People will continue to write poetry whether it ‘matters’ or not. It is a response to an inner compulsion and acts as an internal stabiliser. It freshens up language. And politically too, it has mattered. Think of Pablo Neruda, the poems of Dylan Thomas during World War II, of Paul Celan, Antonin Bartuzek, Nelly Sachs, Hans Magnus Enzensberger and so many others.
Goa-based poet Manohar Shetty, in an interview with Dibyajyoti Sarma, answers ‘what it means to be a poet in today’s chaotic time?’
When people talk about your poetry, the first thing they mention is the animal imagery. How did you start with it? I’m sure the Panchatantra was not an influence.
No, the Panchatantra was not an influence, but perhaps the shadows of Ted Hughes and DH Lawrence were. Animals are a useful vehicle to comment on the human animal. Lately, I’ve been running out of creatures great and small. Perhaps I need to invent my own imaginary creatures.
Your poetry seems to be obsessed with spaces. Your first book was called A Guarded Space, and the new HarperCollins book is Living Room. There is also Domestic Creatures…
I don’t think I’m obsessed with ‘spaces’, only in terms of feeling constrained and locked-in. Oddly enough, poetry opens up the world. It’s like a safety valve.
I am guessing it has to do with how and where you live. Is this why you have two books called Personal Effects and Body Language?
I’m not much of a traveller, at least in physical terms. Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore — that’s my coastal territory and that’s big enough, though I spent two quite unhappy years working in Bengaluru.
Read the complete interview here.