Q: How do you start a poem? How does a poem become a poem?
Prabhat: There is always a desire to write a poem. The thinking, the reading…it just goes on and on. Some observations or experiences in life may also stimulate one to write. The language starts taking shape and then a moment comes when I feel I should just write it, no matter what. Sometimes the wish to write aches in the mind because one may be in a situation, like a meeting or travel, that there may not be a pen, paper or computer around. Then bringing back that same thought again as a memory becomes tough. Sometimes, certain things may be half-written and get completed only after a while, when the time comes for it. This way a poem may come into being or just fall apart.
Poems come like emotions. But that’s not sufficient. To write something new, the awareness of writing culture, what’s being written in the world around and practice, also play an important role.
Q: How and when did you start publishing?
Prabhat: My first poem was published in a magazine when I was in standard 11th and since then I have been sending poems to newspapers and magazines. To look at one’s published work gives a certain delight, of having written and of it being published. But after nearly two decades of writing and publishing, I’m not hungry anymore for publishing. Now the only delight I experience is of writing.
Q: Are you engaged in publishing regularly?
Prabhat: The demand from newspapers and magazines is continuous. These days the demand is so high that I am unable to meet it. If a book is being published then that is different. Many books that I have written in writing workshops have been published. I have never approached any publisher on my own and so often I have unpublished material lying around.
Q: Who are the poets/authors that influenced you?
Prabhat: Keeping in mind an age group of 3-16 years, I would say Premchand, Vijaydaan Detha, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Lewis Carrol and a few others influenced me. In poets, Nirankar Dev Sevak, Damodar Aggarwal, Sarweshwar Dayal Saxena, Safdar Hashmi, Gulzar, Navin Sagar, Sushil Shukl are some of my favourites. I am also quite fond of oral folk literature.
Q: Are you on social media and does it influence your work?
Prabhat: I was on Facebook until a few months ago but not presently. I follow a few blogs, review sites, etc. I’m of the opinion that social media wastes more time than it actually renders useful.
Q: Any of your poems that you really like and what was the inspiration for it?
Prabhat: I haven’t written just a few poems that I can choose favourites! There are many poems like Banjara Namak Laaya, Pedon ki Amma, Cheenk,
The desire to write itself is the inspiration to write. The joy of expressing something also becomes an inspiration. Every poem becomes likeable for something special about it for example a small poem – आओ भाई खिल्लू, अभी तो की थी मिल्लू, भरा नहीं क्या दिल्लू. This poem about the endless desire of children to meet each other is written in a lighter child-like language and I just like it.
Q: What are you reading these days?
Prabhat: I am reading some books on Arvind Gupta’s website, Arun Kamal’s poem Pralay (प्रलय), and some translation of poems of Bharthari by Rajesh Joshi.
Q: Are you writing something these days?
Prabhat: I wrote some poems which will be published in magazines – ‘Maati’ and ‘Pluto’.
Q: What are your suggestions/message for budding poets?
Prabhat: The same as Vijaydaan Detha said once – ‘Mann bhar padho to kan bhar likho’(read a mindful, write a handful). Harivansh Rai Bachchan said somewhere – ‘hazaar panktiyan padho to ek pankti likho’ (read a thousand lines and write one..). But this is no rule. It is no good to just read a lot. What is most essential is to feel life. Reading life is most important. Kabir once said ‘pothi padhi padhi jag mua, pandit bhayo na koi’ (reading books everyone died, none became any wise, one who reads the word of love, only becomes wise). Similar to this, Allama Iqbal once quoted –hazaron saal nargish apni benuri pe roti hai, badi mushkil se hota hai chaman mein deedavar paida (For a thousand years Nargish (an eye shaped flower) whines for its sightlessness, for an appreciator is rare in a garden…). It’s something to be an appreciator. I have not bloomed well myself, then what shall I say to budding poets…! I have no message. Everyone finds their own way.
To tred the trodden path is the worst thing about writing. One has to deviate from the usual path. What Kabir said – singhon ke nahi lehde, hanso ki nahi paat, laalon ki nahi boriyaan, sadhu na chale jamaat’ (As neither rubies are available in sacks, nor swans are found in flocks, nor lions are found roaming in herds, one may not find a saadhu or a true seeker roaming in a group. Seeking is a flight of the alone to the alone.) And so it is for poets as well. One’s own language, style, words may take a lifetime to develop, huge patience is required. These days everyone likes speed…I had written a story once ‘Raftaar Khan’s scooter’… the need of speed, the hurry, can kill poets. I like being slow.
Prabhat stays in Madhopur, Rajasthan. His books in Kitablet collection: Uunt ka Phool (ऊँट का फूल), Ghumantuon ka Dera (घुमंतुओं का डेरा), Megh ki Chaya (मेघ की छाया)
Read this interview in Hindi