The first time I wrote what could be labeled as a poem was when I was in my class 9. There was a cultural event in school in which poetry writing was one of the competitions and I wrote some lines to a tune in my head. My teacher liked it and I was instantly hooked.
But it was when I was halfway through my college did, I first come face to face with what one can term as actual poetry. I started reading a lot of poems in Tamil and naturally began to write in a similar manner. Soon I began to translate it into English because none of the guys who were interested in what I had to say, could read Tamil . So to reach out to them, I began to translate my poems to English. Later I fully switched over to writing in English
What made me stick to poetry is a completely different question. To me poetry seemed like writing a magic spell. As if certain words put together in a certain way could change my reality. Through the lens of a poem, the world always seemed much better. As if an order was being restored to the chaos around me. The fact that there was no money in it was apparent from the start. Pursuing a vocation which was non profitable did give me a moral high.
For a very long time, I wrote my stuff and showed it to people around me. Even after I got published in 2009, I somehow felt that it was important to interact with your own immediate circle as a poet. Seemed a bit suicidal to begin with because of the laughs or jeers that came my way. But I think it is important to stand your ground as a person who writes poems and communicate with people around you.
After I came here to China , I have been posting my poems on WeChat which is a much more accessible platform for most people. My eyes were opened to the fact that most people around you, if given the right context can read any type of poem. Here in Beijing, there’s an elderly Chinese gentleman who works as a chauffeur and who I regularly meet. He used to ask me doubts or pass comments on what I post in WeChat . One fine day he recited one of my poems from his memory. For whatever reason he did that, I m still overwhelmed by that incident.
I think it’s important and necessary for poets to talk to their neighbors, to share their work with them. To become a sort of poet of the community, as it were.