Vihang A. Naik, born in Surat, India on September 2, 1969, is a contemporary poet writing in English, widely published and won many awards. He is educated from The he Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda with Philosophy, English Literature and Indian Literature in English Translations. His collections of poems include City Times and Other Poems (1993), Making A Poem (2004) and Poetry Manifesto (New & Selected Poems) (2010). His Gujarati collection of poems titled Jeevangeet (Gujarati Poems) (2001) is dedicated to the cause of victims of Gujarat Earthquake 26th January, 2001. He also translates poetry written in Gujarati language into English including his own Gujarati Language poems into English. His poems have appeared in literary journals and anthologies. More info can be found at https://vihang.org
Criticspace: Many congratulations on your wonderful book Making a Poem, Vihang! What response are you getting on your work from the readers? Please share your experience with us.
Vihang: Critical attention on my poetry collection Making A Poem is quite remarkable from my poetry readers. I am glad that the book is acknowledged as one of the significant contribution as Indian English poetry book which does not make poetry as flowery language but breaks away from mystery involved in writing poetry and the process of making a poem
Criticspace: I have read the collection now and I found it very beautiful and filled with emotions and joy. How did you make this book happen? Please share your motive behind this writing?
Vihang: An artist, writer or a poet does have creative urge / motive behind the happening of Making A Poem. Before MAP I had City Times and Other Poems which went on to enter many remarkable records of book/ awards. I tried to do away with the flowery and mystique language of poetry which was in practice with previous age. I also tried to experiment and show that the process of writing a poem can be practiced by any one who has a dream of making a poem.
Criticspace: Vihang, most of your poems are related directly to the ‘Poet’, ‘Poetry’ and the beauty of it. How you decided to choose this particular topic.
Vihang: Well, it just happened that I just thought about poet, poetry and about the writing poetry about poetry. I did not choose consciously. It so happened that the particular topic choose me. I don’t know why at that period of time I happened to writing about poetry. But one thing is certain that I did have strong urge to experiment on poetry writing process and aesthetics of composition.
Criticspace: Do you think poetry gives us lots of freedom to write? Poets are free to relate the poems, verses to the real world with ease. How do you enjoy this freedom?
Vihang: Of course, I could have written a novel or prose essay on technical aspects of making a poem but I thought that would not serve the purpose. The aim of poetry must be to provide subtle and complex meanings through the medium of poetry and words and their by bring out to surface the real metaphysics of existence and poetry. Poetry is not a religion in itself but is a strong medium if used thoroughly. It depends upon the skill and art of poet to bring out poets intuition that one has experienced to poetical level and demonstrate it.
Criticspace: The distinguished poet that you are, what does poetry mean to you? Do you see poetry as something which must be objective or an expression which must be charged with subjective views or an amalgam of both or something else? Please let us know about it.
Vihang: To be frank I am not “distinguished poet” in fact I believe that after 18th century the age of distinguished poet has gone. Any way, if you may find some distinguished poem than I agree with you that our contemporary times has given us sufficient distinguished poems. Along with that I also believe that poetry should not be hand maid of propaganda or be used for expression of some dogma or cult charged with some subjective views.
Criticspace: The collection was already published, when you decided to republish it and how? Readers might have this question while reading about your writing career.
Vihang: The reason to bring out 2nd edition is that 1st edition went out of print and as you know these days publishers shy away from publishing poetry. 1st edition was brought out by Allied Publisher’s, Mumbai with the support of Shri Suchdev with limited copies and restricted distribution. During that time there was no online distribution channels such as amazon and flipkart and so on but now during 2nd edition the scenario has changed drastically as far as online book stores are concerned. Amazon has recolonized publishing along with other publishers.
Criticspace: What do you think is the best time to write poems? Does the poet need any specific time or situation to write or they just need to let it go randomly?
Vihang: Well, the poetry comes naturally and if it does not come that way better not come. I do not know, I mean I am not prepared. It always come that way. But whenever, I have the creative urge or when the creative thing does would not let you rest thrill you pen that poem. It comes any time when you are lest prepared.
Criticspace: What do you think is the role of poetry in literature? Today, as we see, most of the readers are preferring to novels only. Do you think readers should give equal preference to poetry as well?
Vihang: The habit of readers it not to be blamed. Like if I take my own example I read novels as well but that does not stop me from reading and writing better poetry.
Criticspace: There are lots of writers, who want to make their career as a poet. Being a mature poet what is your message and suggestions to them? It will be very helpful for emerging writers.
Vihang: I do not have any particular message for young writers and poets who are emerging in India and rest of the world. I am not a messenger or rather I would be the last to advise on the how and why of poetry. But I do feel that one should keep on reading poetry but good , the bad and the ugly. Only by reading and more reading one comes to know that what is better poetry. For example, the poem which gives only one meaning is not as good as a poem which gives two or multiple meanings.
Criticspace: What do you do besides writing poetry?
Thanks a lot for the answers, Vihang. It was a pleasure talking with you. Wish you great success and future!