Poetry by and large has a sense of nostalgia - bringing with it a whiff of old world charm, complete with sepia-colored parchments and ink-dipped pens.
But in the era of Twitter, where you are required to express your emotions within 140 characters, poetry too has been set free from the confinements of a book by Allan Harold Rex. Poignant verses eloped with cute little diagrams and found a world for themselves in the medium of Instagram – all thanks to this young Keralite.
That world has Kevin and Julie, and their conversations that at times prod you to think, while at others leave you at splits. News spreads fast on the high-speed internet and more and more people bestowed their ‘likes’ on this virtual couple.
And the popularity ensured that these conversations between Kevin and Julie have a reincarnation of sorts in the form of a hard-bound book - " TheManyMen : An Illustrated Guy-de To Shorter Poems"- that will be released at the New York City Poetry festival on Saturday.
And prior to the big launch, we caught up with this Kollam native via email on his quirky doodles and touching lines.
The concept of doodles and verses sounds interesting. Could you tell us how you came up with the idea?
I tend to visualize the things I write. And it was from this concept that the idea of doodles and poetry emerged. The three liners that are as such featured in my works, arise out of the immediacy of the digital age in telling stories through micro narratives.
Poetry has an old world charm about it, but you chose to bring poetry on to a digital platform complete with doodles. Why?
Of course, there are still those of us who feel deeply and poignantly for poetry and the arts, who believe in the charm of books, pen and paper. And I am one of them as well. But every art form that now exists has only survived because it was successfully channeled and modeled with time. When I walked into poetry or when poetry chose me, people used to tell me that - Poetry is dead. But this is how I see it, for the poet is only a vehicle and poetry has yet again survived to be resurrected in a new art form in the digital era.
However, you did not pick an e-book for the compilation. Any reasons why?
“TheManyMen : An Illustrated Guy-de To Shorter Poems" is my first book of poetry and doodles which will debut in the NYC Poetry Festival. I personally feel that a poetry book is something that should be tangible. When the sensation you get out of reading poetry is ethereal, a hard copy of the book would rightly complement the vastness and soulfulness you feel out of reading it. TheManyMen would be an ideal gift to anyone whom you love and keep close to heart, family and otherwise. It is short and delivers the stint in a few lines.
Getting your book to be released at New York City Poetry Festival is no mean feat. How did you get the break?
It started off when three of my poems were featured in the Kitchen poet of UBPress. Ever since then, James (editor of UBPress) and I were talking about a poetry book that was always in the pipeline. But then again, this year - the confluence of my art, the UB Press and The New York City Poetry Festival, all met at a good juncture in time. My publisher James and I are good friends. We haven't met in real. He has been running the Underground Books press since 1997.
Are your lead characters Kevin and Julie inspired by someone?
Kevin and Julie are an artsy couple. For the most part, Kevin stands for the core ideas that we as humans are losing. The artistic freedom I see in him is very much a recapitulation of my own self. Julie, as such doesn't have a source or conduct.She is an emancipation of the new era. She has traits of narcissism, but again she is a very understanding person and rightly complements Kevin as an artist and human. Kevin and Julie stand as epitomes of true and undultered art, they are also the front runners and mascots of an art movement - Coffee Table Romanticisms - that me, my friend Jawed and a group of other art enthusiasts are spear heading from Guwahati, Assam.
Were you always interested in poetry/drawing
Of late, I rediscovered my lost passion for drawing and doodling, but it has resurfaced in a new form and I am glad I found it again in my poetry. I try to carry poetry with me. It is a way of life for me. A poem for me is the beauty of believing in the transient ethereal and a reaffirmation in the truths of the world.
Who are your favorite poets and which are the books you like?
Great poetry, art and literature inspires you for a higher calling. There are a lot of poems, poets and books for which I always comeback to re- read. Frank Stanford and Franz Wright are poets whom I really hold close to my heart. The translated works of Neruda, Lorca, Paz and some other Spanish and South American poets have inspired me to find my own voice in poetry.
To be a poet would not be on the list of ideal career options. How supportive has your family been on your attempt to thread this not so common path?
I am grateful for the support of my family in letting me chose a very unorthodox and non-traditional career line. Right now, I intend to do my Masters in Journalism & Mass Communication. If everything goes right, I would soon be joining the EFLU at Hyderabad for the same.