Poet's Interview

Poet Interview #39 – Sanjeev Sethi

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?
I am essentially a poet. I have published three books. Bloomsbury published my third, This Summer and That Summer in October 2015. 
I don’t remember the exact time or age when I started inditing but love of poetry came early. I was a lonely child and extremely sensitive. I recall the joy of reading, whenever in my little mind I could make sense of poetic lines it would delight me to no end.
I had this daybook where I used to write 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 young love crept into my poems and still does.
How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
Different poems reach in different ways. For some it is my response to an emotional experience, others just fall on to my keyboard. Sometimes it is a fleeting thought and at other times a word can trigger a poem.
Each poem has its rhythm, its sequence. I have no favorite poets. 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. 
I am right now in an extremely aggressive phase so the whole day is spent in chasing Muse and her mission. When I began writing there was a lot more emotion in my work. Now, it is a little controlled. I don’t know if this is a phase or a part of growing up.
It maybe relevant to read Conduction from This Summer and That Summer.
If you enter poetry
like a nabob before a nautch 
it will leave you listless.
When you peruse a poem, perpend it 
like a psalm or salat. When faith 
is installed guerdon is assured.
Parnassus has to be pampered, immune 
from the inhibitions of mind only then 
will it woo with its vim and valence. 
When you undress a poem with dignity,
delicately like a lover, it will disrobe you 
of excess, accessing your inner feelings.
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
I am a little shy and away from all this. But everyone I know and their grandmother goads me to take this path. Maybe one day I will give in. But right now I am away from it all.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
No, mine in an insular existence. I am really not in touch with local poets. I guess everyone has their own story. My second book, Nine Summer Later was published in 1997. At that point in time I had spent about 15 years as a media professional and was a published poet. Dom Moraes had written the Introduction, Nissim Ezekiel’s comment was on the flap. My poems and articles were all over the place. I was the film critic of The Daily but I wasn’t enjoying my journalistic writing. Meter was and is my marijuana. Sadly poetry makes no money. Around the same time circumstances conspired in such a manner that they allowed me the space to create. Strangely, when this happened my need to publish subsided. I was happy to read, write and pursue the prosodic route. I did this quietly for 15 years, writing but not publishing.
Suddenly in the summer of 2013 there was again an itch to publish. I emailed four poems to The London Magazine. Two days later Steven O’ Brien, the editor asked for ‘some more poems’. Half an hour later I had an acceptance. This goaded me to send poems to another journal. At last count it is more than 100 acceptances the world over. Somewhere along the line Bloomsbury happened. This Summer and That Summer was born in October 2015. The basic point I am trying to make is that I am so locked up creating that there is really no time to exchange and interact with others.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
Just urge my young friends to read. Internet has opened the options. There is a lot of good work there. Keep reading, writing and submitting. That is the mantra. Don’t let rejection ever get to you. To be rejected is reality. It comes with the territory. The sooner you accept it the better it is for you.

 This interview was originally published by WISH Publishing: