"I had got into an aggressive creative phase which continues till this day."
Indian poet, Sanjeev Sethi’s latest poetry anthology takes readers on a masterful journey of life and emotion.
Beautifully executed, the Mumbai poet has been enjoying global recognition for his work, with his poems featuring in The London Magazine, Poetry Australia and Muse India.
His third collection This Summer and That Summer, published by Bloomsbury India follows on from Nine Summers Later and Suddenly For Someone.
This latest anthology comprises of 53 poems, including ‘Nocturnal Activity’ and ‘Sunny Chacha’, all conveying different emotions and gives readers an insight into his world and experiences in life.
What is striking in this collection is the range and variation within each of the poems. Some are short and appear simple to read whereas others are longer and provoke a deeper reaction. The themes within the collection also vary, from love to loss.
It’s clear that this collection is designed to give readers a sense of melancholy, cynicism and optimism.
In an exclusive interview with DESIbliz, Sanjeev Sethi tells us about his life as a poet.
What inspires you to write your poems?
“Poetry is an extension of myself. I seek it in most settings. Poems are my response to stimuli. They help me make sense of my situation. I wrestle for nuance by wrenching words and woes.
“Some poems dip into my emotional deposits, others document the demotic. The attempt is to arrest a moment of truth in a tasteful manner. In short, poetry is my engagement with existence.”
How long did it take for you to compile these poems into a book? What were the challenges and highlights?
“The first draft was over by the Summer of 2013. By then I had got into an aggressive creative phase which continues till this day. I kept writing new poems and pulling out the old ones. This went on for about a year.
“At that stage I told myself, enough is enough and started spreading the word round that I had manuscript ready. On October 1st 2014, two days before my birthday I got a call from Bloomsbury agreeing to publish me. A year later, This Summer and That Summer was born.”
When and how did you become interested in poetry?
“I don’t remember the exact time or age, but love of poetry came early. I was a lonely child and extremely sensitive. I recall the joy of reading poetry … whenever in my little mind I could make sense of poetic lines it would delight me no end.
“I had this daybook where I used to indite and I have memories of my school magazine publishing my poems. As with a lot of poets I fell in love, or what I thought was love when I was thirteen or so.
“The bliss and baggage that comes with early love crept into my poems and still does.”
Who are your favourite authors and poets and why?
“I have no favourites. I just read and read. A line here, an idea there, a beginning somewhere, a turn of phrase, a full poem sometimes, many poems by another.”
“I keep flitting and flirting. I am not a loyalist. I am a slave of the poetic form, not of individuals who create it.”
What do you think makes ‘good’ poetry?
“A clean heart, clear mind, deeply felt emotions, striking images, wealth of words, serene set-up all help in ‘making’ good poetry.
“But if you meant to ask, what is good poetry? Poetry that elevates, that energises, that imbues in me a sense of completion, that calms my interiority … Poetry that sparks a smile, that makes me feel life is worth it in spite of the trajectories it takes.
“Poetry that unsettles me in a nonthreatening manner.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
“I am no-one to advise, just urge them to read. Keep reading. The rest will follow.”
What is the next project in your career?
“As I mentioned I am in an aggressive phase. The process of wrapping my fourth book is on. Lest you get the impression it is around the corner, that is not the case. I am at it. I keep writing new poems.
“The process of mix and match is on. A book has a certain rhythm, a curve. A writer knows when his book is ready. It isn’t time yet for my next baby.”
Read an extract from This Summer and That Summer below:
‘Soul Scan’ by Sanjeev Sethi
Shells of silence underneath my skin
burst in a rash of run-ons.
Clear as mud, carp the critics.
But I soldier on like an infantryman
bulwarking his nation’s border,
hoping to be helpful
in an era of nuclear warfare
or bombardments from the Net.
In my growing years I wished to be famous.
Parents gave value to visibility.
It was reassuring for them
to have others accept their issue.
When their pressure ended
I am best in my booth.
Without strain of the perfect gargle
or granules of pitch
I sing sweetest for myself.
Skills of a soloist
I have not gathered.
I thrive when my skin trills for itself.
It is clear that Sanjeev Sethi is a talented poet who is able to capture strong sentiments in just a few short lines. Regular readers remain captured in is words and we hope to see even more collections published from him soon.
This Summer and That Summer by Sanjeev Sethi is available to buy now from Amazon.