17 January 2009

Mahendra Bhatnagar

Mahendra Bhatnagar was interviewed by Nilanshu Kumar Agarwal. Here is a portion of the interview:

"NKA: You have written poetry both in Hindi and English languages. Out of the two, which one is closer to your heart?

MB: It's obvious that writing poetry in Hindi — my mother tongue — is closer to my heart

NKA: Did you feel comfortable in creating poems in English? My personal belief is that poetry is a spontaneous activity, which cannot easily come out in an alien language. So your English poetry may not be directly from the heart. What do you say?

MB: Expression of the heart and mind is more natural in one's mother-tongue. There is not much need of efforts in it. Expression in mother-tongue is an inherent element. That's why writing poetry in mother-tongue is also easier. As everyone is not a master of English or of any other language other than one's mother-tongue, it is absolutely necessary to understand and grasp the peculiar specialties of that language. Otherwise, writing poetry will prove totally un-poetic. Language accomplishment is possible only if you are familiar to that language. As I never went to England nor remained in touch with English speaking society, hence my expression in English will only be bookish. Of course, I learned English. I read several poems in English. The medium of my higher education was English. English language and literature remained compulsory subjects up to graduation level for me. I have no hesitation to say that I want to see my existence in the history of Indian English Poetry. I am happy to see that through English I got global wide readership. Internet too is a powerful medium of spreading my poetry."

We need more of these interviews. We need to know from poets themselves how they handle writing in another language. What happens when language becomes a barrier to expressing what is in one's heart? Or is it a barrier?

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