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In conversation with famous Indian poet Dr. Vasudeva Reddy
Dr. T. Vasudeva Reddy occupies a significant place in Indian literary circles. His poems unveil the inner essence of life. Born in December 1943 in a village near Tirupati, he did masters in English in 1966; got his Ph. D for his thesis on the novels of Jane Austen. He worked as lecturer, reader and UGC National Fellow and visiting professor, and retired as principal of a government degree college in December 2001.

He received the Awards of International Eminent Poet in 1987, Hon. D. Litt. from the WAAC, San Francisco in 1988, Best Teacher Award at the College & University level from the Govt. of AP in 1990, Best Poetry award for his third poetry book The Fleeting Bubbles from Michael Madhusudan Dutt Academy, Calcutta in 1994 and the prestigious U.G.C Award of National Fellowship in 1998.

His biography figures in the American Biographical Institute (N. Carolina, USA), International Biographical Institute (Cambridge), Reference India and Asia (New Delhi), and Sahitya Akademi (New Delhi). He is a renowned poet, critic and novelist of international repute. His poems appeared in French journals in Paris. M.Phil and Ph.D. theses have been produced on his works. Recently, he received the international Award of “Excellence in World Poetry” in 2009.

In a candid conversation with citizen journalist Shantanu Haldar, Dr Reddy speaks about his passion for poetry. Excerpts.

Can you define poetry in your own words?

It is very difficult to define poetry. It is easier to say what is not a poem than to say what is a real poem. Nowadays, real poems are very rarely produced. Most of the so-called poems are nothing but verses. So if we try to define poetry, that means we are reducing the scope of poetry itself.

Poetry is an expression of imagination and when it is conveyed with some rhyme and musical quality, it will have a lasting effect. Without that musical quality or melody, poetry will not appeal. Moreover, poetry should be written in such a way that it should disturb our minds, it should unsettle whatever is there in our minds and unless poetry is a thought provoking one, we cannot say that it is a poem. Mere description can never be a poem at all. There are some certain old and worn out ideas in our minds. By reading a poem, those ideas should be unsettled, they should be disturbed. If the lines do not appeal to our hearts, it is not a poem.

Why do you write poetry?

Writing poetry is purely creative, and it gives me so much pleasure and happiness. It gives me immense delight which cannot be described or expressed in words. And that is why, in order to forget the exhaustion and tiresomeness of the professional life, I spend my time in my creative writing.

Nature is always present in your poems. Are you influenced by the English Romantic poets?

Yes, I was so much influenced by the British Romantic poets. Right from the good old days, even when I was a student, I was fond of Romantic Poetry-the poetry of Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats. Naturally, it had made a deep impression on me. Moreover, I was born and brought up in a village which was surrounded on all sides by the beauty of nature. So the influence of my surroundings was there deeply on me. That is why I was very much impressed and began drawing so much of pleasure in describing the objects of Nature which I saw.

What do you think ‘art is for art’s sake or art is for morality’s sake?

These two schools appear to be two different ends, but at one stage they merge together. They get united. Even though a poet writes for himself, or for his own pleasure, but a he happens to be a member of the society. Therefore, in whatever he writes, he will be communicating with something and that will be the message to the society.

Among the English poets who do you like most?

I like the Romantic poets, especially the poems of Keats. His odes are very beautiful. Among them, Ode to a Nightingale, Ode to Autumn, Ode to a Grecian Urn - are three jewels. His poems reveal deeper feelings and emotions, and moreover, even as a young man he succeeded in articulating his feelings in unforgettable worlds.

You have written so many beautiful poems. Do you have any special one to mention?

There are poems such as Lake at Night, Thousand Pillars, Swamiji and Indian Bride. These are some of my very good poems.

You have written an English Grammar book. Tell us a bit about the book.

Yes, the book was prescribed for the UG students of AP and it was there for six years.

Professional works and creative writing-how do you manage two sides?    

During the daytime, my entire professional work would be over and during the night, I would be totally free. I would be awake till the midnight hour and I would be just writing and writing.

You are a novelist. Tell us something about your novels?

So far, I have written two novels. Both the novels are about the rural life, and I feel that no English novelist has completely delved on the presentation of the rural life and that gap I wanted to fill. In my own modest way, I think I have filled the gap. The common people are my subject. Exploitation of the poor farmers by the landlords and also the depravity and degeneration among the poor people- are main themes of my novels.

What is your message to young poets?

The young poets are showing so much talent. I am really proud of them. They cannot be overlooked or ignored at all. The first thing they need is proper encouragement. There are so many promising poets in our country. If they are given proper encouragement and atmosphere, naturally they will shine.

Do you have any message for society?

We are all children of Nature. We should never neglect Nature. At the same time, we should keep our society clean and free from corruption.

Poetry works:

1. When Grief Rains (New Delhi, Samakaleen Pubs., 1982)

2. The Broken Rhythms (Madras, Poets Press, 1987)

3. The Fleeting Bubbles (Madras, Poets Press, 1989)

4. Melting Melodies (Madras, Poets Press, 1994)

5. Pensive Memories (Madras, Poets Press, 2005)

6. Gliding Ripples (USA, Baltimore, Pub. America, 2008)

7. Echoes (N.Delhi, Authors Press, 2012)

Novels:

1.      The Vultures (Calcutta, Golden Books, 1983)

2.      Minor Gods (New York, 2008)

Criticism:

1. Jane Austen: The Dialectics of Self-Actualization in her Novels

                         (New Delhi, Sterling, 1987)

2. Jane Austen: The Matrix of Matrimony (Jaipur, Bohra Pubs., 1987)

Grammar:

Advanced Grammar & Composition in English (Hyderabad, Commonwealth   Pubs., 1996)

Reviews on his poetry: 50

Critical articles published on his poetry: 30

Research on his poetry:  M.Phils. & Ph.Ds.

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