Life & Style

A poet in her being

Banker-writer Anuradha Vijayakrishnan on her maiden book of poems and what writing means to her

As an engineering student in Thrissur in 1995-96, Anuradha Vijayakrishnan attended a poetry salon hosted by Kamala Das who had set it up on her return from Kolkata. She was the poetry editor of a leading woman’s magazine and published two of Anuradha’s poems. She also pointed out to the aspiring young poet that poetry indeed was her calling and she should consider taking it up seriously.

Much water and words have flown since. Anuradha published her first novel Seeing The Girl in 2013, which found a place in the long list of Man Asian Literary Prize. Alongside she negotiated her worlds of raising a family and building a career as a banker.

This year she published her maiden book of poems, The Who am I Bird, proving Das right.

Who am I in the forest today?... Do I have a crest? who am I in this story today?” writes Anuradha in her book, in which she explores questions of identity.

“To me I am who I am. I have had an interest in art since childhood. The only precaution I take when I am at work is not let people think my creativity will come in the way. It is not a world that completely understands, though I don’t see it as a contradiction. We are creatures of imbalance. You can crossover.”

Her crossover to verse was unplanned and hence organic. Fed on a diet of books in childhood, Anuradha took a degree in Chemical Engineering and Business Administration, after which she began writing verse intermittently.

The creativity grew but she remained unpublished, by choice, for a long time. It earned her the moniker of a reluctant novelist, until she realised that the destination of the written word is the reader. “I do understand that publishing is a necessity but it is prosaic and the processes make it mentally tiring. I don’t enjoy the technicalities; I don’t enjoy the self-promotion. I feel flat,” she says.

Having finally overcome her initial hesitancy, urged on by friends who told her “you owe it to yourself,” Anuradha now seems to be enjoying the buzzing world of poets she is part of. She exhorts readers and lovers of poetry, to nurture literature by patronising it.

“The best thing is that poetry is being written in copious amounts, it is no longer the forte of the elite. Reading has not suffered the way we thought. There are a variety of voices emerging; translations are being done, serious fiction is being written. In such a scenario one will want more market making. Everything survives if it makes money,” she says pragmatically.

How then would she monetise the niche world of poetry writing, of poems?

The western world, she says, has got its act together to support poetry. Universities have their publishing arms, they publish independently and fund it. “This seems a very practical way to fund literature.”

Anuradha writes in phases, but always late into the night. She jots downs thoughts and employs a conversational style in her poems.

From Emily Dickinson, who she reveres a little more than others, to Rupi Kaur, whose different kind of self-expression she endorses, Anuradha says of women poets: “It is good to keep the gender in certain cultures, it gives a certain perspective.”

To let poetry continue to flow in an age when it is seeping out of life, she says, matter of factly: “Buy poetry.”

The Who Am I Bird is published by Mumbai based, Indie publisher Bombaykala and is priced ₹ 275

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 3:21:20 AM |

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