Wine-kissed Poems, an Amazon bestseller in poetry is the latest poetry chapbook in the repertoire of noted author and poet Dr Koshy AV. In an interview with Lopa Banerjee, Koshy speaks about his poetic journey and reveals how the book was conceived and written as part of the Sakhi series, as duet with Jagari Mukherjee. He also speaks about how modern poetry has evolved in all these years, and the importance of literary groups like The Significant League to build a substantial literary community.
Many years ago, the romantic poet of England, William Wordsworth had famously quoted, ‘Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.’ Since my formative years in literature studies, I have come across poems in all their grandeur and poetic fervour, in various forms and styles, which have evolved in many inexplicable ways as my relationship with them have waxed and waned along with the high tides and low tides of life, meandering in myriad directions. But yes, this ‘spontaneous overflow’ of poetry has given shape and dimension to my emotions time and again, while thanks to the world wide web, I have had the privilege of meeting a couple of poets and scholars who, through their works and deft literary analysis, have solidified the essence of poetry and literature in the depths of my consciousness.
Today’s conversation features one such poet and literary mind, Dr. A.V. Koshy, also an Assistant Professor, English Department, Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Jazan University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has authored many books and edited many anthologies. However, here we talk about his recently published bestselling poetry chapbook ‘Wined Kissed Poems’, which he collaborated on with Jagari Mukherjee, to know what makes this collection noteworthy. Also, he speaks about poetry writing in this digital age of social media and how as writers and poets with strong penmanship and persistence, we can be changemakers.
Lopamudra Banerjee: Dr. Koshy, congratulations for the publication of your collaborative poetry collection ‘Wine-Kissed Poems’, which is your poetic collaboration with Jagari Mukherjee, a prolific, acclaimed young poet from India, and all the more for the collection becoming a bestseller in Amazon (kindle version). I would like to know how the thought of compiling a collection of ‘Dialogue poems’ came, and how wine became a metaphor for crafting these poems on love and longings.
Dr. A V. Koshy: Ever after reading Rubaiyyat, I have been fascinated with the idea of the Saqi. I am sure you have read it, Lopa. Then, over the years I also read haphazardly about this concept and also poets like Rumi, Ghalib and others. Wine is a symbol in Christianity. Slowly it all came together in my mind and I started jotting down poems that had a modern perspective, but leaning on these traditions. They just flowed from me, with the centre being a narrator who goes to a wine shop every day to drink, but also as he likes the Sakhi (I changed to Malayalam here for obvious reasons) who serves him wine there and hopes she likes him too. I wrote any number of poems and it became a fad on FB to write them but it was not started by me as I was first preceded by Niladri (Neel Kamal) and around the same time as my poems Amita Paul started writing on the Saqi in prose, a series that is breathtaking. However, one day, Jagari send me a companion poem to one of mine and I was impressed at how perfectly it matched mine and so it went on or took off from there.
Lopa: That’s a fascinating genesis for a chapbook of poetry! What is the significance behind the title, ‘Wined-Kissed Poems’? Are the poems drenched with the romance and desire of consuming a drink, or does love itself become a prime symbol of consuming and ingesting, seeking the essence of something tangible, yet something ethereal?
Dr. A.V. Koshy: Both. I mean wine as a source of escape and as code for love and a signifier for poetry and art as well as literature; death, loss and life are all implicated, I guess.
Lopa: In the opening poem of ‘Wine-Kissed Poems’, you write: “Sakhi, if I am the grass/you are the green/If roses are red/& in true love we wed/who’d make the bed/in which we’d always be seen?” Jagari’s reply to the poem starts with ‘Sakha, always in me/you are the dazzling yellow/in Van Gogh’s sunflowers/as the blue and purples of his sky/as the violet silk of twilight/when all days die…” There is a nuanced blending of a dialogic nature here and also in the rest of the poems which borders on intertextuality. What according to you both is the reason you chose to pen the poems in this conversational, yet literary style?
Dr. A.V. Koshy: We both have a background in literature, art, criticism and theory – so intertextuality, referentiality and allusiveness will always come in. They make our poems layered and structurally contrapuntal, so others can return to them again and again.
Lopa: In the arena of Indian Writing in English, we are seeing the sudden surge of poetry anthologies penned by multiple poets. These anthologies are somewhat voluminous in terms of content, and often they have given a viable platform to diverse and multiple poetic voices in terms of narrating the myriad poetic experiences. Your anthology of 18 poems woven together collaboratively walks on a different path altogether, where you both initiate poetic conversations. What have your experiences been like, trying to do that?
A.V. Koshy: The anthologies are a part of democratization where all voices matter for contribution and participation, but we do not know how many of them will last. Ours is not at all in that sidewalk, but on the opposite side of the street, and a kind of poetry dialogue that resembles more the effort to write love letters in poems to poems. They come from another source, one which signifies aesthetic freedom and experiment. I cannot think of any forerunner. It is a unique experiment.
Lopa: Can I ask you about your first poetic explorations? How and when did your first tryst with poetry happen, around which age? Has it been a heady journey for you, and how do you see your transition as a poet and literary scholar, evolving and gaining momentum year after year?
A.V. Koshy: My poetic journey started at six or seven when I wrote a poem and won an international award for it. I practice conscientiously and my Sakhi series is therefore, being the latest, my best. The nine poems in this collection are only the tip of an iceberg, but Jagari dueting on it makes it most memorable and a landmark, or even a modern-day classic. Yes, poetry writing has been to me an evolving, heady journey and has paid me rich dividends in terms of self-satisfaction, and being a best seller now also helps.
Lopa: In our current world affected by the phenomenon of Covid-19, we poets are gradually but surely, moving towards a transition from outward to inward, from a world of constant chaos of happenings to a world of acceptance and surrendering to the unprecedented times and its unpredictable ways. Many literary works, including anthologies, and also online webinars, literary collaborations are emerging from this apparent sense of lacunae. Would you say your poetic collaboration emerged from this phase as a unique ‘Covid Literature’?
A.V. Koshy: I don’t really think this is COVID literature, Lopa, but COVID helped in giving us a pause to bring it out in. However, some people may read COVID into it in that these are two people in quarantine, in isolation, in their wine shop. And that reading is fine too.
Lopa: The literary group in Facebook named The Significant League has been largely instrumental in promoting and upholding literature, especially poetry penned by contemporary writers/poets in Indian English literature. As a founder of the group and a facilitator of the anthologies produced by this group, and also as the founder of the International Reuel Prize for Literature and Writing, do you think alternative literary forums like this can be changemakers, competing with the so-called ‘mainstream’ literary forums and the media which has catered only to a handful of so-called ‘bestseller’ authors?
A.V. Koshy: If we keep persisting, we come to matter, as has already been proved by this book which has become a bestseller. Another anthology titled ‘The Significant Anthology’ that we produced some years back and one coming out soon, called the Roseate Sonnet anthology, are both unique and memorable. We also have writers in our midst who are now mainstream presences as you know, like Santosh Bakaya, and Satbir Chadha, Lily Swarn, Vijay Nair and you. Now there are also others like Jagari Mukherjee and Sunita Singh and Gauri Dixit and Vineetha Mekkoth or Bhuvaneshwari Shankar and Deepika KC Chand and so many, many others, in fact, making their mark as a result of such forums, to an extent.
Lopa: Chapbook anthologies like ‘Wine Kissed Poems’ which are much shorter in length than full-length books are becoming quite popular in the western literary scene, though they are comparatively new in the Indian literary market. Are there any plans to release this particular book in paperback/print in the near future?
A.V. Koshy: Yes, some day we want to release it as a fifty-poem book. With drawings, sketches and photographs.
Lopa: Tell us something about your upcoming work. Any other poetry anthology/anthologies in the making? If you have individual/solo book projects coming up, please tell us about that too.
A.V. Koshy: I am working on some ten to fifteen books always, as only then a few actually materialize. 😊 The Roseate sonnet anthology is one, then this one, then a graphic novel with Samia Singh, two with Santosh Bakaya, of which one is Voda by the Volga, which just released, another chapbook, then my own novel, poetry book, essays, script, a book on sonnets, another one on the novel being written, one on Dylan being written etc. I also want to say that all we did would not have been possible without the help of publishers like Sudarshan Kcherry of Authorspress and in this case with Antara Nanda Mondal of Blue Pencil, whose support has been unstinting.
Lopa: Thank you Dr. Koshy for this opportunity of having a beautifully insightful conversation with you! Looking forward to more of your books! 😊
Authors: Dr Koshy AV and Jagari Mukherjee
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 2814 KB
Published on: 5 August 2020
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