an interview with Debashish Haar brilliant young Editor of Mystic East Publishing over my first Anthology.
1) How do you manage to express a sense of wonder in your visuals of people and places, and yet make them so ironic?
If people want things to change, they must first change their hearts.
2) How do you feel when people call you a bilingual poet? What are the advantages and disadvantages that you perceive as a bilingual poet?
I'm not bi-lingual, I've travelled a lot, even in the East, I'm familiar with different languages though in fact I only translate from Spanish into English and have written a few Spanish poems. I find if I translate a poem, not just read it, I experience getting closer to it, more than even writing in my own language. No two versions are ever the same in a translation and they are originals. One American poet Robert Powell even claimed his translation of Sappho was his poem, just as Catullus did. Languages aid the poet, perhaps in a future world without nationalism humans will be able to share many languages amongst themselves. It won't happen in my lifetime though, even if I live to be a hundred.
3) What motivated you to take up structural poetry so seriously? There are many who believe that writing in free verse is easy (may not be comely), how do you view the differences?
They're both movements, both must have beat to be poetry, to form-poetry you apply to the emergent movement a particular aesthetic rigor and intricacy and what may come out may be unique but different than if it had gone down the way of free verse; and take Haiku, at the end of the day its about beat even though its a variable.
3) For many contemporary poets the arrangement of lines on the page is as important as the poem itself. Do you visualise the structure of the poem before starting to write, or do you let your thoughts slide?
Long free verse poetry that has line arrangement, as long as there's content and beat, is fine. I often find I spend more time on getting the poem right after I've written it than writing it, but again one must allow space for innovation, which is what happens when I'm in the dimension of writing in long free verse, so I'll usually leave it as it is, more often my poems are short so form and visual are more compact & discernible. Perhaps you can say voice is stronger in long free verse so lines become important to support the image context.
5) How do you see the definition of “muse” and what is your reaction on its global abuse in the world wide web?
I don't know what the definition of Muse is by the World Wide Web to know if they abuse it. The Greek etymology of the word precedes the classical innovation of the Apollonian Muse ruled by reason. Muse for me means the inspired arts, the Muse is within you, it's an archetype. One of the ancient views of the Muse was it manifests through mists as the presence of the Three Memories, past, present & future. You see it in Hecate and the three witches who meet Macbeth, they warn him to confront paradox but he cannot recognise it, partly because it's become an Elizabethan drama.
6) In your opinion what is the role of points of view (POVs) in poetry?
Isn't it so that poetry is conceived through an artifice, its not theatre & wider than fiction but it is or can be representational art, that doesn't make it, as so many misinformed seekers of poetry are led to believe inauthentic, or less empowered to be oracles of poetical prophesy. (I might elaborate on this in the context of Pesoa)*
7) Since you write in symbolic tone and allegories, I would like to know how you feel when you read a poem that looks a mish mash of ideas in first read and a masterpiece in next? Is it necessary to always get the first POV of a poem in first stanza?
I try to put my work into context & then the question, analogy, so it's not just automatic writing. It's easy to perceive a highly controlled work, there's an acumen, so levels get subtler and subtler even between chaos and perception and what the artist transmits but also creates out of an archetype, so its representational, but if poetry is purely representational art it is conceived through a lie, which is the Muse.
8) You come from a land and family with a rich heritage of literature, (how and) who are the people who influenced your poetry in your formative years?
My formative years were years I spent getting out of. Actually I was lucky to encounter poetry at a very young age dramatically through recitals & festivals, so I developed early a lyrical ear. I suppose there still exist sentiments that I often introduce in something I write and at times parody on someone else's lines. This often goes unnoticed in my work and where perceived sometimes gives rise to indignation, which I ignore, as I only extend their art. My Anglo-Scots origins led me to be dismissive of Saxon-genre and the Church never even got a look in. I'm with Blake, where he writes of Milton as good poet but the devil's poet, i.e. a Christian. I've been described as being a Neo- Transcendentalist Romantic and I guess this better suits than dubbing me Neo-Pagan. Politically I am green, this movement first begun amongst intellectuals in the 30's, writers like Julian Huxly, who knew the world was at a turning point. It was revived in the 60's, nowadays blamed for modern conditions of social unrest from hooliganism to racism, but which nevertheless more or less predicted what would happen.
9) Reading your poem “Suibine in Bed,” especially its ending (Secular despotism & soldiers of God Riding the beast to the feast), I would like to know your views on current political situation prevailing in Persian Gulf?
It's clear First World Christian and Jewish Lobbies dont want Islam, they'd prefer even Hinduism, even if a deal could be made where all were on a level pegging. It's also clear sooner or later oil resources will deplete. Consider as well nationalist production of brain power is geared more than ever before to arms intelligence in the economy and there will only be left Green power against it.
10) Internet is like a global haystack, and looking for quality poetry is a tiresome exercise; how do you see internet as a media for poetry and general literature? How do you reckon the importance of various critique boards present across the internet?
It's great talented intelligent writers & artists can communicate beyond the precincts of establishment Mafia monopoly publishers paying lip service to class structure in society. The area in writing , most specifically poetry on the net has undergone a conscious expanding experience. Of course these present writers, at whatever age, are getting rapidly better than their forebears because uniquely its discourse that can be expanded in the now.
11) “After the Cave, the Comet” is a powerful metaphor. Tell us something about your book, the various struggles and turmoil depicted in your brilliant anthology
It's a multi-dimensional title & replete with literary allusions, which I've tried to keep out of the anthology and keep to a theme of an interaction of geological time and metamorphosis with the cosmic forces of light in symmetrical space. That's the covert experience I have, but it's never overtly stated, simply the poetic text comes from that context. The table of contents run more or less chronologically throughout the year which it took to write. It starts off with me crossing the Baltic in winter to Denmark carries on to returning to the Midlands UK and then to Spain. Sections like Suibne don't fully fall into this category, its theme is anachronistic and in fact a fuller version will appear in your future Mystic East Anthology. Much of the poetry's metaphysics is eclectic in drawing on schools of thought, whilst not being committed to them but its own elaboration, which is simply writing in poetry instead of prose. As Freud said, a scientist can spend a lifetime in excavating a fact without being able to interpret it & a writer or artist can reach the same thing in a moment, that's really what After the Cave... is about.
12) How do you see the influence of Magical Realism and Sufism in your work?
Certainly I'm not inspired by Magical Realism writers, the term transpires from post war Germany, I think, from works such as Gunter Grass The Tin Drum, where given certain social boundaries the supernatural & natural worlds are seen to overlap in the otherwise norm. I suppose at one time people knew spells that could bring down the deities ect., its interesting that for example Shamsi Tabriz is the Master of Jalal-ud-din-Rumi, Shamsi means sun face, the etymological origins of Shaman are in the ancient Persian. As a poetic speculation I'd put it that the ancient rite of Sufism might be comparable to the visions of paradise as seen in the Dionysian Elysian mysteries.
13) What are the main drawbacks in contemporary poetry?
Well it's more and more difficult write better poetry, net phenomena means standards are soaring and falling, people with no previous background are persuaded that this is a standard by which to judge, this means there's really good poetry going on and being passed over because an audience is being miseducated to become literate to it, much the same phenomena as with establishment publishing.
14) How do you see the influence of art movements in postmodernism?
What is the case when a collectors collection becomes a work of art for the collector only, its not art and the collector must fall but poetry is not of that pedigree it simply says paint me.
Copyright Robin Ouzman Hislop 2004
all rights reserved