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Interview with K.K. Srivastava by Kristen D. Scott for KNOT Magazine
Knot Magazine Fall Issue 2014

KNOT: Does poetry go well with your job?  How would you describe it?


KKS: Both are different. We have many bureaucrats who are writers of international repute. Poetry stems from perplexity: perplexity of human existence, thoughts, interactions and above all it accrues to the poet due to his acquaintance with writers he has read. Poetry is an outcome of a puzzled and baffled mind and consciousness-serious poetry I mean. A true poet is always in a quandary, like Kafka, he faces the question,’ Where, then, shall I be brought?’ A sense of uncertainty keeps looming large.


KNOT: Is knowledge of  Economics (you being its student) relevant for writing poetry?


KKS: ‘Description As Choice’ is an essay by Prof. A. K Sen where he writes that “any intellectual exercise must involve five processes: observation, selection, analysis, description and prediction.” In poetry, particularly in longer poems, this scheme exists to a considerable extent. In my longer poems where reality and psyche get fractured several times, there arises a need for unification and fragmentation. An incessant variation within a clustering log involving imagination, realities, application of formal logic to thinking is normally underway when one writes in order to uncap hidden appearances.


KNOT: In spite of your hectic work-life, how do you manage to write?


KKS: By temperament I am a loner and hence get some time for my creative work.


KNOT: Who and what were your influences when you first decided to pen your thoughts?


KKS: It would be absurd to think that a poet starts his voyage with tabula rasa. Never. He acquires it through the company of books he studies. He ought to be a reader first. Muktibodh, the Hindi poet, Borges, Bergson, Jung, Eliot and Jayanta Mahapatra are the writers/poets I have read a lot, and cannot rule out if somewhere their influence is noticed in my poems. Then there is Veronica Valeanu from Romania, a wonderful person and highly gifted poet with deep insight into human psychology. At times, she helps me in refining my themes that make my poems. A poem is a product of mental process, often times transcendent and obscure whereby thoughts of a poet get filtered and the poet ultimately reaches the ‘essentials’ required for the life of a poem. Still influences cannot be put aside.


KNOT: Do you have any views about your poems?


KKS: Poetry for me is the voyage for self-discovery amid external and internal stimuli. Through it, I have got to know many well-known poets from different countries. I was surprised to learn that Adolf P Shvedchikov, now 76, a Russian poet and critic, is translating my third poetry collection into the Russian language. Then fifty of my poems have been translated into Hindi by Prof. Nar Dev Sharma of Rajasthan and is likely to be published soon. Poetry has built for me an inexplicable relationship and association of thoughts and feelings.


KNOT: There are marked presence of subjects like  psychology and philosophy. Please comment on the various subjects you want to explore through your poetry.


KKS: Poetry is symmetrical encapsulation of thoughts and thoughts are not born in vacuum. Milton and Dante used theology for poetry. Borges, Eliot and many others have used philosophy for poetry. Gitanjali is philosophy. I have yet to come across a serious poet whose poems don’t reflect on his reading of philosophy. Poetry sans philosophy is malodorous. The poems I write seek through psychology and philosophy, maybe in a limited way, a penetration into human dilemmas. Both these disciplines create their own maze and that fascinates me. I always find myself caught out there in the middle.


KNOT: What are your views between solitude in relation to writers?


KKS: Writing is an extremely painful act for a writer: he struggles with his memories as these stretch backwards on the landscape of time gone. While meeting my retrieved memories, I try to break the shell of self-protectiveness and come out of it. This process itself is a struggle that has got to be lived through alone and not in anyone’s company. Solitude equips me with my own company, allowing me the freedom to indulge in an interior monologue enabling me fuse ideas with words. It helps me observe myself and others more closely and dispassionately as I juxtapose two opposite experiences of mine: the revealed one and the concealed one to tackle the overlapping from which flows the material for my poems.


KNOT: Is poetry on decline? What are you views? 


KKS: Naipaul once remarked-‘Literature is dying.’ I am afraid serious poetry is being treated all over the world, to use Freudian term, as ‘schizophrenic verbalism.’ The only solace is poetry societies and literary journals all over the world who are trying hard to keep poetry alive. Books must pave the way for themselves. They have to live with absurdities of time and survive if they can like Samuel Beckett characters in Waiting For Godot .


KNOT: Do you plan to move towards prose?


KKS: I am slow when it comes to writing. I am writing a diary; the entries are in a monologue form over a period of time intended to record my struggle and perceptions with what comes to me as the moments of a day pass: expression of the blur-the hidden labyrinth. Thank you so much.





K.K. Srivastava is a Civil Servant by profession. He is a poet and reviewer with three poetry collections to his credit ---Ineluctable Stillness (2005), An Armless Hand Writes (2008) and Shadows of the Real (2012) His Diary is expected to be out in 2016.

In Conversation with Indian Poet, K.K. Srivastava

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