dreams and a hymn of inspiration. Mental fight is full of his “modest maxims”. He recites:-
”An illusion by which we can become
More real.
A moment unremarked by the universe,
By nature, the seasons, or stars.
Moment we have marked out
In timelessness.
Human moment.
Making a ritual, a drama, a tear on eternity
Domesticating the infinite.
Contemplating the quantum questions,
Time, death, new beginnings,
Regeneration, cycles, the unknown.” (Mental Fight 1)

Ben Okri is that rare thing, a literary and social visionary, a writer for whom all three—literature, culture, and vision are profoundly interwoven. He knows how to make possible the impossible, how to turn the ordinary moment or mind into the legendary, how to turn darkness into light, which is the core of his poems. He recited

“As clouds pass above our heads
So time passes through our lives.
Where does it go,
And when it passes,
What do we have to show?
We can plant deeds in time
As gardeners plant roses.
We can plant thoughts, or good words too
Especially if they are noble and true.
Time is an act of consciousness:
One of the greatest forces
Of the material world.
We ought to use time
Like emperors of the mind: ———

We can wake to the power of our voice,
Change the world with the power of our choice.
So dream a good dream today
And keep it going in every way.”(Wild)

Ben Okri’s new collection of poetry Wild (2012) has been highly praised for its beauty of language and sweep of subjects: art and love, the personal to the philosophical. In these often carefully-rhymed poems, ‘the wild’ is an imaginative realm. It is an alternative to the familiar, the abode of spirits and sprites (as in ‘Dark Light’) and an enhanced vision of Nature (‘More Fishes than Stars’). For Okri, the writer is as much a dreamer as an observer. What is most important to him though is mental freedom. “For it is possible to be free in the world and unfree in your head. The most striking thing about great literature is the strength of freedom that flows through its pages.” He recites

“I sing a new freedom
Freedom with discipline.
We need freedom to rise higher.
Be true to yourself
In the follies of our times.”(Wild)

His writing does exactly as acclaimed for his poetic vision as for the beauty of his language, in these poems Okri captures the tenderness and the fragility, as well as the depths and the often hidden directions of our lives. To him, the ‘wild’ is an alternative to the familiar, where energy meets freedom, where art meets the elemental, where chaos can be honed. The wild is our link to the stars…He recites one poem for his Father ”O Lion, Rome No More,”
”O father lion roaming in my being,
Merge into me
Help me be free
Multiply my powers
Beyond the ancestral towers
Bless me with your wisdom
Guide me to my kingdom
Be the invisible warrior
In my life’s upward fight—
There is much to do for mankind
Lend me your might
In the glorious fight
Lend me power
In the need of the hour —-
O Lion, rage and roam no more
In your son’s troubled mind
Rest now on that blessed shore
Where eternal light is most kind.” (Wild)
In a poem, He is celebrating a new dream of political power bringing peace, health and happiness that comes close to conjuring a vision of a bearded angel. A New Dream of Politics is a salute to idealism, and a rejection of “cynics and doomsayers”,
His firm voice utters “But we need politicians who read widely, who read the classics, the masters, but who also read contemporary writers, who read across colour, across race, across class. If we don’t have politicians who read widely, how can we ever get to a new politics?” A politics without dreams is arid and barren, just a machine for winning elections. We need politicians with great dreams for the people and reading is the absolute starting point.”
”Can we still seek the lost angels
Of our better natures?
Can we still wish and will
For poverty’s death and a newer way
To undo war, and find peace in the labyrinth
Of the Middle East, and prosperity
In Africa as the true way
To end the feared tide of immigration?”
The ode takes an apparent swipe at Corbyn’s opponents, inside and outside the Labour party, who have damned him as idealistic but unelectable, a dreamer not a doer.
”They say there is only one way for politics
That it looks with hard eyes at the hard world
And shapes it with a ruler’s edge
Measuring what is possible against
Acclaim, support, and votes.”
Okri sets this against the measures of political greatness “in ancient times”, calculated “by the gold of contentment”, by laughter, peace, justice and health. Even happiness for poets, since one of his indicators is the silent appreciation of bards telling of such good governance. He states unequivocally Nations that imprison, torture or assassinate, or drive their writers into exile fall into the deadlands of their own darkness. “If you want to know what is happening to a nation, find out what is happening to its writers.”According to Okri, writing by hand also teaches you patience.

“When you write, you write slower than the speed of thought. It teaches you to hold your ideas but if you type you run away with stupid ideas. In writing there is a gap between the stupid ideas and writing it down. It helps in self editing and shaping thoughts,”
Poets want nothing from you, only that you listen to your deepest selves. Unlike politician, they don’t want your votes. He spoke ”I imagine a reader who, like me, is a bit exasperated with the accumulation of the follies of our times, someone ready for a new way of looking, thinking and being; someone who combines youth and experience, idealism and realism. Someone who isn’t afraid to dream but also is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and participate in the tough magic of life.” Okri, the writer is as much a dreamer as an observer, he spoke, there’s always a new way, a better way that’s not been tried before. He states. “There is so much more to life. There are dreams, there is laughter, and there is kindness, humour, playfulness, culture, so much more.” So dream a good dream today.


Kolkata Literary Festival is covered by Surabhi Bhattacharjee (Editor-In-Chief of didichAsian Signature).

A Dialogue on Poetry

 3rd Vol ,No1 (January 2016)

A Dialogue on Poetry between eminent poet Prof. Smita Agarwal and Dhruva Harsh.


Babli Pandey says “I love you …” to Bittu Sonkar.
The campus is agog …
A high-caste girl, Brahmin at that,
Wanting to wed a Backward boy …
Babli’s brother, gets his act together.

He and his gang, with
Cycle-rickshaw chains
And crowbars, beat
The hell out of Bittu,
Who, for a month, lies festering
In the town’s most
Infection-riddled zone,
The Govt. Medical College.

Miraculously, Sonkar survives.
And, but naturally, after full
And final recovery, collects
All the Backward caste warlords
Of every out-house locality
And seeks vengeance.

Siege-like conditions prevail
Around the university’s SSL Hostel
Where Pandey and his chaps
Are holed-up …

Meanwhile, Babli, willingly
Abducted by the Sonkar gang,
Under the banner of the progressive
Arya Samaj, marries Bittu;
A scene-from-a-movie like exchange
Of garlands in the presence
Of the liberal intellectual, Prof. Das …

24×7, the mofussil town’s single tv channel
Blazes footage of Babli weds Bittu.
For the bristling brother and his goons
Attention is for the time being
Relocated from Bittu to Dr. Das.
Next morning, Dr. Das takes
An extra class on “Break, break, break …”
And discusses the forthcoming Freshers Function
In room # 8, where he shall encourage
Boys and girls of postgrad English
To dance to “Tera, tera, tera suroor”
And “Beedi Jalaile” …
Exhortations over for the day
Dr. Das leads the way
Down a flight of stairs
Where Birju Pandey
And his hoods waylay him …
Residual decency cannot make
Birju punch the don in his face.
So he pulls out a matchbox,
Strikes a match, waves the flaming
Stick, menacingly, three times,
Under the paralysed prof’s nose
And growl’s “Last chance, saar …”

Prof. Das clutches his heart and collapses.
The girls of the class let out a collective
Squeal and beg forgiveness for his lapses …
Tension is temporarily dissipated.
Mofussil India’s struggle
With modernity, abated.
The Babli Pandey, Bittu Sonkar
Saga, by these unforeseen
Circumstances aided and abetted,
Postponed for the next
Bright, new day …(Smita Agarwal,Mofussil Notebook, 2014).

Smita Agarwal (born 1958) is a poet and professor of English. She attended Loreto Convent in Delhi, before pursuing her higher studies in English Literature. Her PhD was on the American poet and writer Sylvia Plath. Agarwal has been teaching English Literature at  Allahabad University, Uttar Pradesh, India, since 1983. In 1999, she was writer-in-residence at the universities of Stirling (Scotland) and Kent, U.K. She also is a Hindustani music vocalist and has performed on All-India Radio. Her poems have been widely anthologized and her critical work has been published in journals such as the Poetry Review (London) and the Journal of Commonwealth Literature (UK). Agarwal is also an editor and translator for Plath Profiles, the Sylvia Plath online journal, published by Indiana University, USA.

D.H. According to you, what is a poem?
S.A. A poem is a fine balance of technique and feeling; a poem looks at the world around us like everyone else, but describes it differently and uniquely.
D.H. Do you think a poet is prone to exist in  time & space in a most vulnerable manner. Do you agree?
S.A. I guess, what you are trying to say is that a poet may live in the danger of inhabiting an imaginary world! This is an outdated Romantic notion not possible in contemporary times. Even virtual reality is grounded in hardware and software. Similarly, a poet’s imaginary world must be moored in real time reality and expressed in a language accessible to readers/listeners.
D.H. Ma’m, apart from a poet you are a wonderful classical singer also, so do you think poetry is close to the sensation of music?
S.A. In all cultures across the world, before the age of the printed text, most poetry was sung. The chanting of the Vedas, the troubadours, bards and balladeers … There is an intimate connection between poetry and music. Poetry rests on the Sheshnag of rhythmic sound. In all forms of verse, mantra, doha, stuti, nazm or free verse, rhyming words or phrases create the music of poetry. Poetry is music to the ears.
D.H. How do you conceive poetic thoughts? Do you find anything special that helps you to get into a frame of mind?
S.A. No, for me there is no such thing. If I wait for that special frame of mind, it’ll never happen. My domestic and professional demands will never grant me the time and space. I write poems like I did homework in school. I just sit me down at my desk and write and rework.
D.H. How do you see the role of a poet in today’s culture?
S.A. Not a sage or a seer. Just a witness.
D.H. Who are the poets you continually go back to?
S.A. Bhagwat Geeta, Ramayana, Kabir, Meera, Rumi, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Billy Collins, Munawar Rana …
D.H. Tell me the name of your favorite poets?
S.A. There are favourite poems, in Hindi, English and in English translation.
D.H. Say something about your passion for music because you are a wonderful classical singer as well.
S.A. I learnt to sing at a very early age because my mother had learned classical music and is a good singer. Quite unselfconsciously, her passion for music filtered into me. From a very early age I was giving public performances, not as a professional, but, in school, Army parties, middle – class social occasions. Quite organically, singing became a part of my personality. Later, while studying at the University of Allahabad, I was trained under the guru-shishya parampara by Pandit Ram Ashrey Jha and Shri Gauri Shankarji of All India Radio, Allahabad. For many years, I sang for the Radio and even gave performances on National Telivision. Now, I perform selectively as a professional and frequently at social gatherings. Samples of my singing are available on and You Tube.
D.H. How do you manage time for pursuing your passion?
S.A. The answer is included in your question! You use the word “passion”. If you are passionate about something, you will make the time for it!
D.H. How do you feel to be associated with the department of English, University of Allahabad, one of the country’s leading educational institution which produced luminaries like Firaq Gorakhpuri, Harivansh Rai Bachchan and many more?
S.A. Privileged, indeed. And, I feel a heavy weight of tradition that I must equal and better. It is both pressure and confidence …
D.H. How does poetry come to you, is it a sickness or the outcome of spontaneity?
S.A. Yes, it is a compulsion born out of a love for reading and writing … I never wait for the moment to seize me. I seize the moment.
D.H. I have regular meetings with the young minds of the city and I find them very passionate about writing but they are burdened with a lot of social responsibilities that do not let them nurture their passion. As a result, their talent is neglected. What would you like to say on this?
S.A. Dear me! Everyone has social responsibilities and they increase, never decrease, with age. Just as you start to feel you’ve finished with most worldly responsibilities, have got your children married off and are now at peace, your parents age. You have to attend to their cataracts and kidneys and your grandchildren howl and wail all around you. No one has time. You have to make the time!

D.H. What are the sources to access your poems if anyone wants to read your work?
S.A. Wish-granting Words, Poems. New Delhi, Ravi Dayal Publisher, 2002.
Mofussil Notebook, Calcutta, Brown Critique/ Sampark, 2014.
Marginalized: Indian Poetry in English, ed. Smita Agarwal, New York & Amsterdam, Rodopi/Brill, 2014.
Poem Hunter
Best Poems Encyclopedia
Big Bridge Anthology
University of Stirling
You Tube

Interview  is taken by Dhruva Harsh.He is Chief –Managing- Editor of Asian 11828714_884344611659501_7660634024062918334_nSignature.

Stones That Remember Me

2nd Vol,No1 (July 2015)

A Poetic talk with a grass poet Mike Absalom by Surabhi Bhattacharjee.

I am the grass poet.
I keep my ear close to the ground
and wait for answers from beneath.
What on earth? I am not lapsadaisical!
I am the grass poet! I am waiting for answers! ——
I am the grass poet.
I keep my nose close to the ground.
Seriously! I am not lapsadaisical.
( “Lapsadaisical”)

Antrim_Belfast_Dublin March 7 072_small

Mike Absalom, a grass poet and his story begins with letters keeping into music and music into letters. It is too tough to call him just a poet. He is myriad minded genius. The Province once described Absalom’s musical work as “`Innocence with a Macabre Twist”. Mike Absalom was born in Torquay, Devon from an Irish and Welsh parentage. After being raised in England and Canada, Absalom was educated at Oxford University and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He is a country boy, but Arabic at Oxford put him for a while among the mighty and gave him the handful of languages that allowed him to live by his wits in those far off places from the pages of the National Geographic Magazine which had fascinated him since he was a young immigrant growing up a parson’s son in rural Quebec. After University, life in the 1960s was a delicious Niagara with no bottom. He has had the accidental foresight to buy a guitar in 1960, a little before everyone else did the same, and this became his passport to vagrancy. From it came song writing and music and, in the end, wild performance art. He moved upwards from the street to bars that had chairs; from bars to folk clubs; from folk clubs to colleges. Afterwards he spent a lot of time on mountaintops ironing out the hangover.

He passed the next quarter of a century in Canada. In tune with the solid decorum of that country, He calmed down and became a pillar of the local community. During those years, he made his living as broadcaster, fiddler and Celtic bandleader. He also wrote newspaper articles, did recitation of poetry and toured north to South America. For a while, he lived in Paraguay, where he got mastery over harp and left no stone unturned, which, after Canada, was certainly worth it. He was dysfunctional and quite happy with the world and himself. Still, the life he had been living suddenly ended: World History gave North America a violent shaking in September 2001 and at the same time dislodged him. With him Welsh and Irish roots flapping loose, He decided it was the time to replant them in his native soil and he crossed back home over the Atlantic. He craved old stones. It was a blind jump into the void and he had no idea what would become of him. As it was, he landed on soft ground, which in his Clare grandmother’s language they call Bog.

“What is a poem?’ This Bog man does not know. In the same way that a postman does nothing except to deliver a letter, he does nothing but to deliver a poem. He writes it down, certainly. But how it comes to him and what it is and from where is a mystery. Well, no! Not entirely. It comes from Beyont! as he relaxes into his unpretentious Irish kitchen, this solid place in a solidly objective world of draughts and burning turf, of cooking smells, of rain and smoke and cats, it is very clear to him that poems come from somewhere else, from a place he will call beyont (in Irish accent). He had written:

“In front of the canvas I stand. I move my arms. I
flex my fingers. I stare. Time, that terrible and incomprehensible enigma, fades to irrelevance and leaks away slowly, vanishing under the studio door.
Paint flows and moves, the clouds of charcoal rise, fall, coalesce.
The void is before me. Darkness covers the face of the earth.Out of that darkness figures emerge, blinking, arranging themselves randomly here and there on the picture plane, at first without intent or passion, composing themselves like anonymous crowds moving through the Metro. They appear in the paint from elsewhere and jostle for meaning. If there were a Me I would say they come from beyond Me. I have not invited them. They introduce themselves, borrowing my name with an abrupt lack of etiquette, and having taken up their stations on the canvas they invite me to recognize them.They invite you too, viewer.”

Now he paints, and though he lives in the lap of rainbows and tempests on the West Coast of Ireland, the old stones are beginning to stir.

“The valleys were full of paths and the paths full of dust,
untrodden, and old abandoned houses.
The trees stood always motionless, like old people at a funeral.
They moved me often enough
as I walked through the scattered ruins they observed,
never knowing why I felt so sad
or what might once have happened there.’’

Thinking as a poet means viewing the world as a poem; thus, the poet is prone to existing in real space and time in a most vulnerable manner. Do you agree??
No I don’t agree. The question is: WHAT is real space and time?? I don’t see the world as a poem. I see the world as a world…whatever that is! Just as an aside poems are whispered to me from the Beyond, as they are to everyone. The secret is to shut up and be silent so that you are aware in the Silence that something is speaking. Maybe! We are not vulnerable, after all. We just can’t see very well, and we don’t listen. Nothing real can happen to us. We are smoke on the mind and mirrors. Something likes that. It helps to be OLD to be silent!

..Mike apart from a poet you are a painter also so do you thing poetry is also near of physical sensation???
They both come from the same place. Paintings write themselves. Poems paint themselves. They come from beyond Mind, beyond thinking, beyond metalize. And then they come down and take form…either in words or in paint or in charcoal. I am talking about work that works! That actually comes through. If you think too much the spiritual force is lost in words/thoughts. Of course…many attempts end in failure…they get caught up in thoughts/words/ideas/ideals. These are all things of a lower level of evolution: the everyday mind is thee to help the body survive only. In the end of course, it never survives. You die….sort of!! Just the car you drive around in the body. That is what I think (hope?) anyway.

There is completeness in your mind and emptiness on your page then how do you conceive these thoughts, do you find anything special that helps you to get into frame?
I just do it when the spirit orders. Write down the idea that pops up. It comes with its own RHYTHEM (from reading a lot I suppose) then I knock it about a bit so that it has form.

What do you see the role of a poet in today’s culture?
I DON’T see any role related to ‘today’s culture’. THIS is just an idea. A separation of things from the whole into entities that can be grasped by those who choose to put everything through ‘mind’ rather than experiencing direct. Anyway…I don’t have any role. I like it when I’m paid to read though!!

Jostling and rumbling of ideas and images, reaching as far as in your mind’s eye can “see” in any direction, from which to think about what some of the things in it have in common or what they might have to say to each other as a poet Mike or as a painter Mike or as a harpist Mike???

No jostling. A poem just comes. Otherwise I just sit…and look at the trees or the dandelions or the bugs. And drink tea. Or have something forbidden: croissant coffee! The important thing is to ‘not go anywhere’. Just sit. If you are able. Got to be old though’.

Who are the poets do you continually go back to?
Shakespeare. I don’t know; more definitions, more separations? I’m not an academic! HAHAHA
Tell me the name of your favorite poets?
Shakespeare, the Translation of the King James Bible.
What are the sources to access your poems if anyone wants to read you?
There are collections called Old Fart and other Poems are available on Amazon (Mike Absalom). The Scorpion Month…limited edition handmade book…poems and linocuts on Red Fox Press @ E35.
Anything from your side
They also see She Danced for Me with Her Feet in Lobster Pots and Even the Grass has a Hangover. These 4 titles are available as Mike Absalom as Chapbooks of Colour Painting (by Mike) on each cover plus illustrations (black and white) inside with each poem, E15 each plus P & P.

Say something about your paintings?
I may not remember my first drawing, but I certainly remember my first art critic.
I was four and a half years old, newly deposited in the local Kindergarten and bursting, I felt, with the urge to express myself in pencil. I did just that at the first opportunity and in the first place made available to me. This was my arithmetic exercise book, for we started young with our two times tables in those days, and the pages and pages of creamy white paper screamed out for the fulfillment of Spitfires and Messerschmitt and full frontal assaults up the beaches of Normandy. I did not disappoint those virgin pages; I poured my soul into them and filled them full. So full indeed that when the time came for tables there turned out to be no room for even one, let alone two times tables.
When the headmistress saw my portfolio she was speechless, but decided that I deserved a good talking to anyway, and did it with a bamboo cane. She was my first art critic and the memory is indelible. The marks left by the stick on my lower extremities turned out to be moderately delible, although they did last several months, which was plenty of time to think deeply about art and life and come to the conclusion that perhaps life would turn out to be more probable if I decided to let art go.
The time for wondering is over now. I have million other motifs that call for my introspection.

For this Bog man ‘’Never mind what poems are. They can be anything you like’’. Poetry hangs here like a cloud butterflies in a tropical forest, elusive but so close you can touch it.

The scent of wet wood hand
sawn on a January morning
returns to me again the
sunless sweetness of solitude.
I have cut this cottonwood
many times before
but always,
in a sleight of hand
impossible to follow,
leaves gush like leaking sap
from its dead branches.
I have even seen flowers
burst with the speed of comets
from out of the blotchy bark.
They scatter as turf ash does
into the wind-blown skies,
and sometimes I scatter with
for they are able to whirl me
in a dervish dance
deep into my own silence.( “Chipa”)
As an interviewer I have blown away by hearing few words from him. I do not know how to conclude this interesting chapter of a man who hardly speaks though says every possible thing through his crafts. In his each and every work there is a postcard picture that brings my attention on the couple of lines of a famous poet John Keats’s “Grecian Urn” that I think defines both Mike as a person on the other hand as an artist;
“Heard melodies are sweet but those unheard are sweeter”.

Surabhi Bhattacharjee11150787_969840516384062_5588864312980428584_n,Editor-in-Chief of Asian Signature.



2nd Vol,No1 (July 2015)

Canadian artist and poet, Roland Bastien BY Nalini Priyadarshni

Roland Bastien is a multimedia artist, composer (new music) and poet. He started his career in IMG_1987Montreal’s Avant-Garde scene in 1979. His performance works were shown at Tangente Danse Actuelle- vehicle-Art, the temples for new ideas in performance at the time, – Vancouver (Western front), – Toronto,(Power Plant) -New-York – Italy (Venice, Milano) – Paris, Beaubourg (Into the Josef Buys retrospective show at Beaubourg).In the 80’s, he collaborated with Janitor Animated, a progressive punk group and created two multimedia and text performances: Post-Nuclear and Coyote.He also performed at York Gallery in Toronto (music tape, texts and clarinet) a multimedia show.In the 90’s, he collaborated with Asian artists, Marilou Esguerra, Chiwen Liu and Eileen Kage in three major multimedia performances in Vancouver.

As a Pianist, he collaborated with Vietnamese multi-instrumentalist NgocBich, percussionist Joseph Pepe Danza, Lan Tung (Chinese fiddle), the master of Zheng: Mei Han, a Korean Kayagum master: Jung Ae Lee, Coat Cooke, Clyde Reed (multi-instrumentalists and Dylan Van Der Schyff percussionist.

As a composer, they have certified his chamber music score ‘Les arbres en
fleurs ‘ as a finalist at the Elisabeth Schneider Foundation in Germany in
2000. He wrote 75 chamber music scores, 100 Piano solo scores and several
patterns of computer generated music.

As a poet he won the overall prize in February 2006 at the fourth International poetry
Competition for his poem ‘Mother’. The international library of poetry has published his poems in two books:Who’s who in poetry in 2004 and The best poets in 2004. In 2005, Masque publishing in England, in their Decanto Poetry Magazine has published his poems in their April 16th issue and October 19th issue and several others. The American Poets Society has published his poems in Reflections.

As a multi disciplinary artist he divides his time between composing music, digital art and poetry. He won a visual art prize in 1981 for his formal works “Semantic phase V” and his works were highly sought after by the Canadian museums. In 2006, He lives and works in Vancouver, Canada.

Nalini – What does it mean to you to be a poet?
Roland – It’s a huge responsibility that challenges my whole life. I capture reality and phenomena through a poetic length; and most of the time, I end with a mathematical or philosophical issues from which I have to set either a vision or a matter. This is all my poetry is about.
Nalini – Tell us about your artistic journey. What attracted you towards poetry and visual art?
Roland – I’ll never be able to disregard presence of poetry in other art forms. As a child, I noticed the dances on stage were performed on songs where poetry dominated, the plots and words in a play needed sculptures on stage to be real. I was irritated by modernists when they said I am “a touché a tout” and cannot focus on one art form only. I am a 60’s produce from all stages and states and also a 80’s post-modern man. My journey was hard and solitary, in a sense without any real support. I was married with kids to feed.
Nalini – How important was your formal education in getting to where you are now?
Roland – It was clear to everyone, since my early age that I would either be an artist or a monk. They all created conditions and gave me the tools to persecute my calling. I learnt from a catholic Dominican order monk, who became protestant the contemplative teaching of natural law. He was a family member and I took its teaching seriously. Several university teachers like Maurice Lubin from Sorbonne, Paris, Bernard Bastien and the author Felix Courtois were great guides for me until I reached the age of 14. My University was mostly an occasion to lead projects more than any other things. When I look back at theory and philosophy of my art, my poetry and short stories, I can see where they came from, easily.

Nalini – How does a poem begin for you – a word an image or a line?
Roland – It starts with an atmosphere created by synapses, neurons or nerve system. Most of the time, it ends with an emotional status. I search for words that might be used to trace that maze reality. Through it, I pick up sounds, graph’s outlets or others, like key signatures words carry. It is a sort of laboratory as Andre Breton called it “le rapport des vases communicants”.

Nalini – How long does it take you to write a poem?

Roland – A haiku can take me around 12 hours. Lines carry a particular reality or vision. In my case, they never portray a unique aspect of their nature, but an autonomous view that regulates to the global setup.
Nalini – Do you spend a long time revising?
Roland – I am afraid to say that: A poem never ended for me. As long as it stays on my reading level, I change its aspect, add more or less feeling, reformat it. I think this attitude came from my musician background. We search for a better way to play a score, from us or others. Each copy can live alone. Ginsberg edited his poem, Howl several times and they printed them in a book of 125 pages from the same poem. Sometimes I read my printed poems in book or poetry magazines and have idea to change them again. Most of the time I made variations on them as composer did (Bach is one of the great master of that genre.)
Nalini – What is your opinion about artistic collaboration between two artists coming from different cultures?
Roland – I have propagated for the last two decades the idea that trans- culturality is the new way of life and artists must sort problems that come from such practice and develop mode of taught that might feed the global world with good energy. I had the privilege to live in Vancouver for a decade and half and explore the vast East Asian culture without that multicultural exotic attitude. The transculturality is the DNA of the new mode that took place after the post colonial failure. We must create parameters together to explore it. Without that, we will be slave into the global world.
Nalini – How has internet and social media affected art scene.
Roland – Not really unsure about it. The copyright for digital works in websites or face book is not yet clear and I do not have fees when my poetry illustrated banners. But they help us to meet interesting people and we can promote our ideas.
Nalini – What is your opinion on self- publishing as opposed to traditional publishing?
Roland – Self-publishing can be traditional as well. Most of the time, it creates a genre, the main stream’s exclusions. In my case, I had traditional published poems as well as experimental ones that find a better outfit into Amazon Kindle publishing setting.
My first eBook ‘ Beyond” / questions all the semantic patterns left by the post- modernism and recoded them into a new semantic mode, only new technology can offer and endorse such adventure. In that book, you can have interactive images and texts, including sounds and videos. Traditional book cannot display such interest.
My poetry eBook “A view from my mind” is there also for the same raison. I displayed colors on poetry lines that give you a 3D impression, while reading them. Therefore the ideas behind words did it as well.My last eBook project is a traditional form and can be publish easily by a traditional publisher. I am too lazy to find one or too immediate to wait for one 🙂

Nalini Priyadarshini is a poet and writer.1390527_10202529398986948_221168273_n


1st Vol,No1 (Dec2013)

A Literary Vignette of an Australian artist-poet .. By Dr. Sunil Sharma .

Rob Harle is a writer, artist and academic reviewer writing work includes poetry, short fiction539547_100109706812492_994963746_n (1) stories, academic essays and reviews of scholarly books and papers. His work is published in journals, anthologies, online reviews, books and he has two volumes of his own poetry published – Scratches & Deeper Wounds (1996) and Mechanisms of Desire (2012). Recent poetry has been published in Rupkatha Journal (Kolkata), Nimbin Good Times (Nimbin),  Beyond The Rainbow (Nimbin), Poetic Connections Anthology (2013),  Indo-Australian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (2013) and Rhyme With Reason Anthology (2013).His art practice currently involves digital-computer art both for the web and print. His giclée images have been exhibited widely. He is especially interested in promoting the inclusion of visual art in academic and scientific journals.Formal studies  include Comparative Religion, Philosophy, Architecture, Literature and Psychotherapy, his thesis concerned Freud’s notion of the subconscious and its relationship with Surrealist poetry.Rob’s main concern is to explore and document the radical changes technology is bringing about. He has coined the term technoMetamorphosis to describe this.He is currently an active member of the Leonardo Review Panel, Editorial reviewer for the Journal of Virtual World Research and an Advising Editor for the Journal of Trans-technology Research.Artwork, Publications and selected writings are available from his website

Rob Harle does not belong to this mundane world. He belongs to the Renaissance and since Renaissance is over and best forgotten by mass society, logically, he does not belong.Yet Rob is a transcendental being. All great artists are.Here is the enigma: An author who is neither wholly present in the present nor lives in the past.He disrupts the temporal sequence.

Can you belong to past? Live retrospectively?

In fact, determining his material and mental spatio-temporal locations is as difficult as figuring out the truth-validity of the astral-travelling claims or unraveling the mystery of the brain of Einstein.

If a person does not belong here or there, then where does he fit in? 

Fact is: Rob Harle does not belong to any particular age. He lives many ages — or artists like him navigate many time-spheres.Or, more audaciously, the 65-year-old Nimbin Valley Australian artist lives outside the pale of time. He resides neither here, the present, nor, in the there, the past that has elapsed. The sturdy poet-painter-reviewer-philosopher inhabits a dimension that cannot be defined by the scrupulous time-keepers of the world.

Rob Harle is a mystic. And mystics defy time and space barriers and can exist simultaneously both here and there, in this moment and the moment gone by. In their mind’s eye, they can — poets as mystics with an exalted visual/aural sense — flit across such conventional world, barriers, the phenomenal universe, and transcend their historicity, their immediate location/s and connect with a higher realm that is glimpsed but rarely these days…by visual artists only, alienated from mainstream and largely ignored by it.

Rob Harle — my long-distance friend and adopted elder brother — his words — amply possesses this faculty. He belongs to Dreamtime — a way of living described by early wanderers of the earth we prefer to dub now in our arrogance as Aborigines, nomads, savages or tribals across the world, depending on our level of contempt and intellectual sophistication of civilization. If you feel superior to these poor starved people — marginals like impoverished poets — just spend a night alone on the terrace of your apartment-building on the Fifth Avenue, NYC or Malabar Hill in Mumbai and try to talk to the shining stars and the rabbit in the moon and if they talk back, feel re-assured you still carry some old DNA of our earlier ancestors. If, on the other hand, you feel frightened by the shadows cast by a passing cloud and hear phantom steps on the bare roof or see around 2AM, an assassin sent to kill you by your rival corporation or the ghosts of the people used and discarded in tough turf war and self-promotion, you sure belong to this age of cut-throat competition and wars. Rob Harle has no problem in listening to the songs of the wind or the stars or the river, despite being rooted in the immediacy of his instant. He can write about supermarket-driven cultures and still draw book covers for Indian poets — two different planets, despite superficial resemblances provided by the malls, Big Macs and MNCs retail chains. He finds satisfaction in making covers gratis because covers are seen by thousands and paintings, by hundreds in arts’ circuses that go by the name of exhibitions! The poor fellow does not know — or ignores — that standardized middle-class professionals do not want to read…unless it is tabloid news with lot of skin-show or light crime fiction or soft porn that Henry Miller wrote and got away with!

Now, tell me, the one who wants to do covers and reviews free and not paintings or digital art he once did and that fetched money also, how can such a balding guy with goggles belong to a culture where every emotion from love-making, dining, shitting, romancing, dating, to Valentine’s Day has been extremely commodified and advertised and monetized? You want to express love to your spouse, well, first buy a diamond set as a gift according to ad gurus, only then your love is true! If you compose a poem as a literary gift, you are fit to be thrown into the New-Age Gulags or declared unstable and perfect case for Ward No. 6 of the world. Ward No 6 is, by the way, a story by Chekov.

Rob Harle cannot do that.

He moved into the Nimbin Valley — to avoid rat-trap of metros. He converses with nature and produces an art that calms a fevered urban mind. He paints bubbles, seas, flight of sea gulls, rising suns, stars and the blue skies — infinities that can be cognized by inner eye only and not comprehended by the jet-set smart city-slickers.

And since his language, idiom and syntax look foreign to them, he appears threatening, an outsider, a challenger, a dissident who consciously rejects the power and enticements of money, positions and awards.

He subverts the system.

He rips off the veil and shows the ugly side of the painted face!

Such a guy is a saboteur, a dangerous figure out to challenge.

Right from Plato to our tin-pot dictators, every madcap hates him as an oppositional figure out to undermine their narratives of legitimacy and authority.

Rob Harle is a perpetual outsider, a wanderer, a time-traveller.

Renaissance beckons him — an age dies physically but its fertilizing, ripe ideas continue to irrigate our souls in succeeding time sequences and timelines — as starry nights beckon artists like van Gogh or Gauguin in every age.

The age is preserved in ideas, not in its material textures. By an act of empathy, we can easily enter and exit such glorious ages that produce Bacon, Goethe, Shakespeare, Cervantes and Tolstoy, among others.

Rob does that.

He critiques our deadening commercialization, deadening of souls, our mechanization and ultimate commodification. 

Rob Harle is a poet, a mystic and although not many might have heard about him, he is unique, despite his relative obscurity — artists, not every artist, can be British Royalty or rock stars that you must religiously follow on twitter. He shows us realms unknown and opens up inner vistas that you will not find in the Booker-awarded long- or short- lists. The system does not give a Nobel for a Gandhi or a Tolstoy.

Rob Harle grows on you, despite long distances.  He grew on me.

From a request to a face on FB to daily communes through e-mails, I found him. He slowly started morphing into a figure, a human being, a warm and loving friend, and, finally, family! We have never met and perhaps, will never meet. Still he is family.

Family: Because Rob Harle does not belong to this mundane world. He belongs to the Renaissance and the finest values represented by that revolutionary age and its principles. As we enter a work of the master, say, Leonardo, we as viewers, enter that value-system, reference-frame, hallowed orientation…and the age that produces such an inspiring and happy belief- system.

When you read an artist, you live two eras simultaneously, two time-space segments bi-laterally. You are here and there.

An artist talks…via his works and provides succor to readers that choose to invest on them, not some pop artists or pulp-fictionists.

Artists provide healing therapies for readers who are also dissidents like them…perpetual outsiders, standing outside a banal system of money-generating clones.

Such artists provide exits from a frightening world of consumption and commodities.

They provide intimacy, love, understanding, sympathy to those who could not survive the rat-race and opted to drop out and decided to curb multiplying desires.

They, mystic-artists, create loving environment and do soul-to-soul communion…the way, on solitary nights, a wandering moon and twinkling stars do by talking to little orphans!

Words soothing!
Vision, almost divine.
Comforting calls!
Messages hidden in texts.
Artists have various modes of calling on you.
This way, they act as your guides.
They give love and a moral compass — like Dickens.
You find yourself reflected in them.
They are your mirror-image.
Your double.
They are your immediate kin.
Your family.
So remote, yet so near. Absent, yet present.

In this sense, I claim ownership of Rob, the artist. He responds by claiming me as family. Bonding takes place.

We commune…a relationship gets consecrated and…canonized.

The relationship between reader/writer; text/decipherer; signified/signifier.

Rob Harle is literarture, an idea, an image that we construct and re-construct, as we flow.

Rob Harle lives, dies, gets resurrected in us…the reading community.  He is unaffected by time and space, yet grounded in that.

By becoming art, artist becomes Immortal! Immortal through his verse .

Brothers Across Oceans
The wheel of life spins endlessly
like the sun rising in brightness
then setting into darkness,
one day a beggar next day a king
a universal truth beyond uncertainty,
lose a brother – gain another
the mystery taunts me mercilessly.

My young brother – a good man
consumed by the hideous disease,
tortured by a chemical cure
seduced by a surgeon’s scalpel
false hopes
empty promises,
his will to live beyond compare
but dead on Valentine’s Day.

And then a stranger,
materialising Genie-like
from the exotic distant land of Krishna,
a poet of the Heart Chakra
adopts me as an elder brother,
reciprocation without hesitation,
again I have a younger brother,
the wheel is spinning.

Frater Sunil helped me feel again
revitalising my karmic mission
to serve the Muses,
a royal pursuit beyond all doubt,
to grow food …
to heal sickness …
to write poems …
a noble triad of vocations.
Translation of the esoteric heart
offers healing for the starving spirit
to help others sense again,
the – mysterium, temendum et fascinans
as the wheel keeps spinning.

Old doorways, silent sentinels
where the grey grit of a city
lies ensnared,
trapped in the folds
of peeling paint,
trapped in the scars
of shallow stone steps,
Old doorways dreaming
are overpowered,
consumed before their allotted span.

New doorways, gleaming glittering glass
are their successors,
where trendies gaze narcissistically
as they strut by,
where derelicts are confronted with faces
they cannot recognise,
where ladies of the night are embarrassed
to adjust their couture.

Romantic doorways, hide in fear,
desperate lovers seek them
after passion overflows,
teenagers seek them
after Blue movies and strip shows,
winos seek them
after – “time gentlemen time”.
Yesterday’s newspapers
blown by a carefree city breeze
seeks them always


the shaman’s breasts are swollen
pregnant with a healing desire,
she enters the Underground
scanning for demons to exorcise,
searching out the hidden ones.

the raw sienna pitch of her chant
chills black-suited commuters,
self-consciously, urgently
they peer into the dark tunnel.
repressive desires surface,
desperately seeking the sleek, steel shaft.

sickly yellow illusions turn backwards
consumed by charcoal-grey doubt.
the shaman’s screams pierce peak frenzy,
pretending not to hear
the captive audience squirms,
trapped between
the speeding bullet steel snake and
their own fear.

flashing astral fiery colours
the haunted haunting shaman
screams louder
black flannel frenzy freezes,
forced into face-to-face confrontation.
tunnel walls sharpen into mirrors
coldly reflecting back an eerie emptiness,
framed by post-modern hopelessness.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Here is the famous Rob Harle, the Unseen by the conventional others!

 Prof Sunil Sharma is Principal at Bharat College , affiliated 4150_1131031525007_3305824_nto University of Mumbai, Mumbai India. He is a bilingual critic, poet, literary interviewer, editor, translator, essayist and fiction writer. His six short stories and the novel Minotaur are prescribed currently for the undergraduate classes under the Post-colonial Studies at the Clayton University, Morrow, Georgia, USA. His book on the Philosophy of the Novel – a Marxist Critique has generated a good critical response. His debut novel – The Minotaur – dealing with dominant ideologies and socio-political realities of the 20th century– was published from Jaipur (India) in 2009. The novel was released in South Africa in December,