"There is something soothing about success."
Indian poet Sanjeev Sethi achieved a personal triumph after winning the Full Fat Collection Competition-Deux for his fourth book, Wrappings in Bespoke.
On November 6, 2019, Sanjeev and poet Ali Jones were declared joint winners by organiser Hedgehog Poetry Press. Despite aiming to select a single collection, the two entries were so close that they could not be split up.
In total ten poets were shortlisted for this competition. Other poets included: Adrian Buckner, Alastair Hesp, Cherry Combe, Gavin Bourke, Katharine May, Patricia Hamilton, Roger Elkin and Valerie Bence.
Hedgehog Poetry Press will publish the winners’ collection of poems in 2020. Sanjeev will see his book published in an attractive paperback version.
Speaking about Hedgehog finding his collection worthy of the award and the criteria for the competition, Sanjeev said:
“Mark Davidson, editor of The Hedgehog Poetry Press has a keen poetic eye.
“He has been publishing wonderful poems and poets committed to the art form. I am glad he thought my manuscript as worthy of being a part of his frontlist for 2020. That is when Wrappings in Bespoke will be published.”
In an exclusive Q&A with DESIblitz, Sanjeev Sethi revealed more about the competition, the book and plans for the future:
How did you feel after learning that you’d won the Full Fat Collection Competition?
I received an email from Mark Davidson, the editor of The Hedgehog Poetry Pressaround 4 pm Indian time
and it felt exquisite.
“There is something soothing about success. It’s a signal from the universe that one is on the right track. It reinforces one’s belief in the choices one has made.”
Any recognition spurs you to outdo yourself but I’m not sure how valid this is for poetry. Hard work is only one component. There are many other elements that go on to create successful poems.
What does such a personal triumph mean to you?
That I must continue to indite with all the vigour at my command. Creative writing is a lonely business and one has to be a little loony to endlessly chase words or images (smiles).
An award gives one perspective, there are people out there who think you’re doing something worthwhile…that your writing is more than a personal whim.
The result of this award may manifest itself in my future work. I can only hope it acts as a catalyst and pushes me to key stronger poems. The future will be in a better position to answer this.
What motivated you to enter the competition?
It was a spontaneous decision. I was in New Delhi for an assignment. I came back to Mumbai with viral fever, a fever so debilitating that I hadn’t ever experienced before, so the mood wasn’t buoyant.
But a mailer from Hedgehog did something to me that in spite of the fever I worked day and night on the manuscript
and submitted it before the due date.
Lest you think I’m being dramatic about the fever, let me confirm this is culled from the truth and isn’t an imaginative leap, poets are wont to. (Laughs).
Tell us what Wrappings in Bespoke is about and why you decided to write it?
Wrappings in Bespoke, like all of my poetry, is my response to stimuli but one good thing about this form is that if one continues to evolve and hopefully I am, there is a richer texture to one’s response even on a familiar stretch.
“But life isn’t static. Each day has something new to offer.”
I have been active in the international poetry scene. My poems are regularly published in this or venue somewhere in the world every other day, so I had the material.
A book of poems has a certain rhythm and a poem that doesn’t blend with the general feel of the book can be a downer.
Sequencing the poems in the right order holds the key to a first-rate slim volume.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?
To get the correct meter. Each poem must fit the catenation.
When reading a manuscript the poems must flow and as a reader, you must feel the need to turn the page, even if it’s after a pause as some poems reintroduce us to our experiences…and the mind begins to wander.
Also, to include poems that are a departure from those in the earlier collections.
What are your writing plans for the future?
To write till the process consumes me, till I have something to say.
Right now I have been concentrating on submitting poems through the slush pile but with close to 600 acceptances worldwide, I think I need to slow down and concentrate on publishing a book a year.
“This is the broad plan but who knows how it will pan out?”
Sanjeev Sethi is not one to advise too much. Nevertheless, he is of the opinion that if one “feels right” about their poetry, they are then free to submit their work for any prospective competition.
The work of Sanjeev is spread in more than 25 countries. His poems, which amount to over 1200 are printed or posted in various places around the globe.
His known collections include Suddenly For Someone (1988), Nine Summers Late (1997) This Summer and That Summer (2016).
Sanjeev Sethi who is a resident of Mumbai, India has a lot more poetry up his sleeve. His successful book releasing in 2020 will be available across all major platforms.