Literary Interview: From One Poet To Another

December 13, 2018 Interviews , OTHER , Poetry , POETRY / FICTION



Sanjeev Sethi interviews Kushal Poddar



Eternity Restoration Project (Hawakal Publishers— Calcutta, India) is the accomplished Kushal Poddar’s sixth book. A Kushal Poddar poem at its best is a tonic, it energizes but at its worst is still worth a read. Poetry lovers have much to thank the keen-eyed Bitan Chakraborty and Kiriti Sengupta for picking up this title.



SS: Eternity Restoration Project has just been released? How does it feel?


KP: It feels slightly more exciting than a good day of writing at least three harrowing poems and slightly less exciting than being published for the first time. I have expectation from the book for the sake of a real and honest publisher and also because I hope someone will actually read it and say, “Heck!” years afar from now.



SS: Hawakal Publishers (helmed by the gifted duo– Bitan Chakraborty and Kiriti Sengupta) has an interesting Poetry catalogue. How did you chance upon them?


KP: I met them at one of those poetry evenings being organized in the beginning of capitalizing the spread of poetry through the internet, and they asked me if I want to publish a book gathering my publications abroad. I was not warm to the idea as a ‘selected work’ has a special place in my heart. Both the author and the publisher must mature to accomplish that feat. Three years later I was surprised by the growth on both the sides. Their catalogue is vast in range and can be everything one may read in a lifetime.



SS: You have published five poetry books overseas, this is your first by an Indian publisher. Does this feel any different?


KP: After five books abroad it feels like homing to the heart of the hearth where the pages are really being cooked for the purpose to be served.



SS: What stirs your creative impulse?


KP: Everything- from a chance conversation overheard in a public vehicle to a personal experience. Sometimes it is some news, sometimes- another poet’s poem left half read because it stirred a counterview in me. I call my writings a form of method acting.



SS: Give us a lowdown about your poetic life? How and when did you start inditing?


KP: I was six and I found it easy to mimic the poems in my text book. Then I and my mother used to play rhyming up anything that we might say in the plain language. My mother is no writer and has no patience for modern variations of the genre. When I discovered English as a passage to poetry I was divided. One must write in the language he dreams in and he can use while uttering a slang while relieving himself in the morning. I live in a stratum of society that speaks only its mother tongue. In order to be original as opposed to translate my own thoughts into English I bore the cross of isolation until language itself cease to matter. Then anything spoken in any tongue was delivered in signs to be written in the dialect I chose. I discovered social media and poets from abroad, especially Franz Wright, Chris Madoch, Donna Snyder, Julie Kim Shavin, Andrew Bellon, Barbara Maat who eased me through the nuances of the culture and dictions. I read and followed from Expansive poetry to New Formalism, from ancient Japanese to Than-Bauk, synthesized and scribbled afar.



SS: You are frequently published in literary journals overseas? For those who have not been able to crack this how will you guide them? Pitfalls to avoid?


KP: Follow the journals. Stalk their writings. Then understand if they are fit for your children or not. Remember they are not an entity not unlike any other creative human being having regular days with ups and downs, bliss and melancholy. Rejections are the part of the process.

The obvious pitfalls include fear, submitting without reading the demand and desire of the particular magazines, without editing, sending something when you are down yourself. And, there is always a chance of being plagiarized by someone in this vast world of the internet.



SS: Your top six literary destinations? The first six you will think of sending your new work to?


KP: Poetry Foundation, Paris Review, The Threepenny Review, Ploughshares, AGNI, Ink sweat and tears.



SS: Do you think a strong critical environment helps in strengthening or stifling creative energy?


KP: I did strive on criticism, sometimes brutal, by my mentors. The key is to let your ego go. Let accept that you need to know but also never ceasing believing that you may know the right thing as well. Criticisms should be crosschecked and cross-referenced, but always, I stress on this point, should be welcome. You need to know the forms before breaking free from them.



SS: Does your day job as a lawyer come in the way of your poetic life?


KP: I moonwalk through my day job. It is there as a study room for human characters and also as a support system so that I do not become frustrated or starved. It is an area of magic realism for me.



SS: Any last words?


KP: An example of my room-in-the-head for my creativity is this poem below written while juggling between the thoughts for this interview and texting back a friend from a faraway land and by stepping into her shoe method acting:



The Reader (without Editing version)


The books yell back, “I do not belong to you!”

He corrects them, “We.”

“We speak in singular.” They say.


He picks up a chequered cotton duster to buff

his wife. The grey cat on the top shelf stretches itself

beyond the yard, lane, road, highway,

those log bearing trucks smoking towards the storehouses

where the drivers will get laid.


Everything speaks in singular.

He stares at the War And Peace dressed as

his wife in a turbulent gown.






Kushal Poddar

Kushal Poddar authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’ (Spare Change Press, Ohio), “A Place For Your Ghost Animals” (Ripple Effect Publishing, Colorado Springs), “Understanding The Neighborhood” (BRP, Australia), “Scratches Within” (Barbara Maat, Florida), “Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems”  (BRP, Australia) and “Eternity Restoration Project, New And Selected Poems” (Hawakal Publishers, India).



Sanjeev Sethi

Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). He is published in more than 25 countries. Recent credits: Talking Writing, Poydras Review, Miller’s Pond, Litbreak, Red Savina Review, Poetry Super Highway, Formercactus, The Five-Two,Amethyst Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India. 

Editor review


  1. terramere December 16, at 00:15

    Well done my friend. You have come a long way from the day we "met."


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.