There's no greater joy than writing a poem

They are my response to stimuli. They help me make sense of my situation.

 |  3-minute read |   29-10-2015
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On the heels of the release of my third book of poems, This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury), after a gap of 18 years, ideally I should be on the top of the world but I carry with me mixed feelings.

Is it emotional exhaustion? Or, will hindsight hand me her gift? Besides the perquisite talent (dozens of poems published all over the world), lucubration and all of that, poetry books in our environment are creations of fortuitous circumstance.

The gifted and generous Dom Moraes happened to read my second manuscript in 1997 and drawled, "Would you like me to write an introduction to your book?" I jumped out of my skin. Later he got me in touch with Har Anand publishers and some months later, Nine Summer Later was born. The birth of books is made of such tenuous links and tremulous connections.

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 about my engagement with existence. One's satisfaction must lie in the process of creating and not publishing especially in the form of a book. That is an add-on... but if one aims to seek happiness in publishing a book then it is the wrong place to find it.

The way forward is to write and seek completion in it. But it is human desire to gauge the quality of one's work and try to get it published in journals and online platforms both in India and overseas. In the last two years or so, my poems have been published in about 30 venues. There is gratification in it. But for me the important thing is to write, everything else is secondary. For beginners publishing is a good barometer to gauge if one's writing is in sync with the contemporary poetic idiom. This is a tough game: poets have soft skins but if you want your work to get published, you have to possess a coat of Teflon especially while dealing with journals oversees. The competition is stiff, the judgment brutal. But if one hangs in there and continues chiseling one's craft: there is enormous fulfilment.

One issue most people rarely mention is the economics of writing poetry. The sad part is there is little, in fact no money in it and yet one pursues it because it offers one something that nothing else does. For me there is no joy greater than the joy of writing a poem. At my age it is more meaningful than quality sex.

I will end with a poem I wrote after, This Summer and That Summer was published:


  • People wise up to withstand paucity. There is no
  • effort to handle excess as with book editors of
  • mainstream newspapers. Each edition, an episode
  • in ache and achievement: for that chair it is one
  • too many. This sin of supply has cheer. I am in
  • queue for my sliver of sunshine.
  • Be clown or clergy. Be who you're not. Sagittal
  • bolts will still be flung as needs blunt them. The
  • bar has solace but it is said to be nocent. Best to
  • live in lines, where I choose images and interludes.
  • The strings of scansion are in my control and not
  • with some coxcomb from a cowherd.

sethi_102915040923.jpg This Summer and That Summer; Sanjeev Sethi; Bloomsbury. 


Sanjeev Sethi Sanjeev Sethi

He is a poet. This Summer and That Summer is his third book of poems. His work includes, Nine Summers Later and Suddenly For Someone.

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