Sunday, November 30, 2014

An interview with poet Vijay Seshadri

Seshadri, born to Tamil- and Kannada-speaking parents, did not study Indian literature or the epics, but as a teenager in the US, he did engage with mythology and some of the ancient scriptures, as he had opted for Religion as one of his classes in school. That was when he first, he recalls, read the story of Yudhisthir and his journey to heaven. “What reading Indian mythology gave me was a taste for the imaginative and the fantastic. Indian stories are so imaginative, so wild. Like the stories from the Bhagavata Purana. I’ve always had an attraction for the imaginative, even among writers.” 

And what about his love for poetry, where did that come from? “There is no such thing as poetry out there,” he counters. “You fall in love with a poem. So I fell in love with certain poems. As the number of those poems kept growing, my interest in the art grew.” 

In the early years, though, Seshadri thought he wanted to write fiction. He made an unsuccessful attempt at writing his first novel, and, he says, out of the failure of that came his early poetry. As his appreciation of poetry grew, he also found encouragement from his professors for his own poems. However, his vocation did lie in the realm of storytelling. There is a definite narrative running through each poem and much of it is, mercifully, quite accessible. 

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