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An interview with Amol Redij, author of 'Silent Moments of Melancholy'
'Silent Moments of Melancholy' is debut book of poetry collection of Amol Redij, a budding poet in the field of Indian English Literature. In a candid interview with Dr Shamenaz, assistant professor, Department of Humanities, AIET, Allahabad, Redij speaks about his passion for poetry.

‘I LOVE the feeling of being able to write poetry and being read by the connoisseurs of this art form – Amol Redij tells Dr Shamenaz. Excerpts from the interview.

Dr. Shamenaz: Tell us something about yourself?

Redij: Poet, Writer, Creative insect, book lover, movie maniac, theatre enthusiast. I have scripted a Marathi play. I am doing short films (script, screenplay) with a group of like-minded friends. I am also a working professional in the computer/software industry engaged in technical communications and documentation.

Dr. Shamenaz: Is writing poetry your passion or hobby?

 

 

Redij: I may not be able to demarcate the difference perfectly. I always loved reading poetry because it gave me a huge sense of imagination in the most compact way. I don’t exactly remember when it developed into a hobby or a passion. However, I love the feeling of being able to write poetry and being read by the connoisseurs of this art form.

Dr. Shamenaz: Being an IT professional, what inspires you to write poetry?

Redij: Firstly, I would refrain from calling myself an IT Professional. Though associated with the computer industry, I am not into software development or what an IT related professional is understood to be. I am very much in touch with words, as my contribution is towards technical documentation and creative content.

Coming to inspiration, I think it is everywhere. Even an empty bottle of water or a flickering tube light entices me to write, if apt. I travel by public transport; I prefer it that way, as I get to observe lot of things and people, from where comes most of my inspiration.

Dr. Shamenaz: How do you maintain balance between your profession and writing?

 

Redij: I chose my career very consciously. I had begun as someone, who could design websites, write software programs. However, fortunately within two to three years, I could gauge the path ahead. I was certain that continuing to do this would not leave me with enough time to pursue my personal interests. Creative side of things and words is where I wanted to be, so I quickly changed my course of career to technical writing, an area that allowed me to use my technical expertise along with my love for words and writing. A decision taken around nine years back has balanced out things till date, thankfully.

Dr. Shamenaz: Is writing a good career for youth?

Redij: If you consider writing as in copywriting, content writing, creative writing then certainly it can be a good career option with a steady learning and growth. However, if you want to attach a sense of literary achievement, especially talking about the youth (age wise), then writing can be done as an activity of passion and hobby, as the results of success may often be delayed and one needs to be highly patient. I do not favour luck. What is good will remain good and will get recognised sooner or later. It pays to remain enduring and calm until writing literature starts rewarding you with your daily bread.

Dr. Shamenaz: Have you been impressed or influenced by any Indian or western writer?

Redij: Many! Albert Camus, Marquez, Jose Saramago, Henry Miller, and Pablo Neruda are few examples of the western writers I thoroughly admire. Kiran Nagarkar, Vikram Seth, Vasant Abaji Dahake, and Arun Kolatkar are the national writers I have and can read over and over again. I am also impressed by works of Khaleed Hosseni and Mohammed Hanif. Just recently, I finished reading Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis, which has left me highly influenced with the style of narrative writing.

Dr. Shamenaz: Which contemporary Indian or western poet you like most?

Redij: I would again like to name Vikram Seth and Jeet Thayil. However, I also love to read Meena Kandasamy.

Dr. Shamenaz: What is the special quality of English poetry, which you like most?

Redij: Not just English, but I think poetry by nature is such that it allows you the freedom to express without applying any sense of logic. The best part is that you don’t need to explain what you mean and it can be left to the reader to interpret. Poetry is not binding on the reader to understand it in a particular manner, the entire world and beyond is open for comprehension. It is the diverse construal of poetry that makes it so special to me.

Dr. Shamenaz: How many days/ months do you usually take to write a poetry collection?

Redij: Perhaps, a very difficult question to answer, as completing one single poem or an entire collection is a matter of temperament. I am an eccentric and at times forgetful too, so there have been times when I have left my poems unfinished or have forgotten what I wanted to write. Also, there have been times when I couldn’t write a single poem for over 2 months and there have been instances where I wrote 4-5 poems in a day.

Trying to put things into perspective, my earlier collection of 66 poems, “Silent Moments of Melancholy” is a work of my poems (written) over 6 years. My second collection of 69 poems is my work of last 6 months.

Dr. Shamenaz: What are the qualities of a good poet?

Redij: Not sure. I read a lot. But my being observant, tolerant, humble, and little flavour of rebel helps me write. Here, by rebel, I mean questioning the self, not necessarily the others. I remember Henry Miller’s quote here – “Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”

Dr. Shamenaz: Is writing poetry easier than creating any technical thing?

Redij: Anything that needs hard work is not easy. In my opinion, both creative as well as technical things need hard work, though in varying degrees. Comparing poetry writing to doing some technical task may not be justified. It is like asking which is easier to peel, an apple or an orange. It all depends on the interest and skill of the person.

Personally, poetry writing easier for me as it comes naturally to me; I don’t need to think consciously about it. I am not a technical person as such so creating technical thing takes a lot of time for me, in terms of contemplating the direction in which I should proceed or steps I should take.

Dr. Shamenaz: Do you think that Indian poets are gaining international recognition?

Redij: I think Indian poets have always earned the recognition they deserved. And it all starts from the great Rabindranath Tagore. The legacy has been well continued by Dilip Chitre (awarded in France, Germany, Japan, USA), Kamala Das (shortlisted for Nobel 1984, Asian World Prize), Vikram Seth (Commonwealth Poetry Prize), etc. Even Ranjit Haskote and Jeet Thayil are internationally recognised names in poetry. I am hopeful that the trend set will continue to flourish, as there are promising poets in India, who can leap over the national boundaries.

Dr. Shamenaz: Were you nervous about the book launch; what has the response been so far?

Redij: Frankly, there was no formal book launch. It was just an official announcement on the publisher’s website and some Facebook pages. Also the response hasn’t been that great commercially, which I had anticipated. I have never bothered about or linked up my love for literary writing with the business aspect of it. However, I do wish to thank my family and friends for the word-of-mouth propaganda that helped me achieve a decent readership.

Dr. Shamenaz: Are you interested in writing in other forms of English literature other than poetry?

Redij: Yes indeed. I have finished writing a fiction novel. And I am on my second.

Dr. Shamenaz: What is your next project?

Redij: I am not sure which will get published first. I have completed a fiction novel. And I have a collection of 69 poems titled “69 Quote: Unquote – The OtherWise Poetry”. I have kept both together. Let the works decide amongst themselves who wants to go first. 

Dr. Shamenaz: Any message for your readers?

Redij: Thank you for all the love and acceptance.

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