Abhay Sarkaria’s new book of poems is a beautiful blend of un-belonging, longing, living and loving. The poems in Abhay Sarkaria’s book Ghuhels, written over the last two or three years though he had begun work on some even earlier, come across as quite intimate, almost autobiographical in nature.
Abhay Sarkaria’s ‘Ghuhels’ is a wonderful read that travels across fictional worlds, myths, emotional characters, and fancy tales. Talking about what drew his attention to these ideas for this collection, he says, “I didn’t think of this as a collection at all at first. I wrote one poem and then another and then a third, and so on. A few appeared online and in print. A few of them — ‘Winter’s Twilight,’ ‘Blossoming Lilies,’ and ‘To My Beloved’s Beloved’ — even went viral, which was a totally new thing for me and took me by surprise, for I wrote them essentially for myself so I could process some of the horrors of the present. And then I looked back at all the other poems and short stories I had written subsequent to the publication of my previous book, The Golden Orion. This is the book that appeared in the Amazon best selling, and honestly, I did nothing for it, not even a proper launch, for I couldn’t muster up the energy for it. I found that I had a reasonable number, that they were not too bad, and when it came to me, I was perhaps ready for a fiction book.”
On writing in English and being multilingual, Abhay says, “Some things I can only ever say in Dogri even though there may be a decent enough approximation of it in English. When I am at home or when I am talking to people who know Dogri, I will happily switch to Dogri mid-sentence, and no one will turn a hair. However, it is quite a different thing when you are setting out to write “a poem in English.” While writing an English poem, you have to stretch extra hard or do something ingenious in order to get your “Dogri” thought across. Or sometimes, it is best to leave the Dogri word in there — let your readers make what they will of it. Languages other than English slip in and out and form the interstices of what is supposed to be poetry in English, and I see no reason to stop that.”
He also added, “The process for each one was roughly that I would start by writing something down in a simple unruled notebook I carry around with me. Then revisit it a few times before typing it out, leave it to settle in my laptop for a while, and then revise it again, perhaps. It is a bit messy. Putting together an anthology is harder because you have to get individual poems to work together — not so much in terms of a theme but in mood and ideas… And I got quite anxious about it all, went back and forth. I printed out all the poems, laid them on the floor, and that’s how I worked, trying to decide which should go where in which order. Then there came a time when it all just seemed to work!”
And when does he know if a poem is done and ready? “When I read it out to myself, and I don’t cringe at any of the words or phrases,” he says.
Ghuhels can be bought on the Amazon,